You’ll probably agree that losing weight has its challenges. It can be hard to resist the many tasty food options offered to you at every turn from the hot, glazed doughnuts in the office break room to the bag of hot buttered popcorn at the movie theater. No wonder the obesity rate is climbing! Is there any hope? According to a new study conducted in the United Kingdom eating boxed breakfast cereal once a day may be an effective strategy for weight loss. Could breakfast cereal really be the best meal replacement for weight loss?
Best Meal Replacement for Weight Loss: The Study
In this study, published in the Nutrition Bulletin, volunteers ate a single serving of boxed cereal for breakfast and also as a meal replacement for lunch for a period of two weeks. This was followed by cereal only for breakfast and a normal diet the rest of the day for four more weeks. Some of the volunteers were only offered one type of breakfast cereal while the other group was given a variety of breakfast cereal choices each day. While both groups lost weight, the group allowed to choose among a variety of cereals lost more weight than those who only ate a single kind. The researchers concluded that eating boxed breakfast cereal can serve as a good, short-term meal replacement for weight loss. It also appears that having the option of choosing among a variety of breakfast cereals has additional weight loss benefits.
Why Is Breakfast Cereal a Good Meal Replacement for Weight Loss?
The cereals used in this particular study were all high in dietary fiber. High fiber foods give a feeling of fullness which helps to reduce calorie consumption later in the day. The cereal was also portion controlled so there was less tendency to overindulge. Other studies have also shown that people who start the day with breakfast of any type tend to be leaner than those who skip it.
How Can You Use This Information to Lose Weight?
While meal replacements aren’t the healthiest option long term, using a whole grain breakfast cereal as a meal replacement in place of lunch for two weeks may be a healthy and effective way to lose a few pounds. When using this strategy it would be important to eat a healthy, low-fat source of protein and several servings of fruits and vegetables for dinner to ensure you’re getting a well rounded, nutrient rich diet.
During this two weeks, it would be important to implement an exercise program to help successfully maintain any weight loss you experience. Once the two weeks have elapsed, you could continue to eat whole grain cereal for breakfast, but return to healthy, nutrient rich foods for lunch. If you find yourself regaining the weight, you could re-adopt the whole grain cereal diet for a short period to lose the pounds you’ve gained. The key is to choose a whole grain, high fiber cereal and only consume a pre-portioned, single serving.
The Bottom Line?
Using whole grain cereal as a meal replacement for weight loss appears to be effective as a short-term strategy, but the best long-term solution is to learn good eating habits and adopt a consistent exercise program to help keep you slim and healthy long term.