After a long night of fasting, your body is begging for nutrition in the morning. Without the proper fuel, you’re left with little energy, an offset mood, wacky cravings and potentially a wider waistline. Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it?
Some classic morning meals are obvious diet offenders—waffles and pop tarts, you’re not fooling anybody. However, other breakfast staples may not seem so sinful at first glance. Either way, do yourself a favor and skip these seven foods at the breakfast table. Opting for more nutritionally balanced, wholesome alternatives will actually prepare you to take on the day. Check 'em out below—and then make your morning even better by finding out the 30 Best Breakfast Habits to Drop for Weight Loss!
Leave the Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes where they belong—in your childhood memories. The sugar rush from these cereals will mess with your blood sugar and cause you to reach for more sugary snacks later on in the day (turn to these healthy sweet snacks instead). “Classic breakfast foods can often be high in sugar, lower in nutritional value including vitamins and minerals, healthy fat, fiber and protein that can help to carry us forward into the day feeling satisfied and energized,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition. This remains true for sweet cereals. Also, be aware that healthier looking options like granolas can also contain high amounts of sugar, so be sure to read the nutrition label before buying! And burn fat—fast—with these essential 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days!
Waffles can be incredibly heavy on the simple carbs (meaning, they digest quickly and won’t keep you full for long), and have the potential to qualify as dessert depending on your toppings of choice. Some toaster varieties, if specified on the package, may offer a decent amount of fiber, but others can be seriously lacking. Whether you make your own batter or pop some in the toaster, waffles don’t exactly provide you with a balanced breakfast. “When it comes to picking a great breakfast, you always want to combine protein or fat with minimally processed carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, for example, scrambled eggs with fruit or toast,” says Smith.
Nothing quite hits the spot like a glass of OJ in the morning, right? This breakfast mainstay is actually loaded with sugar and relatively low in nutrition (especially highly processed, store bought varieties). “Juice (particularly heat pasteurized fruit juice) in the morning can serve up a high dose of sugar and calories. Also, given that the fruit juice is processed at a higher temperature some of the nutrient value can be lost, too. Instead, choose a freshly squeezed juice, cold-pressed juice or high-pressure-pasteurized fruit and vegetable juice that contains more nutrients and less sugar,” says Smith. A good rule is to look for a juice that boasts two veggies for every fruit included. Not into juice anyway? Then check out these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss!
Bagel and Cream Cheese
Do your best to resist Einstein Bros. on the corner — there’s nothing smart about this a.m. pick. Bagels are calorie bombs — you might measure them as one serving, but one bagel is equivalent to roughly four slices of bread — and offer very little nutrition. Not to mention, most are considered simple carbohydrates, so unless it’s whole wheat, you’ll miss out on fiber content that would keep you feeling satisfied. And sorry to slam your beloved schmear, but cream cheese is really only there to satisfy your taste buds, not your nutritional needs — even if it’s the veggie kind. If you really can’t kick your morning bagel, try eating half of a whole-wheat bagel with avocado or nut butter for the spread. This way you’ll cut back on calories and add in some healthy protein, fiber and fat to balance the meal.
Oatmeal can be one of the best ways to start your day and there are at least 15 Ways to Lose Weight With Oatmeal. But pre-mixed packets offer a little more than you bargained for. “When we choose premixed oatmeal, we typically get less fiber because the grain is generally more processed, and more added sugar,” says Smith. For a healthier bowl, add your own fruit to plain oats. Nut butter, seeds, coconut and cinnamon are all tasty and healthy add-ins, too.
The only thing these pastries are fueling is your nostalgia. Grabbing a Pop-Tart out of the toaster on your way to school as a kid may have been sufficient back then, but your body relies on your morning meal for energy — and this pick will leave you hanging. Any natural energy you do get from the superfluous sugar in these pastries will soon be followed by a crash. Also, the low fiber count doesn’t help balance things out either.
