Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. When you begin your day eating a nutrient deficient, high calorie breakfast, you are setting yourself up for failure. A good breakfast includes healthy protein, complex carbohydrates, and a small amount of healthy fats.
You need a breakfast that will maintain a stable blood sugar. This will keep you feeling satiated until you are ready for your next meal. To avoid feeling sluggish throughout the day, stay away from the following foods for breakfast.
The sugar-starch combination in your morning donut packs a double health punch, raising your blood sugar precariously and setting you up for a long day of hunger-induced binge eating and nap-inducing blood sugar crashes.
In addition, the donut is notoriously fat laden, making you feel drowsy and lethargic instead of energetic and ready for the workday.
Finally, while no one considers donuts healthy, you may not realize exactly how many calories and how much fat are in just one. For example, an apple fritter has approximately 450 calories and 17 grams of fat, most of which is saturated.
Although donuts taste delicious, you set yourself up to have a really bad day if you only eat donuts for breakfast.
Try having a breakfast that includes protein, such as some granola and Greek yogurt. The energy and staying power you will get from eating a breakfast that has protein in it will make you wish you realized this sooner.
When you need to have energy for a busy day ahead, donuts do not have any staying power. Sure, you’ll have a lot of energy for about 30 minutes, but soon your sugar high will come crashing down and you will feel horrible.
Save the donuts for a time when you want a little treat and don’t go for the donuts at breakfast time.
2. Kid’s Cereals
With bright colors and a sweet taste, cereals aimed at kids have everything you don’t need and little of what you do need in the morning.
Avoid the sugar and food dye combo and switch to a high-fiber whole-grain cereal or oatmeal instead. Kids cereals can be loosely defined as any cereal with a cartoon character on the box.
That cartoon character is red flag, warning that inside is a nutritional disaster.
Some studies have noted that one serving of most of these cereals has an entire day’s recommended allowance of sugar. And sugar first thing in the morning prepares your body for a blood sugar roller coaster throughout the day.
The reason kid’s cereal is so popular is because it tastes good, and marketers of kid’s cereal know how to make the products popular for kids. Most cereals have a cute mascot, “They’rrrrrrrr GREAT!” and kids identify the mascots with the cereal brands.
Stay away from popular kid’s cereals and again, add protein to your breakfast instead. Your body doesn’t need sugar in the morning for energy, your body needs a combination of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fats in order to feel good.
Fill up with healthy choices that will have a lasting effect throughout the day. Sugar cereals should be eaten sparingly, if at all.
3. Processed Meats with Nitrates
If bacon and ham are your go-to breakfast meats, you might want to rethink your morning protein options.
Processed meats contain nitrates, which can increase your risk of a wide range of cancers.
Instead of beginning your day with processed meats, try opting for healthier proteins.
Whip some Greek yogurt into a homemade smoothie. Make an omelet with egg whites, spinach and red peppers.
Top some whole wheat toast with peanut butter and serve with a tall glass of skim milk. Or fill half a cantaloupe with low-fat cottage cheese. You will stay full and start your day without nitrate-laden meats.
Did we really just tell you, no more bacon?
Most of us love bacon, and that is because it is full of artery clogging fats, blood pressure increasing salt and cancer causing nitrates. If that isn’t enough to turn you off from bacon, at least try some healthier varieties such as turkey bacon if you really need your bacon fix in the morning.
Bacon, ham and sausage are all highly processed meats that just aren’t good for you. In the morning, you should be eating a healthy breakfast to get started with your day.
Processed meats will make you retain water because of the high sodium content and you will end up feeling bloated and full.
4. Artificial Maple Syrup
While a little real maple syrup can add a touch of sweetness to your healthy whole-grain pancakes or waffles, artificial maple syrups are made of high-fructose corn syrup, which can raise your risk of type-2 diabetes and has been linked to an increase in abdominal fat.
Instead of artificial syrups, opt for natural sweetness. Try some raw honey, blackstrap molasses or old fashioned cane syrup. Be careful with these sweets, however.
They are all thick and gooey, laden with sugary calories. Fortunately, they are also extremely tasty, and a little bit does, in fact, go a long way.
Artificial maple syrup is cheap, and this should be your first warning sign that it is no good for you. Foods made with high-fructose corn syrup have been linked to any number of diseases and high-fructose corn syrup should be avoided as much as possible.
Food can taste great without any sweetener at all. Add some fresh fruit to the top of pancakes or waffles instead and try it without any syrup first. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the food without any syrup.
Sugar is never a good choice for breakfast, and this includes artificial maple syrup. To reduce sugar spikes, only use small amounts of sweetener on your food.
5. Multigrain Toast
While toasted multigrain bread might seem like a healthy addition to your breakfast plate, appearances can be deceiving.
Many multigrain breads use refined grains, not whole grains, so they’re just as unhealthy as regular white bread.
Look for 100 percent whole grain bread instead of your toast. When your toast is ready, don’t top it with jelly.
Instead add protein and healthy fats to your morning meal. Great toppings include a poached egg, avocado slices, nut butters and hummus.
Or go beyond simply toasting that bread and make French toast. As long as you avoid dousing it in sugary syrup, whole wheat French toast is a protein and complex carb winner.
Nut butters, such as peanut butter and almond butter, add great protein to your toast. Both taste delicious and create a healthier option than using jelly or plain butter. Use nut butters in moderation because they do contain a good amount of calories and fat.
The fat in nut butters is healthy fat, and is good to eat in moderation. If you don’t like the taste of peanut butter, give almond butter a try. It has a different texture and taste than traditional peanut butter.
