When we think breakfast food most of us jump right to the tried and true tradition of cereal and milk. With all sorts of mixes, flavors and ingredients there is never a shortage of variety. However, is cereal really the best option for breakfast?
The main issue with cereal is that it typically has a poor carbohydrate to protein ratio. What that means is that there isn’t a good balance of the carbohydrate content in the product when compared to protein. Most cereals have almost 3 times, or more, the amount of carbohydrates than they do protein. If you look at a seemingly healthy Cheerios label we can see some of the issues.
There are almost 7x as many carbohydrates in one serving of Cheerios as there is protein. Even adding milk (which has some protein (7g), but mainly carbohydrates (12g)) the ratio is still heavy on carbohydrates and low on protein.
But why is this ratio important? Carbohydrates get digested by the body in 2 hours meaning that they only keep you full for that long. Protein and fats get digested in 3-4 hours respectively, meaning that they keep you full for longer. A combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats will help keep you full for longer and provide a better source of fuel for the body.
This doesn’t mean that you can never have cereal again. However, it does mean that we need to look for higher protein options or include additional protein with our cereal to better meet our needs. Adding nuts to oatmeal or an egg in addition to the cold cereal can be a great option to increase protein content.
Katherine Horner, RD, LD, NASM-CPT, CES
Surgical Weight Loss Dietitian & Exercise Specialist
Photo courtesy of: http://momsla.com/momsla-healthy-living-challenge-breakfast/cheerios-label/