Breakfast is hands-down my favorite meal of the day. Mostly I keep it simple—toast and peanut butter, fruit and yogurt. But when I have more time or when I go out to eat, I’m faced with an important choice: pancakes or eggs?
As a dietitian, I know that when you’re cooking at home, both pancakes or eggs can be a healthy choice (more on that below). So let’s look at the health advantages and disadvantages of pancakes and eggs and I’ll give you my verdict on the pancakes vs. eggs smack-down.
Typical pancakes are made with white flour, which is low in fiber and, thus, less filling. Pancakes are also not particularly high in protein—another food component that helps you feel fuller longer.
What’s a pancake without maple syrup? This—or a maple syrup knock-off—adds more sugar to your meal, which might be tasty but doesn’t power you through the morning. The white flour and sugar can also send your blood sugar soaring—until the subsequent crash.
When you’re making pancakes from scratch they can have a lot of healthy qualities. First, you can make them with whole grains, like whole-wheat flour, which will add heart-healthy filling fiber. You can also add healthy toppings, like fruit, to boost vitamins and fiber, and protein-packed nuts to transform pancakes into a nutritious breakfast that will help you stay full through the morning.
Eggs deliver about 2 grams of saturated fat per egg—or 9% of the daily recommended limit on a 2,000-calorie diet, per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. If you eat them scrambled and fried in butter, you’ll be adding more saturated fat than you get with the eggs alone.
A single large egg is only 72 calories if you eat it hard-boiled or poached. Plus, eggs deliver protein—over 6 grams each, per the USDA. And the yolk delivers some vitamin D, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help protect against macular degeneration.
Research, like the 2021 review in The Journal of Food Science, suggests that most people can eat an egg a day without it increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease. If you want to reduce your intake of saturated fat, try using one whole egg and one or two egg whites in place of two whole eggs.
For an extra health boost, pair the eggs with vegetables—sautéed onions, peppers, broccoli and spinach are some of my favorites—for added fiber and nutrients. This is a breakfast that will keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours.
The Bottom Line
Unless it’s a whole-grain, nut-flecked, bursting-with-berries kind of pancake, I’d usually stick with eggs because they’re more inherently nutritious and higher in protein than pancakes made with white flour. The protein will help keep you full longer.
Then again, why do you have to choose between the two? Have a whole grain pancake topped with nuts and berries plus an egg on the side (or try our Egg & Bacon Pancake Breakfast Wrap). Both offer necessary nutrients and with the fiber in the whole-grain pancake—and the nuts and berries—combined with the protein in the egg, you’ll be full and satisfied longer—and your blood sugar is more likely to be stable (bye-bye hangry feeling).