Look how healthy that looks! OH MY!
Granola is NOT a magical unicorn food. It’s usually just oats, sugar, raisins(sugar), and oil. I can’t categorize that as a nutrient-dense breakfast or snack option. It’s a trail mix meet granola bar situation; calorically dense carbohydrates topped with other carbohydrates. This picture of sugared oats with blueberries and honey are just a sure fire way to raise the blood sugar, and FAST.
In fact, a 1/2 cup serving of plain ole granola like this one has 7g of sugar and 40g of carbohydrates. That serving of granola has more sugar and more carbs than a 1/2 cup serving of Frosted Flakes, how does that even make sense??
Let’s do better! POWER up in the AM.
You know that I am a big fan of stepping out of the typical breakfast bubble and loading up on savory, protein-rich dishes. Give me some eggs, something green and some hot sauce, and I can be happy as a clam! Many of my patients come to me completely unaware that their breakfast is actually quite low in protein and rather high in carb0hydrates. But this is the typical American diet; many high-carb breakfasts, such as pancakes, waffles or toast without any satiating protein. Eating a breakfast that is high in carbs, or is just all carbs, will trigger a spike in blood sugar that can almost guarantee energy instability and weak hunger cues. Multiple studies have shown that a high-protein breakfast can contribute to a stable blood-sugar as well as increased satiety and energy levels throughout the day. So no, your granola bar and banana will not suffice.
Five of the worst granolas offenders found by Whitness HQ recently
Remember – the AHA recommends women to have less than 24g of added sugar per day. Whoa, all six of these options meet 25% or more of your daily added sugar intake for the day. Although, I prefer my patients to aim for less than 12g per day.
- Quaker Granola, Simply, Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds – 26C/8.5S
- Bear Naked Granola Fruit/Nut 24C/8.4S
- Safe and fair 20C/7g sugar
- O Organics Organic Granola Oats & Honey Flavored 23C/5.5S
- Nature Valley PROTEIN granola 20C/7.5g sugar
- Good & Gather Salted Caramel Flavored Granola 19C/7g s
But sometimes you need a little something different, such as a nutty, lightly sweet, crunchy granola.
Not all granola is guilty of being a sugar-laden crunchy carbohydrate. Choose a paleo-type, nut and seed heavy granola to initially upgrade your granola game. But, if you’re looking for some other easy ways to keep on crunching, just keep on reading.In fact, there has been a rise in the actually “healthy” granolas that are based primarily on nuts and seeds, typically referred to as “rawnola” or “paleo granola.” These rawnolas a healthier alternative to the typical granola because they are full of nuts, seeds and heart healthy fats like coconut oil or avocado oil.
Utilize the following toppings, tips and tricks to continue crunching on granola that contains less sugar and a punch of healthy fat for satiety.
Five Ways to Up Your Granola Game
Add to your AM greek yogurt or afternoon snack. Keep in your bag for a travel or on-the-go snack. Welcome to the new age of granola, my friend!
1. Add in Your Own Healthy Fats
If you open the bag of granola and all you’re seeing are oats and dried fruit, you aren’t going to be kept full for long. Add in your own healthy fats in the forms of nuts and seeds such as sliced almonds, hemp seeds or walnuts. Not only will you get the addition of healthy fats, but you increase the fiber and protein content a little bit if you add nut options such as almonds, cashews or pistachios.
2. Go For Grain-Free
My diabetic patients really benefit from grain-free granola that naturally contains much less carbohydrate and thus, insulin requirements. You can find a grain-free granola option pretty much anywhere now; Target even has their own line! I do recommend reading over the nutrition label to ensure you’re getting a healthy balance of fat, carbs and protein. I’m a big fan of the Purely Elizabeth grain-free granola, it makes an excellent on the go snack option.
3. Upgrade to Unrefined
Instead of opting for granola that contains cane sugar, sugar crystals, or high fructose corn syrup, opt for the unrefined sugar options. Unrefined sugars include maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave. These sweeteners have shown to spike blood sugar less than their refined counter parts.
4. Balance Your Breakfast
Granola may have the occasional healthy fat and low-protein addition from nuts, but is essentially a lonely carb. When opting for a morning granola, pair it with a protein such as Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs. A popular option is sprinkling granola on top of a smoothie, but if this is your breakfast of choice beware. I recommend adding a scoop of your favorite protein powder or collagen powder into the blender. Grab my protein-rich smoothie recommendations, here (go-to smoothies)!
5. Put on Your Oven Mitts and DIY
There are some excellent grain-free granola recipes out there that are quite easy to make. Grain-free granola can be easily whipped up in one bowl, on one sheet and fresh for at least a week. This Simple Grain-Free Granola is an excellent option because you can make it to your own liking, perhaps added some freeze-dried fruit or extra-dark chocolate chips.
The more you know, the better you can do! The better you can do for your body, the healthier you can be! Knowledge is power, friends.