Not too long ago, millennials killed breakfast cereal. (Allegedly.) Its grave had hardly settled when they dug it right back up again and zapped it back to life, transforming it into something Instagram-friendly, ubiquitous to podcast ads, and, supposedly, healthy.
I am referring, of course, to Magic Spoon. The whimsical, hyper-colorful cereal brand promises a taste reminiscent of childhood with macros worthy of fueling a grown-up, or at least the kind of person who refers to the process of getting through their day as “adulting.” Can any such product live up to the hype? Magic Spoon sent me several boxes to try, and I set out to find the answer. After some thorough taste tests and interviews with two dietitians, I think that, yes, Magic Spoon is more or less healthy—with some key caveats.
The Nessie Rating: Healthy-ish
Its macros—so much protein! So little sugar!—make Magic Spoon a viable part of a healthy diet. Still, it’s processed (not to mention pricey) so it’s best as an every-so-often thing, not a daily meal.
What Is Magic Spoon?
Magic Spoon is a cereal brand founded by Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis, two college friends-turned-entrepreneurs. (They met at Brown University, unsurprising wellness incubator.)
All Magic Spoon cereals are high-protein, low-carb, grain-free, keto-friendly, and contain no added sugar. Its standard flavors range between 140 and 170 calories per each one-cup serving, and said flavors don’t exactly seem like they’d carry this nutrition profile. Each one sounds mouth-wateringly, tantalizingly sweet, with a clear analog to the cereals that aired commercials on repeat on Nickelodeon 20-odd years ago. There’s “Fruity,” “Frosted,” “Cocoa,” “Peanut Butter,” “Blueberry Muffin,” “Cinnamon Roll,” and “Maple Waffle.” If you’re unsure about which Magic Spoon flavor is supposed to correspond to which sugary cereal flavor, it’s all laid out on a page on its website titled “Us vs. Them.”
Where to Get Magic Spoon Cereal
To buy Magic Spoon cereal on its website, you must either build a 4-pack for $39 ($29.25 for a monthly subscription) or a 6-pack for $59 ($44.25 for a monthly subscription). You can also buy some flavors at Target for $10 a box.
What Is Magic Spoon Cereal Made Of?
Cow’s milk protein blend—also known as whey protein Mayo Clinic “Whey Protein” View Source —is the first ingredient for each flavor, which means Magic Spoon is not vegan or suitable for someone with a lactose intolerance. Other than that, it contains a mix of vegetable oils, tapioca flour (a gluten-free starch that comes from the cassava plant), chicory root (a prebiotic fiber), vegetable juice and/or turmeric NCCIH “Turmeric” View Source and spirulina extract for color, salt, and allulose and monk fruit for sweetness.
Allulose Cleveland Clinic “What Is Allulose” View Source is a natural sweetener found in foods like raisins, wheat, and figs. It’s a little less sweet than sugar and is not absorbed by the body, so it doesn’t contribute to overall caloric intake. The sweetener is considered safe by the FDA, and initial studies Foods “Research Advances of d-allulose: An Overview of Physiological Functions, Enzymatic Biotransformation Technologies, and Production Processes” View Source indicate that it may have some anti-diabetic and anti-oxidation properties. However, research is limited, and studies that point to positive effects may not apply to everyone. One study Nutrients “Gastrointestinal Tolerance of D-Allulose in Healthy and Young Adults. A Non-Randomized Controlled Trial” View Source only evaluated healthy young adults and excluded anyone with asthma, gastrointestinal conditions, or who had recently gone through surgery.
Monk fruit Scientific Reports “Introduction, adaptation and characterization of monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii): a non-caloric new natural sweetener” View Source is also a natural, plant-based sweetener that is approved by the FDA. It’s a lot sweeter than regular sugar—the FDA FDA “Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States” View Source considers it a “high-intensity sweetener”—so only a tiny amount is required to add a kick. Like allulose, it isn’t absorbed in the body and doesn’t contribute calories to a meal or food product.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these pass-right-through sweeteners. But it’s a good idea to go easy if it’s your first time trying them. “With anything that isn’t absorbed by the body, you run the risk of some gastrointestinal issues—gas, bloating, or nausea,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition & Wellness and author of Unapologetic Eating.
The presence of chicory root can also cause digestive discomfort, especially when consumed in high amounts. There isn’t a ton in Magic Spoon, but if you find yourself eating a whole box in one sitting, you may have to run to the bathroom, fast.
Is Magic Spoon Cereal Healthy?
