Looking for grain-free or gluten-free cereals and granolas, or simply trying to eat fewer carbs? We polled nutritionists to find out which low-carb cereals they recommend.
So you're trying to cut back on carbs, but you can't start the day without your bowl of cereal. We get it. Luckily, there are more cereal options than ever on supermarket shelves, and many of them contain lower-carb ingredients that will help you get your morning fix without loading up on heavy carbohydrates.
Health's contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, suggests looking for cereals that are made with nuts, seeds, coconut, a little bit of fruit, natural sweetener (think honey or agave syrup) instead of added sugar, and spices for flavor. Although many of these cereals may be gluten- or grain-free, you can also look for flaked whole grain varieties.
"They pack fewer carbs per bite compared to dense squares or clusters," Sass explains, while still delivering a serving of whole grains (which offer many health benefits of their own—from keeping you feeling full thanks to fiber, to helping regulate blood sugar).
But not all low-carb cereals are created equal.
"I would avoid cereals made with processed protein, like soy protein isolate or whey protein," says Sass. "You’re better off mixing your cereal with grass-fed Greek yogurt, or having protein on the side, like pasture-raised eggs."
Also on Sass's "avoid" list? Any packaged cereals that contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. These ingredients "can wreak havoc with your gut, as well as throw off natural appetite regulation," she tells us.
It's also important to note that fewer carbs don't necessarily mean "healthy" when it comes to cereal. "Keep in mind that low-carb or grain-free doesn't mean it’s OK to eat as much as you want," says Sass. "Look at the portion sizes stated on labels, and strive for balance."
Below, the low-carb cereal and granola loved by Sass and other nutritionists we polled.