The toughest meal to plan when you're trying to watch carbohydrates has got to be breakfast. And cereal is hard to resist. Simple, fast, and filling, who wants to give up that morning bowl of Cheerios?

Unfortunately, most well-known brands contain 20 grams of carbs per serving, or more. Eliminate those if you want to keep your meal plan going strong.

The carb content information provided is courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Branded Food Products Databases. The information provided may not reflect a brand’s recommended serving size.

For specific information regarding serving sizes for your favorite cereal brands, please see the specific product’s food label as serving sizes may vary.

Most low-carb cereals aren’t terribly low in carbohydrates. Cereals contain mostly grains, and grains are carbs. However, some cereals are lower in carbs than others. Ones you are likely to see in most grocery stores with lower-carb contents include:

Cheerios

Cheerios have about 20.50 grams of carbohydrates per 1-cup serving. They’re also gluten-free for those watching their gluten intake.

Wheaties

An oldie but goodie, Wheaties have been around since 1922. They’re also fairly low in carbohydrates compared to many cereals, coming in at 23 grams per ¾-cup serving.

Special K Original

At 22.75 grams of carbohydrates per cup, Kellogg’s Special K cereal is a lower-carb content choice.

Annie’s Organic Frosted Oat Flakes

This organic, low-carb, gluten-free cereal is popular with little ones and adults alike. A ¾-cup serving contains about 27 grams of carbohydrates, which is about 9 percent of your recommended daily value.

Note that some cereal manufacturers have a 1-cup serving size, while others use a three-fourth cup serving size. If you stick to the recommended serving size, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a bowl or two of these best-option cereals per week.

Let’s look at the carb content of some other popular cereal brands.

These are tricky! Some cereals seem like better options because they’re made from whole grains, but many are still very carb dense. These cereals fall into the medium carb-content category:

  • Kashi GoLean (32 grams per cup)
  • Wheat Chex (52 grams per 1 cup)
  • Life Cereal (33 grams per 1 cup)

When it comes to the whole grain market, the best bets are cereals with nuts and fruits in them. These options will keep you fuller longer and give you more nutritional bang for your buck because they also contain protein and various vitamins and minerals.

While you probably know to stay away from Trix, Lucky Charms, and Count Chocula, some of the most carb-rich cereals are the ones that look like they’d be the healthiest.

These seemingly healthy cereals top the list of cereals on the market with the highest amount of carbs:

  • Raisin Bran (46 grams per cup)
  • Frosted Mini Wheats (47 grams per cup)
  • Oatmeal Crisp (47 grams per cup)

They do have their benefits, though. Many of these are higher in fiber and lower in sugar than their competitors with less carbs.

Carbohydrates are one of three main nutrients the body needs to function. The other two are fat and protein. Carbohydrates break down into glucose and are important because they provide the body with the energy it needs to work properly. Every cell in the body can use glucose for fuel.

There are three main types of carbohydrates found in foods:

  • starches, which are complex carbohydrates
  • sugars, which are simple carbohydrates
  • fiber

Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly than simple carbs, so they provide the body with a steadier and more long-lasting supply of energy. They’re found in:

  • whole grains
  • beans
  • starchy vegetables, like corn and potatoes

These carbohydrates also provide fuel for the healthy bacteria in the colon. They play a role in:

  • your overall immune function
  • metabolism
  • risk for chronic disease
  • digestive health

The body absorbs simple carbohydrates quickly, so they provide a fast, short-term energy boost. You can find simple carbohydrates in:

  • milk
  • fruits
  • processed foods with added sugars

Fiber is important because it helps keep your digestive tract healthy.

While everyone needs to eat carbohydrates, some people need more carbs than others. For example, people who are very active need to eat more carbs than people who are not as active.

Those with diabetes usually need to limit the amount of carbohydrates they consume during each meal to help manage their blood sugar levels.

People on low-carb diets, like the Atkins, keto, and South Beach diets may limit their carbohydrate intake in an attempt to increase weight loss.

Carbs aren’t “bad,” but it’s worth thinking carefully about the amount your body needs each day to stay healthy. The amount of carbohydrates you need depends on your:

  • age
  • sex
  • health status
  • activity level

Some health experts recommend people get between 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs, with more active people erring on the higher side and less active people eating fewer carbs.

