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You know what they say: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But while it’s obvious that eating a healthy breakfast is a crucial part of losing weight and keeping your overall wellness in check, it’s not always obvious what, exactly, a healthy breakfast entails. In fact, many popular options that may seem good for you could actually be taking a toll on your body, leading to inflammation, and potentially even slowing your metabolism.
To shed some light on a few unexpected breakfasts foods and beverages that are actually a poor choice for your health, we spoke to dietitians Krutika Nanavati and Jesse Feder. They told us that fruit juice, low-fat products, energy bars, and sugary granola are typically much unhealthier than they seem. Learn more about the risks of each below.
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1. Fruit Juices
When you think of unhealthy, sugar-loaded beverages, obvious options like soda and energy drinks may pop into your head. But did you know that bottled fruit juice is also one of the worst choices out there? Although nutritious whole fruit is a great, healthy breakfast ingredient, store-bought juice is another story.
“While fruit juices may seem healthier than sugary soft drinks, they can have comparable sugar and calorie content,” Nanavati warns. “Moreover, the lack of fiber in these beverages leads to quick sugar absorption, potentially causing blood sugar fluctuations and increased hunger.” Yikes! All that sugar can lead to an array of health issues, including inflammation and a slower metabolism.
2. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Products
If you’re trying to lose weight, reaching for low-fat or fat-free products may seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, though, it’s not that simple. In fact, lower fat foods may even have adverse effects on your health and stand in the way of your weight loss goals.
“Many products labeled as ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ actually contain high amounts of sugar and calories,” Nanavati tells us. “This is done to make up for the loss of taste caused by removing the fat. Consistently consuming these products can lead to undesired weight gain.”
Instead, she says, “Opt for whole-fat dairy products, which typically have fewer added sugars than their ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ counterparts. They also provide essential fat-soluble vitamins.” Perfect!
3. Energy Bars
When you’re in a rush, an easy-to-grab energy bar is often seen as a great on-the-go snack. These bars are also typically marketed as healthy options. However, they’re usually highly processed and loaded with sugar and other additives.
“Numerous energy bars available in the market are laden with excessive sugar and calories, bearing a striking resemblance to candy bars in terms of their nutritional composition,” Nanavati warns. As we’ve already noted, consuming too much sugar is one way to set yourself up for higher levels of inflammation and a less efficient metabolism.
But there is one solution: make your own energy bars with whole foods! “Making energy bars at home allows for control over the ingredients used, ensuring a lower sugar content and a higher proportion of wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits,” Nanavati says. Got it!
4. Certain types of granola
Granola is one common ingredient added to otherwise healthy yogurt parfaits. in fact, since it’s made with many healthy ingredients like nuts and oats, it’s often viewed as a nutritious choice for breakfast. The ruth is, though, that many types of granola you’ll find at the store are actually quite bad for you.
“Granola is typically loaded with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and calories,” Feder says. “The high amount of sugar and fats can cause inflammation throughout the GI tract and body. This can lead to a slower metabolism as well.” Say it ain’t so!
But that doesn’t mean all granola is a definite no-go. “I recommend looking for granola that does not have a lot or any added sugars and have a simple ingredient list,” Feder says. “You can also opt for making your own homemade granola so you can control what goes into it.” Great idea.