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Cereal is the Best Breakfast – NOT!

by Fred Hahn on March 6, 2011


I just read this article on a website called Nutrition Horizon that claims that a bowl of cereal with milk is the healthiest breakfast.

All I can say is “Wow.” No wonder why this country’s health is going to hell in a hand basket. I searched PubMed for the paper and it was nowhere to be found.

The article states:

The study shows that a breakfast consisting of milk and cereal is the healthiest.

The healthiest compared to what? And it wasn’t a study – it was a survey of 12,000 Britons.

Come on now – are we expected to believe that a bowl of processed sugar loaded with gut glooping gluten and pasteurized cow’s milk is the healthiest food we can eat?


Here is a good blog on why you should avoid grains like the plague by The Nutty Kitchen

For those of you who saw this or other articles like it, don’t you believe it. A bowl of cereal with milk is one of the most unhealthful breakfasts you can have. I mean, would you feed a bowl of cereal to your dog? Of course not. So why would you eat it?

I've been involved in exercise ever since I became a member of The Charles Atlas Club when I was 10 years old. In 1998, I founded and established Serious Strength on the Upper West Side of NYC. My clients include kids, seniors (and everyone in between), top CEOs, celebrities, bestselling authors, journalists and TV personalities.
my book. my Gym.

in Health/Fitness,Nutrition · 13 comments


D March 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Fred, I like a nice bowl of hot “cereal” for breakfast, and you might have already addressed this before, but here’s my recipe, anyway.

I start out with organic golden flaxseed meal, and mix it with an equal portion of vanilla whey protein powder. That’s the basic recipe, and you could stop here with the main ingredients, but because I’m not happy with the texture of this cereal, I add in a bit of almond meal and/or coconut flour. You put the mixture in a bowl and add either boiling water to desired consistency, or add water and cook in the microwave oven for a minute or so. And you could also add chopped nuts, berries, etc. This makes a really good high protein and low carb hot cereal that hits the spot first thing in the morning. It sticks with you for hours. You can mix up your cereal by the bowlful, or make up a batch to keep ready in the fridge (always refrigerate flaxseed meal!) for a quick breakfast. I’ve added a teaspoon of coconut oil to it, and I’ll put a bit of cream or almond milk on it. Some people use just plain old flaxseed meal, but I could never get past the gummy texture of it, but with the other ingredients added, it makes it a very pleasant cereal.

Fred Hahn March 6, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Interesting D. But that’s not technically “cereal.”

I prefer a can of mackerel f leftover beef, lamb, etc.

Kathy from Maine March 7, 2011 at 6:42 AM

Another “cereal” (similar to oatmeal) based on flaxseed is this: 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 2 Tbsp water and a bit of salt. Nuke for a couple minutes. Serve hot with butter and a little sugar-free maple syrup. I haven’t had this for years, but I used to call it “Snot for Breakfast.” Once you get past the … ummmm, texture … it’s actually pretty good!

But, agreed. It’s not cereal. In my high-carb/low-fat Jane Brody Days, I’d start every morning with a huge bowl of shredded wheat with bananas covered in skim milk. Over the course of a summer I had put on about 20 pounds!

Thanks to people like you and the Eades, I woke up and realized what we SHOULD be eating. Meat and fat. I’ve finally been able to shed most of my menopause weight (still working on it). In the 18 months after menopause hit, I had gained 45+ pounds (never did see the actual number of my highest weight). As of today I’m 28 pounds down, simply by eating a very clean “no sugar, no starch, no grains” menu. I far prefer meat and animal fat, and use berries and the occasional plant matter more as condiments than as main part of my meal plans.

Thanks for being a voice of reason in a sea of obfuscation and falsehoods!

Ian Shaw March 7, 2011 at 10:19 AM

“The research was carried out on behalf of the English Breakfast Panel. ”

So perhaps not entirely devoid of vested interest.

Seán March 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Here is the pertinent study:

What’s for breakfast? Nutritional implications of breakfast habits: insights from the NDNS dietary records
by S. A. Gibson and P. Gunn

British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin, Vol. 36 Issue 1, March 2011, pages 78–86

Can be viewed online:

Looking at other studies in the journal, they seem to be pro-cereal. Also the charity, British Nutrition Foundation, probably is most interested in forming public policy. Judge the article on its own merits, but the whole thing stinks of manipulation.

Rebecca Latham March 8, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Hi, Fred!

I was wondering if you have a post about the fallacy of cardio strengthening the heart and lungs, like you talked about in your book? I run into this all the time – people saying that you have to do cardio for heart and lung health.


Fred Hahn March 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Hi Rebecca – I don’t think I have a blog per se about it. But my book discusses the issue as does Dr. Doug McGuff’s book Body By Science.

But in short, by increasing your muscle mass you also increase total mitochondria. These are the powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondrial proliferation is the main reason why you can run longer or swim longer or do anything that requires more endurance. See if you can find a copy of Heart Myths by cardiologist Bruce Charash M.D.

Kevin O'Neall March 9, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Main reason but not the only reason. Why don’t I ever see muscular people at marathons? Muscle mass is heavy. The world’s best runners have very low body fat percentage. The only time you see a lifter with low body fat percentage is when he’s starving himself for a competition. Extra weight, whether it’s fat or muscle, is stressful to tendons and ligaments. The heavier a person is the greater the chance for injury. That’s why I’ve been dealing with a torn achilles for nearly six months. I’ve put on 15 pound since the injury and am having a rough time trying to get rid of it.


Seán March 9, 2011 at 7:34 PM

“Extra weight, whether it’s fat or muscle, is stressful to tendons and ligaments. The heavier a person is the greater the chance for injury.”

Really? If one is weight training, would that not help the tendons and ligaments to become strong too? Fat weight is a whole different deal, of course.

Kevin O'Neall March 9, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Tendons don’t respond to stressors as quickly as muscles do. After six months of training you might double your bench press max but your tendons will not have doubled in tensile strength. Torn tendons are slower to heal than broken bones. I’ve been dealing with an achilles tear for six months. Years ago I had a fractured ankle that was radiographically healed in three months.

kevin, veterinarian with thirty years in practice dealing with bone/tendon injuries in my animal patients. 🙂

Seán March 10, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Hey, Fred, some time back you had a list of ten must read nutrition and health books. Could you produce such a list for us for strength training? I have read your books, and your blog, but wondering if you have some great books which you refer to often, or are classics of the field in your mind. Much appreciated if you get a chance. Take care.

Brandon Schultz, D.C. March 13, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Your previous comments confuse me. You say marathoners are lean and lifters are fat? What about sprinters? They tend to be very lean and muscular and their muscular weight doesn’t seem to slow them down.
The marathoner’s low body weight is likely because two things: a preponderance of slow twitch muscle fibers (they are marathoners…) and the extensive training of those slow twitch fibers.
Also, are you saying you have gained 15 pounds because of your achilles tear or that the extra weight (have you put it on since the tear or did you put it on and that created the tear?) is hampering your recovery? Is the 15 pounds muscle or fat?
I’m having a hard time with your very broad “heavier people are more prone to injury” comment. I just don’t see that weight in and of itself has a bearing on injury. How that weight is shifted or transferred to muscles and tendons can cause an injury or the speed at which it happens, but weight in general is not an issue. People who are muscularly heavy but have well balanced muscles across their joints are more injury-resistant than someone of the same weight who has less of that weight as muscle mass.

Brandon Schultz, DC

Fred Hahn March 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Sean I’ll do a post on the strength books soon.

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