Is Special K healthy for you? The pros and cons you need to know

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Breakfast cereals are widely popular because of how affordable and easy they are to consume. Over the years, they’ve become one of the top breakfast foods choices. From Frosted Flakes to Kellogg’s crunchy nut cornflakes, the breakfast cereal industry has grown tremendously over time with plenty of different types to choose from.

But is cereal healthy? People who are looking for a healthy alternative to the blatantly obvious unhealthy cereals often go for brands such as ‘Special K.’

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What is Special K? Can you include it in your daily diet?

Special K is a brand by Kellogg’s which offers a wide range of breakfast cereal and meal bars with various health benefits. There are different types of cereal flavors available and protein meal bars to choose from.

Kellogg’s Special K cereal advertisements heavily stress its ‘healthy, nutritious’ label for years. It has made a significant impact on the healthy cereals industry, and it is currently one of the most popular breakfast cereals in the world.

Although Special K doesn’t focus on health anymore but rather on how delicious their products are, the original flavor cereal is still considered a ‘healthy’ option.

Is Special K healthy for you? Is it something you can have in the long run, and does it fulfill the promise of a healthy breakfast choice?

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Many nutritionists will agree that breakfast cereals are not a healthy option to add to your meal plan, save for a few organic brands.

But even then, there are many healthy kinds of cereal in the industry that are thriving, and Kellogg’s Special K cereal brand is labeled one of them. But does it uphold the promise of a nourishing breakfast? Let’s break down why it isn’t as good as it sounds.

Weight loss promises, but the ingredients say different

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If you’ve ever caught an advertisement for Special K cereal, whether a video or a post online, it’s marketed towards women who want to ‘stay fit.’ A proper journey towards weight loss and weight management is by eating the right food and following a proper diet with natural components.

Now, why doesn’t Kellogg’s Special K cereal meet that criterion?

Most popular cereals like Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios are extremely sweet and don’t promote the ‘fitness’ lifestyle as Special K cereal does.

Special K cereal advertises itself as a beginning to your journey to lose weight and adapt to a healthy lifestyle. It claims to have the nutritional value that the popular cereals don’t, and it’s marked as a nutritious breakfast.

Can Special K cereal help you lose weight? ‘Drop a jean size’ challenge by Kelloggs.

The truth is, you won’t be full after just consuming a recommended amount of Special K cereal every morning. You’ll feel the urge to have a snack soon because it’s not filling. It doesn’t contain enough nutrients to power you through your morning routine.

Weight gain could be a more likely outcome if you try to stick to a breakfast bowl of cereal.

Kelloggs introduced the ‘Drop a jean size’ challenge, where it claimed that you could lose up to six pounds in mere two weeks by including Special K in your diet. The meal plan was that you were supposed to eat Special K twice a day, and your third meal would be a well-balanced one.

Low in calories does not equal healthy

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When you eat such a restricted amount of calories and don’t consume enough protein, you will drop a few pounds by the end of two weeks if you keep up with it. Your daily intake of calories will drop by a significant amount. The lack of protein and fiber will make you feel weak and crave snacks often.

On the packaging of a 500g Special K original cereal box, you’ll see how it’s labeled ‘only 2% fat’. It also claims to have eight essential vitamins. It’s necessary to take a closer look at the macronutrients and figure out why this cereal is not as healthy and packed with nutrients as it might sound.

Highly processed, high blood sugar risks.

Most people skim over the ingredient list or don’t even bother checking it on the back of the cereal boxes. The ones looking forward to starting a nutritious lifestyle need to check it out and research their daily nutritional needs or consult a nutritionist before proceeding.

Special K original cereal is healthier than Corn Flakes, but the sugar content raises questions.

You’ll be surprised to find the amount of processed sugar that can be found in many breakfast cereals. Special K, a healthy cereal, has a surprisingly high sugar content, even higher than some other cereals such as original Corn Flakes.

Special K original cereal contains about 7.5g sugar per 30g serving. The serving size for 100g will quickly put it in the ‘moderately-high end’ category in the sugar content. It’s essential to check the serving size behind your box of cereal before purchasing it and including it in your daily calorie intake.

On top of that, Original Special K cereal contains liquid glucose. The past versions of the original Special K included high fructose corn syrup, but it’s absent in the updated versions.

It is crucial to monitor your daily sugar intake, especially if you’re going to consume a bowl of cereal with that amount of added sugar as a high serving will likely spike your blood sugar level.

Low fat but also low in satisfaction

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If you want to consume a healthy breakfast, it should account for about 25% of your daily calorie intake. Special K will provide you with 6% of it, and it’s probably not a good choice if you’re going to work after consuming only that for breakfast.

Kellogg’s has marketed this product for years so that most people label it as one of the ‘healthy cereals’ immediately when they look at it or hear about it.

Special K is better than some cereals when limiting the amount of fat present. True to the label in the front of the original, it contains only 2% fat and no trans fats.

