Are Rice Krispies Healthy? 8 Things You Should Know

Is eating Rice Krispies healthy?

Yes. Eating plain Rice Krispies cereal without added artificial or toxic ingredients can be a healthier option.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • Marshmallows
  • Gluten
  • Corn syrup
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene
  • Fat
  • Sugar
  • Modified corn starch

Possible short-term side effects

  • Blood sugar spike
  • Hyperactivity

Possible long-term side effects

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Weight gain, obesity
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Renal disease
  • Damaged tooth enamel

Healthy alternatives

  • Homemade brown rice krispies treats

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If nutrition didn’t matter at all, I’d probably eat Rice Krispies every day. I love it, and I had a few months when I ate it with peanut butter and soy milk constantly (don’t judge me). But today, we’re taking a closer look at the health side. Are Rice Krispies actually good for you?

Rice Krispies are low in fat and free from artificial sweeteners and colors. However, they have added sugar, no fiber, and they score high on the glycemic index. This means Rice Krispies may spike your blood-sugar levels. Personally, I stopped eating Rice Krispies to help clear my acne.

Below, we’ll cover the ingredients and nutrition facts for Rice Krispies in detail. We’ll look at whether they’re good for weight loss, and whether they could affect your acne. Oh—and if you’re trying to find info on Rice Krispies Treats, we’ll cover those, too!

Are Rice Krispies Good for You?

Here are the eight specific questions I’ll be answering about Rice Krispies nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:

  1. What Are the Ingredients in Rice Krispies?
  2. Are Rice Krispies High in Sugar?
  3. Do Rice Krispies Have Protein?
  4. Do Rice Krispies Have Fiber?
  5. Are Rice Krispies Good for Weight Loss?
  6. Are Rice Krispies Bad for Acne?
  7. Are Rice Krispies Treats Unhealthy?
  8. Are Rice Krispies Vegan?

1. What Are the Ingredients in Rice Krispies?

Let’s start by discussing what Rice Krispies are actually made of. The ingredients list for the cereal itself is quite simple. I’ll share my analysis below:

Rice Krispies ingredients: Rice, Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Malt Flavor. Vitamins and Minerals: Iron (Ferric Phosphate), Niacinamide, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Hydrochloride), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.

Here’s what I notice from these ingredients:

  • The main ingredient in Rice Krispies is… rice. This may sound obvious, but it’s worth considering: Is rice healthy? Well… it’s not the worst food in the world. But it’s not the best, either. It’s mostly just carbs. It’s not very nutrient dense.
  • Rice Krispies have added sugar. One of the big differences between Rice Krispies and plain rice (or “puffed rice” cereal) is that Rice Krispies have sugar. Of course, this sugar is processed, high-glycemic, and adds more empty calories. We’ll cover more about the sugar content of Rice Krispies below.
  • Rice Krispies are oil free. Many packaged foods today come with highly processed vegetable oils (like soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil). Rice Krispies don’t have any of these refined oils. So that’s nice.
  • Rice Krispies have added vitamins and minerals. This is really only a small benefit. Most people are probably getting these nutrients from other foods anyway, and most of them would be better absorbed from whole foods. That said, it may provide a small benefit.
  • Rice Krispies are free of artificial sweeteners and colors. There are no controversial artificial ingredients being added to Rice Krispies like “red 40” or “sucralose.”

Overall, the ingredients of Rice Krispies are simple—but they lack much nutritional value beyond carbs and some common fortified vitamins and minerals. To me, Rice Krispies seem like a form of “empty calories” by themselves.

But let’s look closer at the numbers. How much sugar, protein, and fiber do Rice Krispies actually have? We’ll cover that next.

2. Are Rice Krispies High in Sugar?

Rice Krispies have 4 grams of sugar per serving (1 1/2 cups or 40g). This is twice the sugar of Cheerios, and around the same amount as Corn Flakes or Special K. Rice Krispies have only one-third of the sugar found in Frosted Flakes or Froot Loops.

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. But no added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have natural sugar from fruit and whole foods.

So for me personally, any amount of “added sugar” is a negative. Unfortunately, most popular foods today come with a bunch of sugar.

Here is a table I put together comparing the sugar content of Rice Krispies to other popular cereal brands:

CerealServing SizeTotal SugarsAdded Sugar
Cheerios1 1/2 cup (39g)2g2g
Corn Flakes1 1/2 cup (42g)4g4g
Froot Loops1 1/3 cup (39g)12g12g
Frosted Flakes1 cup (37g)12g12g
Grape Nuts1/2 cup (58g)5g0g
Raisin Bran1 cup (59g)17g9g
Rice Krispies1 1/2 cup (40g)4g4g
Shredded Wheat1 1/3 cup (60g)0g0g
Special K1 1/4 cup (39g)5g4g
Sugar content of popular cereal brands.

As you can see, Rice Krispies are not the worst offender—and they’re not the best, either. Their sugar content is similar to several other popular brands.

But there’s more to the story… As carbs like rice are digested in your body, they turn into sugars, too. This is why diabetics and others with blood-sugar issues often monitor their total carb consumption—not just “sugar.”

