Guides

Why I’m a ‘Cereal Killer’: Breakfast, Weight Gain and Diabetes

By Mark Hyman, MD, Center for Functional Medicine

In America, we love our cereal. And so do our kids.

We may choose brands that are certified by the American Heart Association as “healthy” because they’re low in fat.

Yet many of those cereals are loaded with added sugar. For example, one bowl of fruit-flavored corn puffs for kids contains seven teaspoons of sugar!

You wouldn’t add seven teaspoons of sugar to your own cereal. It’s like eating dessert for breakfast.

So I have become a cereal killer — I don’t think we should be eating it at all.

An alarming trend

Here’s why. A diet high in sugary, starchy foods raises our insulin levels, spikes our glucose, leads to fat storage, and starts the vicious cycle of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

We never saw these problems in teenagers when I was in medical school 30 years ago. But things are way different today:

  • 70 percent of Americans are overweight.
  • One in two have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
  • One in four teens has prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

What’s changed over the last three decades? The high load of sugar and refined carbohydrates (starch and flour) added to the American diet.

All of our typical breakfast foods are basically sugar — not just cereal, but also donuts, muffins, waffles, pancakes and bagels.

What’s even worse, some of these contain what we call “sweet fat.” It’s the deadly combination of fat and sugar/starch that leads to fat storage and weight gain.

How to power your day

So say goodbye to cereal, ditch the donuts and ban the bagels with butter.

Instead, fuel your day with protein and healthy fat for breakfast. (Feel free to add veggies. They’re healthy carbs, and you want to eat a lot of them).

Make yourself a power breakfast  — try my ultra shake, garden omelet or buttery broccoli and spinach with fried eggs recipes — and see how you feel.