Similar to pre-mixed oatmeal, yogurt starts out as a healthy choice, before companies start to add consumer-attracting extras like artificial colors and flavors. “Yogurt in its plain form is great because it's a good source of calcium, protein and gut-healthy probiotics. However, in most cases, flavored versions contain lots of added sugar and syrup—especially fruit-on-the-bottom varieties. Choose a plain yogurt instead, and add your own fruit and even a few nuts for healthy fat that will promote slower digestion and increased satiety,” says Smith.
The Worst-Ever Breakfast Foods
While we have you, we want to introduce you to the 41 (!) worst breakfast foods from the super market.
Kashi Strawberry Fields
(1 cup) 200 calories, 0 g fat, 190 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugars
This is one of Kashi’s biggest flops. Strawberry Fields features white rice instead of the 7 Whole Grain blend found in many of its cereals.
Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Strawberries
(1 cup) 160 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 167 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugars
This bowl and spoon treat is far too heavy on the carbs to be considered a smart pick.
General Mills Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
(1 cup) 160 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 153 mg sodium, 2.6 g fiber, 13 g sugars
Though its packaging is free of a cartoon character, this fiber-void disaster is worse than most junk cereals. To continue losing weight, stick with one of these 11 Best Breakfast Cereals to Eat for Weight Loss.
General Mills Reese’s Puffs
(1 cup) 160 calories, 4 g fat (0.6 g saturated), 213 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber, 13.5 g sugars
High in fat and low in fiber, Oxford researchers rated this the least healthy cereal in the supermarket.
Post Cocoa Pebbles
(1 cup) 160 calories, 1.3 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 227 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugars
Not just devoid of fiber, but also soaked with dangerous hydrogenated oils.
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
(1 cup) 133 calories, 0.7 g fat (0 g saturated), 53 mg sodium 1.6 g fiber, 20 g sugars
This is among the most sugar loaded boxes in the cereal aisle.
(1 cup) 160 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 213 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber, 8 g sugars
Life isn’t the worst cereal on the shelf, but it does pack in more than three times as much sugar as fiber.
General Mills Cinnamon Chex
(1 cup) 160 calories, 2.6 g fat (0 g saturated), 240 mg sodium, 1.3 g fiber, 11 g sugars
This cereal delivers more than 130 calories of pure carbohydrates. Keep it out of your cart and pick up some of these 8 Best Instant Oatmeals for Weight Loss instead.
“WHOLESOME” CEREALS & OATS
Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart Original Antioxidants
(1 cup) 190 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 200 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugars
What’s so smart about a high-sugar, low-fiber cereal? We still don’t know. If you want to lose your spare tire ditch this cereal and quit these 40 Bad Habits that Give You Belly Fat.
Health Valley Organic Oat Bran Flakes
(1 cup) 190 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 190 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 11 g sugars
Sugar outnumbers fiber nearly three to one which practically guarantees you’ll be hungry just an hour after you finish your meal.
Bear Naked Go Bananas…Go Nuts Granola
(½ cup) 280 calories, 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g sugar
Granola may be the most overrated breakfast food of all time. What do you think is holding all those banana-y clumps together? Sugar and oil. And 4 grams of fiber just isn’t enough to save this bowl.
Quaker Real Medleys Apple Walnut Oatmeal
(1 container) 290 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 270 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 22 g sugars
A full 30 percent of these calories come from sugar. Instead of making this your go-to, reach for some of these 42 Best Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss.
Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran
(1 cup) 267 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated), 180 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 19 g sugars
Nearly 20 g of sugar alone make this cereal less than wholesome, but Cracklin' Oat Bran also comes with a massive glut of palm oil that loads this box with fat.
Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Almonds
(1 cup) 400 calories, 12 g fat (1 g saturated), 50 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 20 g sugars
Rumors of granola’s healthfulness have been vastly overstated. You’d be wise to keep it far away from your breakfast bowl.