As far as a nutrition profile goes, Magic Spoon is close to unimpeachable. Its protein content—12-14 grams per serving, depending on the flavor—rivals many protein bars and powders, and its lack of sugar is a real benefit for anyone who needs to lower their intake. “In my opinion, it is not lacking any ingredients,” says Sequoia Ridley, RDN. “Magic Spoon offers a good amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) as well as a decent amount of sodium and fiber.” These factors definitely help count it as healthier than the sugary-sweet cereals it’s mimicking.
In practice, it’s a little more complicated. The first thing to know is that, like the breakfast cereals of yore, it’s part of a balanced diet—not the whole thing. Ridley generally recommends that people eat fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy about 80% of the time. “Foods that are more processed, or ultra-processed, with additives such as sweeteners, protein powders, and added fibers, can make up that other 20%, which is where Magic Spoon would fall,” says Ridley. “I would suggest a client have Magic Spoon a couple times per week, but then the other days focus on whole foods.”
Because it’s low-calorie and low-carb, a bowl of Magic Spoon may not feel like enough for some people. It can be great as a snack, but if you’re having it as a meal, Rumsey recommends supplementing with some carbohydrates, like a piece of toast with peanut butter or a banana. “If someone is only having this for breakfast, they’re not going to be full or satisfied for very long,” she says. “We do need carbohydrates to help us feel full, they impact our appetite hormones in different ways than protein and fat. Carbohydrates help us stay full and satisfied and give us energy.”
But Is Magic Spoon Actually Satisfying?
Finally, there’s the mental phenomenon of eating something that appears to be one delicious, indulgent thing, but is just different enough that it doesn’t quite deliver. (Call it the Halo Top effect.) “What I often see happen with ice cream and other foods that have been ‘healthified’ is that they don’t actually taste the same as the original, and so they’re not as satisfying to people,” says Rumsey. “When we’re not satisfied, even if we’re feeling physically full, it’s easy to keep eating.”
To me, Magic Spoon tastes good enough that I felt pretty satisfied when I ate it. (More on that in a sec.) But a person could, in theory, easily go through the day day eating packaged low-calorie facsimiles of other food—say, a bowl of Magic Spoon for breakfast, a cauliflower thins sandwich for lunch, powdered peanut butter and Popcorners for an afternoon snack, and spirulina-based Noodies ramen for dinner, followed by some Halo Top for dessert.
Of course, most people don’t do this. Still, it’s worth noting that if the replacement doesn’t work for you, it’s best not to force it, “If you really like the taste of it, go for it,” says Rumsey. “See if and how it affects your eating for the rest of the day and a couple of days after.”
Basically: If you try it, and you actually like it, Magic Spoon can be healthy. If it leaves you cold, you may be better off with something else.
Is Magic Spoon Cereal Good?
I like it! I tried the Blueberry Muffin, Cocoa, Fruity, Frosted, and Cinnamon Roll flavors, and all of them tasted more or less like what I expected. For me, the fruit-inspired variations are the clear winners, but your mileage may vary depending on your own flavor preferences.
I will say that the experience did not give me the same feeling that diving into a bowl of Fruity Pebbles once did. It’s not exactly less sweet, but it’s a different kind of sweet, and, likely because its base is milk protein rather than oats or corn, I’d classify it as a little chewy rather than crunchy. Still, it felt like a pleasantly indulgent morning treat.
I also felt satisfied for a few hours after eating it. But this may have been because, most of the time, I found myself mixing Magic Spoon with the Grape-Nuts I already had in my cabinet. (My usual cereal tastes tend to veer on the geriatric side.) This cut the sweetness, gave it a bit more crunch, and hewed to Rumsey’s recommendation to supplement Magic Spoon with another, carbier food. It also made the box last longer, which, at $10 a pop, feels valuable.
Is Magic Spoon Cereal Worth It?
Magic Spoon’s price tag is something to reckon with. It’s also not necessary to shell out for it just to have a healthy breakfast. (Overnight oats with a splash of maple syrup have never failed me, personally.) But if you often find yourself dreaming of the cereal of your youth, it’s worth trying a box. If it makes you happy—even a little bit—that’s enough for us to call it healthy.
- Interview with Alissa Rumsey, RDN (October 12, 2022)
- Interview with Sequoia Ridley, RDN (October 13, 2022)
- Allulose is a natural sweetener: “What You Need To Know About Allulose” (Cleveland Clinic)
- Initial allulose studies show promising results: Research Advances of d-allulose: “An Overview of Physiological Functions, Enzymatic Biotransformation Technologies, and Production Processes” (Foods)
- Allulose study only looked at young, healthy people: “Gastrointestinal Tolerance of D-Allulose in Healthy and Young Adults. A Non-Randomized Controlled Trial” (Nutrients)
- Monk fruit is a plant-based sweetener: “Introduction, adaptation and characterization of monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii): a non-caloric new natural sweetener” (Scientific Reports)