Ten Top Breakfast Cereals for Weight Loss

A couple of months back I shared my thoughts on selecting the best hot cereals for weight loss and better health. With the temperatures finally beginning to warm up here in the Midwest, I’ll be ready for cold breakfast cereals very soon. I’ve found some brands in the past few years that meet or come very close to meeting my expectations for calorie count, dietary fiber, whole grain content and more. There are all too many that don’t!



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So what should you look for when picking out a nutritious yet low calorie breakfast cereal? Here’s what I recommend.

If possible choose cereals made with 100% whole grain. Otherwise, pick a cereal with a significant amount of whole grain. You can determine this by checking to see if a whole grain is listed as the first ingredient in the ingredient list. (see Whole Grains are a Weight Loss Winner for the benefits of whole grain)

Choose cereals with a high dietary fiber content. Products that offer 5 grams of dietary fiber or more are deemed to be an excellent source of fiber by the health agencies of the U.S. government.

Take a look at the sugar content. Look for cereals with little or no sugar; if possible, choose those with 8 grams of sugar or less. Keep in mind that each four grams of sugar equals approximately one teaspoon. I would think 2 teaspoons of sugar for a bowl of cereal should be plenty. However, go ahead and allow for somewhat more sugar if you have a cereal with a reasonable calorie count and the added sweetness comes from dried fruit.

Given that your most important goal for weight loss is to consume fewer calories than you expend, I recommend picking cereals with less than 200 calories per serving. It’s hard to achieve a balance of nutrients on low calorie diets of 1200 to 1500 calories so choose carefully. Having said that, do keep in mind your nutrient needs when selecting a cereal brand and not just calories. For example, cereal can be an excellent source of iron for younger women. However, post menopausal women no longer need the extra iron.

Cold breakfast cereals are generally not a good source of protein. You’ll want to round out the nutritional balance of your breakfast by adding a protein source. The milk you add to your cereal will add some protein but not much and all too many people don’t even drink the milk that is left in the bowl. If you don’t drink the milk you miss out not only on the protein but the other nutrients present in milk and some of the nutrients in the cereal that leach into the milk. (To learn more about the importance of getting enough protein with breakfast you may want to read: Best Healthy Breakfasts for Weight Loss: Part 1 )

Last but not least, sodium matters. If possible keep your sodium intake to 200 mg or less. (Excessive sodium can lead to water retention as well as other health issues especially as you age.)

To recap, here’s a short list of what to watch for:

Best Breakfast Cereals for Weight Loss

1. 100% whole Grain if possible. Otherwise, look to see if a whole grain is mentioned first in the list of ingredients.

2. 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving or more

3. 8 grams of sugar or less per serving

4. Less than 200 calories per serving

5. Less than 200 mg of sodium

Finding products that meet these criteria is tough. As you will see some of the cereal recommendations I’m giving you comply with all of the suggested guidelines.

NOTE: As with other product suggestions I’ve made previously, I need to stress that this list is by no means a review of all breakfast cereals on the market. I’m always on the lookout for good choices but I like to try the products I recommend. So I am limited by what is available locally and to those I find on my travels across the country.

Also, I’ve made no attempt to provide a review with respect to taste. These are all cereals I have eaten and would purchase again but they may or may not appeal to you.

1. Heart to Heart by Kashi

Serving = 3/4 cup with 110 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Soluble Fiber = 1 gram
Protein = 4 grams
Iron = 10% of the DV for a 2,000 calorie diet
Sugars = 5 grams
Sodium = 90 mg
1st Ingredient = Whole Oat Flour

Comments: Low calorie. Is a good source of whole grain but it is not 100% whole grain. Low iron.

2. Organic Whole Wheat Biscuits by Kashi

Serving = 1 cup with 190 calories
Dietary Fiber = 6 grams
Soluble Fiber = 1 gram
Insoluble Fiber = 5 grams
Protein = 5 grams
Iron = 8%
Sugars = 7 grams
Sodium = 0 mg
1st Ingredient = Organic Whole Grain Wheat

Comments: This is a 100% whole grain product. Low iron. Certified organic.

