Weekly challenge: cut the sugar in your breakfast

New cookbook aiming to reduce sugar intake
Annabelle Breakey/Getty Images

My favorite Fiber One Nutty Clusters and Almonds breakfast cereal contains 12 grams of added sugar per serving; at 4 calories per gram, that’s 48 calories of added sugar—nearly half of the recommended 100 calorie daily limit set by the American Heart Association.

“Added sugars contribute zero nutrients but many added calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health,” the association states on their website.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinology and obesity researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, has made it his life mission to educate consumers on the perils of eating too much sugar. In his New York Times best-selling book Fat Chance; he emphasized that a “calorie is not a calorie” when it comes to determining how much weight we gain partly because the body metabolizes high-sugar, low-fiber foods differently.

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Such foods trigger a rapid surge of the hormone insulin which drives energy into fat cells and leaving us feeling hungry again an hour or two later, so we tend to eat more.

Since I’m loathe to give up my daily dessert to meet the heart association’s recommendations, I’d rather reduce the sugar in my breakfast. It’s a challenge you may want to try yourself this week.

Lustig’s new book The Fat Chance Cookbook, published last month, has some interesting suggestions for cutting the sugar. Look for packaged breakfast cereals such as puffed barley, puffed whole wheat, and generic shredded wheat that have no added sugar. (Let me know if you find one that tastes good.)

For a hot breakfast, Lustig recommends polenta or steel-cut oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon or mixed with fresh fruit as great options. You can also make your own cereal. Here’s a granola recipe from The Fat Chance cookbook.

Homemade Granola

makes 6 cups: serving size 1/2 cup


1/2 cup rice bran oil or safflower oil

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raw nuts (whatever you like: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (wide strips, not shredded)

1/4 cup raw seeds (whatever you like: sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds)

1 to 2 cups of chopped dried fruit (whatever you like: raisins, currants, mango, apple, figs, apricots, pears, dates)


1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

2. Whisk the oil, water, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until mixed. Add the oatmeal and toss until thoroughly coated.

3. Add the nuts, coconut, and seeds.

4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the granola even over the baking sheet. Bake stirring occasionally until brown and toasty, about 25 minutes.

5. Add the 1 to 2 cups of chopped dried fruit. Store in airtight container for up to a month.

Serve mixed in milk or with plain yogurt.