Chick-fil-A offers free breakfasts this week, but not all are created equal

What’s better than breakfast, the most important meal of the day? A free breakfast, which is what Chick-fil-A is offering this week.

The fast food chain is footing the bill for breakfast through Sept. 10th, and all customers have to do is reserve a breakfast entree online at the restaurant of their choice. While eating breakfast is recommended by some registered dietitians as important for maintaining good blood sugar levels to prevent binges later on, all breakfasts are not created equal--even at Chick-Fil-A.

Since we’re not that familiar with the chain we took a little tour of the nutritional information. You’d probably be wise to skip the cinnamon cluster, which looks like a bunch of carbs with a side of carbs. It weighs in at 430 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and a paltry 2 grams of fiber. The sausage breakfast burrito comes in at a whopping 510 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of fiber. You will get getting a decent amount of protein--23 grams--but also 40 grams of carbs with it.

Better to choose one of the restaurant’s newest menu additions, the multigrain oatmeal, which (with toppings) has 280 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. The yogurt parfait also doesn’t look bad at 230 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat and 6 grams of protein. It does pack 35 grams of sugar, though.

Don’t be fooled by the chicken, egg and cheese bagel on a sunflower multigrain bagel. Even though it has the word “multigrain” in it, this item has 490 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat and 1,230 milligrams of sodium (dietary guidelines suggest limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, so that’s more than half a day’s sodium intake in one meal).


Breakfast is also important since it’s been shown in studies to prevent weight gain. A 2007 study in the journal Obesity found that among 20,064 men age 46 to 81, eating breakfast was linked with a lower risk of gaining about 11 pounds over 10 years.

A study in the International Journal of Obesity in 2010 examined the effects of eating or not eating breakfast among 15,340 Taiwanese people. Researchers found that as breakfast consumption went up, the prevalence of obesity went down. Those who skipped breakfast also had a worse health-related quality of life compared to those who ate a morning meal.

And a 2008 study in the journal Pediatrics reported that among 2,216 teens, eating breakfast was linked with eating more fiber and being more physically active than those who skipped breakfast. When researchers caught up with the participants five years later, those who ate breakfast gained less weight overall and had a lower body mass index compared to those who didn’t eat breakfast.

So eat up, but be smart.