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The #1 Worst Cereal for Weight Loss, Dietitian Says

This cereal has almost no nutrients but is full of added sugar.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

The health benefits and risks of eating cereal for breakfast is a mixed discussion among health experts. On one hand, cereals that are made with whole grains and are high in fiber have been known to help lower cholesterol and improve digestive health.

But on the other hand, cereals that are higher in added sugar, made from refined carbs, and are lower in fiber can negatively impact your health goals and weight loss plans. The key is knowing which cereals to choose, and which ones to avoid.

We talked with Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and writer with the My Crohn's and Colitis Team, about her take on the unhealthiest breakfast cereals when it comes to weight loss. And her answer? Kellogg's Honey Smacks.

Continue reading to learn why Honey Smacks are considered one of the worst weight loss cereals, and for more healthy weight loss tips, make sure to check out The Best Weight Loss Drinks For Breakfast.

The #1 worst cereal for weight loss is Kellogg's Honey Smacks.

kelloggs honey smacks cereal box

"Honey Smacks may seem like a low-calorie breakfast option for weight loss, as a one-cup serving provides only 130 calories," says Klamer, "however, this cereal is one of the highest for added sugars with 18 grams of added sugar per serving."

To put that in perspective, that's the same amount of sugar as what's in four Oreo cookies! The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans urges Americans to limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake, which is the equivalent of 50 grams of added sugar if you're eating a 2,000-calorie diet. That means that a single cup of Honey Smacks will account for more than a third of the total amount of sugar you should limit yourself to a day. (Other public health organizations, like the American Heart Association, say you should limit your sugar intake even further, to no more than 25 grams a day.)

Added sugars account for almost 270 calories—more than 13% of total calories—per day in the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Breakfast cereals, specifically, account for 7% of the total average added sugar intake, behind sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, coffee/tea drinks, and candy. So if you can swap out your Honey Smacks for a lower-sugar breakfast cereal, you can significantly cut down on your total added sugar intake.

Studies show that when your diet contains many high glycemic index (GI) foods like sugary breakfast cereals that spike blood sugar more easily, it makes it harder to lose weight than diets that contain more low-GI foods.

Sugar isn't the only problem with Honey Smacks…

Not only that, but Klamer points out how this cereal is also very low in protein and fiber with only 2 grams of each. "This combination of being high in sugar, low in protein, and low in fiber means you will feel hungry soon after eating Honey Smacks. It is best to eat something for breakfast that is lower in added sugar and higher in protein and fiber when you're trying to lose weight."

For example, eggs are a good example of a high-protein breakfast for weight loss. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that by eating an egg breakfast, participants reported feeling more satisfied and had less hunger than when they consumed cereal. Researchers also saw that the egg eaters consumed 438 fewer calories throughout the day than those who poured themselves a bowl of cereal.

This doesn't mean you need to avoid cereal entirely when you want to lose weight.

A Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that by pairing a whole-grain, high-fiber breakfast cereal with a regular exercise routine, participants lost even more weight than those who only added exercise to their daily routing and didn't eat this breakfast food.

If you are a lover of cereal and trying to lose weight, you can check out healthier cereal options high in fiber next time you're shopping at the grocery store.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha