The Cornflake Diet
A cereal diet can feature any cereal you like, including cornflakes. The strategy involves using cornflakes or other cereal as a meal replacement, so you eat fewer calories than you normally would. Published research supports the idea that eating cereal in this manner can help you lose weight and has some advantages over commercial meal replacement products.Want to get in great shape? Learn more about LIVESTRONG.COM's nutrition and fitness program!
Cereal is a better meal than many breakfast foods people eat outside the home, even though some commercial brands primarily consist of refined grain, sugar and added vitamins, notes the November 1999 issue of "Nutrition Action Health Letter." Even these low-fiber sugary cereals, which cornflakes tend to be, are relatively low in calories and fat, with about 120 calories per serving if you eat them with low-fat or skim milk.
A study by Richard D. Mattes published in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" in 2002 notes the increasing popularity of portion-controlled meal replacements as a diet method. Eating fewer calories with the meal substitution helps with weight loss or weight maintenance. This method appears to be effective as well as convenient. Mattes explains that conventional foods, such as cereal, can be just as effective as specialty products for this purpose.
Mattes chose cereal for meal replacement research for several reasons. Solid foods are more satiating and so should increase compliance with the diet and thus weight loss, compared with liquids commonly used as meal replacements. Dieters are likely to consider cereal an acceptable food for different times of day, and it is widely available, relatively inexpensive and has an agreeable flavor.
For two weeks, one group of participants in the study ate a serving of a single brand of cereal with skim milk for breakfast and also as a substitute for one other meal. A second group followed the same regimen, except they could eat several kinds of cereals. There were no restrictions on the third meal. Both groups lost weight, while two control groups had no significant weight changes. Everyone in the first group and all but one individual in the variety group lost weight. Eating one type of cereal led to better results than eating a variety of cereals, with the first group losing an average of about 4 lbs. and the variety group an average of about 3 lbs.
The "Nutrition Action Health Letter" article recommends adding fruit to the cereal for extra nutrients, which the Mattes study participants did. If you'll be eating cereal at work, bring it in a plastic container that doubles as a dish, but don't add milk until you're ready to eat.
A commentary at RNCentral.com notes that eating a specific portion size of food to restrict calories is effective, and that is the only reason the cereal diet works. Cereal in itself does not have weight loss benefits, and products tend to be high in sugar. The most common brand, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, lists milled corn as the first ingredient, but sugar as the second ingredient and high-fructose corn syrup, another type of sugar, as the fourth most prevalent ingredient.