Rice Krispies score 82 on the glycemic index, which is considered high. Their “glycemic load” score is also high. This means that, despite only having 4g of “sugar” per serving, Rice Krispies have a high potential to spike your blood-sugar levels quickly. (source)

So if you have blood-sugar issues, you may want to avoid Rice Krispies or limit your portion sizes. Below, I’ll discuss how Rice Krispies may affect acne by affecting blood-sugar levels.

3. Do Rice Krispies Have Protein?

Rice Krispies have 3 grams of protein per serving (1 1/2 cups or 40 grams). However, if you’re eating Rice Krispies with milk of some sort, it could have 9 grams or more of protein per serving.

None of the ingredients in Rice Krispies are particularly high in protein, but there’s still a bit of protein from the rice. About 8% of Rice Krispies calories or less come from protein. Meanwhile, all the rest come from carbs.

Obviously, your selection of milk can impact how much protein is in your bowl of Rice Krispies, too. If you’re choosing a plant-based milk, then soy milk or pea milk will likely have the most. Almond milk and rice milk are usually low in protein.

As someone who does a bit of bodybuilding and who loves cereal, I have a bonus cereal protein tip. Here it is: Mix protein powder into your milk before you pour it on your cereal. This simple change can turn cereal into a decently high-protein meal—while keeping it easy, quick, and delicious.

4. Do Rice Krispies Have Fiber?

Rice Krispies do not have a significant amount of fiber. The nutrition facts label for Rice Krispies shows 0 grams of fiber per serving (1 1/2 cups).

This is a bit of a disappointment. The health benefits of fiber are many—and only about 5% of Americans get the recommended amount. Unless you have a specific reason to be on a low-fiber diet, usually it’s healthiest to choose higher fiber foods.

When you eat in-tact rice, you’ll typically get at least a couple grams of fiber, especially if it’s brown rice. But when you go for Rice Krispies, you’re not getting any significant amount.

5. Are Rice Krispies Good for Weight Loss?

Rice Krispies are not the most obvious choice for a weight-loss diet. There are other cereals that could help fill you up with more fiber and perhaps keep you better satisfied while in a calorie deficit.

As covered above, Rice Krispies rank high on the glycemic index, meaning that its carbs are very quick to digest. Foods with more fiber and lower GI scores would likely help you to stay full longer without needing to keep eating more throughout the day.

Rice Krispies are also not the lowest-calorie food, since they include processed sugar. Any processed ingredients (including sugar) tend to have a relatively high caloric density, as the bulk and fiber are removed. To lose weight, it helps to focus on low calorie-density foods.

By itself, a few servings of Rice Krispies will not make or break your weight loss diet, though. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.

If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each day/week overall, you should lose weight. Eating some Rice Krispies or other “processed foods” on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet as long as that larger pattern remains in tact.

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6. Are Rice Krispies Bad for Acne?

The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But increasingly, there is significant evidence that diet does play a central role in acne! And there are a few specific types of foods that are widely acknowledged as problematic.

The first big problem food for acne is dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream, and so on. So if you’re eating your Rice Krispies with cow’s milk, that could already be aggravating your acne.

But the second kind of acne problem food is even more closely associated with Rice Krispies. It’s sugar and high glycemic index carbohydrates. As covered above, not only does Rice Krispies have added sugar—it has a whole bunch of high-GI carbs from rice.

Milk, sugar, and high-GI carbs are all suspected to affect acne through similar mechanisms. It has to do with your body’s insulin response. Your body’s use of insulin is affected by eating dairy foods and also by spikes in your blood sugar. (source)

Interestingly, this means that for many acne sufferers, reducing acne is about stabilizing your blood-sugar levels. And often, that means cutting out high-GI carbs like those found in Rice Krispies—or at least minimizing them.

Personally, I found that cereal was one of the worst foods for my acne. Even if I chose cereals with “no added sugar,” the high-GI processed flakes still caused problems for me.

If you want to learn more, I wrote a lot more about acne science and how to clear your acne in this massive blog post.

7. Are Rice Krispies Treats Unhealthy?

Rice Krispies treats are not very healthy. In addition to the Rice Krispies cereal, which is already mostly empty calories, it also has saturated fat from butter, and extra sugar from marshmallows.

Here is the basic recipe for Rice Krispies Treats:

  • 3 Tbsp of Butter
  • About 40 Marshmallows
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies cereal

Even when we looked at Rice Krispies cereal by itself, it’s already not the healthiest food—it’s mostly just carbs and some fortified vitamins and minerals.

But then with Rice Krispies Treats, you’re adding butter and marshmallows to that… Despite the ongoing debates about saturated fat, most people agree that butter and marshmallows are not very healthy.

So, most people would also agree: Rice Krispies Treats are not very healthy.

8. Are Rice Krispies Vegan?

I actually wrote a whole separate post about this topic. Here’s the short answer:

Rice Krispies are generally considered vegan. However, they do contain sugar and vitamin D3, which are gray-area ingredients that some vegans avoid. Sugar is often filtered with bone char, and vitamin D3 is usually derived from lanolin (from sheep’s wool).

For a more detailed answer—including discussion of Rice Krispies treats, plus the various flavors of Rice Krispies—be sure to check out the full post here.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

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