Quaker Cinnamon Oatmeal Squares with Cinnamon
(1 cup) 210 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 190 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 9 g sugars
This “healthy” cereal is overloaded with sugar and cheap refined carbs like maltodextrin.
BREAKFAST BREADS & BISCUITS
Thomas’ Plain Mini Bagels
(1 bagel, 43 g) 120 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 210 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrates, <1 g fiber
Once your palate is accustomed to whole grains, flavorless, nutritionless lumps of refined carbs like this will taste boring.
Pepperidge Farm Bagels Cinnamon Raisin
(1 bagel, 99 g) 270 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 290 mg sodium, 57 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber
With so many calories and so little fiber, this bagel belongs on a dessert menu, not a breakfast table. Our suggestion? Keep away. And for more weight loss tips be sure to check out The 25 Best Nutrition Tips Ever!
Food for Life Gluten-Free Multi-Seed Rice Bread
(1 slice, 50g) 120 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 170 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrates, 1g fiber
What this rice-and tapioca concoction cuts in gluten it doesn't make up for in whole grains, landing it a spot on our “Not That!” list.
Arnold Health Nut
(1 slice, 43 g) 120 calories 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 150 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrates 2 g fiber, 5 g protein
The second, third, and fourth ingredients are enriched flour, water, and sugar, leading to plenty of calories and only a modest amount of belly-filling fiber.
Arnold Country Oat Bran
(1 slice, 43 g) 110 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 150 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrates 1 g fiber 4 g protein
Oat bran comes fourth on the ingredients list after refined flour, water, and sugar.
YOGURTS & SMOOTHIES
Yoplait Lactose-Free Strawberry
(1 container, 6 oz) 170 calories, 1.5 g fat, (1 g saturated), 26 g sugars, 5 g protein
Sure, it’s lactose-free, but it’s also a sugary, low-protein mess. To work more protein into your morning meal, whip up one of these 10 Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss.
Yoplait Whips! Chocolate Mousse Style
(1 container, 4 oz) 160 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 22 g sugars, 5 g protein
You’d be better off eating a small scoop of Breyers ice cream than sinking your spoon into this deceiving “health” food.
Wallaby Organic Whole Milk Greek Yogurt Vanilla Bean
(1 cup) 250 calories, 8 g fat (5 g saturated) 0 g fiber, 27 g sugars, 15 g protein
Organic dairy is worth celebrating, but don’t bend your nutritional standards to get it. When a yogurt serves up more sugar than protein it’s a sure sign it should be put back on the shelf. A good number of these 9 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss fit the bill.
Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Cherry
(1 container, 6 oz) 150 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 24 g sugars, 6 g protein
In this instance, “Fruit on the Bottom” means a few cherries muddled with sugar.
Naked Protein Juice Smoothie Banana Chocolate
(15.2 fl. oz bottle) 475 calories, 2.85 g fat, 0.95 g saturated fat, 78 g carbs, 1.9 g fiber, 64.6 g sugar, 30.4 g protein
With a whopping 30 grams of protein, this is one of the most protein-rich smoothies on the market — too bad it’s also one of the most caloric. And since the majority of the bottle is filled with grape juice instead of whole fruit, there’s little fiber to offset the massive sugar surge. This almost guarantees you’ll be starving soon after you finish off your breakfast—despite all of the calories.
Fage Total 0% with Honey
(1 container, 5.3 oz) 170 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 29 g sugars, 13 g protein
Honey may be better for you than sugar, but it’s not so good that you should eat it by the cupful.
Yoplait Original Peaches ‘n Cream Whips!
(1 container, 6 oz) 140 calories, 2.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 21 g sugars, 5 g protein
Yoplait commits the cardinal sin of fruit-flavored yogurts by candying these peaches with as much sugar than you’d find in a two-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The only yogurts worth eating are those that are unflavored or that can claim to have more fruit than sugar.
