Is Cereal a Good Breakfast for Cyclists?

Caramel Color

Who doesn't love caramel? This color gets its own special section. Unlike when I used to watch my mom make her famous homemade caramel, by melting butter in a saucepan with some brown sugar, the stuff in colas is produced by chemical companies reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. This process creates 4-methylimidazole (4-MI). 4-MI has been shown in studies (by the Toxicology Operation Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) to cause leukemia as well as cancerous tumors in the respiratory system.

You may have heard about this in the news as recently as this year. Why? It is found in most cans of soda as well as many of your cereal boxes. You can find caramel color in many unassuming cereals such as Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Caramel Nut Cereal. Here's the ingredient list: Milled corn, sugar, roasted peanuts, contains 2 percent or less of malt flavoring, brown sugar syrup, salt, molasses, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, annatto color, BHT for freshness, wheat starch.

Again, if there is evidence of a chemical causing cancer, why take the risk? Just find products without these coloring agents in them.

More: 12 Fast and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Artificial Sweeteners

As if there aren't enough fake boobs and there isn't enough Photoshop in this world, it appears we need MORE "artificial!" It's not rocket science to deduct that the little pink and blue packets full of chemicals we dump into our foods to make up for their lack of flavor are not good for our health!

Artificial sweeteners are anything that is used to replace regular table sugar (sucrose). If you are going to go sweet, do the real thing—it's the better option. The FDA approved the additive Acesulfame Potassium even though the tests done to determine its safety did not meet the FDA standards and caused cancer in lab animals, which increases the probability that it will also cause cancer in humans.

Personally, I would choose real sugar over an artificial sweetener any day. Sweeteners will only add more toxicity to your body in the form of some ridiculous concoction that for some reason someone made for a society with many people who seem to feel that the sweetness of a real medjool date, a fresh mango, raisins and raw honey are not good enough, or sweet enough! We have become too accustomed to the taste of artificial flavorings. It's time to get back to tasting real food.

Here are a list of "Artificial Sweeteners":

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)
  • Saccharin (Sugar Twin, Sweet'N Low).
  • Sorbitol falls under the list of "sugar alcohol" but is worth a mention as it can cause a lot of gas for many people.

Don't fret, there are still one or two boxes left on the shelf that you can eat from! No, truly there are some great options and there are companies that are clearly making an effort to put good alternatives for healthy cereal on the shelves. Here is a short list of some of the best of the boxes.

Remember you can add your own sweetness with fresh berries and bananas. I much prefer cereal with fresh berries than with loads of sugar in the box! Check out the "health" section in your grocery store for your best options (These cereals don't have any artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors; have over three grams of fiber per serving and reasonably low to no added sugars).

  • Nature's Path Kamut Puffs Ingredient: Puffed Kamut. (That's IT!)
  • Bob's Red Mill Original Whole Grain Natural Granola
  • Jordan's Organic Muesli Dried Fruit Nuts and Sunflower Seeds
  • Uncle Sam Original Cereal Ingredients: Whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, barley malt
  • Barbara's Bakery Shredded Wheat: Ingredient: Whole wheat
  • Newman's Own Sweet Enough Flakes and Strawberries Cereal
  • Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal Original

Summary

The bottom line: don't just pick your cereal without looking at what you are eating. It seems that everywhere I turn more and more people are popping up with allergies and health issues. It would come as no surprise if a lot of these chemicals were part of the problem. If we can take small steps like reading labels and avoiding these potentially harmful chemicals from invading our bodies that we are so blessed to have and to perform with as athletes, we will be heading towards better health!

More: 6 Extra Energy Sources

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