Keto Cereal: Is It Worth Trying?

Why You May Want to Think Twice Before Buying

Ready-to-eat cereal

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Following a keto diet means no more breakfast cereal. Or, does it? Due to a growing popularity of the low-carb, high-fat diet, manufacturers are expanding their keto-friendly reach to comfort foods like cereal.

Keto cereal and other keto-specific products are fast becoming a new food and supplement trend, similar to the growth of the gluten-free food market. Like other diet-specific grocery items, keto cereal is a bit more expensive than traditional cereal options.

While the point of keto cereal and other keto products is to help keep you in ketosis, there are a few things you need to take into consideration before adding these items to your grocery cart. 

What Does “Keto” Mean?

“Keto is short for ketogenic diet, which is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet,” says Caroline Susie, RDN, LD, an award-winning registered, licensed dietitian, and "carb crusader" who specializes in adult weight management.

The ketogenic diet flips the macronutrient composition of your diet so most of your calories come from fat instead of carbs. This switch causes your body to go into ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose. 

Though now a trendy weight-loss diet, researchers created the ketogenic diet in the early twentieth century as a form of therapy for epilepsy to help control seizure activity. In fact, the ketogenic diet is one of the core treatments in people with drug-resistant epilepsy. 

According to Susie, a clinical ketogenic diet limits carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day and may cause side effects like lightheadedness, fatigue, nausea, and constipation.

There is evidence that the ketogenic diet can help with weight loss. However, researchers note that it’s not clear whether the weight loss is due to ketosis—burning fat for energy—or because of calorie restriction.

Keto is short for ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. A therapeutic diet for people with drug-resistant epilepsy, the keto diet is a popular weight-loss method.

Keto Cereal vs. Regular Cereal

With the growing popularity of the keto diet, food manufacturers have begun making keto products to meet industry demands. These keto foods may satisfy cravings for some of your high-carb favorites, but they could contain more carbs than you're led to believe. On top of that, they may not make the best choice in terms of nutrition.

Like other trendy “diet foods,” keto products tend to contain a laundry list of ingredients—some highly processed—to minimize carbs. Some of these ingredients may have uncomfortable side effects. 

Food manufacturers create keto food products to supply your diet with familiar foods that fit your diet plan. So, how does keto cereal compare to a whole-grain, low-sugar cereal nutritionally? The nutrition facts might surprise you.

Nutrition Facts for Keto Cereal

Nutrition information for 1 cup (40 grams) of cinnamon keto friendly cereal comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Sodium: 75mg
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Calcium: 230mg

Nutrition Facts for Whole Grain Cereal

Nutrition information for 1 cup (28 grams) whole-grain, ready-to-eat oat cereal comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 104
  • Fat: 1.85g
  • Saturated fat: 0.448g
  • Sodium: 139mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20.5g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Sugar: 1.26g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Calcium: 100mg

When comparing the nutrition facts between keto cereal and regular whole-grain cereal you may notice many similarities. 

If you’re following the keto diet and looking for keto-friendly foods, you want items that satisfy your cravings without including more carbs than the keto diet recommends. Keto cereal, while good in theory, executes this goal poorly with its 17 grams of carbohydrates per cup. By comparison, the regular whole-grain cereal has 20.5 grams of total carbs. 

The keto cereal is a better source of fiber and protein than the whole-grain cereal, with 4 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein versus 2.8 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of protein.

Regarding fat content, it's no surprise that the keto cereal has a lot more fat than the whole-grain cereal, with 6 grams of total fat and 4 grams of saturated fat in a cup. The whole-grain cereal has 1.9 grams of total fat and less than 1 gram of saturated fat.

Despite the encouraged fat content of the ketogenic diet, a 2020 review study published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders found that the keto diet lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But, the authors of the review said more research is needed to better understand how the keto diet affects cholesterol and heart health. 

Read the food label of your keto cereal before adding it to the grocery cart to make sure it matches your nutrition goals.

Other Keto Products and Supplements

Manufacturers are making more than just keto-friendly cereal. You can find keto ice cream, cookie mix, and chips, not to mention additional nutritional supplements.

Keto Food Products

Keto food products may contain ingredients like erythritol, palm oil, and rice bran extract. Erythritol is a common ingredient in many keto products because it adds sweetness without calories or carbs. 

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, a type of sugar the body is unable to completely digest and absorb. Though better tolerated than most sugar alcohols, consuming too much erythritol from keto-friendly foods may cause abdominal pain, gas, and bloating.

Susie suggests closely examining the food label of these keto-friendly foods before adding them to your meal plan.

Caroline Susie, RDN, LD

Look for items that have less than 20% of the daily value for sodium, less than 5 grams of sugar per serving, and contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

— Caroline Susie, RDN, LD

Keto Nutritional Supplements

Dietary supplement makers are also cashing in on the keto diet trend, making supplements that purportedly help with weight loss, boost energy, and keep you in ketosis. But before you add these new supplements to your shopping cart, take a moment to reconsider.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the evidence to support weight loss supplement claims is “inconclusive and unconvincing.” Dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA and it’s up to the manufacturer of the supplement to prove safety and effectiveness of the products they sell. 

Additionally, these types of weight loss supplements may contain ingredients that interact with your medications or have other unpleasant side effects such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea. 

Food and supplement companies see the popularity of the keto diet and create products to meet demands. But these keto-friendly foods are usually made from highly processed ingredients instead of whole foods—they aren't necessarily more nutritious. Keto supplements aren't regulated and may contain questionable ingredients.

Whole Food Options for Keto

Instead of spending a ton of money on foods like keto cereal or keto cookies, a better option is to add whole foods that are naturally high in fat and low in carbs into your meals.

The ketogenic diet usually consists of foods like meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, oils, avocados, and butter, according to Susie, along with non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens and fruits in moderation. 

High-Fat, Low-Carb Foods

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • High-fat dairy: cheese, creamer
  • Fatty fish and shellfish
  • Low-carb vegetables: kale, spinach, asparagus, and cucumbers
  • Vegetable oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives and avocados

To satisfy your craving for breakfast cereal, look for traditional, whole-grain cereals that are high in fiber and match your desired carb intake. Most regular whole-grain, low-sugar cereals have about 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates per cup.

Or, instead of buying cereal at the store, you could make your own keto-friendly granola using nuts, seeds, and maple syrup. 

A Word From Verywell

Just because the keto diet is a trendy way of eating doesn't mean it's necessarily right for you. Susie warns that you shouldn’t follow the keto diet if you have pancreatic disease, liver conditions, thyroid problems, a history of disordered eating, or gallbladder disease. You should always talk to a health care professional before trying a new weight-loss method.

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9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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