Would you ever give a child a hot fudge sundae with a candy bar on top for breakfast? Watch this. You may be surprised to discover you accidentally already are.
Everybody knows the importance of a balanced breakfast, so bring on the enriched cereal with skim milk, whole grain toast, a glass of juice and a piece of fruit. You have wholesome, whole-grain, low-fat, enriched food, fortified with vitamins and minerals. What a great way to start your day! Right?? Wrong!! This type of eating is based on a myth. This type of “healthy” and “balanced” breakfast we’ve been pitched since we were kids is the furthest thing from healthy or balanced. It’s harmful and addictive. Sadly, the way you’ve been taught to eat is the worst way to start your day.
In the conventional line-up of balanced breakfast fare described above nearly 90% of the calories come from low-quality processed carbs with very little quality protein or fat. Since when is 90% low quality processed carbs with just a trace of healthy protein and fat a balanced diet? It’s not. Not in terms of protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, food groups, common sense, math, anything!
Most of those supposed vitamins and minerals in the fortified cereal aren’t sticking around. They are artificial, and their absorption by your body is low. They’re going to pass right through. Think about the glow-in-the-dark urine most multi-vitamins give you. That color is caused by the vitamins passing right through you. And even what you do absorb doesn’t make up for all the processed junk coming along with it that inflames your brain, destroys your digestive system, and harms your hormones.
If you were to plop a multivitamin into a bottle of soda, would that make the soda healthy? Of course not. No dosage of a multivitamin can make the 65 grams of sugar in the soda healthy. But many high sugar cereals, especially ones tragically aimed at kids, have been marketed the exact same way.
What about the whole grains? Eight to ten servings a day, right? Here’s the truth. Whole grains equal starch. And starch equals sugar. The body does not know the difference between a simple sugar and a whole grain. Do whole grains have more fiber? Yes. Is one broken leg better than two broken legs? Yes. Are either of those good for us? No. Whole grains are not good for you. Rather, they are less bad for you. But you can do better than that!
What about the fruit juice? It’s nothing but fructose, sugar, stripped of its fiber. And it’s really important to remember that the body can’t tell the difference between the sugar in juice and the sugar in soda. The harmful metabolic impact is the same.
Now, let’s consider the nutritional facts of a typical traditional “healthy” breakfast of a bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk, a piece of toast, apple slices and a glass of grape juice. The grand total of carbohydrates is 149 grams. 108 of these are pure sugars, and the remainder—minus the measly 16 grams of fiber—end up as sugar when they leave your stomach and have the same dangerous diabetes causing consequences.
That’s the equivalent of an ice cream sundae with a candy bar on top bathed in chocolate syrup. This is “balanced?” It’s a sugar tornado waiting to blow through your digestive system.
So what should we be eating for breakfast? Here are a couple ideas that are nutritious, delicious, and quick:
You could grill up a veggie-filled omelet or maybe scramble a couple eggs adding canned salmon, kale, fresh pepper and a little mozzarella to make it more filling and satisfying. Here we have high-quality protein, fat, and carbs in a whole-food low-sugar jumpstart to your day.
Or if you might want something sweet, check out my Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. The base is vanilla protein powder with a little almond flour so you avoid the low quality starchy carbs that make traditional pancakes unhealthy.
Or you might enjoy some healthy chia-seed based smarter cereal.
Finally, here are the facts to put to bed two of the most popular breakfast myths. Isn’t the sugar in cereal and juice really different from the sugar in soda and ice-cream sundaes? And aren’t the “slow carbs” in starches good for us? First off, sugar is sugar just like a rose called by any other name is still a rose. It doesn’t matter what form it takes. Second, believing that starch is a “slow carb” and good for us is part of the reason why we’ve seen a 100,000% increase in diabetes and pre-diabetes in the past 100 years. The modern science is clear: If you want to stay slim and avoid obesity and diabetes, simply see any sugar as sugar AND see starch as one step away from sugar.
Balanced and complete breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are essential to enjoying your optimal life. Just make sure they are balanced in terms of things that matter vs. being an equal balance of marketing slogans and food myths. And let’s ensure all our meals provide complete nutrition instead of servings of sugar completely in disguise.
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Graph source: Arciero PJ, Gentile CL, Martin-Pressman R, Ormsbee MJ, Everett M, Zwicky L, Steele CA. Increased dietary protein and combined high intensity aerobic and resistance training improves body fat distribution and cardiovascular risk factors. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):373-92. PubMed PMID: 17136940.
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