Skipping breakfast is a bad idea, since it is the most important way to fuel your body to get through the day and keep your metabolism strong.
Laura Manning, MPH, RD, CDN, and clinical nutrition coordinator for Mount Sinai Hospital, states, “The ideal breakfast contains a whole grain carbohydrate, a protein, and fresh fruit or vegetable. The perfect example is a bowl of whole grain oats with chopped walnuts and blueberries.”
However, it is often too easy to reach for quick, prepackaged options that do not contain the proper nutrition and also contain ingredients you do not want to put into your body.
Here are 9 popular breakfast options that nutritionists recommend you avoid.
1. Packaged smoothies
When your morning smoothie comes out of a packaged bottle, you are probably getting a ton of sugar that you do not need.
Kaitlin Williams, MPH, RD, LD, at Rebecca Bitzer and Associates in Maryland explains, “Premade smoothies often contain a large amount of fruit and sometimes sweeteners, making the sugar content quite high.”
Better choices include homemade smoothies with healthy proteins as ingredients, like yoghurt, cottage cheese, or hemp hearts, which give you far less sugar. When you add in vegetables, you are getting more nutrients without any added sugar.
2. Breakfast meats
Bacon is fine for an occasional treat, but you shouldn’t eat it every day.
Cristina Caro, RD, LD, a registered dietician with campus dining services company Sodexo Universities, says, “Breakfast meats such as bacon, country ham, and sausage are all high in sodium, which can actually stimulate your appetite and thirst mechanism, making you want to eat more.” These foods can also contribute to high blood pressure and headaches.
3. Breakfast bars
Sure, these seem like the perfect grab-and-go breakfast option, but you will probably be left feeling quite unsatisfied.
According to Justin Heaton, RD, CSSD, LDN, the campus dietician for Temple University, “While convenient, these are typically loaded with sugar and simple carbohydrates that won’t provide enough sustained energy to get you through the morning.
4. Sugary cereals
Even though packaged cereals claim to contain tons of vitamins and minerals, you should always check the sugar content carefully before you buy any cereal.
Mindy Haar, PhD, director of program development for New York Institute of Technology’s Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences says, “Highly sweetened breakfast cereals may appear to be nutritious due to added vitamins and the fact that they’re consumed with calcium-rich milk.
Actually, they’re low in fibre and many people eat a lot more than the serving size listed on the label, meaning you’re getting more sugar than you think.”
5. Energy drinks
This is a food that should never be considered to be a good breakfast option. They will give you some instant energy, but this will be followed by a sugar and caffeine crash.
Williams explains, “These drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine. While you may feel a surge of energy immediately afterward, it usually ends in a crash. You’re much better off with a nutritious, balanced breakfast that will help sustain you throughout the day.”
6. Flavoured, low-fat yoghurt
When you buy yoghurt with added fruit, you are buying yoghurt with more sugar, too.
Gary Appelsies, a certified holistic health coach and director of healthy eating at the YMCA of Central Florida explains, “Switching out your low-fat yoghurt for Greek will cut back on sugar, kick up the protein, and decrease sodium by more than half. In fact, Greek yoghurt gives you approximately 38% of your daily protein, which is about the same as you would get from 3 oz of beef.”
He suggests buying plain Greek yoghurt and adding in some of your own favourite healthy ingredients, like berries, nuts or seeds. This boosts the nutritional impact and you are eating more healthy ingredients.
7. Anything containing refined carbohydrates
Doughnuts and pastries do not make good breakfast choices. Not only are they filled with sugar, but they lack real nutritional content.
Manning states, “Highly processed carbohydrates—like sweet cereals, pound cake, muffins, pastries and bagels –can raise blood sugars and then cause them to drop, making you crave even more sugary foods.”
8. Specialty coffees
Caffeinated drinks like frappucinos and cappuccinos contain tons of excess sugar and calories and no nutritional benefit. If you like your caffeine fix in the morning, drink an old-fashioned, regular cup of coffee.
Haar says about the specialty coffees, “They’re merely dressed up milkshakes. One of these can contain up to a third of the calories and saturated fat you should have in a day.”
9. Pre-made breakfast sandwiches
Again, handy and not very nutritious. Even though you do get protein from eggs, meat, and cheese, these are usually highly processed and high in fat.
Caro cautions, “Biscuits and breakfast sandwiches, including fast food and frozen varieties, are high in fat and low on fibre, which facilitates sluggishness and lack of concentration throughout the day.”
Be sure that you eat a healthy breakfast, filled with foods that will fuel your body properly and give you the energy and nutrients you need to get through the day!