10 Low-Calorie Cereal Options That Aren’t As Healthy As You Might Think
Don’t you miss the days when grocery shopping wasn’t so complicated?
We used to make buying decisions based on flavor alone (unless we got distracted by catchy packaging). But ever since we began to wise up and judge by nutrition labels, things became much more difficult.
Take cereal, for example. We once enjoyed our bowl of pure sugar without any second guesses and gobbled up Lucky Charms, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Frosted Mini Wheats without hesitation. But now, one glance at the calorie count or ingredients list has us putting our favorite boxes back on the shelf.
In fact, the more we learned about nutrition, the more disappointed we became. So disappointed, in fact, that we invented a cereal that answered all of our criteria (we’ll get to that later).
Below, you’ll learn about 10 low-calorie cereal options that you might think are healthy … but are they really?
Join us as we look at calories, carbs, sugar, and protein to evaluate which cereals deserve a spot in your breakfast bowl and which ones don’t. Spoiler alert: Only one makes the cut.
10 Low-Calorie Cereals That Don't Measure Up, and One That Does
With so many clever marketing ploys out there, it's hard to differentiate between well-designed packaging and a solid product. Below, you'll dive into 10 low-calorie cereals that don't quite live up to their advertisements.
1. Post Shredded Wheat
Calories: 210 per cup
Post Shredded Wheat isn’t a terrible choice when it comes to breakfast cereal. It contains 12 grams of sugar and gives you 5 grams of protein — not horrible compared to Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, and other sugary cereals. But once you hit the carb and calorie count, Shredded Wheat looks less promising. Just a single serving contains 50 grams of total carbohydrates and 210 calories.
2. General Mills Original Cheerios
Calories: 100 per cup
By now, you’re probably clued into the fact that Honey Nut Cheerios probably isn’t the healthiest bowl on the block. But what about its predecessor, Original Cheerios? When you check out the nutrition label, you’ll see that a single cup runs you 100 calories.
Sure, it has just one gram of sugar, but those 100 calories come with a whopping 20 grams of carbohydrates. And we’re not even getting into the whole thing about glyphosate — aka weed killer — in some of the varieties of Cheerios.
3. Kashi GO Crisp! Cinnamon Crumble
Calories: 180 per 3/4 cup
Alright, alright — it’s easy to strip away calories when you strip away flavor (we’re looking at you, plain Cheerios). But can we get something with a lil’ spice in here? We took a peek at Kashi Go Crisp! Cinnamon, which boasts more flavor than its counterparts, Kashi 7 and Kashi Go (formerly Kashi GoLean).
While it does come with 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of dietary fiber per serving, at 180 calories, their calorie count is higher than most on this list.
4. Kellog’s Rice Krispies
Calories: 100 per cup
Like General Mills Cheerios, Rice Krispies comes in at 100 calories per cup. But, like Cheerios, there’s a catch. In a single bowl, you’ll get gluten, 4 grams of sugar, and 36 grams of carbohydrates. To top it off, sugar is listed second on the ingredients list (rice is first). Snap, crackle, yikes!
5. Fiber One Original Bran
Calories: 120 per cup
At first glance, Fiber One original bran cereal doesn’t look half bad. At 120 calories per cup, it also brings 4 grams of protein and 28 grams of fiber. But here’s the thing — even with the fiber content, you’re still looking at 50 grams of total carbs in a single cup. And while it certainly is a high-fiber, lower calorie cereal, it still contains a whopping 22 grams of net carbs per serving.
6. Nature’s Path Flax Plus Multibran Flakes (Organic)
Calories:150 per cup
Say what you will about multibran flakes, but what they lose in flavor they gain with the longest product title on the market. Nature’s Path bran flakes contain flaxseed, which is loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and also contains whole wheat and barley (so it’s not gluten free). It also comes with 5 grams of added sugar and 31 grams of total carbs.
7. Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins Cereal
Calories: 110 per 3/4 cup
We’ll give Barbara’s a little bit of credit here — their peanut butter flavor is pretty good (it’s made from peanut butter, and we’re not monsters). But when you check out their nutrition label, it’s easy to see where the flavor comes from. This cereal is made with 23 carbohydrates and 6 grams of sugar, not the best option for a supposedly healthy breakfast.
8. Post Grape-Nuts
Calories: 400 per cup
You didn’t expect to see that number on this list, now did you? But you can check Post’s website yourself — a 1/2 cup serving comes with 200 calories, bringing a whole cup to 400 calories. Let this be a lesson to us all — a product advertised as a healthy cereal (and Grape-Nuts certainly holds that reputation) might not be all that it seems.
9. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
Calories: 190 per cup
One of the most recognizable cereals on this list, Raisin Bran should be healthy, right? They’re made with raisins. But, as anyone who has ever looked up the nutrition facts of dried fruit knows, raisins come packed with sugar. In fact, just one bowl of Raisin Bran will cost you 17 grams of sugar and 47 grams of total carbohydrates.
Calories: 110 per 3/4 cup
There was just no way we could write this list and leave Wheaties off of it. Advertised as the “Breakfast of Champions” since 1924, Wheaties has been the signature healthy breakfast food of choice for nearly a century.
But if you look at the nutrition label, you might wonder where all these health benefit claims come from. It contains 23 grams of carbs and 4 grams of sugar, but a measly 2 grams of protein. Not exactly champ-level material, is it?
Best Low-Calorie Cereal: The Cereal School
You know we always save the best for last, right? The Cereal School is the only cereal on this list that lives up to the hype. And yes, we’re completely biased, but hear us out: Not only does each single-serving bag weigh in at 100 calories per serving, but it’s low-fat and packed with protein (as in 16 grams per serving).
Lastly, it contains minimal ingredients and comes in incredible flavors including Cinnamon Bun, Fruity, and Cocoa.These days, package design and a creative advertising campaign can lead you to believe you’re purchasing a healthy product. Many breakfast cereals are marketed as health foods when they’re really packed with sugar and other unwanted ingredients.
So, we decided to invent the perfect cereal.
Cereal School is that invention. Packed with 16 grams of protein yet just one gram of fat and 100 calories, it is the best low-calorie cereal on the market. Best of all, it’s absolutely delicious. Try it for yourself. We dare you not to eat it straight out of the bag.