Food & Nutrition

The Best Foods to Eat at Every Time of Day

Depending on the meal or snack, you can make good—or terrible—choices that will help you feel full, sleep better, or have more energy. Check out these tips from top nutrition experts.

5:00–6:00 a.m.: Snack

Matcha green tea date cashew coconut pistachio energy ballsAmallia Eka/Shutterstock

If your morning workout is at a low to moderate pace and less than an hour, you may just want to skip food and have a hearty breakfast after. However, if you plan to exercise intensely or for more than an hour, consider a pre-workout snack. These 5 Ingredient Matcha Energy Bites from Stephanie McKercher, Colorado-based registered dietitian and recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer, should do the trick. Matcha has caffeine that studies suggest can have a positive influence on workout performance.

7:00–9:00 a.m.: Breakfast

Bowl with yogurt, berries and granola on gray background, top viewNew Africa/Shutterstock

Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, points to research indicating that eating a minimum of 20 grams of protein per meal will help prevent loss of muscle as we get older. It’s easier to accomplish at lunch and dinner, but most people don’t get enough protein at breakfast. Harris-Pincus recommends including foods such as cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or eggs, as well as plant-based proteins like beans or tofu. Research shows that protein will help keep you feeling full. Here are 27 more healthy breakfast ideas you should try ASAP.

10:00–11:00 a.m.: Snack

Meze platter with hummus, yoghurt dip, assorted snacks. Space for text. Hummus, vegetables sticks, chickpeas, olives, pita, chips. Plate, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean meze. Party/finger food. Top viewits_al_dente/Shutterstock

Sara Haas, RD, author of Taco! Taco! Taco! and the Fertility Foods Cookbook, says, “Get your day off to a great start with fruits and vegetables. It sets you up for getting a variety of nutrients.” A snack is a great opportunity to work toward the 5–9 servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day for better health. Carrots with some low-fat dip or an apple with peanut butter are great options.

12:00–2:00 p.m.: Lunch

Fresh caesar salad in white plate on dark wooden table. Top view.nadianb/Shutterstock

Lunch is the time to refuel for the afternoon, so eating a balanced meal with protein, whole grains, and a large serving of vegetables is the way to go, recommends Sandra Arévalo, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. An easy go-to meal for getting all of that at once is a salad. Because fruits and veggies contain unique mixes of healthy compounds, according to the Produce for Better Health Initiative, plan to mix up your salad ingredients from day to day for better protection against heart disease and cancer. If you’re looking for other options, check out these 20 healthy lunch ideas that aren’t salad.

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Healthy Eating – Reader's Digest