Looking for something to get you off to a good start in the mornings? Wheaties has introduced a new breakfast cereal, FUEL, that claims to be “by champions” and “for champions”. It definitely has some celebrity firepower endorsing it…Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols, Kevin Garnett, Bryan Clay…those are some big guns.
The athletes worked with Dr. John Ivy, a performance nutrition expert, as part of a “co-creation team”. Ivy, a fellow and former Ambassador for the American College of Sports Medicine, has served or is currently serving on numerous editorial boards, including the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed research and review articles, as well as two books on sports nutrition, Nutrient Timing and The Performance Zone.
FUEL’s marketing is directed primarily at young males who are active “due to participation in athletics, work related activities or leisure time physical pursuits”. It promises long-lasting energy from its whole grains. One serving provides 100% of your B-vitamin needs (to ensure energy is delivered to your muscles). The cereal is fortified with extra fiber which it claims will effectively curb hunger while it limits the feeling of fullness. The cereal is dense and packs a substantial number of calories into a small serving.
What they fail to tell you is where all of those extra calories come from. While a serving of regular Wheaties only contains 100 calories and 4 grams of sugar, Wheaties FUEL weighs in with 14 grams of sugar and 210 calories. So just where does all that extra sugar come from….raisins? Dry fruit? No, FUEL gets its sweetness the old-fashioned way….added sugar!
In my blog yesterday I discussed how food manufacturers take advantage of food labeling laws and use multiple sources of sugar so that they appear lower on the ingredients list. FUEL is a perfect example of this practice. It has the same sugar content as a serving of Chips Ahoy cookies, and it’s possible that there is more added sugar in the cereal than anything else. But because it derives its sugary goodness from a quartet of different sweeteners (sugar. honey, brown sugar syrup, & corn syrup), whole wheat and rice flour are the first things we see listed in the ingredients.
Interestingly enough, one of the “punching bags” of bad nutrition, Fruit Loops, doesn’t make any effort to hide from its sugar content. “Sugar” is the only sweetener listed, and it’s listed right at the top as the main ingredient. It does fight back a little, boldly heralding itself as “a good source of fiber” (it has 3 grams, FUEL has 5), but is that really enough to make up for all that awful sugar? Fruit loops packs 12 grams of sugar into every serving!
Hmmm, just curious, did you go back and look at how much sugar there is in FUEL? That’s right, 14 grams. I wonder if Peyton and his pals realize they’re pushing a cereal loaded with more added sweeteners than Fruit Loops or Cap’n Crunch!!!
Yet as I peruse the internet the majority of articles I have seen describe FUEL as a “healthy” choice for breakfast that is “lightly sweetened”. Several commented that is has a taste “that even kids will enjoy”. Gee, I wonder why? I guess the inclusion of a little fiber and a few vitamins really is all it takes to fool most of the people out there.
Breakfast cereals are convenient and highly palatable. But that palatability almost always comes at a cost, usually in the form of added sugar, fat, and/or salt. The per capita consumption of added sugar (refined sugar, corn syrup, etc.) hovers around 150 lbs. per person in this country. If you think that’s good for your health, by all means FUEL up.