Granola is a food that we have all been led to believe is a real problem cereal for those trying to manage or lose their weight. This is because it contains high amounts of calories and fats, not to mention added sugars. As you probably know, sugar is linked to conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Regardless of that, is granola good for weight loss? Is it really beneficial or valuable for your slimming journey?
A couple of years ago, The New York Times asked a group of nutritionists about what foods they deemed to be healthy. The info given was compared with responses from 2000 people. Granola was one of the serious points of contention. So, what is the deal with these tasty clusters? Here is what you need to know about granola oatmeal for weight loss (8).
What Is Granola?
This is a cereal similar to muesli. However, it is usually coated with some sugar such as honey to give it a sweeter taste and a crunchy/chunky texture. Common ingredients used include nuts, rolled nuts, and a sweetener such as honey or sugar. Other ingredients such as dried fruits, seeds, puffed rice, spices or nut butter could also be included (5).
Granola Nutrition Profile
The nutritional profile for these tasty clusters varies widely depending on the ingredients used. For instance, some might be lower in fat and higher in carbs or sugar. Fat, calories, fiber, and protein contents all are high for others.
For illustration purposes, 50 grams of Kellogg’s low-fat granola will contain the following nutrients:
- Calories – 195
- Protein – 4.4 grams
- Fat – 2.9 grams
- Carbs – 40.5 grams
- Fibre – 3.5 grams
- Sugar – 14.2 grams
On the contrary, 50 grams of Gypsy Crunch Roasted Granolas will have the following nutritional content:
- Calories – 260
- Protein – 7 grams
- Fat – 13 grams
- Carbs – 28 grams
- Fibre – 4 grams
- Sugar – 12 grams (14)
Is Granola A Good Snack For Weight Loss?
Well, the cereal is not good for weight loss unless eaten in moderation. It contains way too much fat, sugar, and too many calories too be considered a safe weight loss-friendly food. The honey, nuts, and dried fruit ingredients add up calories to higher values than you might think.
One cup of these clusters could easily provide about 500 calories. If you are on a 1500-calorie weight loss diet, consuming a cup of granola every day would provide almost a third of the calories you need.
Hence, the cereal can only help you lose weight if you consume a healthy homemade recipe in moderation.
Is Granola Good For You?
Yes, it contains a lot of nutrients which are good for your health. The cereal is an excellent source of zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and B. The nutritional content of your granola of choice will highly depend on the recipe and ingredients used.
Ingredients like oats and flax seeds used in granola recipes have been associated with improving blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels. Some of the other benefits of consuming granola are: it may help reduce blood sugar levels, improve gut health, and it is a great source of antioxidants. Clearly, the tasty clusters can be good for you (12).
What Does A Granola Weight Loss Breakfast Entail?
For you to slim down, you must ensure that your granola meal contains fewer calories and more nutrients than the typical store-bought version. The only way you can achieve that is by making it on your own.
Not only will your kitchen smell amazing while your homemade granola is baking, but you will also have full control of the fat, calories, and sugar content. This is especially true as you will use healthy ingredients. You can use any of the following:
- Wheat germ. During wheat flour processing, the wheat kernel is tossed out. It is very nutritious. You can power up your granola by adding wheat germ in your recipe. It contains B vitamins, zinc, and antioxidant vitamins.
- Non-fat dry milk (NFDM). Adding NFDM to your cereal breakfast will increase its protein and calcium contents.
- Oats. Go for old-fashioned oats which have higher fiber and vitamin B content.
- Canola oil. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart health.
- Flax seeds. They are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Two tablespoons of these seeds contain around 4 grams of fiber. They also have 800 times the phytochemicals obtained from other seeds.
- Nut and seeds. These are high in healthy fats and proteins. They also have higher magnesium, vitamins, minerals, and zinc levels.
- Chia seeds. They may help in reducing cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure (6).
Homemade Low Sugar Granola Recipe
Now that you know the ingredients you should use when preparing healthy and tasty granola, how do you go about baking it? Here is a step-by-step recipe:.
You will need the following:
- 7 cups of oats
- A cup of non-fat dry milk (250ml)
- ½ cup of flaxseeds
- A cup of wheat germ (250ml)
- ½ cup of chia seeds
- A cup of chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, and so forth.
