As university students, it can be difficult to find time to make—and eat—a homemade breakfast every morning. Luckily, university and college campuses are guaranteed to have a few coffee shops nearby. Tim Hortons is one of those staple chains you'll find anywhere and everywhere. But when faced with the choice between donuts, cookies, muffins, and breakfast sandwiches, which Tim Hortons breakfast item is the "healthiest?" And what does healthy even mean?

Like so many things in life, what is healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. Scientists and nutritionists are still debating about whether breakfast is necessary (I vote yes). Regardless, people do agree that any meal should be a balance of healthy fats, whole grain carbohydrates, a source of lean protein, and an abundance of fruits and veggies.

Taking this into consideration, I have ranked the Tim Hortons breakfast options based on their ratio of whole grain carbs and fibre to sugar and processed carbs, the amount of protein, and the ratio of healthy fats to saturated and trans fats. A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found here and a list of ingredients here if you're interested in learning more. 

11. Donuts

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that donuts are one of the least healthy Tim Hortons breakfast options. Jam doesn't count as a serving of fruit #SorryNotSorry. The average donut has approximately 20 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fibre. As a result of the empty carbs, you'll feel hungry again very soon and will likely make another not-so-healthy food purchase. 

Vanilla Dip Donut: 270 calories, 9g fat, 220mg sodium, 22g sugar, 1g fibre, 4g protein

10. Hash Browns

They may taste good, but that's all these greasy breakfast items have going for them. Potatoes are a healthy option for any meal. But after processing, the health benefits are minimized by the high amounts of added sodium and the loss of vitamins and minerals. Like donuts, you likely won't feel full and satisfied by simply chowing down on a hash brown.

Hash brown: 130 calories, 7g fat, 280mg sodium, 0g sugar, 1g fibre, 1g protein

9. Muffins

While seemingly healthy, Tim Hortons muffins are calorically dense due to their high sugar and fat content. While neither of these ingredients are "bad," the amount in one muffin is a little too high for a breakfast item.  If you're craving a muffin, opt for the Cran Apple Walnut Bran or Whole Grain Pecan Banana Bread Muffin, which has two servings of whole grains! These two varieties have a considerable amount of fibre (8 grams and 5 grams, respectively), a small amount of protein, and some healthy fats from the nuts. 

Cran Apple Walnut Bran Muffin: 350 calories, 14g fat, 370mg sodium, 8g fibre, 20g sugar, 5g protein

8. Croissant

croissant, butter, pastry, bread, sweet, jam, dough, coffee, bun
Kristine Mahan

Buttery, flaky goodness. Skip the cheese variety and opt for the plain croissant instead. Tim Hortons considers a croissant a snack, so you'll want to pair it with some fruit and/or milk for a more balanced meal. 

Plain Croissant: 280 calories, 15g fat, 280mg sodium, 1g fibre, 3g sugar, 7g protein 

7. Grilled Breakfast Wrap

While including multiple food groups, this breakfast option is a little too extreme. Anything this greasy and salty and makes me feel gross and bloated afterwards. 

Farmer's Breakfast Grilled Wrap: 650 calories, 38g fat, 1220mg sodium, 3g fibre, 4g sugar, 21g protein 

6. Bagels

Bagels are bae and also a great starting base for a healthier Tim Hortons breakfast. Yes, one bagel does have 300 calories, but they also have high amounts of fibre and protein, which help you stay fuller longer. Any of the classic bagels are great, with the 12 grain variety being my recommended choice. The 12 grain mix contains sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, wheat flakes, rye flakes, rolled oats, barley flakes, cornmeal, millet, triticale flakes, rice flour, flax seeds, and buckwheat flour. Yum!

Avoid spreading excessive amounts of cream cheese and/or butter on your bagel. They may be tasty, but their fats aren't the best for your body. Stick to peanut butter.

12 Grain Bagel: 350 calories, 9g of fat, 450g sodium, 6g fibre, 8g sugar, 11g protein 

5. BELT Bagel

We're finally getting into the more substantial breakfasts. Made with a 12 Grain bagel, this BELT Bagel includes bacon, egg, lettuce, and tomato. Yay for veggies finally making an appearance! Another option is to ask for egg whites if you're concerned about cholesterol or fat. 

BELT Bagel: 570 calories, 25g fat, 1160mg sodium, 7g fibre, 11g sugar, 24g protein

4. Breakfast Sandwich 

There are 16 basic ways to combine eggs, protein, and carbohydrates into a customized breakfast sandwich. Eggs can either be normal or just the egg whites. Protein options include sausage, turkey sausage, steak, and bacon. And finally, you can choose to have your sandwich made with a biscuit or English muffin.

The worst option is a biscuit with sausage, egg, and cheese. While sausage earns a point for protein, the sodium levels raise red flags. The best choice would be to order bacon, egg whites, and cheese on an English muffin. 

Biscuit, Sausage, Egg, Cheese: 530 calories, 35g fat, 1190mg sodium, 2g fibre, 5g sugar, 19g protein

English Muffin, Bacon, Egg Whites, Cheese: 290 calories, 11g fat, 690mg sodium, 1g fibre, 3g sugar, 17g protein

3. Breakfast Panini

Like the breakfast sandwiches, there are eight basic ways to combine egg and protein into a customized breakfast panini. The worst option, due to its high fat and sodium content, is sausage. The best option is to order steak (the newest addition to the Tim Hortons menu) with egg whites. 

Sausage, Egg, Cheese: 470 calories, 30g fat, 1060mg sodium, 2g fibre, 8g sugar, 18g protein

Steak, Egg whites, Cheese: 280 calories, 10g fat, 950mg sodium, 3g fibre, 8g sugar, 19g protein

2. Oatmeal

blueberry, cereal, sweet, milk, yogurt, muesli, berry, oatmeal, porridge
Becky Hughes

It's hard to screw up oatmeal. Packed with fibre and plant-based protein, the biggest thing to watch out for is added sugar. Order your oatmeal with mixed berries instead of maple syrup to keep the added sugars to a minimum. Add some calcium by ordering a side of milk.

Mixed Berry Oatmeal: 210 calories, 3g fat, 220mg sodium, 6g fibre, 14g sugar, 6g protein

1. Greek Yogurt Parfait

yogurt, milk, sweet, berry, strawberry, cream, dairy, muesli, blueberry, granola, mint, dairy product, frozen yogurt
Jenny Mun

An excellent balance of protein, fat, and carbs, this parfait comes in at numero uno. While there are 25g of sugar, some of these will be coming from lactose and the natural sugars found in fruit. The granola is made with corn syrup, but with 13g of protein, this healthy Tim Hortons breakfast option should be your new go-to order. 

Vanilla Greek Parfait: 270 calories, 5g fat, 90mg sodium, 3g fibre, 25g sugar, 13g protein

Theoretically, anything at Tim Hortons could be eaten for breakfast. And while it's fun to eat donuts and cookies for breakfast once in a while, stick to the healthier Time Hortons breakfast options to help you power through your classes. Your brain and body will thank you.