A nutritious breakfast is essential for people with type 2 diabetes. Suitable options include smoothies, oatmeal, eggs, and fruit. Sourdough and other breads can also be a healthy addition.

Breakfast is an essential meal. Research shows that people with diabetes who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat throughout the day.

Unfortunately, many breakfast options contain processed carbohydrates and sugars, which can lead to blood sugar spikes. In addition, people with type 2 diabetes who are trying to control their weight need to avoid or limit foods high in fat and sugar.

Diabetes also increases the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, so a person with this condition should minimize their intake of salty foods and unhealthful fats, especially animal fats.

However, there are many alternatives to sweet, high-fat, or salty breakfasts. People can tweak classic breakfasts to make them suitable, while some less traditional options can be surprisingly tasty and satisfying.

The best breakfast is one that is high in fiber but low in added sugar, carbohydrates, and salt. Nutrient-dense foods provide a feeling of fullness, making it easier for people to resist unhealthful snacks.

In this article, we look at some healthful and tasty breakfast options for people with diabetes.

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The body rapidly absorbs fruit juices with added sugar, and they may cause blood sugar spikes. Juices with reduced sugar content are available and can be a good choice, but some people may choose to avoid artificial sweeteners.

A homemade smoothie made with whole fruit offers the same sweet taste as juice, along with nutrients that boost overall health and help fight hunger.

Here are some ways to include different nutrients in a smoothie:


Load up on fiber by including spinach, kale, or avocado in a smoothie and mixing in a handful of oats or seeds, such as chia or flax. Add sweetness by blending in frozen berries, bananas, apples, or peaches.

Studies show that fiber — especially cereal fiber — can help reduce the absorption of glucose and contribute to the effective management of blood sugar levels.

Fiber can also help control cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular disease and heart disease risk.

Fat and protein

Adding protein and healthful fat can make the smoothie more satisfying and leave a person feeling full for longer. Protein can also slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. Sources of healthful fat include nuts, seeds, and avocado.

For protein, adding one-half of a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt can create a creamy and satisfying texture. Alternatively, a person can mix in a protein powder.

Berry, avocado, and chia seed smoothie recipe

This smoothie recipe should be suitable for most people with diabetes:

  • Blend 2 cups of frozen raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries with a whole avocado and one-half cup of kale.
  • Add either water, almond milk, green tea, or low-fat milk to thin the consistency.
  • Mix in chia seeds to add good fat and extra fiber. In balance with the fruit, the seeds will not affect the taste.

Learn more here about smoothies for people with diabetes here.

Oatmeal is rich in fiber, which means it can slow blood sugar absorption, ease digestion, and fight hunger. It can be a nutrient-dense breakfast option, but a person should take care of how they prepare it and what toppings they add.

It is high in carbs, but the carbs present in a 234-gram (g) or 1-cup serving of oatmeal that a person has cooked in water include 4 g of fiber and only 0.6 g of sugar.

The same portion of oatmeal also contains:

  • calories: 166 g
  • carbs: 28.1 g
  • protein: 5.94 g
  • calcium: 21.1 milligrams (mg)
  • iron: 2.11 mg
  • sodium: 9.36 mg

High-protein oatmeal recipe

People can increase the protein content of their breakfast oatmeal to help them feel fuller for longer.

Protein sources that a person can add to oatmeal include:

  • protein powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • cottage cheese
  • egg whites
  • nut butter

Most oatmeal will include cooking instructions on the packaging. The below recipe is a general guide.

  • Add 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of water to a pan.
  • Heat over a medium heat until the oats absorb the water.
  • Take the pan off the heat and stir through a protein source to combine.
  • Finish the oatmeal with any toppings.

Using fresh fruit or cinnamon to add flavor instead of sugar, honey, or brown syrup will make oatmeal a satisfying, low-sugar option.

Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts can add texture as well as protein and heart-healthful omega-3 fats for an even more nourishing breakfast.

A large boiled egg contains about:

  • calories: 77.5
  • protein: 6.3 g
  • fat: 5.30 g
  • calcium: 25 mg
  • magnesium: 5 mg
  • phosphorus: 86 mg
  • sodium: 62 mg
  • vitamin D: 44 international units (IU)

Eggs may also help prevent diabetes.

According to a 2015 study of males aged 42–60 years, those who ate the most eggs were 38% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the fewest eggs, despite the cholesterol content of this food.

The explanation for this finding may be that eggs provide essential nutrients that can benefit overall health and help replace higher-carb or more processed breakfast choices.

Another study found that people who ate two eggs a day for 12 weeks saw a significant reduction in their body fat and body mass index (BMI) compared with those who ate no eggs during this period.

Four breakfast egg ideas

There are many different ways of eating eggs. People can try:

  • boiling an egg and seasoning it with black or cayenne pepper
  • making a spinach or kale omelet
  • layering poached eggs on wholemeal or Ezekiel bread or sweet potato “toast”
  • combining an egg with vegetables and baking in a muffin tin

Adding green onions, tomatoes, garlic, cayenne pepper, diced jalapenos, and parmesan cheese can help replace salt in your recipe.

The fiber in cereals may help a person control blood sugar levels, but some popular cereal brands contain significant added sugar and are low in fiber.

People can use the 5-5 rule when navigating the cereal aisle, which means choosing a product with at least 5 g of fiber and less than 5 g of sugar per serving.

When checking the label on any packaging, a person should also know the amount of included sodium.

Unsweetened muesli with unsweetened, higher-protein milk or milk substitute is a good fiber-rich, lower-sugar alternative.

Sweetened and flavored yogurts can be high in fat and sugar, so they are often not a good choice for people with diabetes, but unsweetened yogurt is a perfectly healthful breakfast option.

