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Are Pancakes Bad For You?

Also Known As: flat cakes



Short answer

Typically, pancakes are not a healthy breakfast option, especially when made with a store-bought mix. However, making them from scratch with healthier ingredients can make them a smarter choice and less bad for you.



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Long answer

Pancakes have long been a breakfast staple and boxed pancake mixes have made it a quick and easy option. Typically, boxed mixes include a long list of ingredients that include bleached flour, sugar, salt, and additives. While a stack of pancakes makes for a filling meal, the carbohydrates, fat, and calories mean that you won't stay full for long. Another big nutritional issue with pancakes is that most people prefer them to be smothered in syrup, adding a massive amount of calories, potentially high fructose corn syrup and no nutritional value. 

White flour is the top reason for pancakes being bad for you. The bleached flour found in pancake mix has had the bran and germ removed, meaning that it no longer has fiber, vitamins, or minerals. The process of breaking up the grain causes it be digested more quickly, leading to a blood pressure to spike and drop soon after. The cycle of spiking and dropping blood pressure can lead to inflammation along with slow metabolism, and pH level imbalance over time. While the flour is being processed, it also comes into contact with potentially harmful chemicals and bleaching agents, adding to the negative effects. 

As with many foods that are high in carbohydrates, pancakes are usually considered to be bad for you because they only offer empty calories. That means that you'll be adding to your daily calories, but not receiving any nutritional value in return. When compared to other breakfast options that offer fiber and protein to start the day, pancakes fall short. 

Often, it's the extra additions to a stack of pancakes that makes it a particularly poor choice. Most of us insist on adding butter and syrup before digging in. Butter adds fat and calories to the meal, while syrup fills your breakfast with sugar and does significant damage when it comes to blood sugar spikes. Another issue is with moderation. While having a single pancake may not be the worst choice, a large helping means a lot of additional calories and carbohydrates. Those with a diet heavy in carbs tend to get cravings for more carbs, which means overeating and weight gain are common problems. 

As with most processed foods, the unhealthy qualities of pancakes can be significantly reduced if you skip the boxed mix and make them from scratch. Using a recipe means that you can opt for ingredients like unprocessed whole wheat flour and choose to skip the salt. Unprocessed wheat flour keeps the nutrients intact, adding fiber to the pancakes. Fiber slows the pace of sugar entering the blood which lessens the blood pressure spike. It also gives you a longer lasting full feeling to cut down on overeating and promotes regular bowel movements. For those looking for a healthy way to enjoy pancakes, the butter and syrup can also be swapped for a topping of fresh fruit.

Possible short-term side effects

  • spike in blood pressure
  • inflammation

Possible long-term side effects

  • slow metabolism
  • ph level imbalance
  • overeating
  • weight gain, obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • other effects depending on the ingredients

Ingredients to be aware of


  • can offer healthy fiber, if made from scratch

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Kodiak Cakes Power Mix

  • Protein-rich blend
  • Versatile mix uses
  • Convenient 2-pack size
  • Non-GMO ingredients
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-01-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-01-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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