The most important meal of the day gets the title for a reason.
After a long night of fasting, your body is begging for nutrition in the morning. Without the proper fuel, you’re left with low energy, an offset mood, wacky cravings, and potentially a wider waistline. Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it?
Some classic morning meals are obvious diet offenders—waffles and pop tarts, you’re not fooling anybody. However, other breakfast staples may not seem so sinful at first glance. Either way, do yourself a favor and skip these seven foods at the breakfast table because they’re contributing to your weight gain. Opting for more nutritionally balanced, wholesome breakfast alternatives will actually prepare you to take on the day, like these best healthy breakfast foods for weight loss. And to really step up your healthy eating skills, uncover these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Leave the Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes where they belong—in your childhood memories. The sugar rush from these cereals will mess with your blood sugar and cause you to reach for more sugary snacks later on in the day (turn to these healthy sweet snacks instead). “Classic breakfast foods can often be high in sugar, lower in nutritional value including vitamins and minerals, healthy fat, fiber and protein that can help to carry us forward into the day feeling satisfied and energized,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. This remains true for sweet cereals. If you’re not full at breakfast, you’ll eat more soon after you finish breakfast, which can cause you to take in more calories than you need and pack more pounds onto your frame. Also, be aware that healthier-looking options like granolas can also contain high amounts of sugar, so be sure to read the nutrition label before buying!
Waffles can be incredibly heavy on the simple carbs (meaning, they digest quickly and won’t keep you full for long), and have the potential to qualify as a dessert depending on your toppings of choice. Some toaster varieties may offer a decent amount of fiber if specified on the package. Other options, though, can be seriously lacking. Whether you make your own batter or pop some in the toaster, waffles don’t exactly provide you with a balanced breakfast.
“When it comes to picking a great breakfast, you always want to combine protein or fat with minimally processed carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, for example, scrambled eggs with fruit or toast,” says Smith.
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Nothing quite hits the spot like a glass of OJ in the morning, right? This breakfast mainstay is actually high in sugar (yes, it’s natural fruit sugar and not “added sugar,” but it’s still dozens of grams of the sweet stuff).
“Juice (particularly heat pasteurized fruit juice) in the morning can serve up a high dose of sugar and calories. Also, given that the fruit juice is processed at a higher temperature, some of the nutrient value can be lost, too. Instead, choose a freshly squeezed juice, cold-pressed juice or high-pressure-pasteurized fruit and vegetable juice that contains more nutrients and less sugar,” says Smith.
A good rule is to look for a juice that boasts two veggies for every fruit included. Not into juice anyway? Then check out these 41 Best-Ever Breakfast Smoothies For Weight Loss.
Do your best to resist that bagel shop on the corner. Sorry, but there’s nothing smart about this a.m. pick.
Bagels are calorie bombs—you might measure them as one serving, but one bagel is equivalent to roughly four slices of bread—and offer very little nutrition. Not to mention, most are considered simple carbohydrates, so unless it’s whole wheat, you’ll miss out on fiber content that would keep you feeling satisfied. And sorry to slam your beloved schmear, but cream cheese is really only there to satisfy your taste buds, not your nutritional needs — even if it’s the veggie kind. If you really can’t kick your morning bagel, try eating half of a whole-wheat bagel with avocado or nut butter for the spread. This way you’ll cut back on calories and add in some healthy protein, fiber, and fat to balance the meal.
Oatmeal can be one of the best ways to start your day and there are at least 15 ways to lose weight with oatmeal. But pre-mixed packets offer a little more than you bargained for.
“When we choose premixed oatmeal, we typically get less fiber because the grain is generally more processed, and more added sugar,” says Smith. For a healthier bowl, add your own fruit to plain, steel-cut oats. Nut butter, seeds, coconut, and cinnamon are all tasty and healthy add-ins, too, that will actually help you stave off hunger pangs and consuming unwanted calories.
The only thing these pastries are fueling is your nostalgia. Grabbing a Pop-Tart out of the toaster on your way to school as a kid may have been sufficient back then, but your body relies on your morning meal for energy — and this pick will leave you hanging. Any natural energy you do get from the superfluous sugar in these pastries will soon be followed by a crash. Also, the low fiber count doesn’t help balance things out either.
Similar to pre-mixed oatmeal, yogurt starts out as a healthy choice, before companies start to add consumer-attracting extras like artificial colors and flavors. “Yogurt in its plain form is great because it’s a good source of calcium, protein, and gut-healthy probiotics. However, in most cases, flavored versions contain lots of added sugar and syrup—especially fruit-on-the-bottom varieties. Choose a plain yogurt instead, and add your own fruit and even a few nuts for healthy fat that will promote slower digestion and increased satiety,” says Smith. For more tips in the kitchen, don’t miss these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That’ll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.