How many times have you woken up hungry in the morning, only to fix yourself a nice bowl of cereal to keep you full and satisfied? We’ve all been there. But the truth is that eating cereal for breakfast might just be one of the unhealthiest things you can ever do to your body. In fact, according to nutritionists, if you want to kickstart your day, instead of eating healthy-sounding cereals, the better option might just be a good old pizza.
Why is Pizza the Healthier Option?
While you might think that fancy breakfasts like smoothie bowls, expensive cereals and granola bars are the healthiest way to start your day, the truth is that the more sugar you consume for breakfast, the more lethargic you’re bound to feel throughout the day. And when it comes to pizza, it contains more or less the same amount of calories as a regular bowl of cereal. The only difference is that it contains none of the sugar, and that’s what makes it the healthier option - unless you specifically have added cereal into your routine as part of a reduced cholesterol diet. According to New York based nutritionist Chelsey Amer - who actually came up with the theory that pizza is healthier than cereal for breakfast - most cereals contain tons of carbs but not enough proteins to sustain your energy throughout the day. Pizza, on the other hand, is of course extremely rich in proteins with all the cheese that goes into it. Because a slice of pizza contains a lot more fat than sugar, you’re less likely to experience that small burst of rush before you go into a quick sugar crash - leaving you tired for the rest of the day. Which means that it’s definitely a more balanced meal than any breakfast that’s rich in sugar. To compare, one cup of Raisin Bran has 18 grams of sugar and 1.6 grams of fat, which includes saturated fats. One slice of pizza, meanwhile, typically has about 9.8 grams of healthy unsaturated fat in addition to saturated fats. Neither of the options are exactly optimal if you’re on a weight loss journey, but they are comparable in nutrients.
So, if you feel like having that leftover slice of pizza for breakfast - do it! Chances are that it’ll help you stay energized for longer without really affecting your mind and body. In fact, having any leftovers for breakfast is a good idea - as long as you’re not putting spoonfuls of sugar into your body right at the start of the day. But if you absolutely can’t live without it-- a cereal made with nuts or seeds, and fruit with a plant based milk is a better choice over any commercial boxed cereals that'll end up doing more harm than good and leave you with more sugar cravings. With breakfast cereals, it really depends on the kind of cereal you look at. Some contain no sugar and some contain tons of added sugar. Some are fortified with lots of vitamins and minerals, as well as protein-offering ingredients, while some do not. So if you’re talking about a veggie-loaded cauliflower or cassava flour crust pizza with plenty of protein and not a lot of saturated fat compared to a sugar-loaded, low-protein cereal, pizza can absolutely be a healthier choice for breakfast.
What You Should Really Be Eating for Breakfast
This obviously doesn’t mean that you should wake up and order yourself a pizza pie everyday. What it does mean is that instead of going for quick fix breakfasts that will give you a momentary burst of energy, try eating something that’s rich in protein to keep you fuller throughout the day and stop you from snacking between meals because you’re never really satisfied - even if it’s healthy snacks! While a sugary breakfast isn’t bad from time to time - if you want to wake up and feel good about yourself immediately, intaking huge amounts of sugar shouldn’t be your first choice. The first thing you need to do to make sure that your breakfast is giving you all the nutrients you need in a day, try and avoid processed foods and grains that are rich in lectin because that’s bound to affect your digestive tract in a negative way. Instead, focus on making yourself a breakfast that’s fortified and contains 4 to 5 grams of fiber along with proteins to keep your body functioning for a longer time. Because even though pizza is a much healthier option than cereal, you really can’t rely on it to give you the boost you need at the start of every single day. In fact, a poll conducted by the New York Times found that 80% of shoppers said granola was a healthy option, while only 47% of nutritionists felt the same. That’s because most granola is calorie-dense, with some having up to 600 per cup; it can also pack up to 10 grams of added sugar per serving. So even the breakfast options that we think are healthy, really aren’t that great at all. Which means that you need to be extra careful while deciding between your breakfast options since that’s the meal determining how the rest of your day is going to pan out. If you’d like to make your own lectin free healthy granola - check out this recipe. It is loaded with healthy fats, fiber and protein to get your day started right!
Why Sugar is a Bad Idea for Breakfast
But why exactly should you go through such lengths to avoid regular cereals when you’ve been eating them your whole life? When you eat a helping of carbohydrates alone, all it does is make your blood sugar level rise without any real nutritional benefits that you might get from proteins, fat or fibre. And because sugar is a carbohydrate, when you intake huge amounts of it, your body breaks it down faster than usual which leads to a blood sugar spike and then a horrible dip. What this means is that if you ever wake up and feel like eating something sweet, don’t stop yourself from any sugar intake at all. Instead, make sure that you’re not just eating sugar alone. Because when you combine sugar with other nutrients, this spike and dip pattern can easily be avoided. For example, apple slices with almond butter.
Since glucose is the body’s main source of fuel, our body converts it from food to energy which it then uses. But eventually, when your sugar intake is high, your body stops keeping up with this process of glucose conversion, making your sugar levels rise - which obviously isn’t a good thing. Especially because elevated blood glucose harms blood vessels, which is the major cause of the vascular complications of diabetes, leading to other problems such as damage to blood vessels in the brain and eyes in the longer run. Which is why it’s extremely important to start reducing sugar from your diet as soon as you can. Even if you don’t want to give it up completely, it’s recommended to make slow adjustments - starting from your breakfast.
Eliminate Sugar From Your Morning Routine
But how do you do that? It’s pretty simple. You can start by incorporating fruits in your breakfast routine. While fruits are mostly made up of sugars, they also have a bunch of fibre which regulate your blood sugar levels and can even help you stop sugar cravings in the long run. Combine that with a cup of cauliflower or millet oatmeal with nuts and you get all the protein and carbs you need to keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day. And if you want to add some natural sugars like maple syrup or honey to this breakfast, that’s completely fine, since you’re combining it with a bunch of other things to avoid a sugar crash.
Buffalo milk Greek yoghurt is also another great, easily digestible option since it’s protein rich and if it’s unflavoured, it has practically no sugar count. Combining it with a bunch of fresh berries and homemade granola can give you a meal that’s balanced and healthy enough to keep you energized. While commercial yoghurt parfaits are one of the worst breakfast choices you will ever make for yourself, choosing healthier alternatives to the same meal can just be the key to your productive day.
Ideally, your breakfast meals should be a good balance of protein, complex carbs and fats. Try noticing how your body responds to certain foods and then incorporate or eliminate them from your routine. Experiment with adding an egg to your meal and notice if you get hungry before lunch or not. The key is to intuitively understand and respond to your body’s needs while following the ‘no sugar breakfast rule’. But if you can’t get the hang of it in the beginning, that’s fine! It’s normal to be a little confused once you start to eliminate or reduce carbohydrates from your breakfast. But what you need to realize is that there are plenty of healthier options to keep your cravings at bay while also giving your body all the healthy fuel it needs to start off your days on the right note. So the next time you’re about to mistake a sweet treat for a healthy meal, try a few options that might not be as bad for your mind and body. While social media breakfast might look beautiful and delicious, the truth is that you’re better off without most of them.
Considering all of this, whether you choose to eat a pizza for breakfast or if you’re the kind of person who likes a little sweetness to start off the day - the important thing is that you make informed decisions and understand exactly what you’re putting into your body right at the start of every day.
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xo Laura Niesslein