What are the worst breakfast foods for me to eat?

We need to talk about the worst breakfast foods. Why? Because I am a huge proponent for eating breakfast. Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day. I’m sure you’ve heard this, but does it actually happen? Between busy schedules, wrangling kids, or long commutes, it is often neglected.

Taking extra time to make breakfast happen is always a good idea! 

Starting the day off right fuels your body, gives you energy, stabilizes blood sugars, and can help you feel more satiated and satisfied throughout the day. Not only is eating breakfast important, but you should also try to eat a balanced, nutrient dense breakfast. So what are the worst breakfast foods and what foods do I need to avoid?

So I may have been a little tricky with my title. Because I’m not going to demonize any foods. I believe that all foods fit and all foods can be incorporated as PART of a nutritious breakfast. So no food is not going to be considered the worst breakfast food in my opinion. But many food options are not complete enough to be considered a balanced breakfast that is going to give you energy AND help stabilize blood sugar.

So let’s talk about 12 of the “worst” breakfast options because they will not leave you feeling full and satisfied! But guess what, even if you can’t make a balanced meal happen, and you’re hungry an hour later, that’s ok. Make note of it and try to get a balanced snack and keep going!

12 of the Worst Breakfast Food Options

1. A Breakfast Without Protein

Starting your day with a balanced meal that includes protein will help you feel more full and satisfied. Protein is digested slower than carbohydrate, so it will keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Try peanut butter on your bagel, chopped pecans on your oatmeal, a boiled egg with your fruit, nuke some turkey sausage in the microwave, or grab a protein shake as your running out the door.

Your first meal of the day should have a balance of carbs and protein.


2. A Large Glass of Juice (…and only juice)

While 1/2 cup of fruit juice is considered a serving of fruit, juice contains a large amount of sugar, without the heart healthy and blood sugar friendly fiber.

While you can certainly incorporate some juice with a meal, a glass of juice certainly isn’t a meal. Make sure you incorporate sources of protein, fat, and fiber for a satisfying meal! Pair that cup of OJ with scrambled eggs, avocado, on a whole grain english muffin and we’ve got balance!

Juice is missing the healthful fiber found in fruit!

3. A Cup of Joe…and Nothing Else!

Just like the glass of juice, a cup of coffee is not a meal! Not only do you need more nutrients to fuel your body, a strong cup of coffee without food can be very hard on the stomach.

Coffee can still be a part of a balanced breakfast when paired with a balanced meal!

Dietitians need coffee too! But be sure to pair the coffee with a balanced breakfast including protein and carbs

4. Packaged Smoothies (…maybe)

So packaged smoothies aren’t automatically out of the question. But some are often mostly carbohydrate – fruit, maybe some veggies, maybe some sweetener. Pay attention to what is in the pre-made smoothie so you can decide how best to incorporate it into your meals!

For example, if the smoothie has very little protein and fat, use the smoothie as your carbohydrate for the meal for plenty of energy for your brain and deliciousness for your taste receptors. But try adding some protein and/or fat to make it into a filling meal. Like maybe a boiled egg and some turkey bacon.

If the smoothie has a large amount of carbohydrate and you have blood sugar concerns, maybe consider reducing how much you drink of it, or even making your own smoothie, and incorporate yogurt, protein powder, cottage cheese, or hemp hearts to add some protein.

Try making your own smoothies at home! Instead of buying the packed ones.

5. Energy Drinks

I feel like by now, you probably know where I’m going with this. First of all, most beverages can’t be considered a meal by themselves. Energy drinks are mostly caffeine and vitamins and maybe sugar. While you may feel a surge of energy immediately afterwards, it usually ends in a crash.

You’re much better off with a nutritious, balanced breakfast that will help sustain you through the day.

Energy drinks aren't the healthiest option for your morning meal.

6. Pizza

Just kidding! Pizza and other dinner leftovers can make a great breakfast!

There is no rule saying you have to eat breakfast foods in the morning. Pizza is a combination of carbs, protein, and fat. And if you eat it cold, it is the easiest grab and go breakfast.

7. Breakfast Cereal (on it’s own)

Breakfast cereals have a reputation for being sugary and lacking nutritional value. But cereal can be a PART of a nutritious breakfast for most people. If you eat a big bowl of cereal by itself, you either find yourself hungry very soon after, or if you have diabetes, you may find your blood sugar skyrockets. Try incorporating cereal with other foods (get in that protein and fat!).

If you have blood sugar concerns, try to choose ones that are lower in sugar, contain whole grains, and have at least 3-4 grams of fiber per serving.

You can also add more fiber by sprinkling your cereal with chopped nuts, flax, or chia seeds.

If you want to have cereal for breakfast, opt for a high fiber option!

8. Spoiled Milk

You definitely don’t want to be eating anything rancid or moldy!

Get into the habit of frequently checking the dates on your refrigerated items.

Be sure to check your expiration dates!

9. Breakfast Pastry (on it’s own)

Don’t get me wrong here. I love pastries. I love me a chocolate croissant. Heck, I even like a chocolate pop-tart every now and then. But again, it’s not balanced and depending on your nutrition goals, may not be a good option for your breakfast.

If you are craving a pastry for breakfast, try pairing it with sources of protein and fiber to round out the meal. A chocolate croissant alongside some veggie frittata? Sign me up.

Breakfast pastries make a great fun food, but opt for a complex carb as part of a balanced breakfast.

10. Candy Bars

A candy bar doesn’t make a meal. Candy is a wonderful, fun food and can certainly be enjoyed. But it’s not a breakfast. Grab a protein bar or protein shake if you need something super portable, but most convenience stores are now offering a variety of options, like boiled eggs, cut fruit, and yogurt!

Take a look around the store next time you stop in.

11. A Meal That Only Contains One Item

Variety is key to a healthy, balanced diet.

Try incorporating more food groups into your meals.

Pair some peanut butter or almond butter with this banana to make it a balanced breakfast!

12.  Media-Filled Meals

For most people, we want to focus on eating mindfully. You should not be immersed in the tv, computer, tablet, or phone during your morning meal (or any meal).


Make an effort to eat your breakfast in a way that is relaxing and memorable. Take the time to SAVOR your food so you feel more satisfied!


Need more meal ideas? Check out these blogs! 

Blog reviewed and updated August 2023

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An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.