3. Organic Flax Plus by Nature’s Path

Serving = 3/4 cup with 110 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Protein = 4 grams
Iron = 10%
Sugars = 4 grams
Sodium = 135 mg
1st Ingredient = Organic Whole Wheat Flour

Comments: Source of whole grain. Low iron. Certified organic.


4. Honey Sunshine by Kashi

Serving = 3/4 cup with 100 calories
Dietary Fiber = 6 grams
Protein = 2 grams
Iron = 0%
Sugars = 6 grams
Sodium = 140 mg
1st Ingredient = Whole Grain Yellow Corn Meal

Comments: Source of whole grain. No iron. Very low protein.


5. 100% Whole Grain Wheat Chex by General Mills

Serving = 3/4 cup with 160 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Soluble Fiber = 1 gram
Protein = 5 grams
Iron = 80%
Sugars = 5 grams
Sodium = 340 mg
1st Ingredient = Whole Grain Wheat

Comments: Source of whole grain. Significant source of iron. Fair amount of sodium.

6. Multigrain Chex Cereal by General Mills

Serving = 3/4 cup with 160 calories
Dietary Fiber = 6 grams
Protein = 3 grams
Iron = 90%
Sugars = 10 grams
Sodium = 310 mg
1st Ingredient = Corn Meal

Comments: Little whole grain. Significant source of iron. Fair amount of sodium.

7. Post Grape-Nuts Trail Mix Crunch by Post

Serving = 3/4 cup with 180 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Protein = 4 grams
Sugars = 10 grams
Iron = 90%
Sugars = 10 grams
Sodium = 210 mg
1st Ingredient = Whole Grain Wheat

Comments: Source of whole grain. Significant source of iron. More sugar than some other cereals but it comes from added raisins.

8. Organic Promise Cinnamon Harvest by Kashi

Serving = 1 cup with 190 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Soluble =1 gram
Insoluble = 4 grams
Protein = 4 grams
Sugars = 9 grams
Iron = 8%
1st Ingredient = Organic Whole Wheat

Comments: 100% whole grain. Certified organic. Low iron.


9. Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran by Quaker

Serving = 3/4 cup with 90 calories
Dietary Fiber = 5 grams
Insoluble = 4 grams
Protein = 2 grams
Iron = 45%
Sugars = 6 grams
Sodium = 240 mg
1st Ingredient = Corn Flour

Comments: Very low calorie. Not a whole grain cereal. Fair amount of iron.

10. Raisin Bran by Kraft

Serving = 1 cup with 190 calories
Dietary Fiber = 8 grams
Soluble Fiber = 1 gram
Protein = 4 grams
Sugars = 19 grams (High sugar content because of the raisins.)
Sodium = 300 mg
Iron = 60%
1st Ingredient = Whole Grain Wheat

Comments: Source of whole grain. Fair amount of iron. Fair amount of sodium. High sugar from the raisins.

For those of you who are wondering what happened to the 7 Day Diet Plan, I promise it is coming. I had a number of things come up this week and last that threw me off schedule. But I am happy to say I have been testing the plan and I must say I am very pleased. I’m now on day 5 so I hope to begin sharing my results with you very soon.

Till next time, watch those calories and eat healthy food!

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  • Glenda March 13, 2012, 9:16 pm

    I like Fiber One Honey Clusters. Meets or beats your criteria except for the sodium. (Which I don’t worry about because I have excellent BP thankfully and generally cook with no salt due to my hubby’s BP issues)

    I have a sweet tooth so one thing I found works for me is to pour the milk in the bowl first, measure out the cereal, then sprinkle it into the milk about a tablespoon or so at a time. Yes, sounds odd, but because it doesn’t set in the milk much, the sugar stays on the cereal instead of dissolving into the milk, thus making the cereal taste sweeter to me. It also has the added bonus of keeping the flakes crispy (hates soggy cereal).

    To the woman who has issues with fiber: I had issues (severe stomach cramping) when I first started eating the cereal and someone told me that I wasn’t drinking enough water with it. So now I have a big glass of water and am sure to drink before, during and after the cereal. It made an immediate difference. (It also took my system about two weeks to adjust to a higher fiber diet in general–I just looked at it as more time to daydream about the bathroom redo I couldn’t afford.)

