Sitting down to a bowl full of sugar every morning is a pretty surefire way to lead yourself to a whole host of metabolic derangements down the line, whether or not your waistline is showing it. Insulin dis-regulation not only leads to difficulty managing blood sugar, but also has a direct effect on the status of the other hormones in our bodies which are the way most of our body functions are managed. This is where the old saying, “you are what you eat” becomes a bit freaky when we're sitting down to a big bowl of cereal to start our days.
I've already ranted about Kashi comparing it's GoLean Crunch Cereal to an egg, because that commercial was and is appalling. If you even took one minute to THINK about how those huge vats of grains and sweeteners arrive on a truck at a factory door before going through miles of machinery to be portioned out into bags and boxes of cereal, you might possibly pause to think about whether or not cereal is even FOOD.
Or perhaps not. I know I didn't think much about it before maybe five or six years ago. I ate tons of cereal. With skim milk. Seriously. And I was hungry ALL the time. After seeing the latest commercial from Quaker where The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper pimps their Oatmeal Squares cereal as a “superfood,” I couldn't resist another little rant. I don't even have time to get into every last detail here about how sugar and grains (yes, even “whole grains”) negatively impact our blood sugar and our waist lines. If you aren't clear yet on how that all works, a tiny bit of research will turn up TONS of information on how a low-fat/high-carb USDA-recommended diet promotes dis-regulation of insulin secretions in your body leaving you hungry, craving more sugar, likely still fat (despite the caloric deficit you struggle to maintain on a daily basis) and potentially Type 2 diabetic in the long-term.
To illustrate my point, let me paraphrase an interesting anecdote my friend Robb Wolf used in his Paleolitic Solution Seminar:
“Does anyone remember the product Wilford Brimley was the spokesperson for years ago? Right, Quaker Oats. Does anyone know what Wilford Brimley now promotes? Diabetes testing supplies.“
Let's look at the ingredients in the “superfood” cereal that Bob Harper is selling us now, shall we?
Ingredients: whole oat flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, sugar, maltodextrin, malted barley extract, molasses, sodium bicarbonate, salt, calcium carbonate, reduced iron, sodium ascorbate, yellow 5, niacinamide*, zinc oxide, bht (a preservative), vitamin e acetate, vitamin a palmitate, yellow 6, thiamin mononitrate*, pyridoxine hydrochloride*, riboflavin*, folic acid*. *one of the b vitamins, bht added to packaging to preserve freshness.
Wow. The first two ingredients are grain flours (translation: sugar), and the next FIVE ingredients are also all SUGAR. Awesome. This looks healthy, doesn't it?
That's to say nothing of the other random additives that come in after the refined grains and sugar. Even if we all can't or won't agree on the idea of grains not being the health food that people want to believe they are, we are ALL in agreement that sugar isn't healthy, aren't we? That's not to say that I never eat a sweet thing, because I think we all know I do, but that's not the point here.
The point here is that when you sit down to eat a bowl of something that is promoted as HEALTHY for breakfast, it shouldn't just be a bowl full of sugar.
As my friend Chris Kresser says, “Want a truly heart-healthy breakfast? Ditch your cereal and OJ and eat bacon & eggs instead.” Note: My post on bacon is forthcoming.
I'm not the only one who was aggravated enough by that commercial to post about it, check out this article by Doug Robb over at Health Habits. “Despite what ‘Celebrity Personal Trainer Bob Harper says… Oatmeal is NOT a Super Food.” I love how Doug points out in his article that:
1 packet of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal has:
- 157 calories
- 2 grams of fat
- 4 grams of protein
- 32 grams of carbohydrate ( incl 3 g fiber / 13 g added sugar)
Similar in macronutrient profile to:
- 4 Twizzlers, or
- a cup of Kellogg’s Scooby-Doo! Berry Bones breakfast cereal, or
- 2 fat Free Fudgesicle bars, or
- a York Peppermint Patty, or
- a Klondike, Slim-a-Bear Chocolate Sandwich, or
- a cup of Kellogg’s SpongeBob SquarePants breakfast cereal
And to be honest, who wouldn’t rather have 2 Fudgesicles for breakfast?
More great reading and a video on grains, sugar & carbohydrates:
Article on grains, legumes, sugar and seed oils (canola, etc.):
“When it comes to diet, what's common isn't normal.” – Chris Kresser, The Healthy Skeptic
Article on common misconceptions about diabetes and being overweight:
“Not all fat people get diabetes, and not all diabetics are fat” – Chris Kresser, The Healthy Skeptic
Article on Grains/Whole Grains and why they're not so healthy:
“How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or lose 10lbs in 14 Days) – An excerpt from Robb Wolf's book “The Paleo Solution” on Tim Ferriss's bog.
Video on how carbohydrates are broken down in the body:
Carbohydrates & You- Part 1 of 3 by Radhia Gleis.
Enjoy & be well!