Cereal Thrilla – The High Performance Cereal Shootout
Popular cereals in South Africa contain as much as 7 teaspoons of sugar per 100g serving – and that’s discounting the extra bit you throw over the top!
Yep, that’s not a good sign, especially since studies have shown that kids in the US are consuming more than 4.5kgs of sugar annually from cereal alone – and South Africans luuurve their cereal
Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day and it becomes important to ensure that we are putting the best stuff into our bodies, especially if you are leading an active lifestyle.
But, for most of us, finding the time each morning to prepare a proper cooked breakfast that is both high in protein and all the other good stuff is just not going to happen. It’s hard enough finding time to train regularly and most would rather spend that extra 20 minutes in bed – or, if like me, you always end up late for work because you tried to squeeze that extra YouTube vid in before getting dressed
As was done so valiantly in the No Sweat Antiperspirant Shootout, I took it upon myself to find the best High Performance Cereal to fill the void…in your stomach 🙂
So let’s get into it.
In order for a cereal to qualify for the test, it had to meet the following criteria:
- Could be found at any local supermarket,
- Had at least 15g of protein per 100g (as per the label on the box), and
- Required little to no effort to prepare (basically just add milk)
This revealed a few key players in the cereal game, namely: Jungle Ultra Energy, FutureLife Smart Food and the High Protein Smart Food, and Bokomo ProNutro.
Each cereal was tested using the following no-nonsense 4-step process:
- Throw portion into bowl
- Add full cream milk
- Mix with tablespoon
I then scored each product out of 20. This was derived from attributing a score (out of 5) for each of the following categories:
- Mixability (MIX) – things considered were time to prepare, lumpiness and the dreaded cement factor (how quickly the cereal tends to dry up)
- Taste (TST) – things considered were the flavour and perceived palatability
- Performance Factor (PFF) – although a very subjective measure, things considered were how long the product kept me feeling “full” and if I noticed any improvements in my performance
- Protein to Carb Ratio (PCR) – a score was assigned based on the Protein:Carbohydrate ratio as follows:
1:2 = 5; 1:3 = 4; 1:4 = 3; 1:5 = 2; 1:5+ = 1
i.e. more points were awarded to cereals with higher protein and lower carbohydrates
Where the scores were tied, the Bang per Buck (i.e. cost per point) was used to distinguish between the ranks.
Now for the scores!
The Results (low to high)
FutureLife Smart Food
MIX – 3 TST – 3 PFF – 4 PCR – 4 Total – 14 RSP – R34.99
Comments – FutureLife has become synonymous with providing a healthy alternative to the usual sugar-filled cereals. At 16g of protein per 100g, it provides a decent serving of protein, but its downfall is its Mixability.
Unless, you have a whisk on hand or make it really really runny, you will be chewing on lumps of powder. It was also quite sweet, which meant I often followed a bowl up with a tall glass of water.
Bokomo ProNutro (Wheat Free)
MIX – 3 TST – 4 PFF – 4 PCR – 3 Total – 14 RSP – R33.99
Comments – The South African cereal legend!
I absolutely loved the taste of ProNutro. It wasn’t sweet, it mixed well and was a delight – all other brands should really take note of what Bokomo has managed to achieve with the taste of ProNutro.
The major downfall of the product was the dreaded cement factor which affected its Mixability score. It was a throwback to when I used to get ready for school and got caught up in the latest episode of Mina Moo.
By the time that intro ended, your spoon would be trapped tight enough for you to turn the bowl upside-down and not have any cereal fall out. So you best eat quick because this is still the case 🙂
FutureLife High Protein Smart Food
MIX – 3 TST – 3 PFF – 4 PCR – 5 Total – 15 RSP – R59.99
Comments – Although a bit pricey, this is my personal choice and I have included it in my diet lately. A great protein source that is quick to mix up – which is handy if you’re late for a meeting. It was also developed in conjunction with the University of Pretoria High Performance Centre, so it is ideal for use by athletes and if you have a high activity lifestyle.
However, it suffers from the same issues as the normal Smart Food version in terms of lumpiness and sweetness. I also found it to be a bit grainy towards the end.
Jungle Ultra Energy
MIX – 4 TST – 3 PFF – 5 PCR – 4 Total – 16 RSP – R28.99
Comments – From the makers of Jungle Oats, comes a high energy cereal that takes the top spot on our review.
It delivers a similar Protein to Carbohydrate ratio as the FutureLife Smart Food, but mixes way better. However, like the FutureLife options, it is really sweet.
I found when I trained after eating this that I had a noticeable energy boost – probably due to the high carb content – so I will save this as my breakfast option before any big races in the future.
Although each box went down well, there had to be a winner. I admit this was no lab test in a controlled environment – these are real life findings i.e. tales from the dining room table.
I do think that there are some decent options out there albeit limited to a few products. I’ve already started rotating my usual Whey Protein + banana breakfast routine with some of these.
It would be interesting to see what other products come to market in the future – for a long time ProNutro was the only option available in South Africa.
Yes, there are the cereals that supplement companies like Biogen, Evox etc. have on offer, but you will need to visit Dischem or special order these off their websites so they are not as accessible to all consumers.
I do believe that there is still some way to go before we can replace a well thought out cooked breakfast with something off the shelves of a supermarket that has a great combination of Protein and Carbohydrates. But, if you find yourself rushing out and in need of grabbing something quickly, I’d keep one of these cereals handy.
Do you have any other products that work for you? Feel free to share in the comments section below.