"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," a marketing slogan that was introduced by Dr. Kellogg's, one of the first American gurus in wellness to market breakfast cereals in the 19th Century. He introduced the cornflakes cereal, which is now popular in many countries.
There have been many variations since then, including healthier whole grain versions such as Weetabix, Shreddies and Bran flakes which are more suitable for people living with diabetes.
There are many variations of breakfast cereals; not all are healthy as they can be laced with sugars. Hence, the UK adopted a traffic light system (1) which you can easily find on your cereal box, making it easier for you to judge if a particular cereal is something you should eat regularly.
The traffic light label comes with 3 colour codes for fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt and the number of energy/calories in it.
Red: high in nutrients, one should try and reduce the amount of intake.
Amber: Medium in nutrients, one can eat it regularly
Green: Low in nutrients, healthier option.
1. Weetabix (2)
One serving of Weetabix (2 biscuits) contains:
- Calories: 136kcal
- Protein: 4.5g
- Carbohydrates: 26g
- Sugar: 1.6g
- Fiber: 3.8g
- Fat: 0.8g
- Saturates: 0.2g
- Salt: 0.10g
2. Shreddies (3)
One serving of Shreddies (40g) contains:
- Calories: 145kcal
- Protein: 4.3g
- Carbohydrates: 28g
- Sugar: 5g
- Fiber: 4.9g
- Fat: 0.7g
- Saturates: 0.1g
3. Bran Flakes (4)
One serving of Bran Flakes (30g) contains:
- Calories: 107kcal
- Protein: 3.3g
- Carbohydrates: 20g
- Sugars: 4.2g
- Fibre : 5.1g
- Fat: 0.7g
- Saturates: 0.1g
- Salt: 0.2g
4. Corn Flakes (5)
One serving of corn flakes (30g) contains:
- Calories: 113kcal
- Protein: 2.1g
- Carbohydrates: 25g
- Sugar: 2.4g
- Fibre: 0.9g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Saturates: 0.1g
- Salt: 0.34g
Please note the traffic light labels and serving size for each cereal, which ranges from 30g – 40g are of an average adult's reference intake.
Is Cereal a Good Choice for Breakfast if you have diabetes?
Cereals can be a good choice if you choose the ones that are made with whole grain, low in sugar and high in fibre (6). Weetabix is a good choice as it is green in all 4 components and is high in fibre.
Also, it is easier to count calories and nutrients in Weetabix as one serving equates to 2 biscuits, compared to other cereals where you need to weigh them to get the right amount in one serving.
However, as we do not eat cereal on its own, we should consider the number of calories and sugar in our milk or yoghurt and any additional toppings that we put on it.
Glycaemic Index of Breakfast Cereal
As mentioned in our previous post, a low glycaemic index (1) food is recommended for people living with diabetes as it does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.
Here is our list of the glycaemic index for breakfast cereal:
- Weetabix – 75
- Bran Flakes (Kellogg's) - 60
- Corn Flakes - 82
- Coco pops -77
- Quaker Quick Oats – 66
Can cereal helps me to lose weight?
Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than intake. Breakfast cereal can help you to lose weight if you portion control, count calories and ensure that your total daily calories intake is less than the calories required to maintain your current weight.
However, is cereal a good option to lose weight?
Kellogg's had introduced a Special K challenge in the early 2000s, a simple 2-week programme to promote weight loss by substituting 2 meals a day with breakfast cereal, and one sensible meal of your choice. Studies have shown that it is successful in helping people with weight loss and smaller waist circumference (7), but it is no longer recommended by Kellogg's or healthcare professionals (8).
What Cereal is Good for Diabetics?
Whole-grain, high fibre with low glycaemic index and low sugar cereal is good for diabetics. However, please note the amount of sugar and fat from your milk, yoghurt, or additional toppings that you add to your cereal as that can lead to an unhealthy meal.
Tips When Selecting Cereal for Diabetics
1. Type of cereal
As discussed, you would want to choose one that is low in sugar, high in fibre and whole grain. Weetabix is the clear winner in this group.
2. Portion sizes
How often do we weigh our cereals before adding in milk? Many people pour cereal into a large bowl and hence consume more than the recommended serving size. If you are keen to lose weight or to manage your blood sugar better, then I would recommend that you weigh your cereal to ensure you are consuming the recommended serving size.
3. Milk, yoghurt, and additional toppings
As cereal is usually consumed with milk, yoghurt and occasionally a topping, it is vital that we take all this into account for calories and carbohydrate counting. (9)
Is Muesli Good for Diabetes?
Muesli generally has a low GI rating if there is no additional sugar added to it.
Is Rice Krispies good for people living with diabetes?
Rice Krispies are made from toasted rice cereal instead of whole grain.
