If you’ve ever performed the walk of shame to your fridge on a particularly hungover morning and grabbed a cold slice of pizza, we’ve got news for you.
Believe it or not, a New York nutritionist has proclaimed that pizza may actually be a healthier breakfast choice for you than cereal. It seems too good to be true, but thanks to recent trends in what Americans eat for breakfast, starting your day off with a cold slice could actually be the lesser of two evils.
Nutritionist Chelsey Amer spoke to the Daily Meal about her theory regarding the most important meal of the day. She explains that since so many breakfast cereals are high in sugar content, pizza actually packs some perks that cereal can’t match.
Each option has about the same amount of calories. That said, sugar lends itself to a shorter burst of energy and eventual crash. Pizza, on the other hand, has protein and healthy fat that will leave you full and energized for longer without the crash.
In the age of the foodie, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like pizza. The perfect combination of cheese, bread, and (often) meat is absolutely delicious, but most people wouldn’t say it’s healthy.
Cereal, on the other hand, has a better reputation as a solid choice to start the day with. The popularity of sugary cereals in the last decade or two has caused a shift, though. Cereal is not exactly “healthy” either.
If asked to choose between the two for breakfast, it’s likely that while you’d rather have pizza, you’d choose cereal if you’re being health-conscious. It seems like the obvious choice, but a nutritionist has found that it’s actually not so cut and dried.
Chelsey Amer is a nutritionist in New York. She claims that while the cheesy joy of pizza for breakfast may be taboo, it can actually be a healthier choice for you than cereal.
Most popular cereal options in the US lack protein and healthy fats. Add the insane amounts of sugar packed into cereals to make them “family friendly” and you can see the downsides to eating a bowl first thing in the morning.
“You may be surprised to find out that an average slice of pizza and a bowl of cereal with whole milk contain nearly the same amount of calories,” Chelsey explains. “However, pizza packs a much larger protein punch, which will keep you full and boost satiety throughout the morning.”
That doesn’t mean that Chelsey is touting pizza as healthy itself. Just like cereal, pizza comes in all kinds of varieties that can impact how healthy it is for you to be eating.
The real upside to pizza is that it’s a more balanced option than cereal. “Plus, a slice of pizza contains more fat and much less sugar than most cold cereals, so you will not experience a quick sugar crash,” Chelsey adds.
If you’re not looking to scarf down a slice first thing in the morning, it’s important for you to pay attention to the cereals you’re buying. Health notes that Raisin Bran, which is typically touted as a healthy choice, has 18 grams of sugar. That’s close to the 25-gram daily limit for sugar that women are recommended to follow.
Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian, gave an example of how cereal could win out over pizza. “A cereal made with whole grains, nuts or seeds, and fruit with organic grass-fed milk or plant-based milk is a better choice over a grease-laden pizza made with processed meat like pepperoni on a white flour crust,” she explains.
Fiber is also important when considering different breakfast cereals. It helps control your blood sugar, which will fend off some of that mid-morning hunger that can have you rummaging for a snack.
Eggs, oatmeal, and Greek yogurt are all more traditional breakfast offerings that are healthier than pizza or cereal. The idea is that you want to eat something that is nutritionally balanced but also energizing without relying on sugar.
If you absolutely need some sugar in your morning, keep it in your coffee. The caffeine will make up for it by boosting your metabolism.
If you’re still fantasizing about starting your day off with a slice or two of pizza, keep in mind that it isn’t something you should be doing all the time. Like everything else, moderation is key when making choices that impact your health.