Dry Cereal Diet

If you want to lose extra pounds, there are a multitude of diet plans available to choose from. If you've tried to follow complicated programs that didn't work for you or are just looking for a simple approach to losing weight, you may be considering a dry cereal diet. Consult your physician before starting any weight loss plan.

The Premise and the Plan

Dry cereal as the basis for a weight loss diet is appealing to some dieters because it provides a portion-controlled meal replacement that's quick and easy to prepare. Cereal diets generally instruct followers to replace two of their daily meals with a bowl of cereal, and eat a healthy, balanced third meal and a couple of low-calorie snacks, such as fruit or vegetables, over the course of the day.

The Evidence

Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals can be part of a weight-loss plan if consumed as a portion-controlled meal replacement no matter what the brand, according to a study by Richard D. Mattes, M.P.H., Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition at Purdue University, published in the December 2002 issue of "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." Study subjects lost weight by replacing two daily meals with one serving of cereal topped with 2/3 cup of skim milk and a 100-calorie portion of fruit, and choosing whatever they wanted to eat for the third meal. The participants reported increased hunger while on the cereal diet.

Expert Opinion

Like any diet that reduces calorie intake you can most likely lose weight with a portion-controlled cereal diet, such as the Special K Challenge, according to Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D., of the Mayo Clinic. The lack of fruits, vegetables and other healthy food choices may leave you feeling too deprived and hungry to stick with the plan long enough to meet your goal. The might regain the weight you lost when you resume your old eating habits, since long-term weight control is dependent on healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

Choose a Healthy Cereal

Choose healthy cereal if you're going to follow a cereal diet, since it will be a major part of what you eat. A healthy cereal is high in fiber, low in sugar, fortified with vitamins and minerals and made with whole grains. Read nutrition labels and pick cereals that contain at least 2 gm of protein, 3 gm to 5 gm of fiber and 10 to 25 percent of the daily value of important vitamins and minerals in each serving, and less than 8 gm of sugar and 3 gm of fat. To find a cereal that contains whole grains, look for a whole grain -- such as whole wheat, whole rye or oats -- listed as the first ingredient. Pour a cup of milk on top, since cereal is typically low in protein, calcium and vitamin D.