Healthy ways to start your mornings
Bad news, cereal lovers: It’s about to get harder to start your day with a rich, comforting bowl of tartrazine.
Wait…you didn’t know you were enjoying tartrazine each morning? If you eat boxed cereal, you probably are. It’s a food dye, also known as Yellow #5, that’s been linked to concentration disorders in children, and it’s found in many brightly colored cereals, like Kellogg’s Froot Loops. And after years of pressure from Eat This, Not That!, Kellogg’s finally just announced that it was eliminating all artificial colors and flavors from its cereals, meaning you’ll soon have to go without your daily dose of Red #40, Blue #1 and other chemicals not found in nature.
The company is giving itself until 2018 to make the switch, but if you want to cut down on the contents of your morning chemistry set, and enjoy a metabolism boost in the meantime, there are plenty of options available right now. The food lab at Eat This, Not That! magazine has identified the best all-natural cereals in the supermarket. They may not have a cute cartoon character on the front or a prize at the bottom, but they will fuel your day right and help you reach your weight-loss goals—before noon!
280 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated), 20 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 6 g protein (per 3 oz)
Fit a healthy dose of chocolate into your morning—without buying the Count Chocula. Flavored with cacao nibs, 18 Rabbits Veritas Granola is also naturally sweetened with maple syrup and honey, and features a wide variety of seeds and nuts that you don’t always find in granola (which accounts for the slightly high fat content)—like pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, and sesame seeds. One cup of pumpkin seeds contains twice as much protein as an egg and is high in iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and immune-system-boosting zinc.
420 calories, 27 g fat (4.5 saturated), 210 mg sodium, 12 g sugar, 15 g protein (per 3 oz)
Ditch the Reese’s Puffs in favor of McCabe’s PB & Chocolate Granola, a terrific substitute for a sugary cereal or a great sweet afternoon treat. They use semi-sweet chocolate to dial-down the carb overload, and, like the 18 Rabbits brand above, the oats are sweetened naturally with maple syrup rather than white sugar. If you’re watching your calories, enjoy a smaller 1 ounce portion for only 140 calories a bowl.
110 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 160 g sodium, >1 g sugar, 2 g protein (per 1 cup)
Sure they may go “snap, crackle, pop” but these 100 percent whole-grain, gluten-free puffs are a more nutritious choice than the big blue box—because they’re made from brown rice. People who ate three or more daily servings of whole grains (such as oats, quinoa and brown rice) had 10% less belly fat than people who ate the same amount of calories from processed white carbs (the white stuff: bread, rice, pasta), according to a Tufts University study. This low-sugar cereal carries a slightly nutty flavor and pairs well with strawberries or raspberries.
140 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 80 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 5 g protein (per 1 cup)
“I always start my day with 3/4 cup of bran flakes with skim milk and 1/4 cup of berries,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN, a board certified sports dietetics specialist. “I’m a very active person, so it’s important that I kick off my day with a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates to fuel my morning. Bran flakes are a low-calorie, easy and inexpensive way to get many of the vitamins and minerals I need, including 100 percent of my daily iron.” The cereal also provides her five grams of fiber, “which helps keep me regular,” she adds. “It’s one of the only boxed foods that I eat, but I eat it every single day—even on vacation.”
160 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g sodium, 0 g sugar, 4.8 g protein (per 1 cup)
In addition to serving up the perfect serving of hunger-quelling protein and fiber in every bowl, Wheat ’n Bran—made from, you guessed it, whole-grain wheat and wheat bran— also provides 20 percent of the day’s phosphorus, a mineral that plays an important role in how the body uses carbs and fats. It also helps the body make protein.
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein (per 1 cup)
If you workout in the morning, the best way to aid muscle growth and recovery is with a 2:1 ratio of low-fiber carbohydrates and protein, says Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. That’s why he recommends “eating something like a cup of wheat puff cereal with half a banana, a dash of cinnamon and one cup of skim milk.” The milk’s protein helps rebuild muscle that was broken down and the simple carbohydrates help restore muscle glycogen that was lost during training, he explains. Replenishing the stores can boost future workout performance—a key component to sculpting a trimmer figure. All that from puffed wheat!
160 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 240 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 5 g protein (per container)
Most packaged oatmeals are calorie-bombs of powdered sugar disguised as a nutritious breakfast. But each serving of Pacific Foods’ Organic Steel Cut Oatmeal packs a solid helping of protein and fiber, and even the most decadent of the line’s 5 flavors, Maple & Brown Sugar, still comes in at just 11 grams of sugar. Plus, steel-cut oats are the least processed, and have fewer calories and less sugar than rolled oats. The grab-and-go package makes it easy to toss in your bag and heat up quickly at the office.
190 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 12 g sugar, 4 g protein (1 cup)
We also endorse this brand of oats—and any kind of oats, as long as they’re free of processed sugars. Oats are rich in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan and the anti-inflammatory compound avenanthramide—which, together, help prevent against obesity-related health problems including heart disease and diabetes. One 10-year study in the American Journal of Public Health found that eating one serving of oatmeal two to four times a week—like this Amy’s Hot Cereal Bowl—resulted in a 16 percent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes. And Amy’s has more fiber and half the fat of Quaker’s Old Fashioned Oats.
More from Eat This, Not That!