As your first meal of the day, it’s important to eat a nourishing breakfast full of nutrients to kickstart your morning! Aside from a morning energy boost, eating a balanced breakfast can boost your metabolism, improve concentration, and prevent mid-morning hunger pains. While foods like eggs, protein pancakes, and superfood smoothies may come to mind when you envision a morning meal, what if breakfast cereal could be a healthy option, too? That’s right — relive your fondest childhood breakfast memories without the sugar overdose. Despite what you’ve been told, healthy breakfast cereals do exist!
Are Breakfast Cereals Healthy?
Before you race for the cereal aisle, keep in mind that all breakfast cereals are not created equal when it comes to a healthy diet. But, not to worry — there are plenty of ways to get your breakfast cereal fix the healthy way. When it comes to choosing healthy breakfast cereals, the most important things to consider are ingredients and serving size. By focusing on wholesome, nourishing ingredients and avoiding excess (and processed) sugars, pour yourself a breakfast cereal bowl and feel good savoring every delicious spoonful.
Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content: How Much is Too Much?
If you want to know the fastest way to determine whether a breakfast cereal is healthy, start by looking at the ingredient label — specifically, the sugar content! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day (36 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women (about 25 grams).
So, what about sugar per serving? Well, if a box of cereal contains more than 5 grams of sugar per serving, it’s probably best left on the shelf. To put that into context, 4 grams of sugar is 1 teaspoon. One teaspoon may not seem like a lot, but consider how this will look when your meal is complete. Let’s be honest, how often do we really only pour one serving of cereal? If you account for a heavy pour plus your milk of choice (and of course, any toppings), 5 grams of sugar can easily multiply.
Ingredients to Avoid
Speaking of sugar, consider where it’s coming from. Is the sugar naturally occurring? Does it come from fruit? Maybe cane sugar or artificial sugar? Ingredients matter, too!
Of course, if your cereal is sweetened, natural sugar is best. As best as you can, avoid breakfast cereals with added sugars, artificial and processed ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and GMOs. These ingredients can spike your blood sugar and even increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
Ingredients You Want
When searching for healthy breakfast cereal ingredients, we’ll let you in on a little trick — the first food listed on an ingredient label is always the most abundant food in that product! The second is the second most, and so forth. So, if sugar is the first ingredient listed on a box of cereal (even if it’s naturally occurring), you’re essentially picking up a box of sugar. This is a helpful way to avoid sneaky advertising!
Knowing this, what ingredients should you search for in healthy breakfast cereals?
Look for the word “whole grain” on the label. Whole grain cereals are more nutritious than their processed alternatives. Look for whole grain oats or rice or foods like quinoa or barley.
Fiber is naturally occurring in whole grains and a healthy addition to cereal. This nutrient will aid digestion while keeping you satiated — 3 grams of fiber per serving is ideal!
A healthy breakfast cereal will ideally contain some protein. Look for protein-rich ingredients like oats, nuts, and seeds! Protein will help to increase satiety and prevent a blood sugar spike.
Whole Food-based Ingredients
You should be able to recognize and pronounce all ingredients. Foods in their most natural form are best — look for foods like fruit, oats, seeds, or whole grains. Some healthy breakfast cereals even incorporate superfoods like maca or cacao!
Natural Sweeteners, or Low Sugar
Unsweetened is best! If it does contain sugar, natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey, dates, or fruit are ideal. Regardless, keep it under 5 grams per serving.
7 Healthy Store-Bought Breakfast Cereals
#1 Purely Elizabeth Oat Cups
This healthy breakfast cereal seemingly has it all — low-sugar, high-protein, gluten-free, and even comes in a variety of
superfood flavors (with ingredients like quinoa, collagen, and spirulina)! Most importantly, all Purely Elizabeth products are naturally sweetened and made with wholesome ingredients. Transform any cup into a warm bowl or make overnight oats to take on the go. Busy mornings made simple and delicious.
#2 Food For Life Ezekiel Cereal
Just half a cup of Ezekiel Cereal contains more than 20% of your daily fiber needs and 8 grams of protein! Not only are the ingredients made from whole grains, but many ingredients are also sprouted! Sprouting helps aid digestion and enhance nutrient absorption by enhancing the germination of grains while reducing the naturally occurring phytic acid found in seeds and nuts.
#3 Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet
Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet is a healthy whole-grain breakfast cereal made with just one ingredient: millet. Just one serving provides you with 15 grams of whole grains without added sugar or salt. Serve with sliced fruit or a drizzle of honey for a touch of sweetness!
