Why The Cereal Diet Is So Concerning

Who doesn't love a big bowl of cereal? Cold, crunchy, and it always seems to hit the spot when you're on the hunt for something a little sweet but still "healthy." That's why the cereal diet doesn't sound like the worst idea in the world, right? But before you start to wolf down your third bowl of Cap'n Crunch before noon, there are some rules. And there are most definitely some concerns that need to be shared.

According to Healthline, the cereal diet gained popularity back when the cereal brand Special K introduced the "Special K Challenge." They encouraged their consumers to lose weight by replacing two of the three meals they ate in a day with a bowl (½ to ⅔ cup) of Special K and skim milk for two weeks. Alcohol was not encouraged and the remaining meal was supposed to be on the healthier side. The cereal diet as it is today is no longer centered around just one type of cereal, but the cereal used does have to be of a whole grain variety (sorry Cap'n), and the remaining meal should be nutrient dense.

Limiting what you eat can lead to nutrient depletion

So does the cereal diet actually work in helping you lose weight? It may, as it is very restrictive in calories, but it threatens a loss of essential nutrients as well. Dietician and nutritionist Azmina Govindji tells Love Food about how limiting your meals to the same small range of food can lead to nutrient depletion. "It is fundamentally wrong to eat the same thing all the time," she explains. "Your body needs a range of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis — eating cereal twice a day could mean that you're missing out on zinc, iron, omega 3's etc..." Also, any weight loss from the cereal diet may not be sustainable, notes Healthline. Most follow this restrictive diet between five days and two weeks. So, one can expect to see the weight come back when they add the extra calories back into their diet.

In addition to being difficult to sustain, the cereal diet may also be too high in sugar, says Healthline. Cereal is addictive for a reason folks! Even the healthiest boxes in the cereal aisle may contain a surprising amount of sugar. Plus there is sugar in milk. So if you are going to attempt this diet, then at least look out for the low-sugar options.