family eating breakfast

The Healthy Breakfast Paradox

This September 26th is Better Breakfast Day. Learn why Better Breakfast Day is so important, what consumers consider a healthy breakfast, and how morning snacks are changing the game.


  • Better Breakfast Day reminds us of the benefits of a good breakfast like better energy and productivity.
  • Consumers associate certain foods and nutrients with a healthy breakfast.
  • Brands launching snackable breakfast products need to balance indulgence with health.


The History of Better Breakfast Day

Often thought of as the most important meal of the day, breakfast is the key to getting a good start and lays the foundation for a successful day ahead. However, despite the many benefits of breakfast for our health and wellness, this is the meal people are most likely to skip. Better Breakfast Day is here to change that.

In 2014, the Whole Grains Council created Better Breakfast Day to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy breakfast. Every year on September 26, we’re reminded to embrace the morning meal the right way—with nutritious foods that provide the complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals we need to thrive.

Why Better Breakfast Day Is So Important

Better Breakfast Day is especially relevant right now as many consumers report struggling with low energy and focus during the day. Getting nourishment after those eight hours of sleeping restores glycogen levels and fuels the first half of the day.

woman eating breakfast in front of laptop

A healthy breakfast helps us maintain energy levels throughout the morning, allowing for optimal focus and productivity. It also prevents mid-morning hunger pangs—particularly if the breakfast is rich in fiber or protein. (Satiety is one of the top reasons today’s consumers seek out protein.) Making time for breakfast also helps keep us from overeating at lunchtime.

What Consumers Want in a Healthy Breakfast

High protein is the key to a healthy breakfast, according to nearly two-thirds of US consumers.1 In response to consumer interest, launches of high protein, grain-free cereals have been experiencing exponential growth in the US market.2 

Typically these feature keto-friendly and low net carb claims to appeal to the keto consumer. Last year, Post got on board by launching its own brand of grain-free cereal called Incredi-Bowl. Incredi-Bowl cereal comes in varieties such as frosted flakes and honey nut hoops and is made with milk protein concentrate.

Q: What constitutes a healthy breakfast?

High in protein63%
Contains fruit48%
Low in sugar47%
Contains vitamins/minerals46%
Low in fat38%
Contains grains 37%
Source: Mintel, Approach to Breakfast, US, 2022

Protein isn’t the only thing that signals healthy, though. Close to half of consumers think a healthy breakfast is one that contains fruit, is low in sugar, or includes vitamins and minerals.3

When we look into what consumers are actually eating, we do see a shift toward some of these perceived healthy attributes. In the past twelve months, 15% of US consumers say they’ve been eating more high protein, while 18% have been focusing on low sugar.4

Breakfast vs. Morning Snack

Many consumers are realizing that breakfast doesn’t have to be a meal. Several brands have been innovating with convenient, on-the-go snacks that can meet morning cravings. Recent examples include Bob Evans Omelet Rolls, Wicked Cutz Premium Jerky Breakfast Style, and Uncured Ham and Gruyere Egg Bites by Three Bridges. Michel et Augustin Croissant Chips span occasions as they’re “perfect for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.”

We’re also seeing that consumers prioritize healthy choices in the morning even when it’s a snack. (The majority (57%) say “health” is the most important—far more than “indulgence” at 20%).5 The challenge for these brands will be finding the balance between an enjoyable snacking experience and the healthy attributes consumers look for like high protein and low sugar. 

woman eating cereal

Consumers’ Preferred Morning Snacks

Despite recent innovations in formats for morning snacks, cereal is the most popular morning snack for US consumers (at 55%).6 Cereal readily lends itself to healthy upgrades like high protein, low sugar, vitamin/mineral fortified, and the addition of whole grains, dried fruits, and nuts. Brands can also formulate cereals for anytime snacking.

Q: Which snack do you prefer for a morning snack?

Bread/bread products43%
Cereal and energy bars42%
Fruit 41%
Source: Innova Flavor Survey, 2021

Bars are another morning favorite, with many of the same benefits as cereals but in an easier and more portable format. Strategies for formulating bars suited for morning snacking include boosting the nutrients and steering clear of the more decadent flavors as consumers are turning to fruit and grain-based formulations for breakfast options.  

Yogurt is another top-five morning snack for consumers, offering a concentrated source of dairy protein and calcium, along with probiotics. Like cereals and bars, yogurt has also been getting a high protein makeover in recent years.

How to Celebrate Better Breakfast Day

Spread the word about Better Breakfast Day to remind others how such a little thing can make such a big difference in their day. Whole grain cereal, yogurt with berries, and oatmeal are all healthy options for getting off to a great start. If they’re usually in a rush, they can stock up on healthy morning snacks for a more convenient way to get the nourishment they need.
At Glanbia Nutritionals, we are proud to offer a variety of ingredients to make breakfast healthier and moreaccessible. Our breakfast and snack solutions are applicable for products from cereal and bars to dairy and RTDs.

Contact us to learn more about balancing healthy nutrition with a delicious experience they’ll crave.


1. Mintel, Approach to Breakfast, US, 2022.
2. Quick Breakfast Market, US, 2022.
3. Mintel, Approach to Breakfast, US, 2022.
4-5. Quick Breakfast Market, US, 2022.
6. Innova Flavor Survey, 2021.

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