Not the best choice but not the worst either

But it’s essential to include healthy fats in your meal plan. You can add nuts to your Special K to get some of those since there is always a lack of healthy fat in most diets that people follow while on their journey to lose weight.

Healthful cereals like Special K usually fail to provide the basic nourishment needed in an individual’s journey towards weight loss. But compared to most cereals in the market, Special K is one of the ‘healthiest’ options.

Special K has low fat, little to no saturated fats, which makes it a lot better than other cereals in the industry, which contain high amounts of saturated fat and high sugar content. High saturated fat content can lead to many heart-related risks and should be generally kept to minimal consumption daily.

Multiple vitamins and high protein, but low fiber

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Many healthy cereals contain various important vitamins and minerals. Special K’s original cereal contains plenty of essential minerals and vitamins. It’s mentioned in the ingredients on the back as well as they had promised.

The ingredients vary depending upon which type of Special K cereal you’re having. The original Special K cereal contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid, and Vitamin C. Most cereals contain small amounts of vitamins, so this is nothing out of the ordinary for a healthy cereal.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, your primary focus should be on protein and fiber content in your meals. The fiber content in Special K’s original cereal is about 1.5g per 30g serving without whole milk. Protein per 30g serving is 2.5g without milk.

High protein foods often keep you full for more extended periods, thus reducing the risk of binging on a diet. So, if you’ll stick to just a bowl of cereal in the morning, you’ll likely get hungry again very soon.

Special K bars: Are they as good as they seem?

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On the official Kellogg’s website, you’ll find how it highlights ‘real fruits, nuts, and whole grains’ in their Special K products. It strongly stresses the focus on ‘real food’ and how nourishing their products are.

These meal bars are marketed as ‘healthy protein meal bars’ to attract consumers. Protein is one of the most important parts of your weight loss journey as high protein foods tend to fill you up quickly, and they’re an essential macronutrient.

Special K’s protein bars are packed with protein and fiber which is their primary goal. They have various flavors with real dried fruits and gluten-free options. But food manufacturers also include large quantities of sugar in this highly processed meal bar.

The strawberry protein meal bar by Special K is one of their most popular meal bars. They claim to be a meal replacement packed with enough nutritional goods to replace a whole meal. So, is it really as good as it sounds?

More added sugar and high saturated fat

Special K’s strawberry protein meal bars are delicious protein bars to power you through your mornings when you don’t have the time to sit down for a meal.

It’s a tasty substitute, but in no way is it a healthy one.

When you read the ingredient label on the back, you’ll see that the first ingredient is ‘soy protein isolate’ (SPI). Soy is one of the best protein sources for vegans, so why could it be potentially harmful to you?

SPI is often extracted through the process of hexane extraction. It contains high amounts of lectins, which can lower your ability to absorb nutrients. It should generally be consumed in low quantities, so it is a downside, including it in your daily meal plan.

Natural ingredients like dried fruit can be found in the nutritional content of these flavored protein bars. But they’re high in saturated fat, and eating them daily isn’t the best option.

The sugar content in these protein bars is as high as the saturated fat. It’s slightly higher than the sugar and fat found in the cereals, but it has more fiber.

A 45g Special K strawberry 12g protein bar has 180 calories only, 5g fat out of which 4g is saturated fat. It has 3g of dietary fiber and 14g of added sugar.

Most popular brand protein bars end up including high amounts of sugar to improve their taste, so people often overlook the sugar content since it’s a ‘protein meal bar.’

Special K isn’t the worst option, nor is it the best

Out of most of the cereal brands and meal bars, Special K isn’t the worst despite everything we’ve discovered about it. Although it has high amounts of sugar and fat for a nutritious brand, they’re healthier than most of the other popular ones out there.

So if you want to have Special K sometimes, it’s not the worst, and you could have it in a limited quantity.

Alternatives to Special K

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If you want to lose weight or start a cleaner meal plan, this shouldn’t be something you should include in the long run. It’s highly recommended to begin including more fruit, healthy fat, whole foods, protein-rich, and fiber-rich food in your meal plan.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, try to consume healthy natural foods in controlled quantities and exercise simultaneously for best results rather than attempting things like the drop a size challenge from Special K. Bad news is that those results are often temporary. You’ll have to start from the beginning all over again.

If you’re looking for a light breakfast, oatmeal is a good option that you can make with rolled oats, low-fat milk, and water. It’s cost-effective and a much healthier food option than cereal.

People who regularly eat cereal don’t have the time to prepare a complete meal in the morning. Here’s an article that can help you out if you’re looking for some easy-to-make healthy breakfast foods.

In conclusion, avoid it when you can

Special K is continuously updating its ingredients list, so maybe in the future, they’ll lower their sugar content in their cereals or the fat content in their meal bars. Still, for now, it’s best if you avoid consuming Special K products regularly.

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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