Continental breakfast food items may seem like an easy and healthy way to start your day, but the truth of the matter is, many of these items are filled with ingredients that can actually harm your body. It’s hard to tell which Continental breakfast foods are okay and which aren’t, because the fast food industry often uses confusing names and ingredient labels to make you think their food is healthy and wholesome – when it’s really not. To help you understand what you’re really eating in a Continental breakfast food items, here are some common ingredients found in these popular choices.
Sausage is actually an excellent source of lean protein, but if you’re eating pre-packaged versions, there are two things to watch out for. First, look at calories—there are usually 400 or more calories per package. Second, check out sodium content—one sausage might have twice as much sodium as another. It’s best to eat sausage fresh off of a grill or on top of some sautéed vegetables.
Some might think bacon is harmless, but if you look closely at its nutrition facts, it’s pretty clear it should be off your continental breakfast menu. A single strip has anywhere from 12 to 15 grams of fat, or about an entire day’s worth. And that’s before cooking! (Yes, cooked and cured bacon—which most fast-food chains serve—is even more unhealthy.) Plus, like other red meats and processed meat products, nitrates and nitrites are used to preserve bacon; studies have linked these preservatives to health issues like high blood pressure and an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
It may be hard to avoid, but it’s best to completely cut out egg yolks and any foods containing egg yolks—including scrambled eggs, omelets, and baked goods. The cholesterol and saturated fat found in egg yolks can increase your risk of coronary heart disease. Cholesterol is found only in animal products, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much cholesterol if you eat plant-based meals. Instead of cooking with butter or margarine that contains trans fats, opt for olive oil or canola oil when you’re making pancakes or any other breaded items.
One of the most common foods you’ll find on continental breakfast menus is juice. These beverages are fine, but they can pack enough sugar to send your blood glucose levels through the roof. That means sugary juices like apple and orange need to be consumed carefully (or not at all). Stick with 100 percent fruit juice (like grapefruit or cranberry) or opt for an unsweetened tea or coffee to get your morning boost. Another common breakfast food is yogurt, which typically contains two problems for weight loss: lots of calories and added sugar. Studies show that people don’t compensate well for eating sweets early in the day—meaning that having something sweet at breakfast can lead to increased snacking later on if you don’t burn it off during your day.
In addition to being high in sugar, many drinks that seem innocent can actually pack a serious caloric punch. For example, you might not guess that sweetened iced tea is often loaded with calories and that even seemingly healthy beverages like orange juice can have huge amounts of added sugar. Some restaurants have gotten better about adding their calorie counts directly to menus so if you’re worried about your meal plan, it never hurts to ask what comes with your meal. In any case, it’s always smart to know exactly what you’re consuming—after all, drinking calories is just as bad for weight loss as eating them!