While breakfast may not actually be the most important meal of the day, it is still necessary to prioritize nutrient dense foods in the morning in order to give you enough energy to think and function in the early hours. Breakfast can come in a variety of shapes and forms, but the wrong choice can cause your blood sugar levels to crash and even lead to weight gain. If you’ve been trying to eat healthier and are looking to reevaluate your breakfast choices, these are the four meals that health experts warn will do your body no favors.
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At first glance, drinking just coffee in the morning can seem like a great way to easily cut calories. But not so fast–you’ll likely find yourself starving within just a few hours and become more apt to reach for a pastry or a high carb snack with low nutritional value. “This is terrible for weight loss as the coffee stimulates energy and mental clarity which can feel good at first, but it also triggers an elevation in cortisol (the stress hormone),” explains nutritionist Haylie Pomroy. “Couple that with a refined carb that converts easily into sugar, and this is a breakfast recipe for disaster.”
Cereal may be a quick and easy breakfast, but it is also likely to leave you hungry and crashing from the sugar not long after you finish eating. “These products often contain a lot of sugar. They also contain a lot of preservatives and additives. Even healthy versions may not be that healthy. They can contain a lot of highly processed ingredients and often do not have enough fiber. Cereal grains usually contain no protein,” warns Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC. If you like a breakfast that’s easy to throw together, try making overnight oats instead for a serving of slow releasing carbs.
Breakfast bars and health bars are often quite misleading in their names and cannot provide you with sustainable, nutritious energy for your morning. Instead, you’ll find that you might as well have eaten a candy bar for the amount of sugar it offers you. “Most widely available and staple breakfast bars contain added sugar and fat. Even though they may deliver satiety and many nutritional benefits, they also come with chemicals, sugars, GMOs which all contradict your exercise and increases the risk of weight gain and higher rates of visceral fat accumulation,” says Brandon Nicholas, NASM Certified personal trainer & nutritionist.
As an occasional treat pastries are great, but they offer no protein and are likely high in carbs and sugar, leaving you hungry shortly after eating. This will lead you to snack more throughout the day, making a calorie deficit much more difficult to maintain and potentially causing you to gain weight. “Foods that are primarily made up of sugar and limited nutrition are fun to have sometimes but ultimately won’t help you to reach your health goals. Sugary breakfast foods (think sugary cereals, donuts, and pastries) typically aren’t filling or satisfying and can be quite high in calories. Our bodies need calories to survive but it’s best to get them from more nutritious sources,” says RD Jenna Gorham. Instead, when working to lose weight, try to find a breakfast that provides you with protein and healthy carbs which offer lasting energy throughout the morning.