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  • Christina Jax

How to Make Healthy Pancakes That Actually Taste Good

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

As seen in Shape magazine.

With these R.D. approved tips on how to make healthy pancakes, you'll feel ready to conquer your weekend — not lie down for a nap — after eating a stack.

Of all the breakfast foods out there, pancakes could easily be deemed the most reliable. They cost chump change compared to avocado toast; can be made sweet, savory, or a combination of both unlike an omelet; and, time and time again, have given you the sustenance you need after a night of drinking.

Not to mention, a stack of classic pancakes does offer a few health perks, including a major boost of energy, thanks to all the carbohydrates, says Stephanie Nelson, MS, RD, an in-house nutrition expert at MyFitnessPal. The meal also provides a little bit of muscle-building, hunger-quelling protein from the eggs and milk, she explains. But sadly for all the flapjack fanatics out there, traditional pancakes don't offer much in terms of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and most importantly, fiber, and missing out on these nutrients could lead to some unpleasant side effects, says Nelson. "Starting off your day with something low in fiber and protein and high in sugar and carbohydrates can throw off your blood sugar and hunger cues for the rest of the day," she explains.

When you wolf down sugars or carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose (aka blood sugar) — the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs, according to the National Library of Medicine — which then enters the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that tells cells to absorb that sugar for energy, which in turn helps blood sugar levels fall and return to homeostasis, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The concern with eating carb-heavy flapjacks: "Sometimes the overproduction of insulin will lead to a blood sugar crash," says Nelson. "You become hungry for another meal quickly, and you might opt for something sugary again to correct the low blood sugar."

Thankfully, pancakes are like a blank canvas, so it's easy to incorporate good-for-you ingredients that can help slow the rise in blood sugar and keep you fueled all day long, says Christina Meyer-Jax, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., a health advisor for Lifesum and Gympass. (Case in point: These protein-packed pancakes.)

To take the nutritional content of your flapjacks up a notch, steal these tips on how to make healthy pancakes from nutrition pros. And remember, you don't have to stop noshing on syrup-smothered, white flour-filled pancakes if you don't want to. "If you feel like you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during the week and on the weekend, you just want to go out to the diner and have that stack of pancakes with your butter and syrup, go for it!" says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a Shape Brain Trust member. "It shouldn't be that you feel that you have to eliminate pancakes from your diet — but you have to see how you can make them fit into your day and entire week."

Check out one of A4's favorite pancake recipes in the next post!

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