Tempting Grab-and-Go Breakfasts You Should Avoid at All Costs

We all want to make healthy choices when it comes to the first meal of the day. But a lack of time often leaves us reaching for something quick and probably not so nutritious.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a lot of reasons. And what you eat definitely matters.

Is something better than nothing?

Scrambled eggs with fried bacon

Is no breakfast better than a bad breakfast? | KabVisio/iStock/Getty Images

Since breakfast is undoubtedly important, a common question is whether opting for an unhealthy breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. If you’re totally strapped for time, should you grab a glazed donut out of the box or just wait for lunch?

The simple answer is yes, something is better than nothing. But if you can help it at all, avoid the following grab-and-go breakfasts and make a healthier choice in the morning. Your body will thank you.

 Eggo Buttermilk pancakes

Pancakes with focus on syrup and butter.

Go for the real thing if you desire pancakes. | iStock.com/StephanieFrey

It may seem like a good idea to stock your freezer full of frozen pancakes to heat up quickly before you begin your day. But reading labels is imperative — a short stack of these has 25% of the daily recommended sodium allowance, and they pack as much sugar as a glazed Dunkin’ Donuts treat.

For a healthy alternative, try cooking up a batch of these whole wheat banana pancakes and freezing them instead.

Store-bought muffins

overhead shot of carrot muffins on a wooden counter

Cook your muffins yourself so you can use the best ingredients. | iStock.com

Muffins have been touted as a healthy breakfast food for decades. This is typically false when it comes to the store-bought variety. Often packed with preservatives and more calories than you realize (600-800, in fact!), even dark muffins with “bran” in the name tend to be unhealthy options. You can bake up a bunch of healthy muffins yourself, but when it comes to the grab-and-go kind, just go.

Bagels with butter or cream cheese

bagel and cream cheese

Sorry, but your bagel and cream cheese is not doing you any favors. | iStock.com

Who doesn’t love a nice, toasted bagel in the morning? Your blood sugar, for one. Many bagels are the equivalent of four slices of white bread, which is not something you want to start your day with. A lack of protein and fiber in traditional bagels plus the toppings equates to a lot of empty calories.

If a bagel is your only breakfast option, choose a whole wheat variety and try to add a healthy fat, like peanut butter.

 Sugary cereals

cereal boxes

You should know better … | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Put down that bowl of Reese’s Puffs or Apple Jacks. While you probably already know that sugary cereals aren’t doing your body any favors, the truth is, you may as well eat a bowl of candy for breakfast. Cereals are often packed with sodium and chemicals as well as more sugar than you need in an entire day.

 Pop Tarts and other toaster pastries

Blackberry filled toaster pastries with frosting

You’re in for a sugar crash if you eat these to start your day. | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

Pop Tarts are a tempting treat, and you won’t find an easier grab-and-go breakfast option. But it doesn’t take a nutritionist to know that these sugar bombs are unhealthy, especially the S’mores flavor. The packaging is deceitful, giving you the nutritional data for one pastry — but a serving size is actually two. So if you eat two S’mores Pop Tarts, you’ll consume 38 grams of sugar and 400 calories.

Pre-bottled breakfast smoothies

Mango and banana smoothie

You’re better off making your own smoothie. | iStock.com

It’s the ultimate gimmick: a pre-made supermarket smoothie with vitamins, minerals, fruits and veggies. While this sounds nutritious, sadly, most of them fall short on nutrition and are so calorie- and sugar-filled that you’d have to spend hours exercising to burn them off.

One of the worst offenders, the Odwalla Strawberry C Monster Smoothie, has 300 calories and 54 grams of sugar, not to mention 71 grams of carbs and a whopping one gram of fiber. Steer clear and grab an apple instead.

Plan ahead now, grab-and-go later

Pencil lying on a meal planner

Make a plan so you can stay on track. | iStock.com/alexskopje

With a little planning, you can have plenty of healthy breakfast choices waiting for you when you wake up in the morning. Meal prep isn’t reserved for dinners — there are dozens of healthy freezer-friendly breakfasts you can make ahead of time. Not only will you save time and money in the long run, you’ll also be setting yourself up for health and wellness.

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