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    Breakfast on the Go?

    Breakfast from some of the nation's fast-food restaurants could be a high-fat, high-calorie affair. But most chains offer healthier options, too. Think about what you need: Even these "better bets" aren't for everyone. Some still may be too high in salt or calories for you.

    McDonald's: Not the Best Choice

    Take a pass on the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes. It packs 1,050 calories, 56 grams (g) fat, and 19 g saturated fat -- over the daily limit for saturated fat for most people. Even the biscuit is loaded with saturated fat. The sodium hits 2,010 milligrams (mg), well over the daily limit of 1,500 mg doctors recommend to keep blood pressure in check.

    McDonald's: Better Bets

    The Egg McMuffin is a better choice under the golden arches at 300 calories, 12 g fat, and 6 g saturated fat. Lean Canadian bacon offers protein and a meaty taste with much less fat. Note that it's high in sodium: 730 mg. You could also choose the Egg White Delight McMuffin. It has 250 calories, 8 g fat, and 4.5 g saturated fat. But at 740 mg, it still has a lot of sodium.

    Burger King: Not the Best Choice

    Skip the King Croissan'wich with Sausage & Baconwhich comes in at 570 calories, 38 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, and 1,330 mg sodium. Burger King stacks a sausage patty, thick bacon, double cheese, and eggs on a giant buttery croissant bun. Another one to pass up: the King Croissan'ich with Double Sausage. It has 700 calories, 51 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, and 1,410 mg sodium.

    Burger King: Better Bet

    The Egg & Cheese Croissan'wich has 300 calories, 15g fat, and 7 g saturated fat. The sodium count may be tough for limited diets at 580 mg. Eleven grams of protein will help keep you feeling full until lunch.

    Jack in the Box: Not the Best Choice

    Steer clear of the Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito. Jack in the Box fills a flour tortilla with sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon crumbles, and cheese. It has 1,040 calories, 70 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, and 2,010 mg sodium. The burrito does provide 35 grams of protein, but it takes a big chunk of your daily fat and calorie limit.

    Jack in the Box: Better Bet

    The Breakfast Jack is a hamburger bun with fried egg, ham, and American cheese.

    It has better nutrition numbers, with 350 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, and 16 g protein. As with many fast-food items, the fat content is still high, as is the sodium: 840 mg.

    Starbucks: Not the Best Choice

    Tempted by the Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich? Walk away. You’ll take in 500 calories, 28 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, and 15 g protein.

    Starbucks: Better Bets

    The Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap is a better pick. It's easy to eat out of hand and has 290 calories, 10 g fat, and 3.5 g saturated fat. Lots of protein (19 g) and fiber (6 g) help keep you full. Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal is another good choice at 160 calories before toppings. Or try the Greek Yogurt Parfait -- dressed with fresh berries and honey, it has 250 calories.

    Subway: Not the Best Choice

    The 6" Bacon, Egg and Cheese can be too much for some low-calorie diets. Subway folds the making of a classic breakfast into flatbread. It packs 25 grams of protein, which should keep you feeling more than full. But the other stats are a bit high: It has 440 calories, 17 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, and 1,290 mg sodium.

    Subway: Better Bet

    Pare down to the 3-inch Egg & Cheese with egg whites. It's a better choice, with 170 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 9 g protein, and 490 mg sodium. Add tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, or other low-calorie choices to boost the flavor.

    Breakfast Benefits

    It really is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast can help give you a balanced diet that's higher in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It may also help you keep your weight down and your concentration and energy levels high. 

    Bottom Line on Breakfast

    If you head to a fast-food chain in the morning, go for the healthiest items on the menu, or eat a smaller portion and save the other half. You can make good choices if you plan ahead. Or pack your own good-for-you breakfast at home the night before.


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    Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 12, 2014