Breakfast can either make or break your diet - start off with the wrong breakfast and it can be very hard to get back on a healthy eating track for the day.
There are many mistakes you can make at breakfast time that can definitely derail your diet and expand your waistline. Don't make the most common mistakes. Read below to learn the top breakfast habits making you gain weight:
1. Choosing granola
Granola is one of the biggest diet mistakes you can make in the morning because it is loaded with sugar, carbs, and a ton of calories. To make matters worse, it is often labeled as a "healthy" meal which can cause many individuals to load up on it because it's healthy right? No. Step away from the granola, it will make you gain weight without you even realizing.
Professional experience: I had a new patient come in for a yearly physical, she was in her mid 40s and had been gaining weight steadily for the past few years despite having a personal chef (yes!) and seeing a personal trainer a couple of times a week. When I asked about her diet, she said that for breakfast she was eating homemade granola (by her personal chef) made with "all natural and healthy" ingredients like honey and maple sugar, plus yogurt and fruit. I stopped her right there without hearing anything else and told her how that breakfast was definitely sabotaging her efforts to lose weight and was most certainly a cause for her steady weight gain.
A year later I saw the woman back for her yearly physical again and I almost didn't recognize her - she had lost at least 50lbs! Plus her skin and hair was noticeably smoother and more youthful.
This type of scenario happens in practice ALL of the time. Even with a personal chef AND a personal trainer, this doesn't mean you will just naturally lose weight.
2. A bowl of "whole grain" cereal with milk
Cereal is in the same category as granola - it's just sugar and carbs with little to no protein or healthy fat. It's slightly worse than granola only because it is also highly processed. Not only will cereal not fill you up, it sets you up to be hungrier later because it spikes your blood sugar and then brings it back down just as quickly - meaning a hangry you later. Even worse, when you pair cereal with milk this adds even more sugar because a cup of non-fat milk has around 12 grams of sugar! The bottom line is that cereal is doing you no favors, skip it.
Professional experience: Cereal is definitely the most common breakfast of choice that I hear from patients. It seems to be either Cheerios or Raisin Bran and the patient almost always tells me they eat cereal because they are trying to eat healthy. I generally recommend instead eating eggs because they are easy to cook and are excellent for you.
3. Eating plain toast
Toast is actually better than cereal or granola because it tends to be lower in sugar. That being said, it is still all carbs and will not keep you full for very long, will spike your blood sugar, and make you hungry not too long after eating.
Healthy tip: Make toast part of a healthy breakfast by adding a protein and/or fat to help slow the release of carbs into your bloodstream. I personally love adding almond butter to toast, grass-fed butter, or adding an egg on top.
Don't add this: Skip the jams and jellies because these are basically pure sugar. One trick I like to do to is warm up frozen berries and add them to almond butter on top of toast.
4. Using flavored coffee creamer
Cream by itself is actually fine as long as you use a tiny amount, but flavored coffee creamer with added sugars and artificial ingredients is doing you know favors. The sugary creamer adds tons of sugar and calories without you even realizing it. The serving size is also normally very small, like a tablespoon or less, so unless you are measuring it out, you are probably at least tripling this.
5. Eating a bagel
Bagels are a no-no in the morning because most bagels are equivalent to four pieces of bread or more - yikes! This means tons of carbs, tons of calories, and very little nutritional value. Eating a bagel will make you hungry not too long after eating and can set you up to crave carbs and sugar for the rest of the day.
Healthy tip: Make a bagel healthier by eating half a bagel and adding a protein and/or fat like eggs or almond butter. Another trick is scooping out some of the middle of the bagel and adding in the eggs or other fat/protein combo.
6. Oatmeal toppings
Who eats oatmeal plain? Probably no one. Oatmeal in itself is fine, but the toppings are what get you and can make you gain weight. Think toppings like brown sugar, milk (FYI milk is loaded with sugar), and dried fruit. All of these make your oatmeal a sugary carby disaster that will most certainly lead to weight gain.
Healthy toppings: There are certainly healthy toppings you can add to your oatmeal. Some of my favorites include walnuts, almond butter, frozen berries (helps to cool it down), unsweetened nut milk, and stirring in an egg white or two.
7. Watching TV while you eat
Mindless eating leads to overeating and not feeling satisfied with the meal - the perfect recipe for weight gain. Take the few minutes you have in the morning to sit down and give full attention to your breakfast. This will cause you to slow down and to fully enjoy the meal.
8. Grabbing a pastry
Hopefully you know that eating a pastry in the morning is not doing your weight any favors. Pastries are loaded with carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fats and can make your body go into fat storage mode.
Professional experience: When I was working in Manhattan, pastries were a super common breakfast food I heard from my patients so I wanted to throw this one in the list.
9. Eating fruit only
Fruit is packed with vitamins and other great nutrients, but fruit is also packed with sugar. Fruit has some fiber to help slow the release of the sugar into your bloodstream, but it will still likely raise your blood sugar rapidly. This means you will be hungrier sooner and can put your body into fat storage mode.
Healthy tip: Pair fruit with a couple of eggs, or add in some nuts for some fiber and healthy fat.
10. Drinking juice
Juice is worse than just eating fruit because juice has zero fiber and is loaded with sugar, meaning a greater blood sugar spike and increased hunger.
Skip the juice and go for whole fruit with a side of protein or fat.
11. Sipping a chai latte
Think you are being healthy by just sticking to a coffee drink in the morning? Unfortunately, nope. Drinking a chai latte as well as any other coffee drink that doesn't consist of just coffee beans is generally a diet disaster. A chai latte is one of the worst offenders because it sounds like it would be healthier than a mocha or a Frappuccino, but it is actually loaded with just as much sugar (or more!) and has more carbs than a candy bar - yikes!
When it comes to breakfast, skip the sugar and carbs and stick to protein, fat, and fiber to keep you full and to prevent you from packing on the pounds.