Cheerios Protein Cereal – Sugary Hype, Not Much More

Cheerios Protein - Oats & HoneyMajor news in the cereal world last week. Cheerios, the most popular brand of breakfast cereal, has joined the protein arms race with the introduction of 2 new cereals fortified with protein clusters.

With carbs deemed evil, and fats as fattening, protein is the only macro-nutrient of 3 that dieters and wannabes can turn to. Protein has indeed been shown to help with satiety and has become an issue in the cereal category where normally it does not excel. Original Cheerios has just 3 grams. The new protein version has 7 grams.

From General Mills, the manufacturer:

Fuel your family’s breakfast with new Cheerios Protein. Providing 11g or protein with milk, Cheerios Protein gives you long-lasting energy with a taste your whole family will love. The toasted whole grain O’s, combined with crunchy oat granola clusters and real honey come together in delicious harmony in two great flavors: Oats & Honey and Cinnamon Almond.

We decided to take a look inside.

The serving size for this product is 1.25 cups – about 2 ounces (55 grams). It is much denser than Original Cheerios at 1 cup – about 1 ounce (28 grams). Original Cheerios has 100 calories; the protein version has 210!

Here’s the funny thing – if you eat a double serving of Original Cheerios, you’ll get 6 grams of protein, almost the same the new Protein Cheerios at 7 grams! With half a glass of milk added, you’ll get 14 grams from a double serving of Original Cheerios, and only 11 grams of protein from Protein Cheerios!

What’s worse is that the new Protein Cheerios is chock full of sugar as well. It’s got 17 grams of sugar per serving – 4 teaspoons worth! Original Cheerios has just 1 gram of sugar (1/4 tsp).

Here is the ingredient list for Protein Cheerios, Oats & Honey:

whole grain oats, cluster (whole grain oats, brown sugar, soy protein, lentils, sugar, corn syrup, natural flavor, molasses, rice starch, caramel (sugar, caramelized sugar syrup), salt, calcium carbonate, baking soda, color added, bht added to preserve freshness), sugar, corn starch, honey, salt, refiner’s syrup, tripotassium phosphate, rice bran and/or canola oil, color added, natural flavor, brown sugar, vitamin e (mixed tocopherols), bht added to preserve freshness. vitamins and minerals: calcium carbonate, zinc and iron (minerals nutrients), vitamin c (sodium ascorbate), a b vitamin (niacinamide), vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin b2 (riboflavin), vitamin b1 (thiamin mononitrate), vitamin a (palmitate), a b vitamin (folic acid), vitamin b12, vitamin d3.

The added protein is from soy and lentils. Lentils are beginning to pop up as ingredients in various products. That’s a good thing. There are multiple sugar ingredients in this cereal, which explains the 16 grams total. One of them is Refiner’s Syrup, which is commonly known as golden syrup. It is similar to molasses.

Overall, this product makes no sense nutritionally. Obviously Cheerios is hopping on the protein bandwagon, but we recommend you stay off. Protein for breakfast is a great idea. How about yogurt (Greek or regular), a hard boiled egg, or steel cut oats?

  • Pattyp247

    Love the fact that if you eat two servings of the original cereal, you’ll be getting more protein, with less calories. Ill stick with my eggs and bacon.

  • H2O

    So many ingredients. Scary !!

  • George

    Careful – not all protein is same. The new Cheerios Protein is actually sporting high quality protein vs original Cheerios

  • Cactus_Wren

    It’s also worth noting that the average American consumes twice as much protein as the body needs.

    • Aria Gonzalez

      Well, the thing is, unless you’re drinking liquid protein which I hope to god none of us are, it’s hard to really overeat protein. There’s a range of protein the body can tolerate and it’s not necessary to eat the bare minimum. Although I admit I’m not a huge fan of protein shakes and bars…

    • IntheChannel

      The RATIO of protein/carb/fat is the important measure, NOT some vague “Americans eat too much protein” drivel. Google “Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-regression
      James W Krieger, Harry S Sitren, Michael J Daniels, and Bobbi Langkamp-Henken”

      From the Departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition (JWK, HSS, and BL-H) and of Statistics (MJD), University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

      Conclusion: Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets favorably affect body mass and composition independent of energy intake, which in part supports the proposed metabolic advantage of these diets.

      • Mary Wyckoff Martin

        I agree with you. When I saw it on the shelf, I compared it to the regular Cheerios. Cheerios Protein may have “increased” the amount of protein, but they ALSO increased the amount of carbohydrates. This was enough to convince me NOT to buy it. I am on an insulin resistance eating plan. I can’t eat processed breakfast foods unless I adjust the carb:protein level, having one serving of protein (7 grams) to one serving of carbohydrate (15 grams). That usually means adding some Greek yogurt or having an egg or meat on the side. I wanted to find a cereal that was “complete” with just adding milk. I QUIT sugar years ago. Sweetened cereals are NOT for me.

  • Aria Gonzalez

    Or bacon! BACON I SAY! lol…

  • appleadaymk

    I like the recommendation plain Greek yogurt I’ll add fresh or frozen berries with sunflower seeds. If I think about it the night before I’ll add chia too. Thank you fooducate!

    • Mary Wyckoff Martin

      I use a “insulin resistance diet” eating plan. It is impossible to find a “ready to eat” cereal with the proper protein to carbohydrate ratio. Adding plain Greek yogurt is what I have to do. One serving of protein is 7 grams. One serving of carbohydrate is 15 grams. As I recall, the protein version of Cheerios had about one serving of protein and three servings of carbs in their recommended “serving”. A meal isn’t supposed to consist of more than two servings each (but you can eat again in two hours). It is the FIRST time, in my entire life, that I have been able to keep the weight off, that I have lost. I don’t even count calories. I just try to make healthy choices for my carbohydrates as often as I can. Treats are allowed. I could lose weight faster if I exercised and cut more fat out of my diet. But the fat I am getting is coming from healthy oils and nuts: calories, yes–but health benefits, also.

  • mooreacre

    omg! This is so bad, I lost count of how many times i read a version of sugar in the ingredients! Thank you for the info, passing it onto my family members with children.

  • Christina

    Soy Protein, ugh.

  • Christina

    Soy Protein, ugh.

  • mfp142

    OMG bht is listed TWICE. …..

  • Terry

    Wow and I just bought a box ok no protein Cheerios for me

  • Anon

    They’re disgustingly sweet, almost identical to the taste of Honey Smacks (aka Sugar Smacks). I made the mistake of buying a box, never again.