Archive for the tag - breakfast

How Much Sugar Did You Have For Breakfast Today? Hint: A Lot!

sugar2Sugar everywhere!

The first thing you need to know is that most of us eat way too much sugar. According to estimates, the average American eats 130 pounds of sugar each year. That’s a lot of sugar.

The second thing you need to know is that most of us are really, really awful about estimating where our sugar comes from. That’s because many of the seemingly innocuous foods we eat are secretly high in sugar. Foods like barbeque sauce. Or milk. Or ketchup.

Breakfast is no exception. And to eliminate all ignorance, let’s do some math and figure out how much sugar you ate this morning.

Maybe you had a cup and a half of raisin bran cereal, one cup of skim milk and a glass of orange juice. It all seems so innocent, doesn’t it? Until you do the math.

According to the nutrition information, a cup and a half of raisin bran has 27 grams of sugar. Add that to the 12 grams in a cup of milk. And the 21 grams in a cup of orange juice. Your breakfast total is 60 grams of sugar.

Here’s where it gets really gross.

We know that four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon. So if we divide 60 grams by 4 grams per teaspoon, we’re left with 15 teaspoons of sugar for breakfast. While most of us find grams hard to understand, 15 teaspoons of sugar is a much clearer (and more disgusting) metric.

Not to single out raisin bran, most cereals are loaded in added sugars. In many breakfast cereals, sugar is the second ingredient. Sometimes it’s the first. As such, it’s important to read the nutrition information and ingredients carefully. In fact, I’ve written an entire article about buying healthy cereal.

Rather than cow’s milk, I also recommend opting for unsweetened almond milk. It’s rich, creamy and delicious. And it has exactly zero grams of sugar - making it an awesome upgrade to your diet.

Beyond milk and cereal, be suspicious of other breakfast foods with lots of sugar. These include energy bars, yogurts (especially with fruit on the bottom), muffins, certain smoothies and many frozen waffles/pancakes.

And instead of drinking orange juice, apple juice or other sugary beverages, consume the whole fruit. You’ll still get some sugar - but with lots of fiber and other important nutrients. You’ll feel fuller and experience less of a spike in your blood sugar.

So… how many teaspoons of sugar did you consume for breakfast this morning? What’s your number? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. If you’re looking to lose weight, it takes more than cutting sugar. Download The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program to get started today!

Breakfast Before or After a Workout?

Dear Davey,

I’m switching my workouts from night to morning and was wondering when the best time to eat breakfast is? Before the gym? Or after?


Muesli for Breakfast f4.0Hey Jared,

Great question! And welcome to early morning exercise. It’s such a wonderful way to start the day - and it’ll wake you up better than a cup of coffee.

As a fellow early morning exerciser, your question is near and dear to my heart. A number of studies have examined exercising before breakfast versus exercise after breakfast - and the findings have been split. One study found that exercising before breakfast resulted in muscle loss. Another study concluded exercise before breakfast resulted in fat being burned more efficiently.

Nonetheless, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. No one likes exercising on a full stomach. If you do eat a full breakfast before hitting the gym, it’s recommended that you allow 1 - 2 hours for digestion. If you plan on exercising sooner, something lighter will be a wiser choice. Otherwise you may feel sluggish or even nauseous.
  2. No one likes exercising on an empty stomach. Working out an empty stomach may not give you the fuel needed to power through an intense workout. If you’re hungry and feeling famished, it’s probably going to be a lot harder to get in that last repetition. The only thing worse than exercising on a full stomach is exercising on an empty stomach.
  3. Regardless of what you eat before the gym, know that you’ll still need to ingest protein and carbohydrates after the gym. If you ate breakfast before the gym, you’ll still need to eat something after the gym to give your body the protein and carbs it needs.

What do I recommend?

When I wake up, I eat a small protein shake and banana. Packed with carbohydrates, the banana gives me the energy I need for my workout. It’s just enough. After the gym, I eat a full protein shake and proper breakfast - usually consisting of cereal and almond milk. The shake and cereal give my body the protein and carbohydrates that it needs to rebuild and repair my muscles.

In the comments below, please share your morning workout/breakfast routine! I’d love to hear what you do.


