It's Saturday morning. You're sitting at your local diner, sipping a cup of coffee and waiting for the server to come by with the menu. Here he comes — but wait, what's that Britannica-size book in his hands? He drops it on the table so hard your coffee sloshes over the brim of the cup. "Take all the time you need," he says, and then he's gone. This, in effect, is the menu you face every time you walk into the supermarket — 50,000 boxes, cans, jars, bags, and cellophane shrink-wrapped packages, all lined up in neat rows and vying for your food dollars.
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Daunting, right? That's why we're so prone to making bad decisions in the aisles. Simply put, we’re overwhelmed. But it’s important that we learn to make smart choices in the supermarket, especially when it comes to breakfast. People who regularly skip breakfast increase their waistlines by nearly 2 inches and carry higher levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But on the other side of that coin, eating too much at breakfast can be equally devastating. German researchers recently found that people who consume oversized breakfasts don’t compensate for those calories later in the day. That gives you two choices: Spend more time on the treadmill or carry those calories around as flab. Of course, you could always choose to avoid the excessive calories in the first place, and you can start by skipping the caloric offenders on this list.
1. WORST FROZEN BREAKFAST
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls: Pancakes and Syrup and Sausage Links (1 bowl)
34 g fat (12 g saturated)
1,000 mg sodium
35 g sugars
Calorie equivalent: 12 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugared Munchkins
Pancakes and sausage are the dastardly duo of the breakfast table. One loads you down with saturated fat, and the other is a sponge for the liquid sugar we know as syrup. Eat this thing for breakfast and you’re taking in more sugar than a Snickers bar and a paltry 12 grams of protein. Or you can switch to the bowl below. It has a third as many calories, a quarter as much saturated fat, and nearly twice as much protein. That means it will fight hunger even better than the pancakes and sausage, but it will eliminate 480 calories from your morning routine. Do that every day and you’ll lose nearly a pound a week.
Eat This Instead!
Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Bowl (1 bowl)
7 g fat (3 g saturated)
700 mg sodium
1 g sugars
2. WORST CEREAL
Kashi Summer Berry Granola (1 cup with ½ cup 2% milk)
14.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
24 g sugars
14 g fiber
Calorie equivalent: 17 Nabisco Ginger Snap Cookies
Kashi’s Summer Berry Granola has 18 grams of sugar per cup, which — unless it’s coming from fruit — is more than you should ever see on your breakfast table. The company’s GoLean, on the other hand, is one of the best cereals in the supermarket, boasting nearly twice as much fiber as sugar. Plus it has 13 grams of protein, whereas the granola blend has only 6. More fiber plus more protein equals less hunger and a smaller belly. That’s simple nutritional arithmetic.
Eat This Instead!
Kashi GoLean Original (1 cup with ½ cup 2% milk)
3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
12 g sugars
10 g fiber
3. WORST BAKED GOOD
Entenmanns’s Single Serve Iced Honey Bun (1 bun)
38 g fat (22 g saturated)
34 g sugars
Saturated fat equivalent: 22 strips of bacon
Take a second look at that saturated fat count. 22 grams. That’s absurd. What’s equally egregious is the fact that this pastry has more sugar than two full-size Klondike Bars. You couldn’t design a worst breakfast. If you absolutely must have a sweet pastry to jumpstart your morning, then go with a plain doughnut. Not only do you save 470 calories, but you also cut your fat by more than two-thirds, your saturated fat by more than three-fourths, and your sugar by nearly 80 percent. It’s not exactly nutritious, but thanks to a modest serving size, the damage is minimal. Wash it down with a glass of milk and you’ve just earned a few grams of protein to boot.
Eat This Instead!
Entenmann’s Plain Donut (1 donut)
11 g fat (5 g saturated)
7 g sugar
4. WORST TOASTER FOOD
Thomas’ Blueberry Bagel (1 bagel with 2 oz cream cheese)
21 g fat (11.5 g saturated)
620 mg sodium
56 g carbohydrates
13 g sugars
Calorie equivalent: 5.5 (1-cup) bowls of HoneyComb cereal
The bagel is a nutritional zero. Even if it were loaded with blueberries, it would still be a waste of calories, but as it is, blueberries are merely there to make you feel better about starting your day with a glorified pastry. Scan the ingredient list and you’ll find blueberries near the bottom, beneath 15 other ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, and modified food starch. Instead, look to Thomas’ English muffins. They’re portioned perfectly to rope healthier foods into your morning routine without strapping a bagel belt around your belly. You can stuff them with ham and eggs for a quick, protein-packed breakfast, or you can swipe on some peanut butter for a quick boost of fiber, protein, and healthy fat.
Eat This Instead!
Thomas’ English Muffins, Original made with Whole Grains (1 muffin with 2 Tbsps peanut butter)
17 g fat (3 g saturated)
355 mg sodium
32 g carbohydrates
4 g sugars
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