The Best and Worst Breakfast Options for Diabetics

Breakfast is widely considered the most important meal of the day, especially for people with diabetes. Choosing the right foods to start your day can help keep blood sugar levels balanced and reduce the risk of diabetes complications. However, not all popular breakfast options are good choices for diabetics. In this article, we’ll explore the worst and best breakfast foods for controlling blood sugar.

The 3 Worst Breakfast Options for Diabetics

1. White Bread, Bagels, and Pastries

Breads, bagels, muffins, pancakes, and pastries made with refined white flour can spike blood sugar levels. These foods break down quickly into sugar once consumed. A study by Oxford Academy found refined starch increased diabetes complications and heart disease risk in women. Whole grain bread may be a better option than white.

2. Cereals

While marketed as a healthy breakfast choice, most cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbs. The added chemicals and preservatives in cereals can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes complications. Even healthy sounding cereals can have over 60 grams of carbs per serving. It’s best to avoid cereal, no matter how “healthy” it claims to be.

3. Protein Bars

With 25-35 grams of carbs and only around 20 grams of protein, most store-bought protein bars are more concentrated in carbs than protein. The refined, sugar-coated ingredients cause a blood sugar spike, despite the protein content. Diabetic snack bars may help prevent nighttime hypoglycemia but lack evidence as a healthy breakfast choice.

The 5 Best Breakfast Options for Diabetics

1. Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds provide fiber, omega-3s, and other nutrients that improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Animal studies show chia seeds reduce diabetes and heart disease risk. The fiber and healthy fats in chia keep blood sugar steady. Make chia pudding with chia seeds, milk, and natural flavors.

2. Greek Yogurt

Probiotic-rich Greek yogurt provides protein, calcium, and gut-healing probiotics. The probiotics reduce inflammation linked to insulin resistance. Studies show eating 100 grams of yogurt daily reduces diabetes complications. Choose unsweetened, full-fat Greek yogurt.

3. Oatmeal

Oats contain beta-glucan soluble fiber that slows glucose absorption. Old-fashioned or steel-cut oats are best. Studies show oatmeal consumption lowers blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetics. Avoid added sugars by topping oatmeal with nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit.

4. Eggs

One large egg provides protein and healthy fats that can help stabilize blood sugar. Research indicates eating 1 egg per day improves insulin sensitivity. However, more than 7 eggs per week may increase diabetes risk, so moderation is key.

5. Low-Carb Smoothies

Blending protein, healthy fats, and low-glycemic fruits makes a nourishing breakfast smoothie. Low-glycemic foods reduce blood sugar spikes. Studies show 2 daily berry smoothies improve insulin sensitivity in the obese. Use plant milk, yogurt, avocado, nuts, seeds, and berries.

Nutrients to Focus On

To keep blood sugar balanced at breakfast, key nutrients to emphasize include:


Such as eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butters, and dairy-free protein powders. Protein helps regulate glucose levels.

Healthy Fats

Like nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil provide steady energy and reduce blood sugar spikes.


Soluble fiber from oats, chia seeds, berries, non-starchy veggies, and flax slows glucose absorption.


Found in yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods, probiotics reduce inflammation linked to diabetes.

Low-Glycemic Carbs

Such as steel-cut oats and most fruits and non-starchy vegetables minimally impact blood sugar.

Vitamins & Minerals

Such as magnesium, zinc, and chromium support healthy glucose metabolism.

Tips for a Diabetic-Friendly Breakfast

  • Combine protein, fat, and fiber at every breakfast
  • Read labels and avoid added sugars
  • Watch carb counts and aim for less than 70g total carbs per day
  • Choose whole, minimally processed foods
  • Opt for low-glycemic carbs like berries, steel-cut oats, and non-starchy veggies
  • Drink water instead of sugary juices
  • Avoid carb-heavy breakfast breads, cereals, and pastries
  • Moderate egg consumption to 2-3 per week
  • Top yogurt with nuts and seeds, not sugary jams or syrups
  • Sweeten foods naturally with small amounts of cinnamon, vanilla, unsweetened cocoa, etc.

Focus on Protein, Healthy Fats, and Fiber

Making smart breakfast choices can help diabetics start the day off right by balancing blood sugar levels and providing key nutrients. Focus on protein, healthy fats, and fiber from foods like chia puddings, Greek yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, and low-carb smoothies. Limit processed carbs and sugars from cereals, breads, bars, and pastries. With a nutritious breakfast, diabetics can better manage symptoms and reduce complications.

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