“Sorry boss, I’m late for work today because I didn’t want to skip breakfast”…said no one ever.

Just as running out the door with a travel mug has become standard, so has dropping breakfast from our morning routines. According to a new study from Dalhousie University, more than 40 percent of Canadians go at least one day a week without eating breakfast, with more than half of young adults skipping morning meals on the regular. 

As a Registered Dietitian providing private video appointments at TELUS Health MyCare™, I don’t love seeing so many people leave their tanks empty in the a.m. After all, skipping breakfast can cause your energy levels to sag later in the day, leading you to overdo it at lunch and/or dinner. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to rethink your morning meals (or lack thereof).

The good news is that breakfast cereals are about as quick, affordable and easy to prepare as it gets. That’s probably why half an aisle is devoted to them at the supermarket.

In this article, I will answer the question: is it healthy to eat cereal? Here’s how to know which cereals deliver the greatest health and energy-boosting benefits while bypassing the unhealthy ones.

How to spot unhealthy cereals

Cereals in boxes emblazoned with chocolatey vampires, rainbow-juggling leprechauns, and the like are high in added sugar and low in nutrition compared to healthier options. The same goes for anything containing marshmallows, chocolate chips, or coated with sugar or honey. 

Some cereals that are packaged to look healthy actually contain a lot of added sugar and sodium. That’s why it’s important to check the “Nutrition Facts” panel on the side of each box: If a serving of cereal has more than 10 grams of added sugar—that’s about the same amount as three chocolate chip cookies—it’s too much. So, look for cereals that contain less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume no more than 50 grams of added sugar a day, and if you rack up nearly a quarter of that amount before lunch, you’re likely to go over.

How to spot healthy cereals

Example nutrition facts found on cereal packaging.
Example Nutrition Facts Panel

Check the “Nutrition Facts” panel and ingredients list on cereal boxes for healthy contents, including:


Aids digestion (keeps you regular), makes you feel full longer and stabilizes blood sugar. 

Any cereal that delivers at least 6 grams of fibre will likely have a positive nutritional impact. A healthy male adult needs 38 grams of fibre per day. 

Higher-fibre foods can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes. They also help boost low testosterone, which affects a diverse range of body functions, from sex drive to the ability to think clearly.

Whole grains 

Whole grains, like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat, have more fibre than refined grains. 

Refined grains are ground into flour to remove the bran and germ. This gives them a finer texture and longer shelf life but strips the grain of essential nutrients. Some ingredients to look for (and avoid) are enriched, unbleached or bleached flour


It helps your body build and repair muscles, keeps your mind alert, motivated, and focused, and can also help you avoid unhealthy snacking by keeping you fuller longer. 

The average adult male needs to eat at least 0.8 grams of protein daily for every kilogram of body weight, which is about 73 grams for a 200-pound man. So look for cereals that contain at least 6 grams of protein per serving (the more, the better).

Vitamins A, B, and E

These vitamins are naturally abundant in many cereals.

Check the serving size

When you check out the ingredients for breakfast cereal, notice that one cup is a typical serving size (on the small side for men). Check the serving size first to determine how much you’re having and how much sugar and other unhealthy ingredients you’ll consume.

Cereals that tick all the healthy boxes

How to power up your cereal

Adding healthy foods to your bowl makes nutritious cereals even better. For example, you can:

  • Pour on high-protein cow’s milk or soy milk
  • Add fresh fruit and berries for extra vitamins and fibre
  • Sprinkle nuts or seeds for healthy fats

Beyond the cereal box

As convenient and healthy as cereal can be, there are many easy ways to enjoy a quick and nutritious breakfast.  

Eggs are breakfast staples for a reason. In addition to being simple to prepare, one large egg contains 6 grams of protein. Check out these three recipes that turn eggs into quick and delicious breakfasts.

Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams of protein per serving or about double that of regular yogurt. Sprinkle it with fresh berries and nuts for more fibre, vitamins, and healthy fats.

Oatmeal contains 6 grams of protein per cooked cup and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Try this easy overnight oats recipe for a hassle-free morning: Mix half a cup of oats with equal parts Greek yogurt and milk, then add a teaspoon of your favourite sweetener—like maple syrup, vanilla, or cinnamon. Stir, cover, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Smoothies are a fantastic way to fuel up your body with protein, essential vitamins, and fibre.  You can add protein powder to smoothies, but it’s generally unnecessary unless you’re in hardcore training mode. Instead, add natural protein sources like Greek yogurt, milk, nut butter, or hemp seeds.

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