Guest Post by Mike Geary – Certified Nutrition Specialist
If you care at all about your body and health, I’m sure you already know to avoid the obvious sugary cereals like the flakes with sugar frosting, the fruity sugar cereals with artificial colors, the frosted wheat biscuits, or the marshmallow cereals that so many parents are poisoning their kids with these days.
However, even most breakfast cereals that aren’t frosted in sugar are marketed heavily as “heart healthy “, “rich in fiber “, and “a good source vitamins & minerals “… Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth!
As a Nutritionist that’s studied the biochemistry of nutrition for over 25 years, and how certain foods affect the cells of your body, there are at least 10 important reasons to be extremely concerned about what cereals are doing inside your body.
Most cereals (even “whole grain” or “high fiber”) cause extreme harm to your hormones and create runaway blood sugar in your body
One of the WORST things about most cereals, even so-called “whole grain” cereals is that they ALL cause a significant spike in your blood sugar (regardless of whether they are wheat, rice, or corn based) to dangerously high levels, which results in a cascade of fat storing hormones to be released in your body, and causes more carb cravings later in the day.
This is NOT the way to start your day if you care about your waistline or how much belly fat that you have.
In fact, even cereals that have added fiber (such as bran flakes or raisin bran) have been found to cause just as much of a massive spike in blood sugar as the low-fiber cereals such as rice or corn based cereals. Remember that the starches in wheat, corn, or a bowl of rice cereal break down quickly in your body into SUGAR and immediately do as much harm to your blood sugar regulation system as if you ate 40-60 grams of pure corn syrup or pure table sugar.
Those massive spikes in your blood sugar essentially damage your cells in your body through a process called glycation, which accelerates the rate of aging in your joints, skin, organs, and even your brain.
And speaking of hormones, another effect of high blood sugar is that it blunts the ability of your body to release growth hormone (aka, the youth hormone), so if you want to look and feel younger, cereals are NOT helping you in that department!
Note: Regarding the claims that cereals are a “good source of vitamins and minerals”, this is actually FALSE… The majority of vitamins and minerals in most cereals are not naturally occurring, but rather, are synthetically added vitamins, which have been proven to be less absorbed than natural vitamins and potentially even harmful in some cases. As an example, synthetic vitamin E is shown in some studies to be harmful to us, while natural vitamin E is beneficial.
Crunching your way to Diabetes and belly fat every morning?
Think about this next time you’re gobbling down that bowl of bran flakes, rice puffs, or wheat biscuits while you’re running out the door in the morning…
The more cereal you eat, the more you constantly stress your pancreas and other organs involved in controlling your blood sugar.
Insulin levels surge every day to try to control your massive blood sugar attacks from all that cereal, and eventually, your insulin sensitivity suffers, leading many people to type 2 Diabetes, and a life of injecting insulin with needles and stabbing your fingers every day for blood tests every day of your life.
Not only that, but causing high insulin levels in your body every morning by eating cereal also triggers your body to STORE body fat. So if you want to be lean, cereal is directly going against your goal, and only making you fatter!
Gut Inflammation and even gut damage?
More bad news about cereal…
Any cereals with wheat ingredients in them can possibly cause gut inflammation and long term gut damage from too much gluten and lectins , even if you’re not officially gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive.
Think those corn-based cereals are better than wheat? Think again! Corn-based cereals are almost always made with GMO corn, which has many scientists very concerned about long term health threats, since there are no long term studies on the effects of GMO corn to your health, as well as your children’s health.
And rice-based cereals (krispies, etc) aren’t much better, as they cause just as high of a blood sugar spike as pure table sugar… Ouch!
Cereal causes CRAVINGS for more carbs later in the day, leading to excess calories
The blood sugar spike and subsequent insulin surge from your morning cereal makes your body to try to get all that sugar out of your blood and into cells (usually fat cells), and that causes a big drop in your blood sugar hours later. This makes you CRAVE more carb-based or sugary foods later in the day.
The result of this is a constant wild roller coaster ride of blood sugar and insulin all day long, leading you to eat more calories in any given day.
I recently read a study about people that ate egg-based breakfasts vs cereal-based breakfasts … Even though the people that ate egg-based breakfasts consumed far more fat in the morning, they ended up eating much less calories throughout each day because they didn’t have the wild blood sugar swings, hormone imbalances, and subsequent cravings. Egg breakfasts are proven to CONTROL your appetite, while cereal breakfasts are proven to INCREASE your appetite for more food, particularly more starchy and sugary carbs.
Cereal makes your body a carb-burner instead of a fat-burner
The more carbs that you eat each day from foods such as cereal and breads, the more you train your body to rely on carbs for energy. So when your blood sugar dips again, you need more carbs again, or you’ll have a major energy slump .
On the other hand, the more that you get most of your calories from healthy fats instead (avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and cream, olive oil, nuts, seeds, eggs, and pasture-raised meats), the more you train your body to be a fat-burning machine .
This is called creating a “ fat adapted metabolism ” and you do this by reducing your overall carb intake and simultaneously increasing your healthy fat intake. This doesn’t mean you need to go extremely low in carbs like Atkins, but just a LOT lower than the average carb addict, which is pretty much everyone eating a modern diet.
By relying mostly on healthy fats for energy instead of carbs, this balances your hormones and gives you VERY stable blood sugar levels throughout each day, allowing you to also have VERY stable energy levels throughout each day without the typical spikes and slumps in your energy that most carb addicts feel every single day.
Another benefit of creating a “fat adapted metabolism ” in your body is that you will naturally lose body fat easier!
There is no magic ratios of macronutrients that’s perfect for everyone, nor do I think you need to obsess over exact calories or exact ratios of carbs to fat… However, to give you an idea of how far off most people are… Most people currently eat a diet that is in the range of 60% carbs, 20% fat, and 20% protein. What I’m describing to you in order to create a fat adapted metabolism would be more around eating 20% carbs, 60% fat, and 20% protein.
Basically, as you can see, it’s like flip-flopping the typical western diet ratios of carbs to fat.
Healthier alternatives to cereal that are still QUICK (helping you to be a fat-burner instead of carb-burner)
Instead of the typical cereal in the morning (that’s slowly killing you and making you fatter), try a bowl of plain greek full-fat organic yogurt (which is loaded with healthy gut probiotics, healthy fats, AND protein ) and add in a handful of fresh, organic berries (or frozen wild blueberries), a handful of nuts such as either almonds or pecans (more healthy fats), and a little stevia or vanilla protein for a little added sweetness if you need it.
This breakfast will leave you leaner, keep your blood sugar, energy levels, and hormones balanced for the day, and prevent cravings for more starchy and sugary carbs later in the day.
Another option is simply any combination of eggs, veggies, avocado, and even organic breakfast meat if you want. One of my favorite quick breakfasts is to cook up a couple eggs over easy real quick and slice a half of an avocado on a plate.
I chop the eggs and avocado together with some hot sauce and a couple slices of turkey, and voila… a quick 5-minute breakfast that’s incredibly delicious, yet MUCH healthier than that bowl of cereal, and will help balance your hormones for the day instead of creating hormone imbalances and energy crashes like cereal does.
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