Those with diabetes can choose low-fat or full-fat versions of Greek yogurt depending on their calorie and weight goals.

A 100-g serving of unsweetened, nonfat Greek yogurt contains:

  • calories: 59
  • protein: 10.3 g
  • fat: 0.37 g
  • carbohydrate: 3.27 g
  • calcium: 111 mg

To add flavor, texture, or sweetness, a person can sprinkle the yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, or nuts.

Adding these accompaniments will make a protein-rich breakfast that offers some fiber and good fats.

Yogurt, banana, and chia seed bowl recipe

Yogurt is a versatile base that people can top with their favorite ingredients.

The following recipe is high in protein, potassium from bananas and fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds.

  • Add a 1/2 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt to a large bowl.
  • Stir through vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste.
  • Cut up a medium banana into thin slices.
  • Arrange the banana slices on top of the combined yogurt and sprinkle with chia seeds.

Chia seed pudding recipe

  • Mix 3 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/2 cup high-protein unsweetened milk or greek yogurt, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Allow to set overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Add berries and nuts the next morning and serve.

Each ounce of chia seeds contains about 11.9 g of carbs, but 9.75 g are fiber — berries and nuts add more fiber and flavor. This breakfast has very little impact on blood glucose.

Whole fruits can be an excellent option for breakfast, especially with yogurt, muesli, or oatmeal.

Avocados are filling and offer about 10 g of fiber and less than 1 g of sugar per 150-g cup.

They also provide many other essential nutrients, including:

  • protein: 3 g
  • cholesterol: 0 g
  • fat: 22 g

However, a cup of avocado also contains 240 calories, so a person who is trying to lose weight should account for this and only eat avocado in moderation.

People with diabetes can try:

  • filling an avocado with an egg or low-fat, low-salt cottage cheese
  • spreading avocado on wholemeal toast or bread
  • pairing avocado with a veggie omelet
  • dicing an avocado and making a quick salad with cherry tomatoes and chopped boiled egg

Learn more about the dos and don’ts of adding avocado to a diabetes diet here.

Sizzling bacon and sausages can smell great, but they are processed meats that are high in fat and salt, and eating them regularly may increase your risk of bowel cancer.

Meat substitutes

Some meat substitutes, such as tofu and other plant-based proteins, can taste similar to bacon and sausage, especially when a person mixes them into another dish. Before trying a meat alternative, however, people with diabetes should check the salt content.

Veggie BLT recipe

For a more healthful take on the classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato breakfast sandwich, people can try layering vegetarian bacon substitutes, lettuce, and ripe tomatoes on sprouted or whole grain bread. Studies link whole-food-centric vegetarian diets with a lower risk of diabetes.

People can make their vegetarian bacon with tofu:

  • Drain and press extra firm tofu.
  • Cut the block into 1/8-inch strips.
  • Add low-salt soy sauce, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar to a bowl and combine.
  • Submerge the tofu slices in this marinade for 10 minutes or more.
  • Spread the marinated tofu strips on a baking rack and preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bake the tofu strips for 10 minutes, then turn and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Foods that contain processed white flour and sugar — such as white bread, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, and bagels — are low in nutrients but high in carbohydrates. They offer little nutritional benefit and can trigger a blood glucose spike.

However, not all bread is bad for people with diabetes. Sprouted grain bread and sourdough bread are more healthful options as they contain fiber and probiotics.

Shopping for healthful commercially produced breads means comparing the nutrition labels and choosing the option with the most fiber and the least added sugar and salt.

A person with diabetes should eat bread in moderation and monitor their blood sugar levels to assess the effect of this food. A doctor or dietitian can help the person decide how much and what type of bread is best.

Avocado sweet potato toast

  • Slice a sweet potato lengthwise into slices that are one-quarter of an inch thick.
  • Toast the slices and spread the avocado on them, adding a poached egg on top if desired.
  • Increase the flavor by adding jalapenos or cayenne pepper.

Which types of bread should a person with diabetes choose? Click here to learn more.

Having diabetes does not have to limit a person’s breakfast choices.

Here are a few tips that can help people eat according to their preferences:

  • Maximize protein intake: Protein helps people feel full and enables the development of healthy tissue and muscles. Nuts, legumes, and animal products, such as Greek yogurt, are excellent protein sources.
  • Eat more fiber: Fiber can help manage blood sugar, support feelings of fullness, and encourage digestive health. Nuts, seeds, wheat bran, oat bran, most vegetables, and many fruits are rich in fiber.
  • Watch out for sugars: Foods and drinks can both be high in sugar. Water and unsweetened coffee or tea are more healthful choices than sweetened beverages, and whole fresh fruit is better than fruit juice or juice drinks.
  • Have small, regular meals: Eating smaller meals can minimize blood sugar fluctuations while supporting a healthy weight.
  • Limit sodium: Too much sodium can increase the risk of poor heart health and high blood pressure, both of which are complications of diabetes.

Breakfast is important for people with diabetes. It enables a person to feel full and can help keep blood glucose levels stable. Insulin sensitivity is often higher in the morning than in the evening, so an eating schedule that includes breakfast and minimizes late-night eating is preferable.

Many conventional breakfast foods are high in sugar, fat, and salt, but many tasty and varied alternatives provide healthful fiber and other nutrients.

A person with a diagnosis of diabetes should work with their doctor or dietitian to create an effective diet plan that suits them.

It can also be helpful to connect with others who understand what living with type 2 diabetes is like. T2D Healthline is a free app that provides support through one-on-one conversations and live group discussions. Download the app for iPhone or Android.

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