By: Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
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Do you love cereal, but feel like you have to give it up in order to lose weight? It’s true that some cereals can hurt your waistline. But the best cereal for weight loss can absolutely fit into a weight loss plan, and even provide health benefits to boot.
Many of my clients love cereal as a snack or a quick breakfast on busy days. Yet, many of them are afraid that the carb or sugar content will wreck their weight loss progress.
However, they learned how to swap sugary cereals for healthier options. Now, they still get their cereal fix without all the extra calories. You can do this too.
What is the best cereal for weight loss, and how do you know if a cereal is healthy?
Keep reading for the top 7 best cereals for weight loss (including my #1 fav). I’ll also teach you what to look for on the nutrition label of cereals, and toppings you can add to cereal to support your weight loss goals.
7 Best Cereals for Weight Loss
I have to start out by saying how much I LOVE cereal. It is one of my favorite breakfasts (and sometimes snacks) that I have almost every day. I always choose a nutritious, low-sugar, and high-fiber cereal and have 2 eggs along with it for some extra protein. So, you have full permission to enjoy a daily dose of healthy cereal!
But knowing which cereals are healthy can be confusing. Many cereals appear healthy because of marketing language like “made with whole grains” or “reduced sugar” but in reality are still not good choices.
I surveyed my dietitian colleagues to find out their favorite healthy cereals for weight loss. I also sprinkled in a few of my favorites that I regularly eat myself and recommend to my clients to take the guesswork out for you.
Here are our top 7 best cereals for weight loss.
1. Puffed Corn Cereal
“I love Puffed Corn cereal from Arrowhead Mills. The texture is similar to Kelloggs Corn Pops, but it has more protein and fiber to fill you up and keep blood sugars stable.
It’s unsweetened, so you can control the flavor by adding your favorite protein powder and milk or mixing it with flavored Greek yogurt. One cup contains 12 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein” – Megan Warnke, RDN, CDCES at warnkewellness.com
This cereal also contains no added sugar (hard to find in a cereal) and only contains 100 calories per ½ cup including skim milk added. Since it is a bit lower in protein, I would agree to add in an extra source. You can add protein powder to the milk or have it alongside a low-sugar Greek yogurt.
2. Nature’s Path Organic Heritage Flakes
“My go to dry cereal is Nature’s Path Organic Heritage Flakes. A one cup serving provides 160 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar. It’s made with ancient grains including kamut, wheat bran, oats, spelt, barley, millet and quinoa.
The fiber and protein help you feel fuller longer and also slow digestion to keep your blood sugars stable. This cereal makes a great breakfast, especially topped with some fresh blueberries and milk.
I also love it as a mid day snack since its nutty flavor and crunch are very satisfying.” – Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND at https://soccermomnutrition.com
I agree with Steph wholeheartedly on this one – this cereal is one of my favorite go-to’s and is incredibly satisfying. I probably have it about 3-4 times a week with low-fat milk, a handful of blueberries, and 1-2 eggs on the side for extra protein.
Even though it’s not overly sweet, it definitely satisfies a cereal craving.
3. Ezekiel 4:9 Golden Flax
“I love Ezekiel 4:9 Golden Flax. It is rich in fiber with 7 grams per cup and rich in protein with 8 grams per cup to leave you feeling full and satisfied! And best of all, there is only 1 gram of added sugar, which is very low for a cereal.” – Sheri Berger www.sheriberger.com
If you’re sensitive to fiber or aren’t used to eating a lot of it, start with a small portion of this cereal (about ½ cup at most). Then, gradually work your way up based on tolerance. Sometimes if you eat too much of a very high-fiber cereal like this too fast, it can cause bloat and indigestion.
4. Special K Protein
“One of my favorite cereals are the Special K Protein Multigrain Cereal with a touch of cinnamon. It is very high in protein at 15 grams per serving which can promote satiation and fullness in the morning. It’s also low in sugar for those trying to watch their intake of added sugars and they taste great!” —Patricia Kolesa MS, RDN https://www.thedietitiandish.com
This cereal is one of the highest in protein out there. I always recommend a higher protein breakfast in the morning, as it can suppress your appetite and cravings later in the day, during the time you may have the least willpower and motivation.
