What NOT to Eat for Breakfast (If You Want to Lose Weight)
It’s true that breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone for how your day is going to go: either full of energy and feeling full between meals—or crashing and burning by 10:00 a.m. and reaching for something sugary every hour to fill a craving you can’t ever quite satisfy.
I teach busy people how to lose weight easily and effectively. I do this by sharing simple ways to make diet and exercise automatic habits. My clients lose weight without feeling the stress common on other diets. I also teach easy nutrition tips so my clients know what to eat—and what to avoid—to lose weight and maintain an awesome figure.
But imagine my job was to teach people how to gain weight? Then these would be the breakfast foods I’d tell my clients to eat.
What NOT to Eat for Breakfast if You Want to Lose Weight
1. Trail/Breakfast/Granola Bars and Cereal of Any Kind
Most of the breakfast bars and cereals (even the ones labeled “healthy”) are just sugar in pretty packaging. Ignore the promises made on labels boasting X grams of protein and made with “whole grains.” Most bars and cereals spike your insulin and create weight gain, not to mention feeling ravenously hungry just a few hours after eating.
I have a soft spot for really, really good bread (with plenty of butter made from grass fed cows). But when it comes to losing weight, bread ought to be off limits for breakfast. Unless you’re planning use the glucose energy that your body converts from bread to help you run five miles, hold the bread—along with the bagels and assorted muffins and pastries.
3. Yogurt and Fruit
Before I knew better (and gained 50 pounds in two years), I thought yogurt and fruit was the model breakfast meal. What could be healthier?
Most yogurt is full of sugar. I don’t recommend my clients read nutrition labels because food manufacturers are sneaky and like to hide sugar with fancy names. But if you read the label of the most popular yogurts, you’ll see a lot of sugar is added to boost the taste. (When I do yogurt, I go with whole fat, Greek, plain yogurt. Fagé brand is my fave.)
Now, what about fruit? Fruit contain amazing vitamins and nutrients, but a little fruit goes a long way. Most of us are insulin-resistant, meaning we can’t process fruit and starchy carbs well for energy. The result: weight gain.
If you’re going to do fruit for breakfast, eat no more than a cup of fruit and pair it with healthy fats and protein to fill you up.
4. Almost Any Fast Food Breakfast Menu
I bet you’re seeing a theme: I’m not down with sugary and starchy carbs for breakfast. Here’s the curveball. I’m also not down with highly processed, “Frankenfoods,” which the fast food industry excels at shoving down our throats.
Here’s why. Our bodies don’t know how to process this stuff. That’s why we have such an obesity epidemic and skyrocketing rates of Type II Diabetes.
I may not know you, but I respect your body. I don’t think your body deserves nasty meat by-products, man-made ingredients and disgusting preservatives.
Better Breakfast Alternatives
Now that I’ve busted up your breakfast party, it’s only right that I give you 5 better breakfast alternatives.
1. Fatty/Bulletproof Coffee
This style of coffee has a lot of names, but the essence is: add some butter made from grass fed cows and MCT oil to your coffee and give a stir.
This is a way to get healthy fats into your body first thing in the morning. According to a Women’s Health article, healthy fats can help with cognitive function, provide energy and support your hormonal system.
BTW, are you wondering why I keep referencing butter made from “grass fed cows”? It’s because butter from grass-eating cows supplies a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids that’s similar to fish and healthier than what comes from livestock raised by eating grain.
MCT oil stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides, which has been shown to help with weight management, and may benefit heart health and brain health. MCTs also absorb into your body easily and have antioxidant properties, too.
Many people find they can skip their traditional breakfast by drinking fatty coffee, because the fats fill them up. If you decide to drink fatty coffee and make a traditional breakfast, decrease the portion size for the additional calories you consume with the coffee.
P.S. Not all MCT oil is equal. I recommend the brand Onnit.
2. Green Smoothie
Over time, my taste buds have evolved to crave vegetables and salads. But sometimes I need to sneak in extra greens.
Cue the green smoothie. Here’s a fast, delicious way to drink a salad first thing in the morning. I like to keep mine simple and light on the fruit.
Here’s a quick green smoothie recipe:
• 2 heaping handfuls of spinach
• 1 cup of almond milk
• 1/2 banana or 1/2 cup berries
• 1 scoop of protein powder of choice
• 2 tablespoons powdered peanut or nut butter
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• 1 tablespoon flax seeds
• 3-4 ice cubes
I prefer to blend the spinach with the almond milk first, then blend up the rest.
3. Egg Scramble
I don’t usually have time to make a big breakfast during weekdays. That’s why I usually make a big egg scramble on Sunday and fill containers with the scramble to warm up over the next few mornings. I just place the containers in the fridge and nuke them in the morning.
For my egg scrambles, I usually start by browning organic sausage over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, then add diced peppers and sauté until soft. Then I add 12 eggs, which I’ve whisked in a separate bowl and salted to preference. As the eggs begin to settle in the pan, I’ll toss in a heaping bunch of spinach and let it wilt down as the eggs cook. Depending on how hot your stove is, you might reduce the heat to medium-low when you put the eggs in the skillet.
4. Organic Breakfast Meats With Veggies
If eggs aren’t your thing, you could go the meat and veggies route. By the very best breakfast meats you can afford. Not only do they offer better health benefits than the “big box” name meats on the shelves, they taste better! I like to sauté veggies or cook spinach to go with the meat. All that fat, protein and nutrients from the veggies will carry you well into the lunch hour.
Recommended With Reservations
5. Greek full-fat, plain yogurt with pecans or cashews
I mentioned before that most popular yogurts are full of sugar. If I’m going to have yogurt for breakfast, I’ll go the full fat, plain, Greek-style—Fagé is my brand of choice.
The reason this recommendation is with reservations is because most of us have some kind of dairy allergy, whether we know it or not. Dairy can lead to inflammation. We want to limit inflammation in our bodies.
6. Quest Protein Bars
I love Quest bars. I love the way they taste, I love their protein content, I love the fact that they aren’t full of sugar and they fill me up. I also love the company and its founders.
The only reason I recommend Quest protein bars with reservations is because I don’t want people to rely on bars for their primary food. I think of Quest bars as an “in addition to” food. Make sure you have your bases covered with real food with every meal. But know you can reach for a Quest bar and get solid nutrition.
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