How to Choose a Keto-Friendly Cereal

cereal

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Whether you’re a seasoned keto expert, you’re dipping your toe into low-carb eating, or you’re just curious what all the fuss is all about, you’ve probably seen dozens of keto and keto-friendly products in stores. The ketogenic diet focuses on low-carb meals, prioritizing high-fat and high-protein foods. This strategy has shown short-term success in weight loss efforts.

One product that’s quickly gaining popularity is keto-friendly cereal. It makes sense—this breakfast food is fast, easy, and convenient, but traditional cereals are the opposite of keto-friendly, often high in carbohydrates and sugar, and low in fat and protein. It’s no wonder companies are rushing to offer low-carb alternatives.

But are these keto and keto-friendly cereals actually good for you? We asked experts to weigh in on how to choose the right option for you.

“For people who are following a ketogenic diet, they may be compelled to try low-carb or keto cereal to add variety to their meal plan,” says registered dietician Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN. “But, it's important for them to read the ingredients and understand what is in the brands.”

Here are some best practices to employ when selecting a keto cereal:

Aim For Whole Foods

When shopping for cereal, “Look for brands that use whole foods in their ingredients, such as nuts and seeds,” Cervoni says.

“Seek out naturally low-carb ingredients, like almond flour, coconut flour, nuts, and seeds,” says registered dietician Marissa Meshulam, MS, RD, CDN.

Watch Out For Fake Sweeteners

You want keto cereal with 3 grams of sugar or less per serving, Meshulam recommends. “Avoid artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. These are hyper-sweet and can lead to sweet cravings later on in the day. A little bit of stevia or monk fruit tends to be better tolerated and are more natural, low-calorie sweeteners.” 

Sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, present in many low-carb products can also be a problem. ”If you struggle with any sort of GI distress, like gas, bloating, etc., those can worsen it,” Meshulam notes.

Check The Fiber

Individuals following a keto strategy may find themselves lacking in fiber, a possible obstacle to the diet. In a traditional Western diet, fiber is often found in grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit, carbohydrates that keto tends to cut out. This doesn't mean high-fiber and low-carb foods are impossible to find. Look for brands that offer naturally occurring fiber, from sources such as chia and flax seeds. “Aim to find a brand that has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving,” Cervoni says.

Beware of chicory root fiber and inulin, two forms of fiber that are common in keto products. Both are FODMAP and can be irritating to people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Meshulam warns.

Look For Fats

Another issue: Low-carb cereals may not have enough fat for a true keto diet. “Most ketogenic diets should contain about 65 to 75% of calories from fat, less than 5% of calories from carbohydrates, and 15 to 20% of calories from protein, so you may need to add more fat to your meal to hit your macros and stay in a state of ketosis,” Cervoni notes. With all that in mind, it might make sense to DIY your keto-friendly cereal instead of buying a premade one. 

“To save money and control your ingredients, consider making your own low-carb cereal,” Cervoni says. “Use a few berries, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, or another nut variety that you enjoy, unsweetened coconut flakes, cinnamon, and vanilla powder. This is a great blend of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.” 

Low carb and keto-friendly cereals also can be expensive, Cervoni says. Making your own can be easier on the budget, especially if you buy ingredients in bulk from a health food store.

A Word From Verywell

For many people, keto is a style of eating that differs from what they're accustomed to. It can be tricky to add the appropriate amount of fats and proteins while also cutting out a significant amount of carbs. Keto-friendly grocery products, like cereal, may provide a helpful shortcut, but the best practice is to focus on whole foods. Whole foods do not have the same additives and hidden sugars as processed foods, making them a better option for giving your body helpful nutrients.

Before you begin to follow a keto eating plan, speak to a health care professional to see if there are any necessary modifications you should make for your individual needs.

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