Do you eat dessert for breakfast? Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but you have to fill up on the right nutrients.
Do you eat dessert for breakfast? Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but you have to fill up on the right nutrients. Many of our breakfast staples do not meet that requirement. In fact, several of our favorite breakfast foods aren’t any healthier than a dessert. Here are some top breakfast choices that need improvement:
1. Granola bars. You probably wouldn’t eat a candy bar for breakfast, but that is really what many granola bars are. Most granola bars have more sugar and fat than protein or fiber, despite what their marketing might lead you to believe. It’s not uncommon for a granola bar to have as much sugar as a candy bar without a much better overall nutrient profile.
2. Muffins or coffeecake. Eggs, butter, sugar, white flour, milk — sounds a lot like a recipe for cake. Most commercial muffins or coffeecake contain as much, if not more, sugar than a frosted cupcake.
3. French toast. White bread dipped in egg and milk, fried in fat and topped with syrup is not a recipe for a healthy breakfast. At least if you make it at home, you could use whole grain bread and top it with fruit instead.
4. Bagels and cream cheese. One large bagel has as many carbs and calories as four slices of bread. Most bagels are made with refined flour and sugar. Top it with 100 calories or more of fat from cream cheese, and you have high-calorie, low-nutrient breakfast.
5. Flavored yogurt. Yogurt has a health halo for being a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D — which it is, unless you buy the flavored, sweetened varieties. These can have as much sugar and calories as the same amount of ice cream. Stick with unsweetened Greek yogurt, and top it with fresh, unsweetened fruit.
6. Flavored instant oatmeal. The flavored packets of oatmeal come loaded with extras you don’t need, like sugar and sodium. Making your own oatmeal is just as quick, and you can control any added ingredients. Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber that helps keep you full until lunch.
7. Pancakes or waffles. These typically start out high in sugar and low in fiber and then get dosed with loads of butter and syrup. A restaurant order of pancakes can have as much sugar and as many calories as a large slice of frosted cake. Make your own from scratch using whole grain flour or oats, and top them with nut butter for protein and fruit for sweetness.
8. Breakfast cereals. Some cereals are obviously loaded with sugar, like those marketed to kids. But some that seem healthier, like granolas and many others, still have too much sugar. A bowl of sweetened cereal made with processed grains and a little milk is not going to keep you full for long. Look for whole grain cereals that are high in fiber, and add some fruit or nuts to improve the nutrition.
9. Smoothies. Made with the right ingredients, smoothies can be a healthy choice. But don’t expect the ones you buy to be all that different from a milkshake. Make your own, and include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, low-fat milk, Greek yogurt and even protein powder.
10. Toaster pastries. Probably no one considers these a truly healthy breakfast, yet they are popular with kids. Just one Pop Tart has about 200 calories, with the majority coming from sugar. But because they are packaged two to a pack, most people eat both — a calorie bomb.
For a better breakfast, include a protein. Protein will help keep you full until lunch. Eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, lean meat (for example, Canadian bacon), protein powder and milk are all good choices.
Look for fiber-rich carbs to help keep your blood sugars from spiking and falling, which can lead to hunger soon after eating. Fiber comes from plants, so think whole grains, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.
Include some healthy fats, such as olives, smoked salmon, nuts or nut butters, seeds, or eggs. Some examples of a healthy, filling breakfast are:
Scrambled eggs with vegetables, such as peppers, spinach, onions and tomatoes, sprinkled with cheese and rolled in a fiber-rich tortilla
Fruit and vegetable smoothie with whey protein and flaxseeds Steel cut oats with chia seeds and berries and a hardboiled egg on the side
Whole grain toast with avocado and eggs
Quinoa mixed with black beans, tomatoes, cheese and eggs