Breakfast Cereals: Healthy Start or Fat Trap.

If you’re like the majority of folks out there—myself included—then chances are breakfast cereal is a staple in your house and pantry. We’ve been told our entire lives that cereals are a healthy component of a balanced breakfast. You might unsuspectingly be pouring yourself a bowl of supposedly healthy ready-to-eat cereal every morning. Heck, you might even pack some as a quick, convenient snack.

Why wouldn’t you?
After all, if you take a stroll down the cereal aisle at the grocery store, you’ll be reminded how these boxes with colorful, attractive packaging are “heart healthy,” made with whole grains, filled with vitamins and minerals, and more. Even more, many of our favorite cartoon characters, role models, and iconic athletes have graced the packaging of the boxes of this breakfast table staple.

If they’re doing it, then it must be good, right? Not so fast.

If you’re someone who typically considers cereal a healthy option to help you lose weight, then you could very well be holding yourself back from optimizing your fat loss. Worse yet, these very food choices may be making you fatter!

While we’re frequently led to believe that these ready-to-eat cereals are filled with minimally-processed whole grains, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of options in the breakfast cereal aisle are rife with high-glycemic carbohydrates in the form of heavily processed grains and refined sugar.

These high glycemic, fast-digesting, processed carbohydrates result in elevations in blood sugar and insulin concentrations, blood triglyceride levels, and LDL (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol. Furthermore, high glycemic, refined carbohydrates are typically void of fiber, and low fiber intakes are linked to increased risk for diabetes and obesity, and it’s no secret that high glycemic carbohydrates like these are some of the most fattening ingredients around!

Furthermore, the resultant “crash” in blood sugar eating highly refined carbs like these is very likely to leave you hungry in just a few short hours, looking for another quick “sugar fix.”

In fact, researchers from the University of Missouri have shown in a series of studies that, compared to a high-protein, whole-food breakfast, folks who start their days off with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are less satisfied, feel less full, have higher levels of hunger hormones, and tend to snack more on unhealthy foods later in the day. When this pattern is repeated over time, it leads to increased hunger, increased caloric intake, and ultimately, fat gain. Yikes!

If you’re a cereal person, then a better option would be a sprouted grain cereal—like those from the folks at Food for Life®—which are truly made with whole grains—not refined flours. Sprouted grains are low glycemic, leading to increased feelings of fullness, decreased hunger, lowered calorie intake at subsequent meals, and ultimately, fat loss. Sprouted grains are also a good source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Perhaps an even better option would be to take the time to make yourself some homemade oatmeal. I’m not talking about the store-bought kind that comes in packages. Instead, opt for steel-cut oats or whole rolled oats. If you’re like me and are strapped for time in the morning, then you might try my favorite: Overnight oats. They’re delicious and simple to make. You actually mix the ingredients together the night before, let them sit in the fridge overnight, then voila! You have yourself a ready-to-eat breakfast.

There are tons of varieties, and here’s a starter recipe:

  • 1 – 2 scoops of a high-quality protein powder
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk

Simply add all of the ingredients to a Mason jar, mix well, seal the jar, and let it sit overnight (8 – 12 hours) in the refrigerator. That’s it!