Everyday I have patients come into my office and tell me how they eat Special K bars for snacks, eat Special K cereal, and drink Special K protein drinks. Every time I have to break the bad news to them. I have to offer them a better option for weight loss. And every time patients give me this look:
They are confused. They thought their precious Special K was going to help them lose weight. Sure, you can lose weight with any food. But, is it the best for weight loss? No, not in my opinion.
The famous Special K cereal bars are full of enriched white flour, contain 9 grams of sugar (for a tiny 90 calorie product), a measly 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of saturated fat (a lot for a little bitty bar), and weighs in at a whopping 23 grams per bar. These cereal bars are not going to keep you full. They may taste delicious thanks to the rice, sugar, corn syrup, and trans fat. And Special K has gotten smart. They know their consumers are reading the ingredient list. They have updated the ingredient list on the back to read “multigrain cereal” as the first ingredient:
MULTIGRAIN CEREAL (RICE FLOUR, WHEAT FLOUR, WHOLE OAT FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT), SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, BRAN FLAKES (WHEAT, SUGAR, WHEAT BRAN, SALT, MALT FLAVORING), RICE CEREAL (RICE, SUGAR, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, MALT FLAVORING), RASPBERRY FLAVORED FRUIT PIECES (GLUCOSE SYRUP, RASPBERRY PUREE, SUGAR, OAT FIBER, PALM KERNEL OIL, RICE STARCH, PECTIN, COLOR ADDED, MALIC ACID, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL RASPBERRY FLAVOR), VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL, SUNFLOWER OIL WITH TOCOPHEROLS FOR FRESHNESS)†…..
As you can see this “multigrain cereal” is not really all whole grain. Tricksters.
The nutrition facts of the original Special K cereal would be fine if they added a little more actual whole grains with fiber. But, for now the cereal still falls short.
Ingredients: RICE, WHEAT GLUTEN, SUGAR, DEFATTED WHEAT GERM, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, DRIED WHEY, MALT FLAVORING….
As you can see the first ingredient is plain old rice, followed by some gluten for added protein and flavor, sugar, more of the stuff that you would find inside a whole grain product (instead they used refined grains and shoved in the bits and pieces of whole grain nutrition), salt to account for about 10% of your daily value for sodium, and more sugar.
I advise patients to eat plain bran flakes or plain cheerios instead. These are one step up from Special K, and contain whole grain wheat or oats and fiber.
They even sell Fruit Crisps which is just another way to sell a 100 calorie pop-tart. And once again they managed to make sure to throw in 1 gram of saturated fat (half the fat is saturated).
Special K Meal Bars, and Protein Snack Bars are the worst offenders of the product line. The meal bars are full of trans fat (listed as the second ingredient), contain about 2.5-4 grams saturated fat (out of 5 grams total fat!), 15 grams sugar, and once again, 10% of your daily value for sodium.
They have protein shakes, and protein water drink mixes which aren’t horrible.
The main point is to try to eat more whole foods, and regular meals so that we learn what living a nutritious and healthy life is all about. I tell people all the time: eat a piece of fruit and a handful of almonds, and you will be more full for about the same calories as the meal bar. This helps to form healthier habits, and increase the overall nutrition of your diet.