- Onecup of honey (250ml)
- A cup of canola oil (250ml)
- A cup of raisins or any other dried fruit
Follow the steps below to bake your own granola:
- In a large container or bowl, pour all the dry ingredients first.
- Combine them thoroughly so that they are completely mixed up.
- Add the wet ingredients. That is your honey and canola oil.
- Spread the mixture on two sheets of jelly roll pans or cake pans. Ensure that they are in an even layer.
- Preheat your oven.
- Transfer the contents to the oven. Bake them at 300°F.
- Stir and switch pans after 30 minutes.
- Bake them for another 20 to 30 minutes. When ready, they will turn their colour to light brown.
- When cool, add your dried fruit and store in airtight containers.
A half-cup of the baked granola will contain the following nutrients:
- 278 calories
- 34 grams of carbs and fibre
- 14 grams of fat
- 6.2 grams of protein (10)
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How To Choose Healthy Granola From The Stores?
If you can’t bake, then the only option left for you is to pick the cereal from the nearest store. So, how can you identify a good brand for weight loss?
- Check the ingredients. You should avoid products with added sugars or sweeteners. This includes natural sweeteners such as honey. Go for the brand with whole foods such as nuts, seeds, and dried nuts.
- Check the nutrition content. Purchase the brand with higher protein and fibre. You should aim at about 3 to 5 grams of fibre per serving.
- Consider the serving sizes. They vary from 2 tablespoons to 2/3 cup. Small serving sizes might mislead you as you are most likely to consume more than the amount mentioned.
If you can’t identify a good brand, then you should consider baking one for yourself to minimise the added sugars and fats (5).
Is Granola Good For Weight Loss? Yes, If You Adhere To These Tips!
If you want to cut weight, consider the following:
1. Use a small portion
Granola should be used as a topping to other healthy foods such as yoghurt. The two pair exceptionally well! You could also add some fresh fruit of your choice such as berries, bananas, kiwi, or even peaches.
2. Mix it with other foods
You can mix half a cup of the cereal with another half cup of old fashioned oatmeal. The oatmeal has low calories and is high in fibre.By diluting it with other healthy foods, you lower its calorie density (2).
3. Bake your own granola
You will have control over all the ingredients you use in your recipe. That means you will eat smart and lose weight effectively.
4. Do not skip any meal throughout the day
You cannot survive on granola only. If you skip any meal, you will be fighting temptations to pig out on fast food. The aromas from bakeries and restaurants can lure you. Do not let yourself be in a position where you are fighting hunger and temptations simultaneously as this will lower your chance of staging on top of your diet.
5. Be more active
In addition to eating healthy you need to be active to lose weight. Do not just sit on your backside all day long. Exercise a little to burn off some calories which cannot be lost by being on a diet alone. Find an activity that you love doing and can squeeze it into your daily routine.
6. Drink a lot of water
Sometimes you might confuse thirst for hunger. You will end up consuming a lot of calories when all that you needed was a glass of water. Hence, make sure you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day.
Water doesn’t have calories or sugars that can hinder your weight loss journey.
Also, do not substitute water with a soft drink as some have high levels of sugar. They are also high in calories and may make you gain weight instead of losing it (3).
7. Read food labels
If you take any additional snacks other than granola, make sure you thoroughly check their contents. Use the calorie information you find on the labels to work out if that snack can necessarily fit into your daily calorie allowance.
8. Do not ban any foods
Don’t cut out entire food groups or your favorite snacks from your diet completely. There’s absolutely no reason for you not to enjoy that grilled meat you love every once in a while as long as you are within your daily calorie allowance.
9. Never stock junk food
To avoid temptations, make sure your fridge, freezer, or storage compartment doesn’t have junk foods such as chocolate or sweet drinks.
Instead, stock healthy snacks such as unsweetened popcorn, fruits, oatcakes, and of course, homemade granola (11).
10. Minimise alcohol intake
A glass of wine has many calories, just like a piece of a chocolate bar. A single pint of beer has the same number of calories as one packet of crisps.
Drinking 5 pints of beer every week adds up to around 44,200 Kcal in a year. This is equivalent to eating 221 full doughnuts.
If you drink too much over time, you could easily gain weight. Stick to the following tips to effectively slim down:
- Do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol every week.
