Breakfast kick-starts our day and sets the tone for how the rest of our day will pan out. If you make the mistake of skipping your breakfast, you’re going to be tired and very hungry soon after. Most people who give their breakfast a miss end up eating more calories in the afternoon because they’re so hungry. But while eating your breakfast is important, what you put on your breakfast plate is equally important. A healthy breakfast serves three purposes: it’s low in calories, it fills you up until lunch time and it doesn’t make you sluggish a while later. To make sure you start your day on the right note, avoid these six breakfast foods completely.
1. Fruit Juice
It might be imprinted in our minds that a glass of juice is the perfect way to add nutrition to our breakfast, but this isn’t true. If you’re drinking packaged fruit juice, then it’s probably packed with preservatives, artificial flavors and sugar, which add unnecessary calories to your day. Even if you make your own juice at home, it’s still going to be very high in sugar and completely devoid of any fiber. This means the sugar gets easily absorbed by your body and broken down, giving you an energy surge immediately, but making you very tired by mid-morning. Instead of extracting just the juice, eat whole fruits in the morning.
A big, hearty breakfast comprises all cuts of processed meat like ham, bacon and sausages. Many of us try to excuse all the calories in them by telling ourselves they’re also good sources of protein. But while they do contain protein, processed meats have too many bad ingredients in them to make them a health food. Bacon especially is very high in sodium, a mineral that increases water retention and sends your blood pressure skyrocketing. A protein-heavy breakfast is very important because it keeps you full for much longer. However, make sure you get it from clean sources like eggs and beans.
Cereal and milk is often a staple breakfast food in many households. You might have eaten it every day before school when you were a kid, but as an adult, it’s time to change. Cereal is very high in sugar and very low in fiber. It adds empty calories to your diet, has almost no nutritional content and contains very little to no protein. About an hour after eating cereal for breakfast, you will begin to feel sluggish and unproductive. Instead of regular cereal, try whole grain cereal, wheat bran or muesli as a healthier alternative.
4. Protein Bars
Just because they have the word ‘protein’ in them, doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Protein bars (also known as granola or energy bars) are really just glorified candy. They contain almost the same ingredients as a cookie does, with as much sugar and as little fiber. Most protein bars do have a token amount of healthy fiber like oats or flax seeds added to them, but they’re not enough to make a difference. Forego protein bars completely in favor of a more balanced breakfast or try your hand at making your own. This way you can control how much sugar goes in and make it to suit your taste.
Keep pancakes as a weekend treat and not an everyday breakfast. Pancakes in themselves are bad, but the toppings we add to them make them even worse. Pancake batter uses refined flour that has a very high glycemic index along with tons of sugar. Popular pancake toppings include maple syrup, chocolate chips and chocolate sauce, all of which are terrible for your diet. If you must eat pancakes, use whole wheat flour and natural sweeteners like honey or stevia to make the batter and use only fresh fruits as toppings.
Yogurt can be a very healthy breakfast food, but it can just as easily be a dessert masking as a health food. Flavored yogurt is packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners that do no favors for your diet. Low-fat yogurt is the biggest culprit because manufacturers add sugar to them to compensate for the lack of taste. Always get unflavored, full-fat yogurt and check the ingredients list to make sure there is no added sugar in it. You can add your own fruits to it later if you want to sweeten it.