I also like how for a flaky cereal, it doesn’t get mushy easily and really holds onto its crunch. It’s one of the top 3 healthiest cereals in my professional opinion.
5. Steel-Cut Oatmeal
If you prefer hot cereal or are just craving it when it’s cold outside, oatmeal is a solid cereal choice for weight loss – if made right.
“Steel-cut oats have a good amount of fiber and protein per serving which has been associated with weight loss. I also like that you can enhance the nutrient content by adding your own toppings.
You can keep the sugar level low by adding cinnamon and berries. This can make a naturally sweet breakfast or you can make it savory with the addition of an egg, veggies, and spices. This can also pump up the protein content.” – Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC https://rootnutritionrd.com/
When making oatmeal, the most impotant thing is that you get the steel-cut oats, not the quick-cooking or instant kind. The steel-cut take a little longer to make, but you can make them ahead of time or try an overnight oats recipe.
They are more nutritious and provide longer-lasting energy, so will be 100% worth the few extra minutes of prep time.
6. Plain Cheerios
“Cheerios (yellow box) is a great choice. With just a gram of sugar per serving, you can mix Cheerios with equal portions of any cereal (sugared or otherwise) and slash the grams of sugar in half.
This cereal also makes a low calorie snack with crunch value, too.” – Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table.
Cheerios is an oldie but a goodie. You can add ½ cup of berries or banana to it to add some sweetness, along with low-fat milk or Greek yogurt for extra protein. This is also a great option to keep at home if you have kids. Don’t worry, most kids won’t be looking for the honey-nut version if you offer this to them.
I used to get Honey Nut Cheerios to my kids, assuming they wouldn’t eat the plain Cheerios. Once I switched, they didn’t even notice the difference, and have been eating the plain version ever since.
7. Three Wishes
“Three Wishes provides 8 grams of protein per serving which can promote satiation and fullness in the morning. It also contains 3 grams of fiber, which is 11% of the daily value.
It’s also low in sugar for those trying to watch their intake of added sugars and they taste great!” —Patricia Kolesa MS, RDN https://www.thedietitiandish.com
It is also considered keto-friendly because it contains no added sugars, and is gluten-free.
How to Know If a Cereal Is Healthy
Here are 3 things to look for to know if a cereal aligns with your weight loss goals.
The cereal should:
- Contain less than 8 grams of sugar per serving
- Supply at least 2 (ideally 3) grams of fiber
- Have whole grains as one of the first ingredients
If it meets these 3 criteria, chances are it’s a healthier choice that will fill you up much longer than the sugary kind.
Healthy Cereal Additions
Cereal can be a nutritious breakfast on its own. But sometimes you need a bit more to enhance the flavor or make it a complete meal. Here are my favorite cereal add-ins to bump up the nutritional value and fullness factor.
- Berries – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
- Seeds – a scoop of flax, chia, or hemp seeds
- Scoop of nut butter – peanut, almond, or sunflower
- Greek yogurt
Adding in these yummy editions make your cereal meal more filling and satisfying. This helps you to better control cravings as the day goes on.
Cereal Can Be Part of a Healthy Diet
So can you eat cereal every day, and should it be a regular part of your weight loss plan? The answer is yes, as long as you are choosing healthier options.
- If you want to burn fat and lose weight, choosing the options on this best cereal for weight loss list will support your goals.
- When choosing a healthy cereal, look for ones high in fiber and protein, low in added sugar, and list whole grain as one of the first ingredients.
- You can bump up the nutritional ante of your cereal by adding in healthy add-ins such as fruit, seeds, nuts, Greek yogurt, and low-fat or skim milk. You can also do what I do and add an egg or two on the side for a sweet and savory breakfast combo.
- Stick to the cereal serving size, as it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Using a smaller cereal bowl can help control portions, as it can be easier to overdo it on cereal.
For more helpful resources on weight loss and healthy eating, check out these other blog posts: