A breakfast of donuts and coffee may be convenient and feel satisfying in the moment, but what it won’t do is keep you full until your next meal. In fact, there are loads of popular breakfast foods—like muffins, croissants, biscuits, cereal, and bagels—that will actually make you feel hungry and sluggish after your meal because they lack the nutrients your body needs.
When it comes to choosing breakfasts that have some staying power and will help you to feel energized throughout the day, you’ll want to look for foods that contain protein and/or fiber. That’s because protein can help keep you full by reducing hunger hormone levels and cravings, and research has shown that it is more satiating than carbohydrates. Foods that are higher in fiber take longer to digest, meaning you’ll stay full longer and be less inclined to snack or consume unnecessary calories between meals. Fiber can also help keep you energized because when you consume fiber alongside sugar and carbohydrates, you’re less likely to spike your blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes lead to crashes, which can make you feel lethargic and sluggish.
The following breakfast foods lack both protein and fiber; instead, they’re full of added sugars or refined carbohydrates. Too much sugar and carbs without protein and fiber will inevitably lead to spikes in your blood sugar and feelings of hunger—the opposite of what you need to start your day. Read on for 10 breakfast foods to avoid, and for help making healthier breakfast choices, we’ve got you covered with 20 Best Breakfasts to Stay Full & Energized All Day.
“While it may sound healthy, a store-bought muffin is not much different from a cupcake,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN. “It is generally comprised mostly of refined grains and a lot of added sugar while being completely devoid of fiber.” She adds that because of this, “It will not leave you feeling satisfied.”
For example, according to the USDA, one large “commercially prepared” blueberry muffin contains around 521 calories, 22 grams of fat, 73 grams of carbohydrates, and 39 grams of sugar. It has only 1.5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, which won’t give you enough staying power compared to almost 40 grams of sugar.
As we mentioned earlier, consuming a balanced breakfast of protein and fiber is the best way to stay full and energized all morning. Even though it’s probably tempting to grab a quick bagel and cream cheese before the start of your day, this breakfast item has nothing to sustain you throughout your morning.
Eating only a bagel and cream cheese “will leave you feeling tired, as it is mostly refined grains and saturated fat,” says Young. “It does not provide enough protein or fiber, which are nutrients you need for feeling satisfied.” For example, a popular store-bought option is Thomas’ Plain Bagels, which come with only 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, yet contains 53 grams of carbohydrates. For a more nutrient-dense option, try something like Dave’s Killer Bread Epic Everything Bagel, which contains 13 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber for a more balanced option.
You won’t find it surprising that donuts are not recommended for breakfast, as these deep-fried, sugar-loaded treats have zero nutritional value. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy your favorite donut from time to time, but eating nothing but added sugar in the morning will zap your energy and leave you with more cravings.
According to the USDA, an average chocolate-coated donut contains around 18 grams of sugar and 17 grams of fat (nine of which come from saturated fat). With only around 1 gram of fiber per donut, you won’t have anything to slow the sugar from entering your bloodstream and causing blood sugar spikes, leaving you with an increased chance of sluggishness.
Similar to breakfast items like donuts and muffins, sugary cereals lack the nutrition to help keep you energized and full.
“Sugary breakfast cereals often lead to feelings of hunger and sluggishness due to their high sugar content and lack of essential nutrients, and the rapid spike in blood sugar caused by the sugar rush is quickly followed by a crash, leaving you fatigued and craving more food,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “These cereals typically lack sufficient fiber and protein, important for sustained energy and fullness, leading to frequent snacking and overeating later in the day.”