Choose whole grains over refined grains -- such as sugary cereals.
Adding cereal to your meal plan is often beneficial when you're trying to lose weight -- if you choose nutrient-dense, whole-grain cereals and eat them in recommended portions. Because cereal is rich in carbohydrates, however, eating too much of it can hinder weight loss and even lead to weight gain. Using a weight-loss meal plan is an excellent way to plan effective weight-loss menus that include cereal two times a day.
Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole-grain cereals are often rich in fiber, low in calories and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Fiber helps you feel full for long periods of time, and fiber calories aren't fully absorbed by your body -- which is beneficial when you're trying to shed pounds. Carbohydrates found in whole-grain cereals help fuel your body and boost your energy. But eating too many carbohydrates, the main macronutrient in cereals, can hinder weight loss.
Protein boosts satiety more than carbohydrates, according to a 2008 review published in the вЂњAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.вЂќ Therefore, eating a protein-rich food with cereal supports overall calorie control and effective weight loss. Low-fat milk, often consumed with ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal, is rich in protein. Other healthy protein-rich options include egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, lean meats, soy products, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Drawbacks of Sugary Cereals
Not all cereals are beneficial for weight loss. Examples include breakfast cereals that have been highly processed and contain lots of added sugar. Such cereals are usually high in calories and low in fiber -- therefore, they are less satiating than fiber-rich, whole-grain cereals and less effective for weight loss. Although you can still lose weight eating sugary cereals twice daily if your overall calorie intake is low, whole-grain cereals are the better choice for effective weight loss. Check nutrition facts labels and ingredient lists on cereal boxes for information regarding added sugars.
Regardless of how many times a day you eat cereal, your overall daily calorie intake determines how much weight you'll lose. Weight-loss calorie needs for adults often range from 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. When eating 1,200 calories per day, limit yourself to 4 ounces of grains daily, and when consuming 1,600 calories a day, aim for 5 ounces from the grains group daily, suggests the the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." One portion, or a 1-ounce equivalent, of whole-grain cereal, equals 1 cup of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, such as oatmeal.