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Is Your Breakfast Cereal Making You Fat?
In this article we are going to review is Your Breakfast Cereal Making You Fat?!
It may surprise you, that some of the most commonly marketed 'healthy' breakfast cereals, are in fact, some of the worst options for weight: management, maintenance and weight loss!
Still Eating Cereal For Breakfast?
So why exactly, is cereal such a bad option for breakfast? Well the fact is, most are high in calories and simple carbohydrates. Some even include the magic formula of being high in simple carbs (sugars) and fats, this makes for the perfect fat storing combination as well as providing very little long term hunger satisfaction.
I used to enjoy a (cough) 'big' bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes as my start to the day. Little did I realise, that I was consuming a large amount of sugar and packing away a massive amount of calories with each brimming bowl. Whilst they might have tasted superb (almost like a sweet cake mix thinking back...) they did my fitness goals no favours.
If you are to include cereal in your weekly shopping trip, then you need to carefully analyse the product boxes and nutrition labels. You need to un-earth exactly what you are purchasing.
Unfortunately, this isn't as simple as it should be. Cereal manufacturers are the 'Jedi Masters' of label manipulation and clever advertising and over the years, we've been led to believe that cereal is the must have 'healthy' start to our day.
Here are the typical label deception techniques that are employed:
- Unrealistic serving sizes used on nutrition labels.
- Sugar hidden under various names in the ingredients list which avoid making it obvious that it is sugar!
- The 'Made With...' tag. Insert a healthy ingredient here and as long as the product contains a mere hint of it - the label is correct!
- Clever, nicely circled green icons: 'High In Fibre', 'Added Vitamin D', 'B Vitamins + Iron' - any of these sound familiar?
We've got an entire article that covers the different names that sugar can be hidden under but for now, here are some of the more common ones to look out for whilst shopping and choosing your breakfast products:
- Corn syrup
- .... Syrup
You can consider each of these as sugar, just by another name, that's certainly how your body will process and react to them.
How To Eat Half Of Your Daily Calories For Breakfast!
Consuming so much of our calorie budget for breakfast is going to make sticking at or under our daily allowance difficult.
As a 'double whammy', the large amount of simple carbs (sugars) that most of these cereals include, is going to cause an insulin spike which will focus our body on fat storage and also result in a blood sugar crash soon afterwards.
The crash will result in feelings of hunger. This is typically seen as the mid-morning slump, where you just don't feel that you can make it through to lunchtime without something to bridge the gap.
Breakfast Cereal Making You Fat? First Example:
The above cereal is just an example... But a simple way for me to blow half of my daily calorie allowance when looking to lose weight, would be to have a 200g serving of a cereal breakfast like the one above.
A 200g serving will hit me with a 804 calorie punch! Even before I add any milk to the bowl. Wow!
Looking at the ingredients list, it's easy to see why.
- Rolled Oats
- Glucose Syrup
First ingredient (the main part of the product) is rolled oats (great - they are superb - containing necessary fibre, slow release carbs and protein).
However, the next ingredient (remember ingredients are listed in the order that they make up the product) is Glucose Syrup or sugar!
Followed by ingredient number 3 - once again plain old sugar and then ingredient number 4 is Oligofructose - again just sugar.
So looking at what makes up this product, the majority of it is rolled oats and then sugars. A case of your Breakfast Cereal Making You FAT!
Breakfast Cereal Making You Fat? Second Example:
Another example and this one comes in at 600 calories for a 150g portion (a bowl full, which I believe is more realistic than the 100g used on the packets nutrition label). Then, with the addition of 400ml of semi-skimmed milk, you are looking at a total of 800 calories just for breakfast.
So let's take a look at this products make up and see how we are arriving at that massive calorie total.
- Barley Malt Flavouring
Once again, a lot of this product is made up of sugar! So we can see where the excess calories are coming from.
By eating these breakfast cereals, we are consuming a large quantity of sugar, which if we made the dishes ourselves, we just simply would not add! This shows there is a real possibility of Breakfast Cereal Making You Fat!
Moving to Better Breakfast Options
When looking to lose or maintain weight, a lot of the challenge is to make sure that we feel full and satisfied, whilst consuming a moderate amount of calories.
When the foods we eat are well chosen, they also provide a good variety of nutrients and vitamins so helping to maintain good health.
Having to battle through hunger, on an extreme, low calorie diet is just guaranteed to result in eventual failure and binge eating.
You can review why diets don't work for further information.
So, if cereal isn’t a good option, then what is? The easy answer, is any Food The Facts programme ‘compliant meal’. If you aren’t familiar with what a FTF compliant meal looks like, then you can Download the FREE Kitchen Rescue Pack. This covers how to portion your macronutrients (Protein, Carbs and Fats) to make a healthy meal, which will support weight maintenance or weight loss.
Compliant meals are constructed by:
- Ensuring a good source of quality protein is included
- Ensuring a moderate amount of healthy fats are in the meal
- Including an amount of carbohydrate that is appropriate to our activity level and goals.
Now this probably sounds quite confusing and complicated if you are new to this (which is where the FREE Kitchen Rescue Pack download will help) but once you get into the routine of creating meals this way it becomes second nature.
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Better Breakfast Options
So we've seen that shop bought breakfast cereals aren't a great option when looking to lose weight and that breakfast cereal making you fat is very possible! However, does that mean cereal is out totally?
Luckily no! If you like Oats then using plain rolled oats is a good option. As outlined in the section above, to take Oats from being a carb dominant breakfast, to a compliant meal, we would need to increase the portion of protein and include some healthy fats.
The recipe shown below is a good example of how to do this. The breakfast is transformed from Normal to Nutritious by including Whey protein powder, egg whites and some unprocessed peanut butter. These additions, provide the extra protein and healthy fats.
This meal will provide a steady release of energy all morning at a much more diet friendly 287 calories!
As well as the calories being more inline, the addition of the correct ratios of protein and fat will result in a slower absorption and hold the feeling of being full for longer.
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Hopefully this has provided some insight into what could be derailing your diet progress.
You can see that the question of whether your breakfast cereal making you fat is worth considering.
A selection of healthy breakfast recipes are available to help you to make progress.