This is one of the questions that I frequently get from students, clients and even in social media: can I have breakfast cereal if I am trying to lose weight?
And it makes sense. Because on one hand, you are chased with the idea that you have to eat breakfast if you are trying to lose weight, but on the other, you don’t have the time to prepare it and therefore you wonder if breakfast cereal could be a good option for you.
But first things first. If you are still not sure whether you need to have breakfast if you are trying to lose weight and/or what makes a good breakfast, you can check my blog: what's the best breakfast I can have?
Now, if you think that breakfast cereal could be an easy option for you, let me help you understand what makes a good breakfast cereal and how to choose the right one for you.
The Amount of Sugar in Breakfast Cereals
Let’s start analyzing sugar in breakfast cereals. You don’t want to add unnecessary sugar to your diet (you can read my article: eating too much sugar can damage your weight and health) and most breakfast cereals are high in sugar.
The truth is that it’s not easy to find a breakfast cereal with less than 14 grams of sugar per serving, which is what I think should be the sugar limit in one serving.
I usually recommend the Kashi GoLean brand since it is a good balance of nutrients. And no, I am not affiliated with Kashi! It just happens to be my daughter’s favorite brand so I had to investigate before deciding to stay with it. Right now, it is the brand that fits our needs in terms of nutrition and taste for me and my family.
GoLean has three main types: Original, Crunch and Crisp.
While the Original one (the red box) has 9 grams of sugar, the Crunch has 13 g and the Crisp has 11 g. That’s a lot of sugar for just a serving of breakfast cereal, but there are ways to mitigate the sugar effect.
How Fiber, Protein and Fat Affects the Sugar Response
The "sugar response" or insulin peak in your body after having breakfast cereals is reduced if it is high in fiber, and that effect is increased if that fiber is soluble fiber, (which unfortunately these breakfast cereals tend to be very low). The three Kashi Go Lean types have 10 gr, 8 gr and 8 gr of total fiber respectively. While the original one has NO soluble fiber, the crunch has 5 gr and the crisp 4 gr.
Protein helps reduce the sugar peak too, and healthy fats have a satiating effect. Try to choose breakfast cereals high in protein, and that contain some healthy fats like nuts. Original Kashi Go Lean has less fat and more protein and Crunch and Crisp have more fat and less protein.
As you can see it is difficult to choose which one is better. One type has some good ingredients while the other has other good properties. What I do is to mix the Original with Crisp or Crunch, so I can balance sugars, fiber, protein and fats.
It is very important that you keep the portion sizes in mind, which in the case of the Kashi GoLean is 1 cup for the Original and 3/4 cup for the Crisp and the Crunch. If you have 2 cups or 1 1/2 cups respectively you will end having 20 to 26 grams of sugar in your serving!
If you feel that you need to add more to your bowl, have some fruit low in sugar like strawberries or blueberries and some almonds or other nuts to add more energy, protein and fat without adding too many carbs. If you need more cereal to have more volume get those puffy cereals, bran or oats with nothing added; you already have more than enough flavor and sugar with 1 serving of the Kashi GoLean.
Learn About Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
It is important to learn about Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load (GI and GL) to help balance blood sugar and insulin peaks in your breakfast and in your meals in general. It can be a difficult concept but is very important for losing and maintaining weight. I am giving away a FREE e-Book: Why Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load is Important to Lose Weight. Just go to my webpage www.32mondays.com and subscribe to my newsletter.
Over to You!
What's Your Favorite Breakfast Cereal?
I'd love to hear from you!