Each serving (30g) consist of (10) :
- Calories: 116kcal
- Fat: 0.4 (<1%)
- Saturates: 0.1g (<1%)
- Carbohydrate 26g
- Sugars: 2.4g (3%)
- Salt: 0.3g (5%)
- Fiber : 0.6g
- Protein : 2.1g
Rice Krispies have a moderate amount of sugar and are low in fibre and protein hence it has a high GI rating of 83. I would not recommend people living with diabetes consume this on a regular basis.
Can I Eat Ready Brek if I have Diabetes?
Ready Brek are whole grain oats with no added sugar or salt. However, it is made from whole grain rolled oats and flour, making it easier to cook. The nutritional content for it is as follow:
Each 30g serving (without milk) contains:
- Calories: 112 kcal
- Fat: 2.6g
- Saturated fat: 0.4g
- Carbohydrate: 17g
- Sugar: 0g
- Fiber: 2.4g
This seems to be a healthy choice; however, jumbo oats are generally more superior in blood sugar control than rolled oats.
Is Shredded Wheat Good for Diabetics?
Shredded weights are made from whole grain wheat, making it high in fibre, low in sugar, salt and fat making it a healthy choice for everyone.
Each serving size of shredded wheat (2 biscuits, 45g) consists of:
- Calories: 162 kcal
- Fat: 1g
- Saturates: 0.2g
- Sugar: 0.3g
- Salt: 0.02 g
Are Cheerios healthy diabetics?
Cheerios are wholegrain cereal making it a fairly good choice for everyone including diabetes. However, it does have slightly higher sugar and fat content compared to Weetabix or Ready brek.
Each 30g of Cheerios contains:
- Calories: 115kcal
- Fat: 1.5g
- Saturates: 0.3g
- Sugars: 5.3g
- Salt: 0.25g
Does Weetabix have carbohydrates in it?
Each serving of Weetabix consists of 26g of carbohydrates.
Breakfast cereals are easy, delicious and can be a quick healthy breakfast option for everyone including those who have diabetes. However, there are sweet, sugar-loaded cereals which we should avoid as they can lead to weight gain and a spike in blood sugar. Always read the labels and choose whole grain, low sugar, and low-fat cereal. Lastly, we must consider the additional items we had to our breakfast cereal, such as milk, yoghurt or additional toppings as an unhealthy topping or yoghurt can lead to an unhealthy bowl of breakfast cereal.
1. Check the label. Food Standards Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/check-the-label#:~:text=The%20traffic%20light%20label%20is%20colour%20coded%20and%20shows%20that,Amber%20means%20medium.
2. Weetabix original. Weetabix Cereals. (2021, June 2). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://weetabix.co.uk/our-products/weetabix/weetabix/
3. Shreddies the original. Original Shreddies | Whole Grain & Vegan | Nestlé Cereals. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.nestle-cereals.com/uk/brands/products/original-shreddies?gclid=Cj0KCQjwn4qWBhCvARIsAFNAMihBsTBRKEkIu9w3ZD0S3vD6jTfs6icmVhFM385hInzaaWXi0o0JhL0aAqQ_EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
4. Bran flakes. Kellogg's Bran Flakes. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.kelloggs.co.uk/en_GB/products/bran-flakes.html
5. Kellogg's Corn Flakes . Kellogg's Corn Flakes. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/293741446
6. Diabetes UK. (n.d.). Breakfast cereals. Diabetes UK. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/diabetes-food-myths/breakfast-cereals
7. Gianturco, P., & Perez, V. (2016, January 28). A meta-analysis of intervention trials examining the effects of a simple 2-week weight loss program on body weight and waist circumference. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Science. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://symbiosisonlinepublishing.com/nutritionalhealth-foodscience/nutritionalhealth-foodscience54.php
8. Zelman, K. M. (n.d.). The Special K Diet Review. WebMD. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-special-k-challenge
9. Diabetes UK. (n.d.). Breakfast cereals. Diabetes UK. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/diabetes-food-myths/breakfast-cereals
10. Rice krispies. Kellogg's. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.kelloggs.co.uk/en_GB/products/rice-krispies.html
11. Ready Brek. Weetabix Food Company. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://weetabixfoodcompany.co.uk/our-products/ready-brek/
12. Shredded Wheat original. Shredded Wheat Original | Simple Goodness | Nestlé Cereals. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.nestle-cereals.com/uk/products-promotions/brands/shredded-wheat-brand/shredded-wheat
13. Multigrain cheerios. Multigrain Cheerios | Five Whole Grains | Nestlé Cereals. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://www.nestle-cereals.com/uk/brands/cheerios?gclid=Cj0KCQjwn4qWBhCvARIsAFNAMigOnapGaa8zPDcipqNb8TJgW33ZKfw8IugsfcpADU8mxmnQPNDE6isaAqGnEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Official staff of Sinocare.
Note: All information on Sinocare blog articles is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.