For example, an average-sized person between the ages of 19 and 25, who is aiming to maintain their weight, should consume about 2,400 calories that include 270 to 390 grams of carbs a day. They should then get 35 to 55 percent of total calories from a combination of fat and protein.

A recommended portion of carbohydrates provides about 15 grams.

According to the American Heart Association, examples of recommended portions include:

  • one slice of bread
  • 1/3 cup of rice
  • 1/2 of a banana
  • one small potato

This means that for a daily range of 270 to 390 grams of carbs, you would need to consume 18 to 26 recommended portions.

It’s important to remember that not all calories and carbohydrate grams are equal. In other words, when you choose healthy carbs over high-sugar, low-fiber carbs, it’s helpful in managing your overall health.

When it’s low-carb cereal you’re after, some of your best options aren’t the most exciting on the surface. Try jazzing them up and staying fuller longer by throwing in:

  • sliced almonds
  • roasted hazelnuts
  • walnut halves

Some banana slices, a couple of raisins or craisins, or seasonal berries make fun additions to your morning bowl of goodness, but they will also add more carbohydrates.

Low-carb toppings include:

  • chia seeds
  • nuts and seeds
  • flaxseed
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • cocoa nibs

Cereal is fast to eat when you’re in a time crunch, but don’t let its convenience wreck your dietary plans. Stock your pantry and fridge with other healthy low-carb options.

Try prepping a Greek yogurt parfait with avocado and a handful of walnuts for an easy breakfast you can eat while commuting. Hard-boiled eggs make a great breakfast, too. You can boil a dozen in advance.

Another quick, low-carb option for breakfast is a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit!

If you’re counting your carbs, it’s important to check the labels of the foods you eat. Look for the term “total carbohydrate,” which includes:

  • starches
  • sugars
  • fiber

This can help you balance the number of carbs you eat during each meal.

If you’re counting carbohydrates as part of your meal plan, subtract the total amount of dietary fiber from the total carbohydrate count.

For example, if there are 10 grams of total carbohydrates in a food, but 5 grams are fiber, you will count 5 grams of carbohydrates total. Your body doesn’t digest fiber, so it won’t affect your blood sugar levels like simple sugars will.

Spreading your carbs evenly throughout the day helps ensure your body has a steady supply of energy to power you during the day.

Just because you're watching your carb intake doesn't mean you have to completely eliminate them from your diet. Whatever you choose to do, aim to include healthy carbohydrates every day.

We’ve compiled some of the tastiest low-carb breakfast recipes for you to test your cooking chops on.

1. Keto Corn Flakes

Make your own low-carb cereal at home with this recipe for Keto Corn Flakes by FatForWeightLoss.

Ingredients:

  • almond flour
  • erythritol
  • salt
  • vanilla extract
  • water

2. Low-Carb Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry pancakes get a low-carb makeover with this recipe by tasteaholics.

Ingredients:

  • almond flour
  • almond milk
  • baking powder
  • blueberries
  • cinnamon
  • coconut flour
  • coconut oil
  • egg
  • salt
  • Stevia

3. Eggs baked in avocado

Just five simple ingredients make for a tasty, nutrient-packed breakfast option by Give Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • avocado
  • black pepper
  • cumin
  • eggs
  • olive oil

4. Quick paleo English muffins

English muffins are easier to make (and more low-carb than ever) with this recipe by Beauty and the Foodie.

Ingredients:

  • apple cider vinegar
  • baking soda
  • coconut flour
  • egg
  • gluten free vanilla extract
  • honey or liquid Stevia
  • melted grass-fed butter or coconut oil
  • unsweetened coconut or almond milk

5. Keto French toast egg puffs

These Keto French Toast Egg Puffs by Peace, Love and Low Carb are a low-carb take on a sweet favorite.

Ingredients:

  • baking soda
  • coconut flour
  • eggs
  • full-fat cream cheese
  • granular erythritol
  • ground cinnamon
  • heavy cream
  • pure vanilla extract
  • sugar-free maple syrup