Should You Eat Cereal for Breakfast if You Have Diabetes?

The best cereals for people with diabetes are nutritious and will help keep blood sugar levels stable. 

Eating a nutritious breakfast every day can jump-start your metabolism, prevent food cravings, and help you maintain a weight that supports your health. , eating breakfast also helps you control your blood sugar.

If you usually skip a morning meal because you don’t have time, a nutritious breakfast cereal can be a quick and easy way to start your day. 

This article will explain how breakfast affects blood sugar levels and why you should choose cereals with a low glycemic index rating if you have diabetes.

It also will help you learn about the common sweeteners that hide in popular cereals as well as some tips on choosing diabetes-friendly breakfast cereals.

Research has shown that starting the day with a  can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and help you manage your weight if you have diabetes. Protein and fat help fill you up, which means you're likely to eat fewer calories throughout the day.

High blood sugar in the morning is common among people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels can also rise after breakfast, which can cause “a vicious cycle": High blood sugar can make you crave more carbohydrates, and eating more calories and carbs can cause your blood sugar to go up.

If you have diabetes, choose foods with a low  (GI) rating. This number measures how fast the carbohydrates in a food will raise your blood sugar levels. The lower the GI index number, the longer the food takes to digest and get absorbed into your blood. When food takes longer to digest, you will be less likely to see a big and fast increase in your blood sugar.

Looking for a breakfast cereal with the lowest  can help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Keep these numbers in mind:

If you’re at a grocery store in Australia or New Zealand, you’d see the GI index of a breakfast cereal right on the box.

These countries encourage food manufacturers to put this information on food labels but other countries—including the United States and Canada—do not.

Research by Health Canada published in an American scientific journal found that consumers could be misled if glycemic index values were put on food labels in the U.S. The researchers said that not only are foods with low GI numbers necessarily nutritious but that the numbers could vary depending on the lab conducting the testing.

You can look for and often find GI index ratings using the  published by the . This index lists about 4,000 food items—about 60% more than the index published back in 2008.


Some breakfast cereals are more nutritious than others. There are many processed cereals on the market that are full of extra calories, carbohydrates, and added sugar—none of which are helpful for people with diabetes.

To make sure you’re meeting your nutrition goals, go for whole-grain cereals that have no more than 6 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Whole-grain cereals tend to have more fiber and often contain high-protein ingredients like nuts. Whole grains have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is common in people with diabetes.

If you have diabetes, a good time to eat cereal is before you exercise.


Physical activity helps to burn sugar (glucose). 

If you  or insulin to manage your blood sugar, you'll likely need to eat carbohydrates before exercise to prevent low blood sugar while working out.

If you want to eat cereal for breakfast, here are some tips that can help you lower the carb content and make the morning .

When you’re shopping for cereal, look for the following words on the nutritional label to help make sure that you're choosing one that has whole grains:

Finding hidden sugars on an ingredients list can take some detective work. Here are a few terms that manufacturers use to describe the sweeteners that may be in a breakfast cereal:


If you have diabetes, you can figure out which cereals work best for you by testing your blood sugar before you eat and two hours after you eat breakfast. , then you’ll know that cereal could be an option for you. 

The following brands of cold cereal may help you keep your blood sugar stable and keep you feeling satisfied after breakfast: 

If you have diabetes, eating breakfast can help you stabilize your blood sugar while ensuring you get vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. However, many cold breakfast cereals are loaded with calories, carbohydrates, and sugar, so it's important to choose wisely. Foods with a low glycemic index rating are best if you have diabetes. Read the ingredients label on a breakfast cereal, stick to one serving, and avoid adding any sugary extras.