Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s important to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. We rarely have time to cook up a full, balanced breakfast each morning so we often opt for quicker, easier options. But how are the choices you make in the morning affecting your health, and which breakfast foods are hurting your diet rather than helping you kick start your day?
The Loaded Bagel
It’s the food of choice for so many breakfasters on the go, but most don’t realize how many calories a bagel can actually have. Alone, a medium-sized plain bagel has around 300 calories and 1.68g of fat—not bad at all. The problem is the toppings -- typically cream cheese and butter, which can add at least 200 calories and excessive amounts of saturated fat. At that point, eating the bagel would be comparable to eating two donuts. Best advice? Look for whole-wheat bagels and stick with a low fat topping.
While breakfast might seem like a great excuse to eat dessert for your meal, pastries like strudels, muffins, and cinnamon rolls do way more harm than they're worth. Almost all pastries contain frostings or glaze, contributing to high sugar content, and most are made with rich white flour, contributing to a high fat and high calorie content. Though delicious at the time, these treats are filled with a ton of excess carbs that will just leave you hungry an hour later.
Pancakes are a personal favorite, so it’s a little disheartening to see them on the naughty list, but it’s for the best. As convenient as they are, boxed pancake mixes are stacked with simple carbs that will cause insulin spikes and crashes, filling you up and then leaving you hungry soon after. Toppings like butter and maple syrup pack on the sugar and calories, so it’s best to leave this one on the shelf.
Energy bars are packed with protein, making them seem like an optimal choice for your morning meal. The problem is that along with all the protein come a lot of fat and calories. If you’re someone who doesn’t plan on spending the day consciously burning off these calories with exercise, energy bars are an easy way to pack on the pounds.
Unless you’re juicing the fruit yourself, most of the fruit juices you’re probably consuming with breakfast are surprisingly unhealthy. Many fruit juices have so much added sugar you’d actually be better off drinking a soft drink for breakfast. If you’re looking to get some extra vitamin C, it’s better to just eat the orange. If you absolutely have to have your juice, make sure you limit the serving size.
What foods do you eat in the morning to give you energy throughout the day? Do you have an alternative way to make these breakfast favorites healthier?