Is breakfast a meal or a snack?
It is pretty common knowledge breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day.
Following 12-16 hours of resting the digestive system, people across the globe break the overnight fast with a meal to kick start their day.
What we choose to eat at this time is important. It can influence energy, focus, and performance, as well as food choice and quality of sleep later on.
But the availability of quick-to-consume, on-the-go packaged breakfast foods and drinks is growing, and these products are being found to be packed with added sugar, resembling more a nutritionally poor snack than a nourishing meal.
Serving your body a hefty dose of the sweet stuff at the start of the day sets you up for a sugar high followed by an almighty energy crash. Not conducive to a productive day of work or school, right?
Snacks marketed as breakfast substitutes
Our mates at LiveLighter scoured Aussie supermarket shelves for products marketed as morning meal material.1
Of the 65 found in either Coles, Woolworths or Aldi, most contained concerning amounts of sugars; the majority of which are added (and not naturally occurring like those in milk or fruit, which aren’t concerned with).
For example, Belvita Breakfast Biscuits, chocolate flavour, have 13.6g of sugar per 50g serve (4 biscuits). This equals 3 teaspoons of sugar before morning tea.
Breakfast biscuits – designed to replace a bowl of cereal and milk – pretty much resemble a classic biscuit better suited as a treat with Nan’s afternoon cuppa, being super high in added sugar and in no way a helpful or healthy way to start the day.
“Breakfast biscuits are basically just sweet biscuits, but with a higher price tag and a healthy halo. They’re highly processed and some were more than 25 per cent sugar, very little of which is naturally occurring from fruit or milk,” said LiveLighter dietician, Sian Armstrong.
LiveLighter noted the majority of breakfast products served up more total sugars (added and naturally occurring combined) than two wheat biscuits and milk, including:
- 100% of regular sized breakfast drinks
- 76% of chilled breakfast products (e.g. yoghurts, chia puddings)
- 72% of breakfast biscuits and on-the-go mueslis.
Burning holes in your breakfast pocket
What is more, these snack-like products were pricey.
LiveLighter found on-the-go breakfast products could be up to $4.50 per serve. That is 18 times the cost of their typical breakfast example, costing a mere $0.24 per serve for 2 wheat biscuits and milk.
For the morning meal, think real, whole food
Want a better solution for breakfast?
Focus on including a source of fibre, protein and healthy fat, such as:
- Leafy greens, eggs and avocado
- Chopped fruit and whole oats, plain yoghurt and nuts or seeds
- Sweet potato toast, feta or cottage cheese and pumpkin seeds
And if you are short on time (or even if you aren’t), check out our ideas for quick no added sugar breakfasts to help you kick start your day in the best possible way!
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med)
- LiveLighter 2017, ‘Snack-Ification Of Breakfast’, Press release, accessed 6 September 2017, <https://livelighter.com.au/news/Snack-ification-of-breakfast>