    • Lori March 14, 2012, 2:40 pm

      Thanks Glenda!

      Appreciate the tips. I’m especially grateful that you shared your experience with dietary fiber and the timing with respect to getting enough water! I know how important water is when increasing fiber intake but I didn’t realize just how much of a difference the timing might make.

      Lori

  • Beverly McEntee March 11, 2012, 7:44 am

    Email is the best way for me to get your news. Thanks

    • Lori March 11, 2012, 12:03 pm

      Thanks for letting me know Beverly. I hope to have a mailing list in the next 4-6 weeks!

  • Karen January 10, 2012, 9:03 am

    I am trying the eat healthy and loss weight..is Honey Nut Cheerios or regular Cheerios a fair choice?

    • Lori January 10, 2012, 10:20 am

      Hi Karen,

      Both Honey Nut Cheerios and Regular Cheerios are good choices. One might argue that there are better choices BUT these two reasonably good compared with many others. What I like is that both of these are low calorie and don’t have an excessive amount of sugar.

      The regular cheerios cereal has somewhat more dietary fiber and protein and less added sugar than the Honey Nut Cheerios. Do make a point of consuming the milk you add to the cereal to get more protein with your meal.

      If you are willing you might consider adding a hard-boiled egg, some lean meat, or some low fat plain yogurt with a little fruit to a breakfast meal of cheerios to increase the overall nutrition and particularly the protein. You might even make your own parfait with layers of yogurt, cheerios, and fruit.

      Good luck with your diet!

      Lori

  • Stephanie June 12, 2011, 10:47 am

    I ran across your blog and was wondering if it’s possible to still have good results without as much fiber? The high fiber in these cereals tends to not agree with me but I really want to stick with my diet, any suggestions for good cereals to try that are lower in fiber?

    • Lori June 13, 2011, 7:41 am

      Hi Stephanie,

      There are many well-researched reasons for getting plenty of dietary fiber in your diet. However, having said that I can appreciate that it may not agree well with everyone. Is it only the fiber in cereals that is a problem or do you also have issues with the fiber in fruits and vegetables or beans? I’d be interested in knowing.

      You might check cereal boxes to see if the fiber in a cereal product is there naturally as part of the whole grain or if it has been added. The added fiber is called functional fiber. Although the added fiber may come from a natural source it has been stripped of other nutrients. I think our bodies function best when we eat fiber as found in whole food in combination with other nutrients.

      If all dietary fiber is a problem for you then I would encourage you to explore that with your medical doctor. If it is only breakfast cereals there are a few choices I am aware of that might work for you.

      If you are of an age when getting enough iron matters you might take a look at Malto Meal (a 200 calorie portion has 8 g of protein, 31mg iron (high iron), 1 g sugar, and only 2 g of fiber). Cream of wheat has 6 g of protein, 16 mg iron (also high iron), 0 sugars, and only 2 g of fiber for a 200 calorie portion. These are hot cereals though. I am not aware of good choices for breakfast cereals to be eaten cold that have a significant amount of protein and iron but are low fiber and sugar.

      If you are post menopausal or iron is not an issue, I found some other possibilities. Corn flakes seem to be a good choice. A 200 calorie portion has 4 g of protein with only 1 g of fiber, 1 mg of iron, and 3 g of sugar. Puffed Kashi by Kellogg has 6 g of protein, with 3 g of fiber (too much?), 1 mg iron, and only 2 g of sugar for a 200 calorie portion. [Source for all breakfast cereal data is nutritiondata.com by Self.]

      As a general rule when eating cereal for breakfast I would encourage you to get enough protein by adding an additional source. That might be additional milk or having some yogurt, lean meat or fish, or an egg. Enough protein for breakfast matters for weight management.

      Hope this helps,

      Lori

  • Christine Myers November 11, 2010, 8:47 am

    Aldi’s Fit and Active brand makes a great cereal similar to Kashi. They also have a high protein version.

    • Lori November 11, 2010, 8:56 am

      Thanks for the tip Christine. I’ll have to go check it out!

    • Summer May 3, 2011, 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much!! In this economy this is great to know! I love shopping at Aldi and had no idea!