Six out of ten Americans drink coffee every day. And millions pick up their cup of joe at a Starbucks, Panera, or other coffee shop.
What’s in that pastry you may grab with your coffee? Maybe more than you think. Here are 5 foods you shouldn’t eat for breakfast (or drink) when you’re on the go.
Starbucks’ La Boulange “artisanal pastries” are all mostly white flour, sugar, and butter, which makes it easy to earn a spot among the top 5 foods you shouldn’t eat for breakfast. Also ignore pastries at Panera (around 400 calories). Panera’s cinnamon roll hits 630 calories.
Coffee cakes from Starbucks have around 400 calories. But Einstein Bros Bagels takes the cake with its Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, which packs 830 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat (¾ of a day’s worth), plus 15 teaspoons of added sugar (roughly a two-day supply). It’s like eating two Starbucks Classic Coffee Cakes or four Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts or one (meal-size) Cinnabon Classic Roll.
Many restaurant pancakes are like having dessert for breakfast. At IHOP, an order of five Original Buttermilk pancakes adds 660 calories’ worth of (mostly) white flour to your IHIPs. And that’s without the syrup you pour at the table. But these days, plain pancakes are passé (and French toast is no better). Expect 550 to 800 calories in a four-stack of Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Double Blueberry, Harvest Grain ‘N Nut, Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity, or Strawberry Banana pancakes at IHOP. A four-stack of their New York Cheesecake pancakes tops the list of 5 foods you shouldn’t eat for breakfast. They’re loaded with 1,030 calories and roughly 12 teaspoons of (mostly added) sugar.
Skip the soufflés at Panera. They’re buttery white-flour croissant dough filled mostly with eggs, cheese, ham, and/or bacon. Each has about 500 calories plus 15 to 20 grams of saturated fat and 700 to 900 milligrams of sodium you could do without.
A milkshake for grownups. That’s one way to think of a Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino, which packs about 600 calories into a venti (24 oz.). And a good chunk of those calories comes from added sugar (about 19 teaspoons’ worth). Even most grande (16 oz.) Frappuccinos have around 10 grams of saturated fat, mostly thanks to their whipped cream. And their added sugar helps boost the calories to around 400. Ouch.
McDonald’s doesn’t even pretend that its McCafé Frappés are anything but milkshakes. Good thing, since they’re largely sugar, cream, whole milk, coffee extract, whipped cream, and chocolate and/or caramel drizzle. A medium (16 oz.) Mocha or Caramel is loaded with calories (550), saturated fat (14 grams), and added sugar (about 14 teaspoons). A large (23 oz.) Oreo McCafé Frappé has 810 calories (along with 17 grams of sat fat and about 22 teaspoons of added sugar). That’s more calories than almost any single item on the menu (except the other shakes).
Fun fact: If you want to diet to lose weight, eating more of your calories at breakfast and fewer of them at dinner could help
Israeli scientists gave 74 overweight or obese women advice to eat one of two 1,400-calorie diets. The “breakfast diet” had 700 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, and 200 calories for dinner. The “dinner diet” had 200 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, and 700 calories for dinner. All the women had metabolic syndrome. That is, they had at least three of the following: low HDL (“good”) cholesterol; elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or blood triglycerides; and increased waist size.
After 12 weeks, the women on the breakfast diet had lost 18 pounds, while those on the dinner diet had lost 8 pounds. What’s more, triglycerides fell by 34 percent on the breakfast diet and rose by 15 percent on the dinner diet, while HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose only on the breakfast diet. In addition, blood sugar and waist size fell in both groups— but more so on the breakfast diet—and the women on the breakfast diet were less hungry.
One study isn’t enough to prove that a bigger breakfast and smaller dinner leads to more weight loss than a bigger dinner and smaller breakfast. What’s more, the results may apply only to people with metabolic syndrome. And this study didn’t keep the women in a laboratory to make sure that they ate only 1,400 calories a day (though they did lose a fair amount of weight). Still, the results suggest that if people try to eat less later in the day, they may lose more weight (even if they cheat here and there).
Just remember, none of these meals were big. A typical day’s food for the breakfast diet: Breakfast—4 oz. of light tuna on whole wheat bread, 2 cups of skim milk, 1⁄2 cup of tomato-mozzarella salad, a 200-calorie chocolate bar, and coffee. Lunch—a 5 oz. grilled chicken breast, melon, green salad, beef broth, and Diet Coke. Dinner—2 scrambled egg whites, 5 slices of turkey breast, and coffee.
Sources: Obesity 21: 2504, 2013.