Not everyone has the time to stir steel-cut oats for 25 minutes before work. But as your mother insisted before she shoved you off to school every morning, you have to eat breakfast. And that doesn't mean pouring a heaping bowl of your favorite neon-colored marshmallow cereal. Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts on a cereal box?
Lucky Charms has 10 grams of sugar. Frosted Mini-Wheats has 11. Post Raisin Bran contains a staggering 20 grams! Even Bear Naked fruit and nut granola—a seemingly healthy choice—clocks in at six, the same as Honey Bunches of Oats. Most cereal, even granola, is a shockingly not-so-great way to start the day. But it's also super-fast and convenient when you're rushing out the door. So we at the GQ Institute For Not Getting Fatter Than We Have To sought professional expertise to ask: What's the least bad cereal out there?
The answer: Old-fashioned Cheerios. With a heaping scoop of fresh fruit.
"A cup of Cheerios is 100 calories and the first ingredient is whole-grain oats," says registered dietitian Kim Kirchherr. A serving from that big yellow box (which debuted in 1941 as Cheerioats) has only one gram of sugar. It's low in calories—less than half the caloric load of a bowl of Grape Nuts, which weigh in at 210 calories per serving—and, as the original name suggests, the primary ingredient is whole-grain oats, which help reduce the risk of type-two diabetes and heart disease. Men need 38 grams of fiber daily, and Kirchherr recommends looking for a cereal with at least three grams per serving, which is exactly what Cheerios offer. You can add even more with fresh fruit.
"Cereal is a vessel for a lot of other good stuff," adds Jim White, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Fruit is a great way to increase fiber. It'll keep you full longer. It can really get men jump-started for the day." And if you're wondering what to pour on top of it, White likes organic skim milk. "It has protein to build muscles, calcium to help support strong bones, electrolytes to help replace after a hard workout, and water to help hydrate the body. It's one of the perfect foods for men."
One thing you'll notice once you start poring over the nutrition labels in the cereal aisle is the miniscule serving size. It's generally one cup, which feels like half of what you feed your dog for breakfast. "Most guys grab a bowl and put as much as they can. They don't realize it could be three to five times the serving," White says. "You have to watch that portion size."
This is where the fruit comes into play. It makes a small bowl of Cheerios—that one measly cup—seem a hell of a lot bigger. Throw in a half-cup of sliced strawberries or bananas, and you won't even think about pouring a second bowl.
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