High Protein Breakfast Prevents Unhealthy Snacking.

slide05-healthy-eggsIf you’re looking to upgrade your diet, one of the easiest ways to start is with a protein-rich breakfast - at least, according to the latest study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And yet, up to 60% of young Americans skip what is arguably the most important meal of the day.

For the study, a group of women ages 18 - 20 either skipped breakfast, ate breakfast cereal or consumed a protein-rich breakfast of eggs and meat. Regardless of the food type, all the breakfasts were matched for calories, fat, fiber, sugar and energy density. Only protein varied - with the high-protein breakfast containing some 35 grams.

Throughout the course of the study, participants completed questionnaires, provided blood samples and underwent an evening brain scan. After reviewing the data, researchers found that eating a high-protein breakfast led to increased fullness and a decrease in brain activity associated with food cravings. In addition, eating a high-protein breakfast was associated with reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods - as compared to skipping breakfast or eating a cereal.

According to researchers:

These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods.

If you’re looking for a high-protein breakfast, eggs, protein shakes, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are all protein-rich choices to upgrade your early morning meal.

What do you usually eat for breakfast? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Choose a Healthy Cereal: 3 Tips.

You’d never start the morning with a bowl full of sugar, right? After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s interesting, then, that so many cereals list sugar as their primary ingredient.

In fact, according to The Environmental Working Group, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp and Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow cereals are some of the worst offenders. They contain 55.6%, 51.9% and 48.3% sugar by weight respectively. Needless to say, it’s not a great way to start your morning.

Finding healthy cereals has become a pet hobby of mine. And with so many high sugar and unhealthy options, it’s not easy to find smart choices.

In general, I have the criteria:

  1. Whole grains listed as primary ingredients. This one is easy. Rather than reading misleading marketing claims, look at the actual ingredients. What do you see? If the first ingredients are whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, rolled whole oats or whole wheat, etc., then you’re off to a good start. If the world “whole” is missing before each grain, assume that it is refined and less healthy.
  2. Contains at least five grams of fiber. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber - but breakfast is an easy way to start the day right. High fiber diets may lower the risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes - and fiber helps normalize bowel movements and lower cholesterol. Fiber even facilitates weight loss by minimizing blood sugar spikes and helping dieters to feel full and satisfied.
  3. No added sugar. This one is huge. Most of us get way more than enough sugar, and it’s really not needed for a delicious and satisfying breakfast cereal. Keep in mind that marketers are sneaky, and that sugar is often disguised by other names like brown rice syrup, barley malt and molasses. Some cereals, like those with dried fruits, will contain some naturally occurring sugar - but ensure that additional sugar isn’t added in the ingredients.

So which cereals make the cut? Not many. I’m a big fan of the Engine 2 line - which I’ve only been able to find at Whole Foods Market. Alpen’s “no sugar added” muesli is also a smart choice that’s more widely available.

Does it take a little extra time and effort to find a healthy cereal? Sure. But breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day… and you’re so worth it.

Do you have a favorite healthy cereal? Let me know in the comments below. Does it pass all three of my criteria?

How to Use Portion Control.

We know that when it comes to portions, size matters. It’s easy to talk about portion control tips, like taking just a few bites of dessert or eating off of smaller dinner plates - but applying that advice is another thing altogether.

Most mornings, my breakfast includes a bowl of cereal. I reach for whatever bowl is available, and then add my cereal and milk. I have two different size bowls: one is 6 inches and the other is 8 inches.

Today, I wondered if my cereal is subject to the large plate theory. The theory goes something like this:

  1. Portions look smaller on larger plates, so…
  2. We put more food on larger plates, so…
  3. We end up eating a greater quantity of food.

The takeaway is that by opting for a smaller plate, we will consume less food. Simple enough.

To test it out, I added my typical serving size of cereal to both the 6-inch and 8-inch bowls. To be honest, the amounts looked fairly similar. But then I took out my measuring cup. As it turns out, I put an extra 3/4 of a cup of cereal (equivalent to 150 calories - or roughly 12 minutes on the treadmill) in the 8-inch bowl. My larger bowl contained a 33% larger portion of cereal.

For me, there are a two morals of the story. First, the large plate theory is very much true. Second, it’s critically important to apply abstract advice and tips to concrete instances in each of our lives. Reading tips is one thing. Living them is another. 🙂