Dannon DanActive Strawberry + Blueberry
(3.1 fl. oz bottle) 70 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 3 g protein
Get this: Ounce for ounce this “health” drink has more calories than a Mountain Dew! It gets worse: Though it says “Strawberry + Blueberry” on the label, this bottle doesn’t contain any actual fruit. In fact, the only type of produce inside this bottle are black carrots, which are only used for coloring. If the ingredients of any beverage you pick up sound more like a science experiment than a meal, it’s a clear sign you should leave it on the shelf.
CHEESES & BREAKFAST MEATS
Sargento Off the Block 4 Cheese Mexican
(¼ cup, 28 g) 110 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 170 mg sodium, 6 g protein
The number of fat calories can vary widely in seemingly similar cheese blends. There are better options for your weight loss omelet on supermarket shelves.
Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon**
(2 slices, 30 g) 70 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 280 mg sodium, 4 g protein*
More sodium than regular pork bacon, and also more than triple the number of ingredients.
Nature's Path Organic Choconut
(1 bar, 35 g) 140 calories, 4.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 2 g protein
Sugar, in its various guises, appears five times in this ingredient statement. You’d be better off picking up one of these 8 Best Nutrition Bars for Weight Loss.
Quaker Oatmeal to Go Apples with Cinnamon
(1 bar, 60 g) 220 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 200 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 22 g sugars, 4 g protein
There’s far more sugar, brown sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup than apple.
PowerBar Performance Energy Vanilla Crisp
(1 bar, 57 g) 240 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 45 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 26 g sugars, 8 g protein
Four kinds of sugar make this "performance" bar sweeter than a Kit Kat. Eating this is one of the worst ways to kick off your morning.
Odwalla Bar Banana Nut
(1 bar, 56 g) 220 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 39 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 17 g sugars, 4 g protein
Don’t be duped by “brown rice syrup,” the first ingredient in this bar. It’s a euphemism for sugar. Swapping this for a bar with more protein and less sugar is an easy way to shed pounds. And if you’re into easy fixes (who isn’t?), be sure to check out these 33 Lazy Ways to Flatten Your Belly.
Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ’n Honey
(2 bars, 42 g) 190 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 3 g protein
This bar has twice as much sugar as it does fiber and protein combined. That makes it a great example of the sort of morning meal addition you want to avoid.
Herdez Salsa Casera Mild
(2 Tbsp, 31 g) 10 calories, 0 g fat, 270 mg sodium
Sure, it elevates the taste of your A.M. eggs, but be on the watch for elevated sodium in salsa. Depending on what else you have on your plate you could easily approach half a day's sodium intake before noon.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
(1 Tbsp, 17 g) 20 calories, 0 g fat, 160 mg sodium, 4 g sugars
Switch to our go-to Annie’s Naturals Organic Ketchup and you earn the benefits of organic tomatoes and eliminate the high-fructose corn syrup in Heinz’s.
FROZEN BREAKFAST ENTRÉES
Pillsbury Apple Toaster Strudel
(1 pastry, 54 g) 180 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated), 180 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein
This has half the protein and fiber of our “Eat This!” pick Amy's Toaster Pops, making it a definite “Not That!”
Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles
(2 waffles, 70 g) 170 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 380 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
There are better fiber-rich waffles to be had. Check out our go-to pick here.
Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich Sausage Egg & Cheese
(1 sandwich, 116 g) 240 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 820 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 14 g protein
The ingredients list is a novel. You’d be better off making a homemade version.
Kellogg’s Eggo Blueberry Waffles
(2 waffles, 70 g) 180 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 370 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, <1 g fiber, 4 g protein
Blueberries are the 11th ingredient on the list. Try Kashi Blueberry Waffles instead. For an added nutrient kick, top them with actual berries, one of these 6 Best Fruits for Fat Loss!
Hot Pockets Sausage, Egg & Cheese
(1 piece, 127 g) 320 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated), 410 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 10 g protein
More than 140 of these calories are simple carbohydrates, which is not how you want to start your day