Breakfast can start your day on the right, or wrong track. The meal you choose can provide adequate fuel and nutrients, or immediately expose your body to sugar and refined carbohydrates, which will likely lead to a subsequent crash an hour or so later.
Of course, there are some clear winners. There’s always plain Greek yogurt loaded up with fresh fruit, a hearty bowl of fiber-packed oats with nuts or seeds, or an egg-based meal alongside veggies and whole-wheat toast. Yet, it can happen when you’re pressed for time and don’t have the ability to whip up home.
And that’s where the fast-food breakfast comes in.
It is a quick fix, after all! But it’s best to come prepared, so you can order something nutritious and satiating for a more productive day. Which isn’t always easy to do at a fast-food chain. (You won’t necessarily find all of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now on menus!)
While some fast-food restaurants have specialty items, there are a few generic, breakfast food orders that you’ll typically find on all fast-food menus. You’ll definitely a few choices that aren’t necessarily the best for you. There is one option, in particular, that happens to be a diet doozy at most fast-food spots, according to nutritionist and author and founder of The Candida Diet, Lisa Richards.
The worst fast-food breakfast you should never order is . . .
We know, this is a sad one to see! Pancakes are no doubt a popular breakfast food. They are typically easy to make yourself at home and happen to be rather delicious and versatile. You can go the sweet route and add chocolate chips, fruit, or powdered sugar, or go with savory and add spices or bacon.
But that doesn’t mean the dish is all that great for you, healthwise.
“Unfortunately, pancakes only really offer refined carbohydrates and are used as a vehicle for sugar and fat loaded butter and syrup,” says Richards. “The type of refined flour used in pancakes leads to increased insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can also lead to an increase in weight and chronic fatigue.”
When that happens, you become more resistant to the effects of higher insulin glucose levels, and you are more susceptible to blood sugar swings and spikes. Since you’re missing out on that much-needed fiber when you indulge in some pancakes, you won’t be able to stabilize your blood sugar and will likely crave more food (and yes, more refined carbohydrate and sugar-laden foods!) soon after.
Plus, you’re skimping on protein and healthy fats, both of which further improve satiety and give your mind and body that jolt of energy to get the day moving.
If you can’t resist ordering some pancakes, there are some modifications you can make.
“If pancakes are your favorite, then request them without butter and syrup and check to see if it is possible to have them made with whole-grain flour,” Richards says. And if you’re getting toppings, go for eggs, veggies, nut butter, or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, for example, as those choices will provide more nutrition overall.
While most pancakes are comparable in terms of nutritional value, there are three popular examples that Richards thinks are high on the list of worst pancake menu orders to choose from.
Per order: 580 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 550 mg sodium, 101 g carbs (2 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 9 g protein
Sorry but the McDonald’s Hotcakes are a no-go.
“These fast-food pancakes are no exception to the fact that they are calorically dense and offer little nutritionally, and when butter and syrup are added the fat and sugar content increase significantly,” Richards says.
There are already 45 grams of sugar and 101 grams of carbs, which is a lot per serving, and that’s before adding toppings. Even if you choose fruit, you’re still increasing the sugar and carbohydrate count.
Burger King Pancake Platter
Per order: 440 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 696 mg sodium, 71 g carbs (1 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 5 g protein
The term platter insinuates that something is large and filling, but this pancake platter won’t keep hunger at bay.
“Burger King‘s pancake platter will fill you up quickly, but leave you hungry again relatively soon after eating,” Richards says.
Since the pancakes are made from refined carbohydrates, rather than fiber-dense grains, they are processed rapidly by the body, which can lead to increased hunger shortly after, as well as overeating. In fact, while greater in calories, the pancake platter with sausage would be better since you’re at least including more protein.
Per order of 3 with syrup: 340 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 350 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (1 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 3 grams protein
“This pancake option is among the worst. Not only does it come loaded with butter and syrup, but the fat and sodium in this breakfast reaches concerning levels for heart health and weight gain,” Richards explains. “They are made with inflammatory, refined flour, which will wreak havoc on the gut’s microbiome as well as potentially cause joint pain and brain fog.”
This breakfast order definitely won’t set you up for a day of success, that’s for sure. If you’re looking for more tips, your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!