- Substitute alcohol for a glass of water.
- Do take alcohol on an empty stomach.
- Drink at your own pace. Drinking in rounds could make you consume more than you need.
- Have a friend help you cut down your consumption. You will be more likely to stick to it if you have some moral support.
- You can dilute your drink with a splash of soda water to avoid overdrinking and help you stay hydrated (1).
Is Granola And Yoghurt Good For Weight Loss?
Yes. However, you need to be extra careful when choosing the type of yoghurt you will use for your recipe. It needs to contain low or zero fat content. You can use nonfat Greek yoghurt, which contains 0% fat.
Follow the procedure below to make your granola yoghurt bowls in the right way:
- Add a quarter cup of homemade granola to a large bowl.
- Add 1/3 cup of Greek low-fat yoghurt into the bowl.
- Top it up with fresh berries or any other fruit.
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Downsides Of Using Granola For Weight Loss
Although granola is good for your health, it has some disadvantages. They include the following:
It is high in calories
It takes around 20 minutes for your mind to send a signal to your stomach that you are full. In 20 minutes, you could easily overeat granola as it is tasty.
A cup of these cereals may contain over 500 calories. Assuming you take four cups, that would mean you have around 2000 calories in your body. Your body will use some for energy and store the rest as fat.
Consuming more calories than you burn over a long period of time will make you gain weight and even become obese. This would increase your risk of developing chronic illnesses and cancer (13).
It is packed with added sugars
Some granola recipes have too much sugar content. Here are some reasons why excess sugars in your body are not good for your health:
- Causes weight gain. Sugar increases your desire to eat more food. You might find yourself eating more food than you should when losing weight.
- May be bad for your mental health. A study following over 8,000 people worldwide for 22 years linked high sugar intakes with poor mental health. Those in the highest sugar intake group were 23% more likely to have common mental disorder (CMD).
50 grams of Kellogg’s low-fat granola contains 14.2 grams of sugar. If you eat 250 grams of the tasty clusters, you would have consumed about 71 grams of sugar.
- Eating a lot of sugar can lead to conditions such as cavities, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Ingredients such as vegetable oil, nut butter, canola, and other oils can cause unwanted weight gain, obesity, and metabolic diseases if consumed in excess.
Some brands have a low standard serving size
We are recommended to limit sugar consumption to 10% of total daily calories. This equates to about 12 teaspoons for someone taking a 2000-calorie diet.
Well, some recipes may contain over 4 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving. Since it is common to eat more than the standard serving size, you might consume more sugar in just one bowl.
Carbs accelerate skin aging
Wrinkles are often a natural sign that you are ageing. They will appear eventually, regardless of whether you are healthy or not. However, a poor diet could speed up the skin ageing process.
Consuming a diet rich in carbs and sugars causes increased production of Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) which can lead to premature skin ageing.
In one study, women who consumed many carbs, including sugars had more wrinkles than those in a high protein and lower carbs diet.
The main constituent of some recipes of granola is carbs. For instance, 50 grams of Kellogg’s Low-fat tasty clusters contain 40.5 grams of carbs. This could fasten your skin ageing process (9).
The Bottom Line
So, Is granola good for weight loss? Well, yes it can be. It is certainly a nutritious and filling cereal if taken in moderation. Nonetheless, be sure to carefully read and select the ingredients and contents of any cereals you eat.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
Reviewed by: Kirsten Fleming
- Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet & Weight Loss (2010, health.harvard.edu)
- Drink more water to cut calories, fat, and sugar? (2016, health.harvard.edu)
- Fruit and nut granola recipe (2020, nbcnews.com)
- Granola with raisins, apples and cinnamon (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Health Benefits of Granola (2020, webmd.com)
- Is coconut oil good for you? (2017, edition.cnn.com)
- Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionists Disagree (2016, nytimes.com)
- Not So Sweet: Over-consumption Of Sugar Linked To Aging (2009, sciencedaily.com)
- Our Favorite Granolas (2020, nytimes.com)
- Our 10 best: healthy snacks (2021, theguardian.com)
- Preventing High Cholesterol (2020, cdc.gov)
- Top 10 sources of calories in the U.S. diet (2014, health.harvard.edu)
- Why Your Granola Is Really a Dessert (2016, nytimes.com)