How Many Calories in Cereal?

Food information can be overwhelming, but nutrition labels on the foods you eat can help you make healthy choices. The Food and Drug Administration requires food labels on nearly all packaged foods including cereal. Labels allow you to determine how many calories are in the foods you eat. If you're counting calories to lose or maintain a healthy weight, it's important to understand the serving size of cereal and the amount of calories it contains.

How to Count the Calories in Cereal

Step 1
Read the nutrition label on the side of the cereal box to determine what the serving size is for your cereal. The serving size is required to be listed at the top of the nutritional data panel.

Step 2
Measure the amount of cereal you typically eat in a large measuring cup to determine how many servings it is. For example, if you normally eat 2 cups of cereal---and the serving size for your cereal is 1 cup---you are eating two servings each time you pour a bowl.

Step 3
Read the nutrition label on the cereal box to determine the number of calories in each serving of cereal. Calorie information is listed directly below the serving size data.

Step 4
Compute how many calories are in your bowl of cereal by multiplying the number of servings you eat by the number of calories in each serving. For example, if you eat two servings with 115 calories each, you are consuming 230 calories.

If you eat your cereal with milk, you will need to add the calories in the milk to the cereal calories. A half-cup of skim milk will add 40 calories to your bowl of cereal. Be precise when measuring how much cereal you pour into a bowl to get an exact calorie count. The nutrition label provides information about the nutritional value of your cereal. Read it thoroughly to find out how much fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrates the cereal contains---as well as how much of the recommended daily value it has for several essential vitamins and minerals.

How Many Calories Are in Total Cereal?

As one of the first vitamin-fortified cereals, General Mills markets the full line of Total Brand cereals as providing 100 percent nutrition. However, along with the added vitamins and minerals are sweeteners, natural and artificial flavors and added color. When reading the Nutrition Facts label, keep in mind all of the ingredients, not just the calories.

Total Whole Grain crunchy wheat flakes contain 100 calories for a single ¾-cup or 30 g serving. Adding one-half cup of skim milk adds an extra 140 calories and 9 g of protein.

Total Blueberry Pomegranate crispy whole grain flakes and crunchy fruit flavored clusters contain 170 calories in a 1-cup or 49 g serving. Adding 1/2 cup of nonfat milk adds an additional 45 calories, 0.5 g of fat and 58 mg of calcium.

A 1-cup or 51 g serving of Total Cinnamon Crunch slightly sweetened wheat and rice squares has 190 calories. Adding 1/2 cup of 2 percent, reduced-fat milk adds an extra 61 calories, 2.2 g of fat and 149 mg of calcium.

A 1-cup or 53 g serving of Total Raisin Bran crunchy whole-grain wheat and bran flakes with raisins has 160 calories. Adding 1/2 cup of regular soy milk adds an additional 80 calories.

A 1-cup or 52 g serving of Total Plus Omega-3s Honey Almond Flax whole-grain flakes with flax clusters and almonds has 200 calories. Adding 1/2 cup of whole milk adds an extra 74 calories, 7.7 g of fat and 146 mg of calcium.

Total Cranberry Crunch slightly sweet whole-grain wheat flakes with cranberries and oat clusters contains 190 calories for a 1 1/4 cup or 58 g serving. Adding 1/2 cup of 1-percent low-fat milk adds an additional 52 calories, 1.1 g of fat and 156 mg of calcium.

Why Are Breakfast Cereals Rich in Vitamins?

Several varieties of breakfast cereals are fortified with nutrients. Even though cereal may be loaded with extra vitamins and minerals, it may have excessive sugar and calories that can lead to weight gain if you eat too much. Select breakfast cereals that have wheat, bran or another whole-grain listed in the first few ingredients for a healthy, balanced diet. These types of breakfast cereals are nutrient dense, meaning they offer many vital nutrients in few calories.

Enjoying a bowl of cereal first thing in the morning is a quick way to get in as many nutrients as possible to get your body off to a good start. Cereals can be fortified with several types of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, B-6, folic acid and B-12, as well as vitamins A, D and E. Additionally, some breakfast cereals are fortified with minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorous and zinc, reports the Breakfast Cereal Information Service.

Breakfast cereals are rich in folic acid, a type of B vitamin that can prevent birth defects. Folic acid is essential for normal growth, development and cell division, as well as DNA and RNA synthesis. Having inadequate amounts of folic acid in your diet can lead to neural tube defects that occur within the first four weeks after conception, often before you know you are pregnant. As a woman of childbearing age, you need 400 mcg of folic acid daily. A 1-cup serving of fortified breakfast cereal can have around 200 to 400 mcg of folic acid.

Consuming fortified breakfast cereals can help prevent heart disease. Subjects in the study consumed 1 cup of breakfast cereal each day. The cereal provided important B vitamins, such as folic acid, B-6 and B-12. At the end of the 12-week study, participants had a significantly lower plasma homocysteine concentration. This type of amino acid may increase your risk of heart disease when you have high levels in your blood. Having a bowl of cereal for breakfast can lower your homocysteine concentrations, in turn reducing your chances of developing heart disease.

Enjoying a bowl of breakfast cereal with milk can help strengthen your bones. Cereal contains both vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, the most abundant mineral in your body. These nutrients work together to keep your bones and teeth strong. Breakfast cereal can have approximately 10 to 20 percent of your daily needs of vitamin D and calcium per serving. Pouring a 1/2 cup of milk in your cereal can double the amount of vitamin D and calcium you consume.

Can Eating Cereal Two Times a Day Help Weight Loss?

Cereal is a convenient food that many people choose to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner. Many types of cereal are low in fat and calories. Research done by Dr. Richard D. Mattes at Purdue University suggests that replacing two of your daily meals with a bowl of cereal may result in weight loss. Other research has found that eating a variety of cereals increases the number of pounds dropped.

If you want to try losing weight by eating cereal, replace your typical breakfast and lunch with one serving at each meal. One serving is usually about 3/4 to 1 cup, depending on the type of cereal. Add skim milk and fruit to round out the meal. Eat dinner as you normally would. If desired, have a normal lunch and eat cereal for dinner. Both methods may result in weight loss. Snack on fruits and vegetables in between meals.

Not all cereals are created equal. Some are too high in sugar and don't contain a healthy amount of nutrients. recommends a cereal with at least 3 g of fiber, 5 g of sugar or less, and fewer than 120 calories per serving. Choices that fall within these guidelines include Cheerios, Fiber One and Shredded Wheat.

Many types of cereal are fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals that support your well-being and a healthy weight. Fiber is important to weight loss because it adds no calories to cereal, but fills you up and keeps hunger at bay. The complex carbohydrates and protein that cereal contains promote an increase in energy and keep your muscles strong. This is important for weight loss because it helps you get the best benefits from your exercise routine. In addition, cereal contains B-vitamins, which aid your body in using the energy it gets from the foods you eat. The skim milk you pour on cereal contains vitamin D, which helps you burn fat and and use calcium for strong bones that enable you to work out and lose weight.

Part of a good weight loss plan is exercise. Incorporating at least 30 minutes of daily physical fitness in conjunction with eating cereal is a good way to burn more calories than you consume, which results in weight loss. Choose a workout you enjoy to help ensure you are motivated to stick with it. Eating the same foods all the time could result in boredom, which could cause you to give up before you reach your goal weight, so try different kinds of cereal to keep things exciting. Eating only cereal for two meals a day could result in a lack of consumption of foods from other food groups. Be sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein by including low-fat cheese, lean meats and beans in your regular meal each day.

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