Toast can be a healthy option for breakfast, just make sure you aren’t using nutritionally poor bread.
6. High-sugar Smoothies
If you’re going all-natural, a blended fruit smoothie with yogurt can be a healthy option, but beware of high-sugar smoothies from commercial chains because they might contain decidedly unhealthy things like ice cream, full-fat milk or added sugar.
Here are some classic healthy combinations that you can make at home: banana, plain Greek yogurt, honey and ginger; blackberries, almond milk, raspberries, ginger and lemon juice; banana, strawberries, plain Greek yogurt and orange juice.
To add more nutrition to your smoothie, buy frozen fruit and freeze bananas. Use these instead of ice cubes to intensify the flavor and texture. If a smoothie needs some thickening, add milled flax seeds, and if it needs protein, add hemp seeds.
Remember that if you use yogurt that has fruit already in it, this yogurt will contain too much sugar to make this smoothie healthy.
You can also add a little romaine lettuce to your smoothie if you want an extra protein and fiber punch. Start with a small amount to get used to the idea. It tastes good, and many people discover that once they start putting romaine lettuce in their smoothies they prefer it.
You never know, you just might like a homemade smoothie made with non-traditional ingredients. You might as well try it.
7. Fast-food Breakfast Sandwiches
Picking up a sausage biscuit sandwich on the go is convenient, but the high levels of saturated fat and calories fill you up with unhealthy food while lacking anything nutritious, such as vitamins and minerals, to keep you going in the long run.
Instead, make your own breakfast sandwich by “poaching” an egg in the microwave and topping a whole wheat English muffin with the poached egg, goat cheese and fresh spinach.
Or choose among healthy fast food options, such as Starbucks’ Spinach and Feta Breakfast Wrap or Au Bon Pain’s Egg Whites and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich.
Even McDonald’s can provide you with an acceptable breakfast sandwich option. Choose an English muffin, with eggs and cheese only. Lay off the bacon or sausage and skip the home fries. Although this option is not ideal, it will work out in a pinch.
If you love breakfast sandwiches, take the time in the morning to make yourself one. For the two extra minutes it takes to make yourself a quick breakfast sandwich, the health benefits will be worth it.
Plus, you can make the same breakfast sandwich you spend $4 on for way less money. Not only are you helping yourself get healthier, you are saving some money in the process.
8. Plain White Bagels
A plain white bagel is just as bad as white bread or a donut because it is essentially a concentrated ring of refined white flour.
Adding cream cheese just boosts the saturated fat content and raises your risk of heart disease.
Unlike white bread, bagels are incredibly dense.
You can tell they are dense by how heavy they feel in your hand. Yet people routinely eat bagels instead of donuts and feel that they have made a better nutritional choice.
The apple fritter discussed earlier has 450 calories, but a typical cinnamon crunch bagel has 420, not much of a calorie savings.
Plain white bagels contain no nutritional value and in fact, they can add significant belly fat to your body.
If you eat a lot of refined white flour, your body may even be storing up to 10 pounds of flour within your intestines. This should give you enough reason to cut out the white flour and start adding more fiber to your diet instead.
White bagels provide you with too much simple carbohydrate. This creates a sugar spike in your bloodstream and sets you up to feel sluggish throughout the day. When your sugar spikes, it will eventually fall.
You will feel hungry shortly after eating the bagel because of the sugar ups and downs, even though you’ve eaten enough calories for half of the day.
9. Giant Muffins
A giant muffin from the grocery store or local cafe delivers about three times the calories of a standard-size muffin.
They’re also typically heavy in refined flour and sugar. Even blueberries and nuts can’t save this breakfast. In fact, these muffins are really enormous cupcakes.
Instead of frosting, they have crunchy toppings made of sugar, butter, and more flour.
The typical giant muffin has between 440 and 600 calories of white flour, saturated fat, and sugar. Don’t fool yourself into believing that choosing the muffin over the donut was smart. The notorious apple fritter has 440 calories, making it a caloric bargain compared to a giant muffin.
It’s amazing how we have been able to convince ourselves that these giant muffins aren’t really that bad for us. While you wouldn’t eat a giant piece of cake for breakfast, you’ve probably grabbed one of these monster muffins.
Make some muffins at home using whole wheat flour and fresh fruits. Use as little sugar as possible, and stay away from unhealthy fats. If you really love muffins, you can create a healthy recipe. Play around with the ingredients and don’t be afraid to try something new.
Muffins that are nutrient dense will give you a good boost in the morning.
10. Store-bought Fruit Yogurt
If your yogurt comes with fruit at the bottom of the cup, you’re adding plenty of unnecessary sugar to your morning meal.
Skip the sugar and use plain non-fat yogurt mixed with fresh fruit instead.
The sugar in prepared yogurt cups comes from sweetening the yogurt itself as well as wrapping the fruit in a sugary suspension.
Since yogurt contains lactose, you can expect unsweetened varieties to have 12 grams in a six ounce serving, which is plenty. You can cultivate a taste for the tanginess of yogurt, and this cultivation can only benefit your overall health since yogurt, without all the added sugar.
If you don’t love yogurt with fresh fruit, try a little granola mixed in as well. Granola isn’t always healthy for you, but a small amount mixed with yogurt and fresh fruit is a good choice for breakfast.
Greek yogurt is even tangier than regular plain yogurt, and you might like the taste even more. Greek yogurt has almost double the protein than regular yogurt, so it’s worth giving Greek yogurt a try.
As always, avoid sugar in the morning in order to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Yogurt has healthy protein, just make sure you aren’t eating a lot of sugar with the brand you buy. Check the label for sugar content to avoid eating any unnecessary calories.