‘Health Foods’ Under the Micro-Scope: Belvita Breakfast Biscuits

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At belVita, we’re passionate about breakfast biscuits.

That’s why we worked in harmony with our farming partners to source 5 of the finest wholegrains.

Baked together through our gentle baking process, these selected and nutritious grains are transformed to become tasty breakfast biscuits.

They’re the only breakfast biscuit proven to slowly release carbohydrates over 4 hrs, as part of a balanced breakfast (this part is key guys we will come onto it later). Made with wholegrain, Rich in Cereals, Source of Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and E and iron and magnesium, Source of fibre.

Sounds pretty good right; wholegrains (5 in fact), nutritious apparently and containing a source of some micronutrients.

So we can have biscuits for breakfast and they’re healthy!

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 13.54.53

Awesome.

See ya later porridge and fruit…hello chocolate biscuits!

Is that actually true, can biscuits actually be a good choice for breakfast, is having a belVita biscuit any different than an oreo or hob nob??? — Let’s have a deeper look.

[bctt tweet=”is having a belVita biscuit any different than an oreo or hob nob???”]


Why Healthy?

Brilliantly marketed using words like harmony, nutritious, gentle and buzz-words like whole-grains — these lure us consumers in.

So harmonious and gentle, they surely can’t lie to us.

Claim: Slowly digesting carbohydrates

…that give you energy for the whole morning, being slowly digested over 4 hours.

However, what is a little confusing is below this they promote a balanced breakfast, in that you should also consume a plain dairy product (for your calcium intake), a fruit (for vitamins) and a tea or a coffee (for your hydration).

In fact their claim that it releases energy over 4 hours can only be made IF the biscuits are consumed as part of a ‘balanced breakfast’ (as per guidance above).

Wait belVita, you don’t want us to just eat your biscuits for breakfast?

You also want us to consume what would be a pretty healthy first meal; dairy, fruit and a low calorie drink? — I don’t think that is very honest. I thought the point was these were meant to be convenient, and so eaten on the go???

Claim: Made with Whole-grains, Rich in Cereals

‘Contains 13.8 grams wholegrain cereals per serving (50g)’

But belVita, I thought you had 5 different wholegrains!! How can there be less than 15g of the 5 whole-grains and within a 50g biscuit? That means 28% of each biscuit is made up of whole-grains. That doesn’t really sound like something they should shout about? I mean you don’t see Pizzas quoting that they contain 20% tomato now do you?

Lets look at the ingredients:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 10.41.17

Right so we’re getting 5 whole-grains, but in teeny tiny quantities

…I mean you’re not really getting a bunch of Rye or Spelt now are you when they’re 1% of the total ingredients (less than 2g per biscuit). Seems almost like they just put those in there so they could say they had 5 whole-grains — maybe a marketing ploy…nooo not gentle belVita.

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How do those ingredients compare to say a hob nob? It is a biscuit, and it has a chocolate topping and contains some oats I think…but doesn’t make any health claims.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 10.52.20

OK so first off I would like to note that there are far fewer ingredients in the Hob Nobs, which is normally a trait of foods people view as healthy right? But of more importance is the fact there is 30% rolled oats contained in each Hob Nob! — Rolled oats (a whole-grain) are actually less processed (normally a key factor in foods deemed healthy) and in addition to these there is also 16% wholemeal wheat flour (another wholegrain).

See also  Podcast 121: Jose Antonio - High Protein Diets

Hob Nobs contain 46% Wholegrains vs. belVita 28%

OK so we now realise that belVita really don’t contain all that many whole-grains and of the 5 you’re really only getting oat and wheat, much like the Hob Nobs. So belVita that bangs on about it’s slow digesting carbohydrates actually contains fewer than a delicious Hob Nob!

If you want to eat whole-grains, eat the grains; go for oats.

What about the nutrition?

Surely belVita Biscuits are more nutritious than a Hob Nob?

[bctt tweet=”If you want to eat whole-grains, eat the grains; go for oats.”]

SPOT

So from this you can see they’re pretty similar in terms of macronutrition, the Hob Nobs are slightly in calories, however the belVita Biscuits come in packets of three — and this is how they’re suggested to be eaten along with fruit, dairy and a tea or coffee which could easily come to 400 to 500 calories. They even state that they are specifically portioned out like this for convenience; they expect you to eat all three.

But it isn’t just about calories is it…

Claim: Source of Vitamins & Fibre

belVita Biscuit (1 biscuit)

  • 0.59mg Vitamin E
  • 0.05mg Thiamin
  • 19mg Magnesium
  • 0.69mg Iron

These are only 5% of your Daily Reference Values.

