The food trend is toward protein for breakfast. And Cheerios wants to throw its brand into the ring.
Cheerios Protein comes in two flavors: Cinnamon Almond and Oats and Honey. So you get more protein … but you may not want to pay the price.
Let's start with the advantages of protein. Regular Cheerios has 3g of protein while Cheerios protein has 7g of protein. That does sound good, but Cheerios points out that the new serving size is 1.25 cups instead of 1 cup and about twice the weight. So the increase is 3.25g of protein, not 4g.
Twice the weight and slightly more than twice the protein: not much of an improvement.
1 cup of the old Grape-Nuts — before the company replaced it with a new higher-protein version — had 12g of protein. The newer version has 16g of protein, more than twice the protein of Cheerios Protein with less cereal. If you are searching for a protein cereal among these two, Grape-Nuts wins easily.
Grape-Nuts now has isolated soy protein to slightly boost its protein content. The Cinnamon Almond version of Cheerios Protein has soy protein isolate, almonds, soy flour, and soy lecithin. Since almonds have non-processed protein, you would think you could get a boost just from almonds.
The Oats and Honey version adds soy protein and lentils. You might as well have almonds and lentils and skip the sugar.
The great thing about regular Cheerios is that the cereal has 1 gram of sugar per serving. Besides oats, this is the cereal's legacy. The Cinnamon Almond version has 16g per serving; 17g for the Oats and Honey version.
Yes, the serving size is slightly bigger, but a jump from 1g of sugar to 16g-17g is too high a price to pay for a few extra grams of protein.
The traditional media followed Cheerios in the slight of hand. From the hometown of General Mills came this amazing sentence:
Cheerios Protein has 11 grams of protein per serving, including milk, compared with 3 grams for regular Cheerios.
A comparison of apples vs. oranges in milk. What a horribly deceptive sentence. Cheerios could not written a better sentence, though the company probably did.
The other odd part is that Cheerios is using a ½ cup of milk in its comparison. You can add 4g more protein just by increasing the milk to 1 cup. The front of the box spotlights the 11g, yet that figure could be much higher.
You should have protein with your breakfast. But you are a cereal lover and want more protein, eat the new Grape-Nuts or the generic version. If you really have your heart set on Cheerios, pour a bowl of regular Cheerios and a 8 oz. glass of regular or soy milk. You would have 11g of protein sitting in that bowl and a lot less sugar.
If that isn't enough, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, preferably natural, has 8g of protein. A large egg has 6g of protein. A cup of regular yogurt will give you 8g of protein; Greek yogurt pushes that much higher. Sliver some almonds on your cereal to get extra protein.
Getting protein is so much easier because of increased knowledge about different sources of protein. This doesn't stop food manufacturers from trying to trick you into improved protein. Adding protein to your breakfast shouldn't mean tons of extra sugar, even if lentils are involved.
photos credit: Cheerios/General Mills