OK. So raise your hand if breakfast is your absolute favorite meal of the day. If that's the case, is it because of all of the health benefits that this particular meal offers (more energy, a kick in your metabolism, a boost of productivity, etc.)? Or is it because of the type of foods that you like to eat; ones that just happen to be your absolute favorite ones overall? If the answer is "B", while I'm certainly not out here to rain on any parades, I do want to encourage you to check out these 10 foods, just to see if the kind of breakfasts that you're having is working for or against you.
If, at the end of this, you discover that the answer to that little dilemma is also "B", while I'm not saying that you've got to go without the foods that bring you so much joy forever, you definitely should strongly consider pushing your plate back more often. Breakfast is supposed to be both good to and for you. To make sure that happens, certain foods need to be consumed sparingly. Here are the ones that top the "Yeah, you might want to be careful with that" breakfast list.
1. ONLY Fruit Juice
Fruit juice comes from fruit and fruit is good for you; therefore, everything about fruit juice can't be the devil—and it's not. The antioxidants in fruit juice can help to boost your immune system and detoxify your body at the same time. Fruit juice is also a quick and delicious way to get certain vitamins and minerals into your system. Problem is, a lot of us don't drink pure fruit juice. Instead, we go for a cocktail or some other form of juice that is loaded with sugar. In fact, I once read an article that said juices like Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice and Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry actually contain more sugar than freakin' soda does!
If you don't want to drink only water in the morning, I get it. But try and either squeeze your own juice and/or check out this list of brands to buy and ones to avoid. Oh, and always remember that fructose, even though it comes from fruit, is still sugar. And when it comes to sugar consumption, moderation is always key.
2. Breakfast Bars
I know. Breakfast bars are convenient AF. Here's the thing, though. When was the last time you checked the ingredients on the label to see how many words you could actually pronounce? Unfortunately, some of the most popular breakfast bars are loaded with sugar and preservatives; ones that can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket, if you're not careful. If you still want to eat 'em but you'd like a cheat sheet to determine which are better than the rest, I've got you.
An article on The Daily Meal's site shared that ones like KIND Blueberry Breakfast Bars and Go Raw Raisin Crunch Sprouted Bar are pretty good for you while others like Kellogg's Special K Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Meal Bar and Nutri-Grain Fruit & Oat Harvest Baked Apple Cinnamon, you need to take a hard pass on. Whatever you go with, try not to make breakfast bars a staple. Eat them when you are truly in a pinch.
3. Flavored Yogurt
Ah, yogurt. Precious yogurt. Let's go with the good news first. Yogurt is full of calcium, vitamins B and D, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Most yogurts contain probiotics too. If you're looking for a meat alternative to get a good amount of protein into your system, yogurt's totally got your back. Some studies even indicate that yogurt can help to keep your heart healthy. Problem is, if you opt for flavored yogurt, between the artificial flavoring and coloring and sugar content, you could end up doing your system more harm than good.
As far as figuring out which yogurt is best, the first thing to keep in mind is to apply the "less is more" rule when reading the label. In other words, the more ingredients that you see, the more you're increasing your chances of taking things into your body that it doesn't need. That said, make sure that sugar isn't in the top 3-5 ingredients. Also, check to see that the percentage of Vitamin D that the yogurt contains is on the higher side. Something else that can help you out is the article, "What's the Healthiest Yogurt? We Asked a Nutritionist". It breaks down some pretty popular brands and why some are—and aren't—healthy for you.
4. Sugary Cereal
Does nothing make you happier than a big ole' bowl of cereal? If so, I'm not gonna ruin that for you. The pros to eating cereal are that many of them are a great source of whole grains, fiber, protein, healthy carbs, and even vitamins like B-complex and Vitamin E. Thanks to all of this, cereal can be a great way to give yourself an energy kick at the start of your day. The "con" is a lot of us don't opt for boxes of unprocessed cereal (cereal where grains haven't been ground to a pulp and then mixed with sugar and preservatives before being dried and packaged). We prefer the kind that has as much sugar and artificial colors and flavors as possible. And considering that men should only consume around 36 grams of sugar a day, we should take in no more than 25-30 grams, and some cereal brands have double that amount per serving—well, I'm pretty sure you can see why sugary cereals are the ultimate breakfast no-no.
So, how do you go about selecting a cereal that will do more than just our taste buds good? Well, the more whole grain you see listed on the label, the better. Under 10 grams of sugar per serving is wise. Also, try and avoid cereals that contain "processed fiber" because they won't be able to keep you as regular or lower your cholesterol levels like unprocessed fiber can.
