Sweet, crackling comfort.
There is something so wonderfully soothing about hearing the crisp shapes of your favorite breakfast cereal tumble out of the box into your bowl. Splash on some cold milk and let the crunching begin…even while driving to work.
But now you want to lose weight. Can you still enjoy cold cereals? To give them up completely feels…painful. Like losing a faithful friend.
Good news: Cold cereals can be in your weight loss plan if you follow the advice in this post.
You can shoot yourself in the foot and undo all the good you’ve done by choosing a weight-loss friendly cereal IF you fail to do these 2 things:
- Stick to one or two servings. Look at the serving size. Which is found right beneath the words, “Nutrition Facts.” So that means you can’t fill your bowl with abandon just because the cereal is one of the best.
- Use 1% or skim milk or an alternative milk. There is a lot of fat in 2% and whole milk, which can definitely hinder your weight loss efforts. Alternative milks, like almond or soy, are fine because they generally have much less fat.
Now I’m going to share 7 of the best cold cereals to enjoy if you want to lose weight, followed by some of the best runner ups, as well as some advice if your favorite cold cereal doesn’t make the cut.
1. Shredded Wheat (Post)
The box says: “9 out of 10 Doctors Recommend Post Shredded Wheat” and so do we. The first ingredient is whole wheat, and there are 6-9 grams of fiber and 0 grams of sugar in a serving.
Good news. You can mix it up when you’re eating these whole wheat shreds because they come in 3 healthy varieties: Original Big Biscuit, Original Spoon Size and Wheat ‘n Bran Spoon Size.
2. Bran Flakes (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a serving. (Whew! They just made the cutoffs.)
3. Grape-Nuts Original (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat flour, and there are 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a serving.
4. Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Crunchy Cereal (Food for Life)
The first ingredient is sprouted wheat, and there are 6 grams of fiber and 0 grams of sugar in a serving.
You can mix it up with this cereal as well because there are 3 varieties that meet the guidelines: Golden Flax, Original and Almond.
5. Uncle Sam Original (Attune Foods)
The first ingredient is whole wheat kernels, and there are 10 grams of fiber and <1 gram of sugar in a serving.
6. Flax Plus Multibran Flakes (Nature’s Path Foods)
The first ingredient is whole wheat flour, and there are 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
7. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets Cereal (Kashi Company)
The first ingredient is whole wheat flour, and there are 7 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar in a serving.
Think of the honorable mentions as a good first step to eating a healthier whole grain breakfast cereal with some sweetness.
But keep in mind they’re not the best for weight loss because, even though they’re still mostly or completely whole grain, they have less fiber (3 or more grams per serving) and/or a little more sugar (10 or less grams per serving).
1. Cheerios (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain oats, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar in a serving.
Multi Grain Cheerios also made the honorable mention list: first ingredient is whole grain corn, with 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar in a serving.
⚠ Important Note: All the other varieties of Cheerios didn’t make the cut because they had less than 3 grams of fiber or more than 10 grams of sugar in a serving.
2. Total Whole Grain (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 3 gram of sugar in a serving.
3. Wheaties (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there is 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
4. Grape-Nuts Flakes (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
5. Great Grains (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are from 5-7 grams of fiber and 8-10 grams of sugar in a serving.
And you can mix it up with these whole grains because the following varieties make the cut: honey oats & seeds, crunchy pecans, digestive blends vanilla.
6. Kashi GOLEAN Original Cereal (Kashi Company)
The first ingredient is not a whole grain but a bean in the form of soy grits! Even better when it comes to fiber. And there is 10 grams of fiber and 9 grams of sugar in a serving.
You can mix it up big time with Kashi cereals. The following 11 meet honorable mention guidelines:
- Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- Berry Fruitful Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal,
- Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Oat Cereal,
- GOLEAN Crisp Cinnamon Crumble Cereal,
- GOLEAN Vanilla Graham Clusters,
- Berry Blossoms Squares,
- Autumn Wheat Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- 7 Whole Grain Flakes Cereal,
- Island Vanilla Whole Wheat Biscuits, and
- Honey Sunshine Squares.
The first ingredient for 9 of them is whole grain, soy grits for the other 2, and they have 4-9 grams of fiber and 5-9 grams of sugar in a serving.
7. Cinnamon Crunch (Cascadian Farm)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar in a serving.
The cold cereal should:
1. Be mostly or completely whole grain.
How can you tell if the cereal is mostly whole grain? Flip the box over and find the ingredient list, which is usually right below the big box that says, “Nutrition Facts.”
The first ingredient in that list should be a whole grain. The word “whole” needs be in front of the name of the grain. Examples: whole wheat (not just wheat), whole grain corn (not just corn or degermed corn), whole grain corn meal (not just corn meal or degerminated corn meal), whole rye or whole rye flour (not just rye or rye flour).
Every rule has exceptions, so the following are whole grains even though the word “whole” is not involved: oats, quick or instant oats, oatmeal, steel-cut oats, Irish oats, brown rice (white rice is NOT whole grain), quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, wheat bulgur, millet and popcorn.
2. Have 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
If the cereal is 100% whole grain, even better. Look for this stamp on the front of the box.
How do I find the grams of fiber per serving? Go back to the box entitled, “Nutrition Facts.” Find “Dietary Fiber” with the number of grams in a serving. That number should be 5 or more.
If you see “Soluble Fiber” and “Insoluble Fiber” beneath “Dietary Fiber,” don’t worry about those numbers. You just want the “Dietary Fiber” to be 5 or more.
3. Have 5 or less grams of sugar per serving.
The evidence is growing: eating more sugar is associated with weight gain, while eating less sugar is associated with weight loss. So changing your cold cereal is one great way to cut your sugar intake. Just remember: cold cereal is not dessert so it doesn’t have to be sweet.
How do I know how many grams of sugar are in a serving? Go back to the “Nutrition Facts” box and look for the grams of “Sugar” in a serving. That number should be 5 or less.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “I’m not sure this is going to work for me because I can’t imagine eating my cold cereal without the taste of sweetness.”
I can appreciate that. So here’s what you do to get sweetness without weight gain. Put one or two of your favorite fresh fruits on top of your cold cereal. Maybe a cup of blueberries or a sliced banana…or both. With every bite of cereal you’ll get the sweetness of the fruit. And fruit is not associated with weight gain. Sweet.
What if my favorite cold cereal doesn’t fit the guidelines?
What if it’s really just sugar miserably trying to masquerade as breakfast cereal?
I feel your pain.
So use your favorite cereal once a week as a bit of sweet crunch on top of your oatmeal or a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries for dessert. You get the idea. It’s no longer front and center and not very much. If you like specifics, stick to ¼ cup.