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Do Breakfast Cereals Help Or Hinder Weight Loss?

Posted in Personal Health 22 Jan, 2015

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and almost every household across the country has a cupboard full of cereals claiming to contain various kinds of beneficial ingredients. You will have seen the TV, newspaper, magazine and billboard adverts, and you will have been bombarded by bright colours and healthy promises each time you walk down the cereal aisle, but how healthy is your cereal start, really?

If you're anything like me then one of your cereal problems will be quantity control. The average recommended portion size for cereal – the average agreed upon by several of the biggest brands – is 40 grams. Pour that weight into a bowl and, if you ask me, you're met with a very underwhelming heap of muesli, cornflakes or whatever else has taken your fancy. The problem here is that the nutrients in cereals – as with most foods in fact – are calculated by portion. Therefore, what might seem like a healthy bowl of cornflakes at around 150 calories per 40 grams can quickly become 300 or 400 calories when corrected to a less frugal 80 or 90 grams. And in a quick message to those of us who add sugar – each tablespoon will add just under 50 extra calories to your once healthy bowl of cornflakes…

So, what do you want to look out for when you're looking to lose weight with healthy breakfast?

  • 1. If a cereal is frosted or chocolaty then steer clear, these cereals are almost guaranteed to be worse for you than their unfrosted and plain counterparts.
  • 2. Bear in mind that milk will add calcium which is good, but also calories which many people ignore or forget - even skimmed milk contains around 120 calories per cup. The best way to cut down here is to go for skimmed milk, which contains the least amount of fat.
  • 3. The simpler the cereal, the better it's likely to be. This might sound strange, but more often than not you're going to find that cereals tend to be healthier when their manufacturing process is simple. Weetabix, for example, contains only 136 calories in a two biscuit serving and there is very little added in the way of hidden and unwanted nutrients.

If you're looking to lose weight then you're probably going to want to go for cereals like Cheerios and All Bran that are high in fibre, low in sugar and good for your digestion. You might feel that choosing the dry fruit varieties of cereal is going to be a good thing, but in truth you're better off adding your own fresh fruit. It's difficult to guarantee how the fruit has been dried and preserved, and in some cases manufacturers add sugar to replace the sweetness that is lost during the drying process. For that reason, and for some of those already mentioned, you are always better customising your cereal choices yourself and mixing them with the healthiest milk – or yoghurt option – you can enjoy.

As with anything though, it is important that you enjoy what you are eating. Forcing yourself to put with a mixture of bran and sliced banana isn't going to do you any favours if you're sick of it after a day, and very often even the less healthy, frosted variety cereals are better for you than fatty morning alternatives like bacon rolls and croissants.


  • Claire DanesMonday, Jan 26, 2015

    I have been eating sugary cereals all my life and my children do too. I don't believe in all this healthy eating stuff. I think that as long as my children are eating everything in moderato they will be alright. Im sick of being told by health 'experts' that I'm feeding my children wrong

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