A cold bowl of cereal is a perfect way to start the day – if you choose wisely. A nutritious cereal should offer whole grains, fiber and protein without loads of added sugars. But the cereal aisle can pose a serious challenge for anyone looking to separate nutrition fact from packaging hype.
One recent example: Cheerios Protein. Cheerios launched a “protein” version claiming to be higher in protein than the original. Sounds great, right? But upon closer inspection, Cheerios Protein contains essentially the same amount of protein as the original when you compare the cereals on the same serving size. The company boasts that the cereal has 11 grams of protein but 4 come from milk, leaving 7 grams of protein from the cereal. However, original Cheerios has 6 grams of protein for the same serving size, a measly 1 gram difference. What’s worse, it’s been reported that a 1¼ cup serving of Cheerios Protein contains 17 timesas much sugar as original Cheerios, which only has one gram of sugar per one-cup serving.
So what’s a savvy consumer to do? Ignore the claims on the front of the package and focus instead on the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list. A well-balanced bowl should contain the following per serving (serving size varies by brand):
- No more than 210 calories
- 0.5 g or less saturated fat
- 8 grams (2 tsp) or less of added sugars
- 5 or more grams of fiber
- 3 or more grams of protein for enhanced satiety
Here are a few that make the cut:
Great Grains Crunchy Pecans – With sweet pecans and crunchy multigrain clusters and crispy flakes packed with whole grains, Great Grains Crunchy Pecans is a flavorful way to kick start the morning.
Per ½ cup: 210 Calories, 6g fat (0.5g sat fat), 38g carbs, 8g sugar, 5g fiber, 5g protein
Post Grape-Nuts – This classic cereal provides 100% of your whole grains and has no added sugars. Thanks to the high fiber and protein counts, it will keep you satisfied for hours.
Per ½ cup: 210 calories, 1 g fat (0 g sat fat), 47 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 7 g fiber, 6 g protein
Kashi GOLEAN – With a little sweetness this mix of crunchy fiber twigs, crispy soy protein grahams, and honey-toasted whole grain puffs will satisfy while providing a whopping 13 fiber and 12g protein.
Per 1 ¼ cup: 180 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat fat), 40 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 13 g fiber, 12 g protein
Barbara’s Better Oats & Honey Granola – One of the highest-protein granolas with the lowest sugar counts.
Per 2/3 cup: 210 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g sat fat), 38 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 6 g fiber, 10 g protein
Post Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran – If you avoid added sugar like the plague, here’s your cereal. It contains no sugar and packs in protein and fiber, thanks to the whole wheat and bran.
Per 1 ¼ cup: 200 calories, 1 g fat (0 g sat fat), 48 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 6 g protein