You know what they say: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether that’s an accurate saying or not, there’s no denying that the way you start your day is certainly important to your health–especially when it comes to the food you’re putting in your body. Your breakfast can make or break how you feel throughout the day, and over time, it can also make or break how you feel on a regular basis. Starting your day off with the wrong foods could be detrimental to your overall health, and certain options should especially be avoided if you’re trying to lose weight and achieve a flatter belly.
To learn more about some of the most common breakfast foods that you should consider cutting out if you’d like to shed a few pounds, we spoke to health experts Lisa Richards, nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet, and Heather Rayle, Ph.D., a.k.a. The Paleo Diet Coach. They pointed us towards two popular items: bagels and muffins. Learn more about the health effects of these high-carb foods below!
Although bagels are a classic breakfast item for many of us, they’re unfortunately one of the worst options when it comes to weight loss–and it’s largely due to all of those dreaded carbs and calories they pack in, not to mention the fattening ingredients we normally add to the mix. "Bagels are one of the worst bakery items to purchase due to their calorie density and the toppings that are typically eaten along with them," she Richards warns.
Even without any of those added toppings, bagels are loaded with “nearly 1,200 calories per pound,” as she points out. Think about it: you probably already know that white bread is a no-go if you’re watching your weight, and bagels present many of the same issues, but they’re typically even worse because they’re so dense.
Then there’s the issue of what you top your bagels with–because, let’s be honest, none of us are eating plain bagels. "The cream cheese, sweeteners, nut butters and high fat meats used as toppings increase the calorie density of a bagel as well," Richards says. This only makes matters worse.
However, we’re not going to tell you that you can never enjoy your favorite bagel shop order ever again if you want to slim down. It may just be best to not make a habit out of it, and to go with light cream cheese whenever possible.
If you tend to go sweet over savory, maybe muffins are more your thing than bagels are. Unfortunately, you can probably guess that they’re not exactly a healthy alternative. That’s because in addition to an overload of carbs and calories, they also tend to be extremely high in sugar, which can throw a wrench in your weight loss goals when eaten in excess. Dr. Rayle warns that foods like sweetened muffins, which contain a combination of refined wheat and sugar, “require a fraction of the calories ingested to digest, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF)," which can negatively impact your metabolism. Additionally, the processed ingredients “will cause us to be hungry again within a few hours due to the blood sugar (glucose) swings that occur when the body processes the carbs and sugar.” In short, sugar makes you crave more sugar, and we all know that’s never good for weight loss.
But it isn’t just short term cravings and overeating that makes food like this an issue. "Over time high carbohydrate diets can lead to obesity and diabetes as our bodies stop responding to the insulin the body generates to keep blood sugar stable after eating these foods,” she says. For this reason, you’re best to stick with homemade, high-fiber muffins instead.
The bottom line
Like we said earlier, it’s important to remember that moderation is always key–which means if you really want a nice, sweet blueberry muffin or a bacon egg and cheese sandwich once in a blue moon, you should feel free to treat yourself. However, when it comes to healthy breakfasts you eat on a regular basis, these are two options you should leave out of the mix, especially if you want to lose weight. Instead, opt for meals made with whole foods that offer lots of fiber and protein. You may be surprised how much better you feel (and how much easier it is to lose weight) when you start your day on the right food!