If you’re looking to cut back on sugar, it makes sense to start with the first meal of the day. What you choose to eat for breakfast can be the difference between feeling full and well-fed or falling asleep during your morning meeting.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (100 calories) of added sugar per day for women, and 36 grams or 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. Most people consume much more than that. For example, one study found added sugar makes up about 15% of the total daily calorie intake of most adults. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s 300 calories from sugar alone, or 75 grams of added sugar every day.
When you eat foods containing sugar, your pancreas releases insulin to help shuttle the sugar into your cells for use. If there’s no protein, fiber or fat to slow down this process, the carbohydrates are absorbed and converted to energy quickly. This is good if you need a burst of energy, but since you burn through that energy rapidly, you’ll soon crash and need another “fix.” More important, in addition to being addictive, sugar consumption has been linked to greater risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
There are obvious high-sugar temptations out there — like a small Banana Berry Smoothie at Jamba Juice, which packs 59 grams of sugar, or a slice of banana bread at Starbucks with 30 grams of sugar. Other healthy seeming choices, like instant maple brown sugar oatmeal, contains 12 grams of sugar, and 1 cup of Raisin Bran can pack 18 grams of sugar (that’s 4.5 teaspoons).
The best way to avoid added sugar is to create your own healthy options. Keep the total sugar in your breakfast under 10 grams, with most or all of it coming from fiber-rich, nutritious fruit. And make sure your breakfast includes a source of protein and healthy fat.
Here are five easy breakfast ideas with less than 10 grams of sugar:
BERRY PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE
- 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup ice cubes
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Share with a friend or your spouse and enjoy!
- 1 slice whole-wheat bread
- ¼ avocado, sliced or smashed
- ¼ cup black beans
- 1 tablespoon salsa
Top bread with avocado, black beans and salsa.
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup chopped kale
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup shredded light cheddar
- 1 slice whole-wheat bread
Beat eggs together and cook in skillet. Top with kale, tomatoes and cheese. Fold into omelet. Meanwhile, toast bread. Serve and enjoy!
HEALTHY PUMPKIN WALNUT MUFFIN
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup skim milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Pinch salt
In a bowl, combine flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, chopped walnuts and salt. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, egg, milk, oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mix to combine, then divide into 12 greased/paper lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, until cooked through.
BLACKBERRY WALNUT OATMEAL
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ cup blackberries
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
Combine oats, water and sugar in microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1 minute 50 seconds. Stir and top with blackberries and walnuts.