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Video: Start smart: Eat this cereal, not that

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    >>> this morning on eat this, not that, cereal, popular break fast go-to food that's quick and easy but if you're not careful you could be starting off with more calories and sugar than you thing. here to enlighten us is david author of eat this not that, dave, good morning.

    >> jenna, great to see you.

    >> thanks for being with us.

    >> what's wrong with having dessert for breakfast?

    >> cereal can be really healthy, your number one weight loss weapon.

    >> okay.

    >> but food companies have turned innocent contrary yals into cereal killers. they've loaded them up with sugar , fat.

    >> so kids will want to buy them.

    >> because food companies love to win over kids by getting them addicted to sugar at a young age. but if you make smart swaps with eat this not that, you can lose a ton of pounds.

    >> chocolate chex, seems like a decent sugar , no.

    >> if you need your chocolate fix, the issue here is that you're getting like 175 calories, you're getting a lot of sugar , if you make one smart swap, if you insist on starting your morning with something that seems like ben and jerry's created it, then what you want to do is get something like cookie crisp . it has less than half the fat and you're saving 40 or 45 calories. doesn't seem like a lot, but over the course of the year, boom, five pounds gone.

    >> really? just from that swap.

    >> yep.

    >> next up, i was reading this, raisin bran , raisin bran , you're like, i'm in the money. i'm doing so many things right.

    >> total health food . they're not raisin bran , they're racing kaine like in sugar . take three or four and coat the raisins and bran with these sparkly sugar jackets like california raisins meets the cast of "glee" and if you instead go buy your all bran from kellogg's.

    >> tell me to put my own raisins in it.

    >> add your own raisins and that will over the course of a year end up meaning five pounds gone.

    >> we've lost ten pounds from these two cereals. golden crisps we think if it has a little honey it's better than sugar . these have honey but you said it's a lot.

    >> here they're marketing with this bear, bears, dangerous in the woods and in supermarket aisles. what you've got right here is this bear that's causing an extra 12 grams of sugar right there. so --

    >> easy swap.

    >> the honey comb , go with the po post's honey comb , at 85 calories and end up losing again six or seven pounds in the course of a year.

    >> and better theme song . honey combs big yeah, yeah yeah

    >> you know all the tunes.

    >> we have a minute. i want to get to this. this is the most deceptive things on this table. it's granola. when i read this i almost -- 400 calories, 30 grams of sugar .

    >> the peaceful quakers have invented this weapon of mass inflation here. they make you believe it is a health food . it has 420 calories per cup.

    >> totally decrepetive.

    >> third of your day's worth of saturated fat . sugar equivalent of 2 1/2 chocolate frosted doughnuts. if you go with oatmeal squares you won't turn round and save 210 calories.

    >> that's a lot, 210 calories.

    >> that's 21 pounds a year with this one daily swap. so you want to really -- don't make these decisions with your eyes closed because this can be a really great weight loss weapon.

    >> if you save everything you're doing here and take your choices instead of these choices, you could probably save about a thousand pounds a year.

    >> david, thank you so much. as always, wonderful information. i have a bowl of cereal

updated 9/13/2010 2:28:55 PM ET 2010-09-13T18:28:55

No aisle in the grocery store is more difficult to navigate than the cereal aisle.

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Every box — even the fruity and chocolaty cereals — is a “good source” of some vitamin or claims to be “made with whole grains.”

So while the FDA struggles to regulate these obnoxious claims, we consumers are left to fend for ourselves.

Problem is, nobody want to spend hours in the supermarket analyzing nutrition labels, so we end up spending hours in the gym instead, working off our supermarket mistakes.

So do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with a few important cereal swaps. We’ve got the best and worst right here.

General Mills Chocolate Chex (1 cup)
175 calories
3.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
< 1 grams fiber
10.5 grams sugars

You know when it’s OK to eat chocolate-flavored cereal? At dessert — not breakfast. As a start to the day, this bowl earns a nutritional F minus. But here’s the thing: Even as a dessert cereal, this isn’t your best option. Chex is high in calories by any standard. Make the swap to Cookie Crisp and you cut 40 calories off each bowl. With one swap like that every day, you’ll shed about 4 pounds over the course of a year.

Eat instead: General Mills Cookie Crisp (1 cup)
135 calories
1.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
1 grams fiber
13.5 grams sugars

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Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup)
190 calories
1 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
7 grams fiber
19 grams sugars

The concept here is terrific: Whole grain flakes sweetened with real fruit. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s really happening. These raisins, as you can see, are all wearing little sparkly jackets of sugar. Add that to the three forms of sugar in the flakes — corn syrup, HFCS, and invert sugar — and you’ve got a serious sugar buzz in the making. If you want the real deal, you have to make it yourself. Stick to basic wheat flakes and add your own, unadulterated fruit.

Book cover: "Eat This Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide"

Eat instead: Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes (1 cup) with a tablespoon of raisins
145 calories
0.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
7 grams fiber
12 grams sugars

More in Health: 5 meals that are a disaster for your waistline

Post Golden Crisp (1 cup)
145 calories
0 grams fat
< 1 grams fiber
18.5 grams sugar

Here’s the immutable law of the cereal aisle: When you see a cartoon character on the package, expect to find a mountain of sugar in the box. This is how food processors win children over at an early age; they get them addicted to sugar. But just as bad as the high sugar count is the dearth of fiber. That means this sugar will pass through your stomach faster than Road Runner and transform you — or your child — into an out-of-control Tasmanian Devil. Switch to Honeycomb and you’ll cut your calorie load by more than 40 percent and drop your sugar intake back into the safe zone.

Eat instead: Post Honeycomb (1 cup)
85 calories
0.5 fat (0 grams saturated)
0.5 grams fiber
6.5 grams sugars

Quaker Natural Granola with Raisins (1 cup)
420 calories
12 grams fat (7 grams saturated)
6 grams fiber
30 grams sugars

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Granola is one of the world’s most misguided “health” foods. Sure it boasts a commendable fiber count, but in order to transform it from whole oats to granola, Quaker packs this stuff with a candy bar’s worth of sugar in the forms of brown sugar and honey. Add that to the raisins and you’ve got the same amount of sugar in one cup of this stuff as you’ll find in an entire Snicker’s bar. And to crisp it, Quaker relies on coconut oil, which is comprised almost entirely of saturated fatty acids. Eat a couple cups of this so-called health food and you’ve just wiped out 60 percent of your day’s saturated fat recommendation.

Eat instead: Quaker Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares (1 cup)
210 calories
2.5 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated)
5 grams fiber
10 grams sugars

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General Mills Reese’s Puffs
160 calories
4 grams fat (1 grams saturated)
1.5 grams fiber
16 grams sugars

Why is it that nobody raises an eyebrow when a candy company makes the plunge into the cereal aisle? Answer: Because with brands like Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Frosted Flakes, cereal is already indistinguishable from candy. But again, if you’re going to indulge in a sweet cereal, you can still be smart about it. Kix pairs a decent hit of fiber with a modest calorie load. Stick this on the table and you’ll appease both finicky children and their health-conscious parents.

Eat instead: General Mills Honey Kix (1 cup)
96 calories
1 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
2.5 grams fiber
5 g grams sugars

More from Men’s Health
The Eat This, Not That! E-Newsletter
25 Best Nutrition Secrets
Craziest Food Creations 2010

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