The question: What’s the best breakfast cereal for weight loss?

The answer: I’m afraid there is no breakfast cereal specifically designed for weight loss. Compared with other breakfast choices, most cereals are relatively low in calories and low in fat. But it’s not all about calories. Some low calorie breakfast cereals (e.g. Special K, Rice Krispies, Puffed Wheat) are made from refined grains that are quickly digested. In other words, starting your day with a bowl of refined breakfast cereal could cause you to feel hungry midmorning and overly hungry by lunch time. Both are recipes for overeating.

The healthiest breakfast cereal is made from whole grains and is high in fibre and low in added sugar. Choose a cereal that lists whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye or whole brown rice as the first ingredient. One-hundred-per-cent bran cereals aren’t truly whole grain cereals, but you can consider them as such since they are a concentrated source of bran that’s missing from refined grains. And because fibre slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach, it helps you feel full longer after breakfast.

Look for cereals that have no more than six grams of sugar for each serving. There’s one exception to this rule: Cereals with dried fruit such as raisins, blueberries and cranberries will have more and that’s okay. Dried fruit adds more fibre to cereal, which is a good thing.

Now that you’ve chosen a nutritious cereal, keeping your portion size in check will help you lose weight. Of course, that’s provided you’re following a calorie-reduced diet designed for weight loss. Read the serving size information on nutrition labels. I encourage you to do this for all packaged foods, not just ready to eat breakfast cereal.

By dry weight, a food guide serving of ready to eat cereal is 30 grams. In household measures, 30 grams of dry cereal will vary depending on the density, or weight, of the cereal. In general, a serving size of cereal is typically 3/4 to one cup. The serving size for denser cereals such as granola and muesli is 1/3 to 1/2 cup. If you’re counting calories, manage your portion size by reading the nutrition label – and then measuring out the stated serving size.

Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at
[email protected]. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on the Globe website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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