Bagels, doughnuts, and pastries. Oh my. You shouldn’t be eating this kind of fluff for breakfast, and for the most part, you’re pretty good at steering clear. (All bets are off when you spot those fresh scones at the farmer’s market, though.)
But sugary, buttery cakes-in-disguise aren’t the only foods you should avoid for your morning meal (take these 7 seemingly healthy foods nutritionists avoid). There are plenty of other everyday breakfast offenders that are devoid of nutrition or set you up to feel hungry and crave junk later on… or both, yikes!
And some of them might surprise you. Here are 7 AM staples to cut from your breakfast menu ASAP. (Got 10 minutes? Then you’ve got time to lose the weight for good with Prevention’s new 10-minute workouts and 10-minute meals.
Sure, it’s convenient. But the majority of cereals are high in added sugar and low in good-for-you stuff like fiber and protein. As a result, there’s a high chance your stomach will start rumbling again mid-morning, making those mediocre doughnuts in the break room look more appealing than ever.
Instead, trade the O’s or flakes for overnight oats. They’re just as easy, and they’ll keep you satisfied all morning. And if you really want cereal? Pick a clean option with at least 5g fiber and less than 10g sugar per serving, and follow these tips to make your bowl more filling.
Store-bought breakfast sandwiches
An egg and cheese sandwich can be a clean, filling option for breakfast—if you make it yourself. Many of those boxed frozen ones are packed with sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. (Add healthy fats to your diet instead with these recommendations from nutritionists.) And the greasy breakfast sandwiches from the corner deli or café aren’t usually much better. They’re usually big enough to feed two people, and are overloaded with cheese and processed meats like sausage or bacon. Try a simple veggie scramble on a slice of whole-wheat toast or a whole-wheat tortilla instead.
Of course, all those veggies serve up important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But most green juices are also high in sugar (thanks to all the fruit used to sweeten it up) and seriously lacking in both fiber and protein. Which means that by itself, it’s a pretty poor breakfast. If you opt to have green juice, look for one that’s low in sugar, and sip it with something—like whole grain toast with nut butter, yogurt with fruit, or eggs.
Flavored nonfat yogurt
Wait, but isn’t yogurt good for you? Sorry people, not all fermented dairy foods are created equal. Flavored varieties can pack just as much sugar as that Danish or cinnamon roll you thought you were being smart by avoiding. Plus, skipping the fat might actually put you at risk for gaining weight, research suggests. Go for plain low-fat or full-fat yogurt instead—experts agree that both can be part of a healthy diet. And sweeten it yourself with honey, maple syrup, or fruit.
Those store-bought packets sure make mornings easy. (Just add water and microwave!) But they’re basically boxed cereal in disguise: Pre-mixed and flavored oatmeals are usually loaded with sugar. What’s more, they’re usually made with instant oats, which are highly processed and lower in fiber than rolled or steel cut oats. If there’s no time for a bowl of regular oatmeal, make a batch of homemade instant oatmeal packets instead. They’re just as quick, but they’re higher in fiber. Plus, you get to control the sugar content.
Toast with buttery spread
Even if you choose whole wheat, a slice of bread with fake butter is far from an ideal breakfast. For starters, most buttery spreads and margarines contain trans fats, a dangerous, synthetic fat that can raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, and up your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Plus, there’s no protein, fruit, or veggies here. If you love toast with breakfast, have a slice of whole grain toast with a little bit of real butter, and enjoy it as a side to something more substantial, like a vegetable omelet.
In case you haven’t heard, coffee is really, really good for you. But a plain cuppa joe isn’t a substitute for a meal, folks. The caffeine in coffee might dull your appetite temporarily, but chances are, you’ll find yourself scrounging through the snack drawer by mid-morning. Instead of sipping solo, enjoy your coffee with a meal. Not hungry when you wake up? Fine—have your coffee first. Then pack a light meal or snack to eat later in the morning, like fruit and cheese, or half a nut butter sandwich. You’ll be glad you did.