One of the most commonly asked nutrition questions is “which breakfast cereal is best for you”? There’s no doubt that breakfast cereal is a really convenient option, particularly when you need to rush out the door in the morning and don’t have the time for a cooked breakfast.
So, Precision Physio’s Sydney based Dietitian has put together her guide as to how to pick the best breakfast cereal for you.
Looking at the breakfast cereal aisle in the grocery stores, it’s not surprising that choosing a healthy option can be confusing and overwhelming. With so many varieties on the shelves, all with clever marketing hacks to make their products seem the healthiest and most appetising despite their questionable ingredients lists, I’ve decided to make it easier for you by choosing my Top 5 Breakfast Cereals based on the below criteria.
If you don’t like these cereals after trying them, using these criteria to search for alternatives will help you find the best breakfast cereal option to suit your tastes!
My criteria for choosing a healthy breakfast cereal
All ingredients lists must be listed in descending order of ingredients i.e. the first ingredient of the list is present in the highest amount in that food. By looking at the ingredients list, you can immediately assess the quality of the product. If sugar falls into the top 3 ingredients in that cereal, you can assume the cereal is very high in sugar, but if wholegrains (i.e. oats) are the highest listed ingredient, then this is a positive aspect of the cereal. Those with less than 75% wholegrains as the top ingredient were assessed based on the next ingredients listed.
So many cereals have unnecessary amounts of added sugars, so much that they could actually be classified as a dessert. Taking into account whether the sugar content comes from added sugars, or ingredients such as dried fruit is important in assessing the cereal. In general, I recommend aiming for a cereal that has less than 10% sugar (less than 10g per 100g).
The reason I look at the fibre content of a cereal is because fibre is a great nutrient that most people aren’t eating enough of. Females are aiming for 25g of fibre per day, and males aiming for 30g per day. Our breads and cereals food group have options that are high in fibre, but some that are not quiet as high due to being highly processed and losing some of the fibre content. Comparing cereals side by side and choosing the one with the highest fibre content is going to be beneficial. 7g of fibre or more per 100g is considered high fibre, while 0.5g or less per 100g is considered low in fibre.
I assessed a whole range of popular breakfast cereals to find my Top 5. Have a look below to see if your favourite cereals made my list!
My top 5 Breakfast Cereals (in no particular order are)
1. Whole rolled oats
Oats are high in fibre and a fantastic source of Low GI carbohydrate plus they are so versatile. In the winter, I enjoy them cooked up as porridge and in the summer months, as overnight oats.
2. Vita Brits
Vita brits, like oats, are a great source of fibre, Low GI carbohydrate and contain no added sugar plus the individual biscuits make it very easy to stick to your serve size.
3. Carman’s Fruit Free Muesli
There are many muesli’s on the market and I’m sure many of them may meet our selection criteria but Carman’s is definitely a personal favourite of mine. Packed full of Low GI carbohydrate and healthy unsaturated fats, this is a great breakfast option.
4. Special K Lower Sugar
Special K have just brought out a lower sugar variety, bringing the sugar down from 13.6/100g to 9.6g. The added benefit of special K is that it has been fortified with calcium, zinc and iron, all very important micronutrients for athletes.
5. Freedom Foods Multigrain & Cranberry
Freedom foods have a fantastic range of cereals which meet our criteria, I particularly like their multigrain and cranberry variety which is also Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and high in prebiotic fibre which is great to promote gut health.
Many of these cereal’s are lacking slightly in protein and to boost the protein content of your breakfast, I would suggest you use high protein milk or yoghurt to increase your satiety and promote lean muscle maintenance and recovery.
Individual preferences, goals and tolerance will alter what cereal and portion size is best for you. However, for more specific advice about what you should be eating to reach your goals, why not come and see me at Precision Physio.
If you found this article about the best breakfast cereal for you interesting and would like to look further into your nutrition plan and personalised strategy for getting the most out of your diet, please contact Atlanta Miall, Dietitian at Precision Physio and Sports Dietitian at Precision Athletica.
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