It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason; what you eat for breakfast can determine your energy, your metabolic patterns, and how your body feels for the entire day.
So while it’s common to grab the quick, easy breakfast go-to before you head off to work, you may want to stay away from these energy-zapping breakfast options. They aren’t doing you or your metabolism any favors. One, in particular, is a popular, “healthy” option that may be fooling you (page 7).
Flavored instant oatmeal
Why it’s a bad choice: While convenient, flavored instant oatmeal packets are full of added, unnecessary sugars. These processed oats, along with oatmeal from fast food chains like McDonald’s, are extra sugary and have plenty of additives. This knocks a classic breakfast staple right off of it’s “health pedestal,” and sets you up for an energy crash midday.
Instead, try overnight oats. The original version, called muesli, literally means “mash-up.” It’s a mix of raw oats, soaked overnight in lemon water and then served, uncooked, with fruits and nuts. This option reaps plenty of health benefits, will give you lots of energy from its high fiber and protein counts and has no added sugar or preservatives.
Cereals and granola
Why it’s a bad choice: Most cereals are loaded with sugars and refined carbs. According to Healthline, breakfast cereals are some of the most commonly consumed processed foods that are high in added sugars. Starting your day with a sugary cereal or granola will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels and result in a blood sugar crash only hours later.
Instead, try an egg-filled meal like a veggie omelet. Eggs are a healthy source of protein and Vitamin D and will boost your metabolism for the rest of the day. “If, overall, you’re choosing lean proteins and not eating a ton of fat and cholesterol, then eggs are a great thing to have in your diet,” said Erica Giovinazzo, M.S., R.D.
Why it’s a bad choice: Bagels can pack anywhere between 50 to 60 grams of carbs, equal to the carbs you’d find in four slices of bread. Most bagels also lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Without fiber, the carbs in a bagel digest quickly, and convert to sugar and possibly fat.
Instead, try a whole grain English muffin or slice of whole grain bread that contains at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Jessica Crandall, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends eating 5 to 7 grams of fiber in each of your three meals.
Milk and OJ
Why it’s a bad choice: Milk, and dairy in general top the list of foods that will kill your endurance and stamina throughout the door and pre-workout. Milk’s sugars are slow-digesting and cause an upset stomach for some people. Orange juice, on the other hand, has a high, hidden sugar content that makes it nearly as bad for you as sweet soda. High-quality processed juices like most orange juice you buy from the store have chemicals that weaken the body in the long run.
Instead, try ginseng tea. This tea is known to increase focus and concentration while also curing fatigue issues. It provides brain stimulation, exactly what we need when we wake up.
Why it’s a bad choice: “Fat-free yogurts add sugar to improve the taste and texture that is affected when the fat is removed,” according to Tory Tedrow, R.D., CNSC. This combination sets your body up for a sugar rush followed by a big crash that could throw you off for the rest of the day.
Instead, try greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and protein and is guaranteed to rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day. It contains probiotic cultures and is low in lactose with double the protein content of regular yogurts.
Why it’s a bad choice: Most muffins are high in sugar and refined carbs and low in nutrition. “Breakfast pastries have no fiber, no protein, no B vitamins, and a rush of white flour and sugar that will leave you with a crash 1-2 hours later,” Monica Heather Auslander, MS, RD, LDN told Business Insider, “You will literally feel like pastry filling.”
Instead, try baking your own muffins at home. Baking muffins with flaxseed, whole wheat flower, and real fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, and zucchini can help you fulfill a sweet craving without screwing up your day’s diet.
Why it’s a bad choice: Fruit smoothies are touted as a quick, healthy breakfast that you can drink on the go. However, way too many contain excessive sugar contents and low nutrition. Store-bought smoothies are virtually always high-sugar nutritious disasters, according to Peak Fitness.
Instead, try whole fruits. Start your day with a banana to keep mid-morning cravings at bay. Bananas are a great source of resistant starch, which is a healthy carb that helps keep you feeling fuller longer. They’re also high in potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure naturally.