When you’re ordering the pancake stack on a Sunday morning at your favourite brunch spot, most people would say it’s their treat, or something they know is a little bit naughty. As this is usually ordered as a cheat meal for the week, we’re not too focused on the off occasion you have this for breakfast. What we and most nutritionists are concerned with is the daily breakfasts choices that could be the reason you’re not seeing weight loss or muscle developments.
We all know that sweets, simple carbohydrates and processed foods should always be avoided, especially in the morning, but there are a few breakfast foods that although may seem healthy have quite a few hidden nasties.
Store-bought breakfast sandwiches
One of the most disguised breakfast options that I see people buying every morning is the local store-bought breakfast sandwich. These usually include an egg, some processed meats, cheese and sometimes a form of veggies sandwiched between two thick slices of bread or bagel halves. Although it is possible to source healthier versions of this breakfast option, most of the time, the combination of trans-fat packed cooking oils, caged eggs, highly processed meats and high-sugar simple carbohydrate bread is what you will be giving your body the first thing in the morning – not great…
Another breakfast option that has risen in popularity is the breakfast bar. It seems to fulfill everything you need out of a breakfast – easy, fast, able to be eaten on the go and claiming to be healthy AF with “High Fiber, Low Fat” sprawled across the packet. Although you’re definitely getting your fiber needs for the day (yay! I was really worried about my fiber intake..) you’re also getting up to as 3 tablespoons of sugar per serving. Don’t be fooled by ingredients like honey, agave syrup or even organic coconut syrup – it’s just SUGAR in a fur coat.
Okay – if you’re making or ordering a green juice with wheatgrass, spinach, kale, coconut water and a handful of blueberries, you don’t have to worry. But let’s be honest – that’s not everything you’re including, or as far as you know. Most green juices get a raving taste review from their buyers because they’re unsuspectingly loaded with – take a wild guess – more sugar! Whether this is through a few servings of fruit, flavoured yogurt or honey, you’re no longer taking in a handful of calories, you’re taking in hundreds, mainly from simple sugars. If you are making your own, make sure to include some type of protein from protein powder, chia seeds or oats to give your body the sustenance it needs for the rest of the day.
You might think to yourself a glass of orange, apple or grapefruit juice in the morning is loading your body up with Vitamin C (FYI Guavas have 4x the Vitamin C level of Oranges..) but the only thing you’re doing is filling your body with empty calories, minimal nutrients and taking a return trip to a blood sugar spike. Don’t go anywhere near pre-packaged fruit juices as they often contain preservatives and added sugar to keep their extensive shelf-life.
In a food industry that can market anything to look reasonably healthy, it comes as no surprise that most store-bought breakfast muffins have similar sugar content to their ‘junk food’ equivalent – cupcakes. Even muffins with a darker flour or advertised to be gluten, dairy or refined sugar-free can stack up to around 350-400 calories, with over half of that coming from simple carbohydrates, over ¼ coming from trans-fat and less than ¼ coming from protein.
A blueberry muffin, with cream cheese and foamy latte…
There have been countless mornings where this was my staple breakfast before realising how incredibly high-calorie, high carbohydrate and low-nutritional value this option (or accepted I always knew…). With the addition of some seasonings or fruits, bagels contain 3 main ingredients – yeast, flour and sugar – not exactly the ingredients for a well-rounded breakfast. I can guarantee, from experience, that you’ll be ravenous for more within an hour after this breakfast choice.
Flavoured non-fat yogurt
Surely the ‘non-fat’ era is over by now…
NO? I’ll explain it again – eating fat won’t make you fat… it’ll make you lose it. Consuming good fats like those juicy Omega-3s from avocado, coconut oil and nuts actually promotes the burning of fat throughout your body. On the other end of this, consuming simple sugars like those added to ‘non-fat’ or ‘low-fat’ yogurt to make it taste better will be used quickly for an energy spike, then stored on your body as fat. Ditch the ‘low-fat’ options and swap it out for its full-fat, natural alternative such as Greek yogurt or alternatives like coconut yogurt or sheep’s milk yogurt (don’t knock it till you try it!)
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you you can’t drink coffee in the morning. I’m just telling you that this should not be your entire breakfast, under any circumstance. Those who skip breakfast and opt for a coffee in a bid to lose weight or reduce their daily intake will actually find their metabolism and weight loss progress slow down. If you’re not hungry in the morning you’d be better off having even the smallest snack to rev up your metabolism than allow your body slip into starvation mode, causing the food you do eventually eat to be stored as fat straight away.