Admit it. Caught in the morning rush hour, you’ve been known to bail on breakfast. Well, it’s time to wake up to some important news: Studies show that when you skip breakfast, you never make up for the lost nutrients during the rest of the day. Basically, you start and end your day with a nutritional deficit. The good news? You’ll be bowled over by the benefits you can get from scarfing down some cereal. Just add oh-so-important milk, and you’ve got a power breakfast that serves up fiber, protein, calcium,vitamins and minerals, and next to nothing in the fat department. Cool deal, considering most girls get only about half the fiber they should each day, and about 25 percent of the calcium and iron they need. But before you bust out any old box of cereal, read labels for the full nutritional lowdown. Even cereals with healthy-sounding names can be chock-full of oil, nuts, brown sugar and coconut. An example? Go with the seemingly smart choice of a serving of granola and you may be dishing up 400 calories, 7 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar! Switch to toasted oats, like Cheerios, and you’re dealing with just 100 calories and no fat. To fully get with the morning program, we turned to Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of Food and Mood and Nutrition for Women, for some cereal selection advice:
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1 Choose cereals that deliver about 3 grams of protein and 2 grams or more of fiber per serving, and no more than 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar.
2 Sugar content in cereal can be tricky to figure out because sugar is often listed on the label as a carbohydrate. A good rule to follow is if sugar places first, second or third on the ingredient lineup, it’s too sweet to eat.
3 The cereals Somer rates as breakfasts of champions include Nutri-Grain, some varieties of muesli, Wheat and Raisin Chex, shredded wheat, Wheatena and oatmeal.
4 Want a hot tip? While Somer gives high marks to old-fashioned ca meal as a cereal selection, she clued us in to the tact treat some instant flavored oatmeals serve up spoonfuls of sugar. In fact, some varieties have the sugar equivalent of a candy bar! So if you’re looking for cinnamony flavor, add your own spice, girls.
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5 For added nutritional impact, slice a banana into your bowl or toss some berries into the mix. The payoff for being in the fruit loop? It’ll help satisfy your sweet tooth naturally, and you won’t experience post-breakfast burnout – a major sugar high followed by a crash. A banana offers added appeal because it’s packed with potassium and has no sodium. Berries are full of the natural sugar, fructose, the natural fiber, pectin, and loads of vitamin C.
6 A final bit of juicy info: Chug down a calcium-enriched glass of O.J. with your cereal and you’ll be set to take on the day!