Are those really significant amounts that belVita can shout about???

  • Vitamin E: 100g of Spinach contains nearly 5 x as much [1]
  • Thiamin: 100g of Green Peas contains nearly 6 x as much [1]
  • Magnesium: 100g of Spinach contains over 4 x as much [1]
  • Iron: 100g of Spinach contains over 5 x as much [1]

green-422995_640

As you can see you’d be far better off consuming green vegetables in order to get your vitamins and minerals. If you’re not eating a well balanced diet and add a belVita Biscuit in, you’re not going to see miraculous health benefits.

[bctt tweet=”Eat your greens — fortified foods don’t cut it”]

Conclusions

  • belVita biscuits contain few whole-grains (less than a Hob Nob)
  • belVita biscuits contain few micronutrients (nutrients far more easily consumed from vegetables)
  • belVita CAN ONLY make these claims when eaten within a ‘balanced’ breakfast
  • belVita is a biscuit

So from the above we can gather that there is nothing special about belVita breakfast biscuits. Their claims can only be made when they’re eaten with other items, and I would argue you could do the exact same with a Hob Nob, the only difference being Hob Nobs are not thought to be healthy.

What this really comes down to then is common sense; biscuits just like donuts are never going to be a miraculous health food. Sure they can be eaten with other items within a healthy overall diet, but don’t be fooled by marketing.


Better On the Go Breakfasts

So we’re in a hurry.

We want something that is actually going to set us up for success in the day.

Below is a list of alternative convenient breakfasts that would probably be a better alternative than a biscuit. As honestly if you really want to have biscuits for breakfast, you can, so long as they’re within context of a healthy diet (calorie controlled, with sufficient macro and micronutrition).

See also  6 Tiered System: Win The Fat Loss Battle [Part 2]

The key to a filling breakfast will be fibre, protein and low calorie density; that is what these will have in abundance. From least to most convenient:

Eat at Work

  • Pro(tein) Oats
    • All you need is oats, whey protein, water and a microwave — done.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 14.08.35

  • Scrambled Eggs
    • Have some eggs at work and microwave them — couldn’t be more simple.
  • Low Fat Greek Yoghurt (Skyr is my favourite) with berries.

Prep the night before

  • Protein Smoothie
    • Blend up some whey protein, fruits (banana and berries go well) and milk.

bottle-852138_640

  • Overnight Oatmeal
    • Soak your oats overnight in some yoghurt, milk and fruit.
  • Breakfast Sandwich
    • Prepare a Smoked Salmon bagel or ham salad sandwich the night prior.

Pick up on the go

  • Protein Bar and fruit
    • Similar calories to the biscuits but far more protein and likely more fibre too (Promax Lean Bars are available in most supermarkets and at 207kcal, 23g protein and 4g fibre they’re not a bad choice).

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 13.48.48

  • Protein shake and fruit
    • Again similar to the above but in form of a drink, I would recommend Upbeat with fewer than 150 calories and 20g of protein per bottle.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 13.50.45

All of the above options would contain more micronutrition than a packet of belVita biscuits and because they’re higher in fibre and protein too they will keep you fuller for longer. Also remember, there is nothing special about breakfast, you can skip it if that is your preference, key is that total calories are controlled for.


 Concluding Comments

The reason I am starting this series is to promote the need for looking closer at what you’re eating.

I promote a Macro Managed Flexible Diet, however it all comes from a foundational understanding about foods, and what they provide our body with. Rather than trusting companies, convention or tv shows that certain foods are ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ideal for us we can look at them without ignorance and make educated decisions that will positively impact our health.

Today we looked at belVita biscuits and whether they were really a good replacement for a well balanced breakfast. What we discovered is that in reality, they are what they say on the tin, a biscuit. They do not offer anything above a Hob Nob and should be treated in the same way; eaten in moderation within the context of a healthy diet.

So don’t go replacing your bowl of oats for these biscuits because they claim to contain more whole-grains. However, if you’re looking for a tasty snack and fancy something new and they fit within the context of your overall diet, then sure, eat a belVita.


WHAT NEXT?

Do you need any help with the above? Do you have any questions you need answering? Are you looking to for a healthy breakfast alternative?

Join my free facebook group or add me on snapchat (revivestronger) and ask your question there, I will respond asap.

If you want to learn more about nutrition and how many calories you need please read: Your Tailor-Made Diet

One more thing…

Do you have a friend who you is getting deceived by health foods? Share this article with them and let me know what they think.

[bctt tweet=”Health Foods under the micro-scope: belVita breakfast biscuits”]


References:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25.
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