Many people go to cereal for a fuss-free and quick breakfast or even for a snack. It’s convenient, familiar, and tasty. But have you ever wondered why you don’t feel satiated enough after eating cereal? If you’re curious about how to make your cereal more filling, read on.
1. Start with your cereal
Cereal is the breakfast of champions, so they say. But you may not be feeling much like a champion if you feel unsatisfied and sluggish after consuming your cereal. The problem could be the high sugar and low fiber content in the cereal.
Fiber and sugar
Fiber supports gut and heart health, yet many Americans don’t meet the recommended intake for fiber of 14 grams per 1,000 calories of food consumed.
On the flip side, added sugar consumption among many Americas exceeds the recommendation to keep added sugar to less than 10% of calories.
A diet high in added sugar could put you at risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive problems like dementia.
For a 2,000-calorie diet, for example, the added sugar limit is 200 calories or 50 grams. This equates to about 12 teaspoons of sugar.
The American Heart Association goes further, recommending no more than:
- For men – 9 teaspoons added sugar (36 grams) per day
- For women – 6 teaspoons of added sugar (25 grams) per day
For reference, the added sugar in a serving of some cereals is about 50% of these limits.
What’s more, a high-sugar cereal is more likely to cause a sugar spike and crash, leaving you with a lack of energy and feeling hungry.
Whereas fiber is filling and helps slow the absorption of sugar, gradually raising blood sugar as opposed to immediately spiking it the way sugary foods do.
By incorporating more fiber into your diet, you can avoid those sugar highs and lows and your body will be in better balance.
How to choose a healthier and more filling cereal
First off, start by reading the label.
- Choose a cereal made with whole grains. Look for the word “whole” in the ingredients, such as whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, or whole grain brown rice. Whole grains are higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients like B vitamins and iron.
- Aim for a fiber content of 3 grams or more per serving.
- Go for a higher protein content since protein helps boost the satisfaction factor. Protein can vary from as little as 1 to 2 grams to 10 grams per serving.
If you don’t want to let go of your favorite sugary cereal, don’t worry. There’s still more you can do to make your cereal more filling and boost its nutritional value.
2. Choose the Right Milk For You
We have a variety of milk and non-dairy alternatives to choose from these days. Whether you have a food sensitivity or an allergy such as to lactose, nuts, or soy, there’s something for everyone.
That said, these products can vary in the amount of protein they offer. Remember that protein aids with feelings of fullness.
Importantly, protein is vital for the body and involved in these ways.
- Growth and maintenance
- Repair and wound healing
- Biochemical reactions
- Cellular communication
To avoid deficiency, most adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, sometimes more depending on medical conditions and health goals. This means if your weight is 150 pounds (68 kilograms), you need about 55 grams of protein per day for optimal health.
Here is the protein content in an 8-ounce serving of cow’s milk and some non-dairy alternatives. Keep this in mind not just for your cereal, but when you’re cooking oatmeal, too.
- Cow’s milk: 8 grams
- Pea milk: 8 grams
- Soy milk: 7 to 8 grams
- Hemp milk: 3 grams
- Oat milk: 3 grams
- Almond milk: 1 gram
Unless you have a food allergy, intolerance, or just a preference for a certain kind of milk, there’s no reason to consider choosing milk with a higher protein content.
Similarly, the fat content particularly in cow’s milk, if that’s what you drink, can help make your cereal more filling.
Some people who drink cow’s milk prefer low-fat or non-fat for medical reasons or simply for the taste.
But if you’re not particular about the fat content in milk and could use the extra calories to power through the day, whole milk may be an option. This may help you stave off mid-morning cravings for nutrient-poor snacks.
3. Add Fruit
A bowl of cereal is a perfect way to add a serving of fruit to your diet. Fruits not only offer fiber but a myriad of other nutrients such as vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium, as well as antioxidants.
Additionally, if your favorite cereal is high in sugar, you could make it healthier by reducing the amount and adding fruit and other nutritious and satiating ingredients we’ll go more into.
In other words, think of your cereal as a part of a more balanced meal as opposed to the star ingredient.
It’s also important to note that the natural sugar in fruit is not the same as the added sugar in foods. You don’t count the naturally occurring sugar in fruits in your added sugar intake.
Foods with natural sugar like fruits also contain fiber, which means that the body digests this food and the natural sugar it comes with more slowly.
Conversely, high-added-sugar foods that lack fiber can cause the blood sugar spikes and crashes you want to avoid.
Try adding one or a combination of these fruits the next time you eat cereal. But don’t limit yourself to these.
- Banana slices
You could also try adding chopped frozen fruit to your cereal. You might find that cheaper than buying fresh fruit. Plus, you don’t have to worry about spoilage as you do with fresh fruit, particularly if your fruit intake is irregular.
In addition, frozen fruits are a staple if you’d like to add nutritious smoothies to your breakfast routine.
To enjoy frozen fruit in your cereal, some people recommend eating it last, when it’s thawed out.
4. Add nuts or seeds
Nuts and seeds not only balance out the flavor profile of your cereal by adding crunch, but they’re also loaded with protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients like magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Below is a chart showing some nuts and seeds and their estimated protein and fiber content, both of which can help make your cereal more filling.
|Nut or Seed||Protein (grams)||Fiber (grams)|
|Almond (1 ounce)||6||3|
|Cashew (1 ounce)||5||1|
|Peanut (1 ounce)||8||3|
|Pecan (1 ounce)||3||3|
|Walnut (1 ounce)||4||2|
|Chia (2 tablespoons)||8 to 10||10|
|Hemp seeds (2 tablespoons)||5||2|
|Pumpkin seeds (2 tablespoons)||6||2|
|Sunflower seeds (2 tablespoons)||4||1|
|Ground flaxseed (2 tablespoons)||3||4|
Notably, you don’t want to overdo it with nuts and seeds since they’re packed with calories, albeit from healthy sources–protein and healthy fats. Sticking to the suggested serving size is a good way to monitor portions.
Additionally, choose nuts and seeds that don’t have added sugar.
5. Mix Cereal with Yogurt
There is no rule that you have to eat cereal with milk. To bump up the protein in your cereal meal, swap milk for yogurt. Yogurt also offers calcium and may contain probiotics depending on what kind you get.
Mixing yogurt with cereal is an option to consider especially if you prefer to eat your cereal on the drier side or don’t use a whole 8-ounce serving of milk for your cereal.
Similar to milk and milk alternatives, dairy and soy-based yogurt contain higher protein amounts with about 12 and 9 grams of protein, respectively, in an 8-ounce serving.
Greek yogurt contains the highest amount at 16 grams of protein or more in a 1-cup serving.
Like cereal, yogurts range in their sugar content as well, so pay attention to the label. Select a yogurt with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
Choosing plain, no added sugar yogurt gives you a blank canvas to work with so you have total control over added ingredients.
However, the taste of plain yogurt may be too sour and tangy for you. As such, you can add fruit as a natural sweetener. If you need more sweetness, add chopped dates or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Starting your day right with a nourishing meal not only gives you the energy you need, but also helps you meet the recommended intake of key nutrients including fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. All important for achieving and maintaining optimal health.
In addition, with these 5 simple tips to make your cereal more filling, you’re more likely to enjoy the variety of different flavor combinations you can experiment with. Especially helpful if you’re bored with your cereal routine.
Lastly, a hearty and healthy cereal can set you up to make better food choices for the rest of your day.