For individuals wanting to eat pancakes regularly, are there ways to increase pancake nutrition and lower the calorie and carb counts so they can be included in a balanced diet?
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This high-carbohydrate meal can provide enough energy to fuel a day’s physical activity.
The following nutrition information is provided for:
Pancakes made with whole-wheat flour offer more fiber and protein. The following is nutrition info for two or three whole-wheat pancakes (150g) made from a mix. (Child Nutrition Recipe Box. 2023)
Pancakes will increase carbohydrate intake. The body uses carbohydrates as a primary fuel source, making them an important nutrient. However, most nutritionists suggest that individuals get their daily carbohydrates from nutrient-dense sources. Pancakes typically don’t fall into this category. White flour pancakes do not provide much fiber, and around 60 grams of carbohydrates are consumed in this meal. Substituting whole-wheat flour changes the amount to around 6g of fiber or 20% of the daily recommended value.
Pancakes can include dairy and eggs and are topped with butter that contributes a significant amount of fat. Pancake mix may contain trans fat. Some brands include partially hydrogenated oils. Health experts recommend that individuals limit or completely avoid foods containing trans fat. If the label ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated ingredients, it is recommended to avoid it. (MedlinePlus. 2022)
Pancakes may provide some protein, which varies based on the type of flour used. Some brands add protein powder to increase intake.
Pancakes and ready mixes are generally made from enriched flour. Enriched foods are those that have had nutrients added during the manufacturing process. In most cases, the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are stripped away, and then some are added back in during processing. Constantly eating enriched bread products limits diet-friendly fiber and nutrients. The enriched flour in pancakes and added sugar and syrup raise blood sugar levels rapidly and then generate hunger shortly afterward.
Total nutrition numbers also depend on serving size. The numbers on the label only apply to a single serving which is just two medium pancakes. Many individuals consume 3-4 medium pancakes and double the amount of butter and syrup as well. This can add up to more than 1,000 calories.
Whole-wheat pancakes made with whole-grain flour are more nutritious than pancakes made with white flour and can be a delicious way to eat more whole grains. They can be topped with berries or other fruits for added fiber and nutrients.
Whole-wheat pancakes made with whole-grain flour provide significant fiber for healthy digestion. Fiber helps with waste evacuation and has prebiotic compounds that fuel beneficial gut bacteria. (Joanne Slavin. 2013)
Whole-grain pancakes taste heartier and include fiber that keeps the body fuller longer than pancakes made with faster-digesting refined flour.
A review of studies examining whole grain consumption and heart disease found that eating whole grains was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. (Dagfinn Aune, et al., 2016)
Research suggests that whole grain intake reduces the risk of obesity and could help individuals maintain a stable weight. (Katrina R. Kissock et al., 2021) The fiber will also help keep the fuller longer after the meal.
Whole-wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, an important B vitamin during pregnancy. Folic acid decreases the risk of neural tube defects, which can affect the development of the brain or spine. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022)
Nutrients for regular pancakes will vary based on the size.
One made-from-scratch small pancake – 3″ across provides:
One made-from-scratch medium pancake – 5″ across provides:
One made-from-scratch large pancake – 7″ across provides:
If pancakes are part of a weekly meal plan, try to keep them lower in sugar, fat, and calories.
USDA Food Data Central. (2019). Pancakes, plain, prepared from recipe.
USDA FoodData Central. (2019). Butter, without salt.
USDA FoodData Central. (2019). Syrups, table blends, pancake.
Child Nutrition Recipe Box. (2023). Pancakes – USDA recipe for schools.
MedlinePlus. (2022). Facts about trans fat.
Slavin J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417–1435. doi.org/10.3390/nu5041417
Aune, D., Keum, N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., Tonstad, S., Vatten, L. J., Riboli, E., & Norat, T. (2016). Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 353, i2716. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2716
Kissock, K. R., Neale, E. P., & Beck, E. J. (2021). Whole Grain Food Definition Effects on Determining Associations of Whole Grain Intake and Body Weight Changes: A Systematic Review. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 12(3), 693–707. doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmaa122
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Folic acid.
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