- Despite phrases like natural, whole grain, or heart healthy, many kinds of cereal are highly processed and loaded with sugar and excess carbs.
- Cereals can often leave you hungry and with a major energy crash way before lunchtime.
- Try creative, nutritious breakfasts like egg muffins, protein shakes, and even soups to keep you full and energised.
When you have a bowl of cereal in the morning, do you notice your energy levels tapering off long before lunchtime?
Not to mention the intense hunger pains, despite consuming a large bowl of cereal. From its sugar content to its lack of nutrients, there are many reasons why cereal is a less-than-great choice for breakfast.
We spoke to Juli Keene, BSc, CN, clinical nutritionist on why cereal isn’t the best option and what to eat instead.
There are many issues with the classic cereal for breakfast.
Cereal is often loaded with sugars, and it is also often highly-processed food and heavy in carbohydrates.
“Carbohydrate-heavy means that even the few types of cereal that are lower in added sugars still affect the body like sugary foods, because they mainly contain carbohydrate with little to no protein or fat,” Keene told INSIDER. The excess carbohydrates can cause an initial boost of energy, but in just an hour or two, that energy will drop.
Because we typically don’t add protein to our cereal, this breakfast will not only leave you deprived of energy in a couple hours – you’ll also be quite hungry long before lunch.
“A high carb breakfast without enough protein will cause you to be hungry shortly after,” Keene explained.
“Many also mistakenly think the milk they add will give them enough protein. There is really no amount of protein that would make up for that amount of sugar [in cereal], but even with a full 8 oz glass of milk, you only get 8 grams of protein. Milk is surprisingly low in protein. Most people need at least 15 to 25 grams of protein per meal, and many do better with more than that when working out or very active.”
So what should you eat for breakfast? Keene recommends the following meals “for an easy, steady energy supply, weight loss or avoiding weight gain, blood sugar balance, and a stable mood and concentration for at least two to four hours after you eat it.”
Enjoy organic, chemical-free meats with a side of fruit.
Keene recommends having clean, organic meats, such as bacon or sausage from turkey or beef with a side of fruit, such as a cup of berries or one whole piece of fruit.
Pair two hard-boiled eggs with a side of fruit.
Another healthy option, hard-boiled eggs will provide protein, and fruit will provide complex carbohydrates, which together will keep you fuller and more energised for longer.
Cook an egg scramble, complete with veggies and a small amount of meat.
For breakfast, you can batch prep ahead of time, try an egg scramble coupled with one cup of vegetables.
You can also add a small amount of meat, such as turkey or beef.
Freeze some egg and veggie muffins for the week.
Some weeks can be really busy, but you still don’t have to opt for a bowl of cereal.
Instead, mix eggs and veggies, pour them into a muffin tin, and bake. Then, freeze the muffins and heat them up in the mornings.
“This is more of a low-carb breakfast, so you could add some fruit, or you can add a quarter- or a half-cup of rice or potatoes to your egg muffins for a better form of complex carbohydrates,” Keene told INSIDER.
Don’t forget the healthy fats.
Healthy fats can improve the ratio of macronutrients and micronutrients in your breakfast, so don’t leave them off the plate.
Keene recommends adding avocado to the dish, or cook your eggs in olive oil.
Mix things up with protein shakes.
If you’re looking for a meat-free breakfast, make a protein shake.
Use a plant-based protein powder – Keene recommends Sunwarrior. If you are not vegan, try a collagen-based protein powder like Primal Kitchen’s collagen fuel. Add fresh or frozen berries or low-glycemic fruit, healthy fats such as coconut oil or avocado, and greens.
“Some use plant milks, like an unsweetened almond or cashew milk, but it depends on the powder you use – some don’t need it,” Keene advised. “If you are making a protein shake, keep track of your macros and look for a good recipe if needed.”
Sautee veggies and fried eggs in oil and pair with a side of potatoes or fruit.
One of Keene’s personal favourite breakfasts is a couple of fried eggs sauteed with veggies in olive oil. If she is really hungry, she’ll add a half cup of baked or fried potatoes or a small piece of fruit.
Get creative with breakfast soups.
Especially in the cooler winter months, Keene loves to have soup for breakfast.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, except that we Americans are not used to the idea,” Keene said. This is also an easy breakfast to make ahead of time, plus you can easily incorporate protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats into a soup.
Have fun with dinner for breakfast.
“In all honesty, I sometimes eat my breakfasts at dinner and my dinner at breakfast, too,” Keene told INSIDER. Live out your childhood dreams of switching up meals, having a healthy breakfast for dinner and a nutritious dinner to start your day.
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