In the heightened competition for your breakfast buck, fast-food restaurants are engaging in a fierce battle for your stomach – though your waistline could be the biggest casualty of all.
That’s because adding protein to your breakfast could mean more calories, especially when your meal consists of a fast-food sandwich, The Wall Street Journal said this week. The extra calories don’t necessarily come from the egg or meat—they come from cheese, butter and fat used in preparation.
While restaurant traffic remains below pre-recession volume, visits to restaurants at breakfast, the least expensive food service meal of the day, have been up for the last three years, an NPD Group study published Wednesday claims.
At the same time, visits to fast casual quick service restaurants, which are perceived by consumers as having enhanced their services and the quality of their food, continue to grow. Translation: more people are eating breakfast from a fast food joint.
While it’s fast and easy, and beats skipping breakfast all together, adding protein to your morning meal can also mean adding on the pounds since the carbs have not been reduced.
The Wall Street Journal took three breakfast sandwiches from different fast-food restaurants and compared them by calories and by grams of protein. The publication also compared them to homemade breakfasts, including eggs on toast with ham and cheese and Greek yogurt with granola and berries.
“While people are looking for more protein from their breakfast foods, they should be careful that doesn’t mean a lot more calories, too,” said The Journal. “For the most part, more grams of protein meant more calories—which you can avoid by some low-cost, low-calorie, high-protein ingredients from home.”
Here are the three sandwiches with the most calories:
- Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwrap with Bacon: 660 calories, 22 grams of protein
- Carl’s Jr. Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit: 620 calories, 19 grams of protein
- Wendy’s Fresh Baked Biscuit: 570 calories, 21 grams of protein
And here are three sandwiches with the least calories:
- Starbucks Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich: 230 calories, 13 grams of protein
- McDonald’s Egg McMuffin: 300 calories, 17 grams of protein
- Panera Bread Breakfast Power Sandwich: 230 calories, 13 grams of protein
Even with the additional calories, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that a protein rich breakfast can control appetite and reduce cravings for high fat or high sugar snacks. They actually claim that a high protein breakfast of eggs and steak could help people stay slim.
Remember that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 46 grams of protein each day for women over 19 and 56 grams for men over 19. Most people eat more protein than they need, according to the CDC.
Meanwhile, even if you choose to prepare your own high-protein breakfast at home, try not to overeat. A new Cornell University study finds that adults, on average, eat 92 percent of whatever they put on their plate.
Knowing that you’ll consumer most of what is in front of you, you can now be more mindful of how much you should put on that plate from the get-go.
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