Nicole Recine APRN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Breakfast is arguably the most difficult meal for individuals starting a ketogenic diet. Typical breakfast foods such as cereals, fruit, smoothies, breakfast bars, toast, muffins, sweet rolls, bagels, yogurt, oatmeal, and sweetened coffee drinks are usually very high in carbohydrates. Yes, even gluten-free versions. When transitioning to a ketogenic diet, a big challenge for many is giving up their usual breakfast fare. Habits and mindsets around eating can be hard to change, especially when we have been told for decades that a healthy breakfast should be low in fat and rich in whole grains.
Breakfast: A Brief History
Was the American breakfast always a feast of carbs and sugar? Not until recently. For example, the typical morning meal in Colonial America might have included lamb chops, tripe, clams, salmon, bacon, ham, kidney, or beef served with potatoes, eggs, pancakes or seasonal fruit. Very poor families ate porridge. This wasn’t a ketogenic diet, but it certainly was not typical of what is commonly eaten today. Why did it change? It was actually a vegetarian minister (not a doctor) who promoted meatless, cereal-based breakfasts as a means of religious purity.
In 1880, alternative medical practitioners latched onto this advice and created granola, the first breakfast cereal. From there, cereal for breakfast became a health fad that was largely propagated by the vegetarian-based, Seventh-Day Adventist religious community. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a Seventh-Day Adventist, enforced vegetarianism in the sanitarium he directed. He had been raised as a vegetarian in his church. His dietary recommendations were based on his personal beliefs in vegetarianism rather than on scientific or medical evidence. He also began creating his own vegetarian breakfast products like granola and other cereals to sell to his patients. Dr. Kellogg, along with others including Charles Post who was a former patient of Dr. Kellogg, began widely marketing breakfast cereals as a “health food” to patients and consumers. By the early 1900’s, other cereal manufacturers were able to use Dr. Kellogg’s endorsement to promote their products as the ideal healthy breakfast recommended by medical doctors. Since then, carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods have continued to dominate our cultural preferences, and have been the basis of our official nutritional guidelines.
Breakfast (or not) On Keto
Contrary to what you have probably been told, eating breakfast is not required for good health. The idea that eating breakfast promotes health or weight loss is based largely on epidemiological studies. It is a widely-touted, yet scientifically groundless piece of health advice that has created a growing demand for on-the-go breakfast foods. Global sales of breakfast cereals are projected to reach 9.5 million tons by 2025, and the breakfast cereal market size was valued at 37.44 billion USD in 2016 as more “health-conscious” eaters needed breakfast items that could fit into their busy lifestyle. Selling the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is certainly good for business.
It is time to rethink breakfast. It is simply the first meal of the day. It isn’t required that you eat breakfast at a specific time or at all. A ketogenic diet has unique hunger-mitigating effects, and many come to prefer eating their first meal later in the day. Once you have decided to adopt a ketogenic diet, many common breakfast foods are no longer options. Coming up with ketogenic breakfast ideas simply requires thinking outside of the narrow limitations of what we have come to define as breakfast foods. Eggs with bacon is a popular ketogenic breakfast. USWM offers sugar-free bacon as well as their new DIY bacon, which you can cure yourself! USWM also offers a wide variety of other breakfast options that fit perfectly into a ketogenic diet.
A few of my ketogenic breakfast favorites are:
- Sugar Free Pork Breakfast Sausage
- Beef Breakfast Polish Sausage Sliders
- Beef Minute Steaks with avocado.
- Beef Liverwurst with sour cream
- Chomps Original Snack Stick Ends with Cheese
- Heat and serve Sugar Free Hickory Smoked Sliced Beef Brisket
- 2-3 oz of grass-fed Cheese with cured meats or olives
- Canned Sardines or salmon with avocado
- Pork rinds with cream cheese
- Bone broth
You could also simply have leftovers from dinner the night before, or skip breakfast all together as mentioned above. Changing eating habits can take some time, but the health benefits many experience on a ketogenic diet are well worth the effort.
About The Author:
References & Sources:
Smith, A. (2009). Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine. Columbia University Press.
Teicholz, N. (2015). The big fat surprise: Why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet.
Parodi, P. W. (2016). Review: Dietary guidelines for saturated fatty acids are not supported by the
evidence. International Dairy Journal, 52, 115–123.
Taubes, G. (2001). The Soft Science of Dietary Fat. Science, 291(5513), 2536–2545.
Zilberter T, Zilberter EY. Breakfast: To Skip or Not to Skip? Frontiers in Public Health. 2014;2:59.