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There’s been a lot of news about breakfast lately — both good and bad. Some studies suggest breakfast may not be necessary to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, but that doesn’t mean skipping out on your first meal is a healthy habit. A high-quality breakfast can start your day off right — providing you with lasting energy to fuel your day, curb your cravings and help lower your risk for some chronic conditions. Here are four of the worst choices for breakfast and our top picks to get your day off to a healthier start.
Worst Breakfast #1: No Breakfast at All
While a recent human clinical trial reported that eating breakfast isn’t necessary for weight loss, there are plenty of other studies that suggest otherwise. In the largest sample of successful dieters, 78 percent reported eating breakfast every day. Still, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults skip their first meal on any given day — and that increases your risk for other chronic conditions. What’s more, a Harvard study reported that men who skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to develop heart disease and that female breakfast skippers had a 28 percent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Eating breakfast may also give you more energy: One study found that breakfast eaters burned 400 more calories during a day through increased daily activity.
Worst Breakfast #2: Juices or Juicing
Despite being lower in calories than smoothies and rich in myriad vitamins and antioxidants, juices aren’t the best way to start your day because most lack filling fiber and often pack in more natural sugar than a cola (e.g., Naked Juice Green Machine). Liquid sources of natural sugars cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, compared with eating solid foods of similar nutritional value (i.e., apple juice versus whole apples). Researchers reported in The BMJ that fruit juice was linked with increased risk for diabetes. Top Picks: Stop juicing and start eating! Opt for breakfasts with whole fruit and lean proteins like a bowl of Greek yogurt with fresh berries or sliced banana.
Worst Breakfast #3: Egg Sandwiches
One of the most popular breakfast choices is a classic egg sandwich — a fried egg, ham and cheese on a toasted bagel or English muffin. Breakfast sandwiches have about 300 to 400 calories (lower than most bakery breakfasts), but most have up to four times as much low-quality carbs as protein. Because they generally are made with one egg, they fall short of the recommended 25 to 30 grams of protein needed for increased satiety and muscle protein synthesis. Top Picks: Make your own sandwich using two eggs and one slice of lean Canadian bacon served in a whole-grain English muffin, bread or tortilla. When eating out always ask for your egg sandwich on a skinnier English muffin and check to see if the option of a breakfast “bowl” is available.
Worst Breakfast #4: “Whole Grain” or “High Fiber” Cold Cereals
Don’t let claims like “made with whole grains” or “high fiber” fool you. Research from Harvard published in Public Health Nutrition suggests whole-grain claims may indicate that the food is rich in sugar, sodium and higher in calories. The best bets they suggest are grains with one gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbs. For example, a cereal with 30 grams of carbs should have at least three grams of fiber. Top Picks: Some of the healthiest options exceeding the Harvard guidelines include the following: Post Shredded Wheat Original, with 40 grams of carb and six grams of fiber, and Quaker Old Fashioned oats, with 27 grams of carbs and four grams fiber.
Here are five more breakfasts that are a bad idea. Check to make sure yours is not on the list.
By Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
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