Here’s the dilemma: You've recently stopped having cereals for breakfast because you know just how laden with sugar they can be. You know you're doing the responsible adult thing and taking charge of your health.
You also know a high-protein, low-sugar diet can help with weight loss. But there's also only so many times you can have eggs for breakfast. You find yourself craving the comfort food of your childhood mornings — sugary and brightly-colored mouthfuls of delight: a bowl filled with crunchy, tasty cereal.
Well, crave no more. We're here to tell you that you can have your cereal and eat it too. The secret lies in the points. Weight Watchers points, that is. While you can join the WW program for weight loss, there are certain principles you can adopt when it comes to breakfast cereals without officially joining Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers: SmartPoints or PointsPlus?
If you've only recently looked into Weight Watchers, you're probably more familiar with their current SmartPoints system. Previous Weight Watchers members, however, would know about the old PointsPlus system. While the principle of both weight management approaches is the same — consume food with as few points as possible to help aid weight loss — the new SmartPoints has a stronger focus on limiting saturated fat and sugars.
Unfortunately, changing over to SmartPoints has caused some grief for Weight Watchers followers, as some of their favorite foods would have climbed up the points ladder. This is because PointsPlus values were calculated using the total fat, carbs, fiber, and protein in food.
On the other hand, the values of SmartPoints first come from calories, with the amount of protein in the food lowering the point value, and saturated fat and sugar increasing it. This means even if something were low in calories (which would make them low in PointsPlus values), they could still have high SmartPoints because of the high sugar content.
The major benefit of the Freestyle diet, on which SmartPoints is based, is that it's a system that moves beyond counting calories and focuses on what you're eating to make better choices.
According to Weight Watchers, by following their Freestyle diet, "people had less hunger, fewer cravings, and more happiness — and lost a clinically significant amount of weight."
So if you're looking to overhaul your lifestyle, eat healthier, and cut down sugar, the Weight Watchers diet may be one to consider.
How to Calculate SmartPoints
When you're on the official Weight Watchers program, you'll receive a personalized profile, telling you how many SmartPoints you’re allowed each day to achieve your weight loss goals. You're welcome to eat or drink anything you want, so long as you don't use up all your SmartPoints budget doing so.
If you're not on the program but would like to follow the Freestyle diet, there are calculators available online to help you estimate your SmartPoints allowance, as well as the SmartPoints value of foods.
If you think the Freestyle diet seems a little restrictive, there's also a list of 200 ZeroPoint foods — food and drinks that won't cost you any points, so you can have as much as you like.
How to Choose Breakfast Cereals With Low SmartPoints
You know the importance of having breakfast in the morning. You also know it's not wise to blow all your SmartPoints budget on the first meal of the day.
So here's a list of what you should look for in a breakfast cereal that will keep you feeling full longer without sacrificing the points.
The main reason nutritionists are telling us to consume whole grains is because compared to the white, refined version, whole grain foods have higher fiber, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant content. This means whole grains can reduce your risk of developing health issues such as heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes.
At the same time, the fiber found in whole grain foods not only helps your digestive system to work properly, it also keeps you fuller for longer. This means you don't need to eat a lot to keep you feeling full.
Seek out whole grain wheat cereal, whole grain oats, or steel cut oats. Top with fruit such as blueberries, bananas, or fresh dates (all of which have zero SmartPoints values) and you'll be feeling full all morning.
Serving sizes play a huge part in what you can and can't eat — and how much. It goes without saying that the more you eat, the fuller you'll feel. This makes it crucial to choose foods that you can eat in larger quantities without using up all of your SmartPoints for the day.
For example, based on our list below, you could have 28 grams of General Mills Cheerios, which will cost you 3 SmartPoints. For the same amount of SmartPoints, you could be having 66 grams of The Cereal School cereal. That's three full servings! (Not that we're counting.)
8 Breakfast Cereals With Low SmartPoints
Now that you know what types of breakfast cereals you should look for while on a Weight Watchers diet, there’s a good chance you don’t want to spend time figuring out how many SmartPoints each serving is worth.
Since we’re here to help you out, we’ve done the research and narrowed it down to eight breakfast cereals that you can have, none of which will cost you more than 4 SmartPoints per serving.
Keep in mind that the SmartPoints given to each cereal don’t include milk, so choose something with lower saturated fat (such as rice milk or almond milk) to keep your overall SmartPoints low.
1. The Cereal School: 1 SmartPoint per 22 grams (one bag), available from The Cereal School.
2. Weight Watchers Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal: 3 SmartPoint per cup (33 grams), available from Weight Watchers.
3. General Mills Cheerios: 3 SmartPoints per cup (28 grams), available at most grocery stores.
4. General Mills Rice Chex: 3 SmartPoints per cup (30 grams), available at most grocery stores.
5. Blackberry Hills Bakery Sugar Free Granola: 3 SmartPoints per 1/4 cup (25 grams), available at Whole Foods Market.
6. Kellogg's Corn Flakes: 3 SmartPoints per cup (28 grams), available at most grocery stores.
7. Kellogg's Rice Krispies: 3 SmartPoints per 1.5 cup (40 grams), available at most grocery stores.
8. Kellogg's Original Special K: 4 SmartPoints per cup (31 grams), available at most grocery stores.
The Best Weight Watchers Cereal
We've said it before but we'll say it again (not just because we're biased but because the facts really do stack up): The Cereal School is quite possibly the best Weight Watchers cereal you could have.
It's the comfort food of your childhood done (very) differently with absolutely no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners or colors, and non-GMO all-natural ingredients. It’s also completely gluten-free, yet still retains all the sweetness, crunch, and tastiness of the cereals you grew up with.
Did we mention there's just one gram of total carbs and a whopping 16 grams of protein in each bag? And with just one teensy weensy SmartPoint per serving, having The Cereal School for breakfast will be a very smart move indeed.