#4 Three Wishes Unsweetened Cereal
With zero added sugar, the unsweetened variety of this trendy breakfast cereal makes for a healthy morning meal. And, it contains just four wholesome ingredients: chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, and salt. It’s safe to say that Three Wishes checks all the boxes! Ingredients you can pronounce, low-sugar, high-protein, and a healthy serving of satiating fiber.
#5 Qia Chia, Buckwheat & Hemp Cereal
Qia Superfood Cereals come in a variety of flavors made with ingredients like Chia, Buckwheat, and Hemp. These plant-based nutrients will add a healthy boost to any meal — just two tablespoons providing 6 grams of protein! Add a spoonful to a serving of Oats, or even mix it with a bowl of sliced fruit and dairy-free milk. With zero added sugar and 4 grams of fiber, this is a healthy breakfast cereal you and your family can enjoy!
#6 One Degree Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps
Think: the healthy version of Rice Krispies cereal. Sprouted whole grains, lightly sweetened with coconut sugar, and made with less than five ingredients. Enjoy One Degree’s simple cereal with a handful of berries and a splash of non-dairy milk for a wholesome breakfast meal!
#7 Forager Project Cereal
You’ll be reconsidering the addition of beans for breakfast with Forager’s crunchy and slightly sweet breakfast cereal! Made with navy beans and cassava root, this gut-supporting blend provides you with 4 grams of fiber and protein in every flavor. But, even its indulgent varieties made with an extra dose of sweetener (like Chocolate and Strawberry O’s) contain under 5 grams of sugar per serving! So, we’re giving this cereal the stamp of approval when it comes to healthy breakfast options.
3 Homemade Breakfast Cereals
#1 Overnight Oats
Not a fan of crunchy breakfast bowls? Not to worry, you can still enjoy a nourishing breakfast made with breakfast cereal staples like oats and seeds! Enter: Overnight oats — the yummy and healthy breakfast option, made by soaking oats with other tasty ingredients like fruits, nuts, seeds, and even protein powder.
Try our yummy FitOn PRO Strawberry & Vanilla Overnight Oats recipe!
- ⅓ cup oats, rolled
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 strawberries, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp vanilla protein powder (optional)
Step #1: In a jar or bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond milk. Stir to combine and place in the fridge to soak overnight.
Step #2: Once the oats have soaked, stir in the chopped strawberries and vanilla protein powder, if using. If the mixture is too thick, add some more milk.
Step #3: Top with fresh strawberries and granola to serve.
#2 DIY Granola
Store-bought granolas are typically full of excess sugar, hydrogenated oils, and artificial ingredients. Skip the sugar overload and make your own!
Try our low-sugar FitOn PRO Granola made with ingredients like coconut, nuts, and seeds for a sweet (and guilt-free) addition to your morning.
- 2 cups coconut flakes
- 2 cups mixed nuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Step #1: Preheat the oven to 140°C or 280°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Step #2: Place the coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon in a bowl and stir until combined.
Step #3: Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup on the stove. Pour over the coconut and nuts mixture and stir to coat.
Step #4: Spread the mixture evenly on the baking tray and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the baking time. Bake until the granola is golden. Once toasted to your liking, remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool.
Step #5: Serve with yogurt and fresh berries. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
#3 Homemade Muesli
Homemade muesli is one of the healthiest breakfast options, plus it’s easy to customize for any dietary preference. You can even make it grain-free or sugar-free! Simply mix your favorite whole grains, nuts, and seeds into a fiber-rich, protein-packed mixture, and incorporate any additional toppings (like cacao, coconut, or goji berries).
Try our FitOn PRO Homemade Muesli.
- 1 cup oats, rolled
- 1 cup water
- 1 serving protein powder (optional)
- 1 apple, grated
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp shredded coconut
- ¼ cup goji berries
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp greek yogurt
- 1 tsp honey (optional)
Step #1: In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats with water or milk. Stir to combine. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow to soak for 6-8 hours, or overnight.
Step #2: Once soaked, combine the oats with the remaining ingredients and stir through. Serve immediately.
Make Morning’s Sweet, Without the Added Sugar
With these yummy and nourishing breakfast options, you can still enjoy a bowl of cereal and feel good while doing so. Whether you mix up a FitOn recipe or opt for a store-bought cereal brand, remember these healthy hacks to keep your breakfast cereal choices nourishing and supportive of your goals!
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