Eating a bad breakfast is worse than not eating breakfast at all. This is because a poorly balanced meal gets your body on track for frequent cravings and lack of energy. In contrast, a well-balanced breakfast of fiber, lean protein and healthy fats gets your metabolism going and keeps your blood sugar balanced throughout the day to keep you focused and on track. Although the following breakfast have been normalized in popular culture, they are nothing but a bad way to start your day.
You may have noticed that cereal companies have begun to aggressively market the nutritional benefits of their products with labels that read “high in fiber”, “good source of vitamin D” or “part of a nutritious breakfast” but these taglines couldn’t be further from the truth. Although the nutritional fact on the cereal box may list many vitamins and minerals, these are often artificially added to the product to make them more appealing to the consumer.
What’s more, most store-bought cereal, even “healthy” brands are incredibly high in sugar. In some cases, the portion size described on the label will be purposefully reduced (sometimes by even a half or a third) to mislead you into thinking that the product is healthier than it really is. In fact, the Environmental Working Group examined popular breakfast cereals aimed at children and found that a 1-cup serving often contained more sugar than 3 store-bought chocolate chip cookies (1).
Replace with heart-healthy cooked oatmeal (not instant) topped with nuts, chia seeds and blueberries.
2. Pancakes and Waffles
These breakfast classics are often made with refined flour, which promotes insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation (1,2). Most families also use pancake mix, which is full of preservative and flavor additives. Worse yet, these toxin-heavy meals are often topped with liver-damaging high-fructose corn syrup.
Replace with a homemade batter of ancient grain-based flour like amaranth or quinoa and top with fresh fruit and little bit of maple syrup or honey.
Whoever invented white bread certainly never predicted the health epidemic it would cause. This highly processed baked good lacks fiber, leaving you with high blood sugar and hunger pangs shortly after consumption. And if that’s not bad enough, many people choose to spread margarine on their toast before topping it off with nut butter, jam or baked beans. Although many margarine companies label their products as being trans fat free, they often still contain some trans fats. These fats are linked to chronic inflammation and poor cardiovascular health (3,4,5).
Replace with a slice of organic whole grain toast and spread fresh avocado, turmeric and pepper on top. Eat it alongside a nice omelette or poached eggs.
Nowadays, muffins aren’t much better than cake. Loaded with hydrogenated oils, refined flour and sugar, they’re a far cry form the health food they claim to be. On top of that, muffins are now being supersized by supermarket to fill the increasing appetite of hungry Americans. As it stands, most muffin sold around the country exceed the USDA standard portion size by 333%, meaning that they contain much more fat and sugar than the national health guidelines recommend (6).
Replace with homemade muffins made fresh over weekend using unrefined flour. Get creative and incorporate pulp scraps from your juicer to make them more nutritious, use apple sauce instead of oil and sweeten with honey instead of sugar.
5. Toaster Pastries
Toaster pastries are infamous for containing white flour, processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil. Plus, they often contain artificial fruit jam inside and alarmingly bright colored icing on top (7). Plus, studies show that eating a low-protein high-carb breakfast only leaves you feeling more hungry throughout the morning and makes you more likely to eat a big meal at lunch (8).
Replace with a smoothie made with real fruit and superfoods: it’s an easy way to get your micro and macro nutrients first thing in the morning. Don’t forget to add soaked nuts and hemp powder for extra protein and brain-healthy fats!
6. Low Fat Yogurt
Most yogurt available in grocery stores are full of sugar, gelatin and modified milk ingredients. That’s why it’s important to read the nutritional information. If you compared low fat yogurt with the natural variety, you’ll notice that most low-fat versions actually contains more sweeteners and additives than their full-fat counterpart (9,10).
Although they may be lower in calories, non-fat or reduced fat yogurts don’t give your body the same satisfaction after eating, meaning that you’re more likely to crave another snack within an hour or so of your yogurt. This is because fat helps keep you full and takes longer for your body to digest than carbs. It also release cholecystokinin, a hormone that regulates satiety (11,12).
Replace with full fat organic yogurt or kefir, which both contain hunger-busting fats and gut-healthy bacteria. For more texture and flavor, add oats, ground flax seeds and fresh berries and let it soak overnight.
7. Granola bars
Granola bars can really supply a big boost in energy, but it always comes at a cost. Popular brands rely on high fructose corn syrup and other corn products and sweeteners in most of their products. For example, Nutri-Grain Fruit & Nut Cherry Almond granola bar contains corn syrup, sugar, fructose, dextrose as well as naturally sweet ingredients like dried cherries, raisins and dates (13). Other Kellogg products, like Nutri grain’s Oat Harvest Bars list sugar as the second ingredient, meaning that it’s surpassed in quantity by oats alone. These bars also include corn syrup, molasses, invert sugar and more sugar and corn syrup in their filling (14).
Replace with raw homemade granola bars or energy balls. Just be sure to eat them as a mid-morning snack and fill up on a full breakfast before starting your day.
8. Processed Gluten-Free Foods
Processed gluten-free foods often substitute gluten, a combination of proteins, with starch, a carbohydrate (15). This means that gluten-free product often have a high glycemic index and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This leads to a rise in insulin , which can cause rebound hunger, weight gain and insulin resistance (16).
Replace with naturally gluten-free breakfast quinoa. All you have to do is cook some quinoa in the morning and add your favorite nuts and fruit just before taking it off the heat. For a more creamy meal, add a tablespoon or two of coconut milk.
Bacon may be the most popular breakfast food, but it certainly isn’t the healthiest. Full of nitrates, sodium and preservative the popular meat has attracted more scientific scrutiny. Studies show that just 6 strips of bacon a day can leave you 57% more likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer (17). It’s also linked to bladder, esophageal and stomach cancer.
Replace with eggs, which are high in protein and good cholesterol. If you’re looking for something with a similar taste, try dulce seaweed.
10. Coffee Creamer
Coffee creamer typically contain genetically modified corn syrup, trans fats, artificial flavoring and the list goes on. Often times, inflammatory oils like soybean and canola make up the third listed ingredients while cancer-feeding sugar is the second ingredient (18). This makes coffee creamer more closely resemble a candy bar than cream.
Replace with coconut oil or coconut milk. Coconut oil more closely resembles non-dairy creamer while coconut milk is closer in texture to real cream. Both can be spiced and sweetened for a guilt-free treat!