(By the way, if you wanna know if your favorite "junk food cereal" tops the list, check out "28 of the World's Highest Sugar Cereals". Brace yourself. Some on there may catch you totally off guard.)
5. Instant Oatmeal
A lot of us grew up having oatmeal for breakfast, at least a couple of times a week. Good thing too because oatmeal is considered to be a whole grain food that contains an unbelievable amount of manganese (141 percent of your reference daily intake), along with phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins B1 and B5. Oatmeal also has the antioxidants avenanthramides in it that can help to lower your blood pressure, the fiber Beta-glucan that promotes bacteria into your digestive tract and, there is even a study that says that babies who eat oatmeal significantly lower their chances of getting asthma later in life.
Just make sure that the oatmeal that you eat isn't instant. The packaging of them alone sounds off alarms about how many preservatives they contain. Plus, it's pretty common for instant oatmeal to have more sugar and less fiber than if you make a bowl the old-fashioned way.
6. Frozen Waffles
If I had a favorite breakfast comfort food, it would probably be French toast first with waffles being a close second. They both are delicious, but neither is the healthiest on the planet. Honestly, they're basically considered to be a pastry and, as far as waffles go, they are usually loaded with white flour and sugar—and that's before you pile on butter and syrup. The only thing more unhealthy than a homemade waffle is a frozen one.
If you look at the label, it usually doesn't have nearly enough of the daily amount of fiber that your body needs while still offering up plenty of preservatives to keep those waffles sitting in your freezer for weeks on end. Hey, I don't want to deprive anyone (including myself) of some chicken and waffles every now and then, but try and save that for special occasions rather than making it your automatic weekend go-to, OK? Cool.
7. Toaster Pastries
Out of everything on this list, the one that I'll probably have the shortest commentary on is toaster pastries. You know, like Pop-Tarts. They're like edible Kool-Aid if you ask me and there is nothing good, healthy, or beneficial about that. They are off-the-charts with the sugar, very low when it comes to fiber and protein, and then have the nerve to come two per package which means you're taking in a ton of empty calories. So, since there is really nothing redeemable about them, how about taking a firm pass, even if you're tempted to eat them, just for nostalgia's sake?
Hmm. A toasted bagel with butter used to be a fave food of mine. If you also enjoy this particular food (only with cream cheese or some other topping), let me start with why bagels aren't necessarily the worst of the worst when it comes to breakfast options. Each bagel is around 11 grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and a fair amount of manganese, copper, vitamin B-1, and even a bit of iron and zinc. The challenge is they are also high in calories, refined carbs, and, oftentimes gluten too—and that's before you put your toppings on!
Bottom line, if bagels are your thing, you definitely don't need to eat them daily, you should go with a topping like hummus or nut butter, and to get some extra protein into your system, consider topping your bagel with an egg, a slice of salmon or protein—just to balance everything out.
Here's the thing about most jellies. More times than not, the more popular brands contain a ton of high fructose corn syrup (you can read more about why that is the devil incarnate here), artificial coloring, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Nothing about any of that is good for you (no matter how great the combination may taste). So, it really is best to leave commercial brands alone altogether.
The only exception is if you go with a brand that is as natural as possible. That way, you can take advantage of the pectin (which is a form of fiber) and other nutrients that the fruit that makes the jelly provides. To tell you the truth, the healthiest jelly that you can eat is the kind you make at home (get tips on how to do that here). But if you'd prefer to get some at your local grocery store, Welch's Natural Concord Grape Spread is a jelly that contains no high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or flavors. (You're welcome.)
Now before you freak out on this one, let me just say that yes, eggs are good for you. They're high in protein, folate, zinc, calcium, and vitamins A, B12, D, and E. They are able to raise the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is "good cholesterol", in your system. The choline that's in eggs can help to build healthy cell membranes. Eggs even contain amino acids that can help to increase your muscle mass. But the reason why I chose to close out with omelets is that sometimes, all of the oil that they're made in, along with the tons of meat and cheese that go inside of them can be like eating a potential heart attack for breakfast!
That's why, first, it's so important to select the best kind of eggs—either pastured ones from a local farmer or Omega-3s, DHAs, or organic ones from your local grocery store (you can read why here). As far as making omelets go, try and put more veggies than meat (and cheese), prepare them in healthy fat like olive, coconut, and mustard oil, and use more cumin and paprika than salt (salt is high in sodium). If you follow these simple tips, you'll be able to enjoy your omelets, knowing that they truly are giving you what you need in order to have a great day.
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