While it’s up for debate whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, research has indicated that there are several health benefits associated with the morning meal. If you’re someone who enjoys breakfast, it’s important that you’re fueling your body with adequate nutrients right from the start so that you have energy all day long. (Related: One Major Side Effect of Skipping Breakfast, New Study Says.)
Unfortunately, some of the breakfast foods that you think are healthy may actually be packed in not-so-healthy ingredients, primarily added sugars. To help separate the healthy from the imposters, we called on two registered dietitians to pinpoint which oatmeal and energy bar breakfast options you should consider ditching for good, as well as two healthy swaps you can make instead.
Per packet: 210 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 100 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (4 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 5 g protein
Catherine Perez, RD, founder of Plant-Based RD, and contributing dietitian for One Degree Organics says that oatmeal is a great breakfast option, as it’s both filling and tasty.
“However, not all oatmeal is created equal and some brands, like Nature’s Path Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal, can have a surprising amount of added sugar per packet,” she says.
Despite the convenience of oatmeal packets, they’re often loaded with added sugars. In fact, this flavor of oatmeal packs 13 grams of added sugars.
“You can save on the added sugar by being more mindful of the type of instant oatmeal you choose,” she adds.
READ MORE: Every Oatmeal in America in 2021—Ranked By Nutrition!
Instead, try something like…
Per 1/3 cup: 140 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 30 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 4 g protein
Keep in mind, Perez is a contributing dietitian for One Degree Organics, but we happen to agree with her—this is a much better breakfast option! Each serving only packs 4 grams of added sugar, which is far less than 13 grams. Not to mention, there are only six ingredients in this oatmeal.
“And because their oats are sprouted, you also get the added benefit of more available nutrients to absorb and better overall digestion,” says Perez.
Now, if you’re having breakfast on the go, you’ll want to steer clear of….
Per bar: 250 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 180 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (4 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 9 g protein
Kim Rose, RDN a registered dietitian for weight loss app, Lose It! and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist says that while energy bars are often touted as healthy, on-the-go breakfast options, they’re often sugar bombs.
“For example, the Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie Energy Bar lists sugar as its first ingredient. One bar contains 20 grams of added sugar and, although this may vary depending on flavor, that’s way too much for a tiny bar,” says Rose. “While considering healthy breakfast options, one should remember that consuming too much added sugar has been linked to unwanted weight gain, increased triglyceride levels, and may even result in type 2 diabetes.”
Instead, she suggests you opt for…
Per bar: 210 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 310 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (5 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 12 g protein
Dietitians like Rose identify that not everyone has the time (or quite frankly, the resources) to make their own healthy energy bars at home. Instead, she suggests ditching the Clif Bar and switching to a more health-forward brand such as RXBAR.
“The Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor contains no added sugar and is made from three egg whites, 14 peanuts, and two dates—that’s it,” she says. “In other words, this RXBar—and every other flavor—is a nutrient-dense meal jam-packed into a bar.”
Also, notice how this bar packs fewer carbs and more protein, which may help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and stay fuller for longer.
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