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Low Carb, High Protein Cereal: Gluten Free, Low Sugar

Lindsay Malone MS, RDN, CSO, LD
10 - 12 MIN.


Are you looking for high protein breakfast cereal? HighKey high protein cereal has 10 grams of protein and $1.50 per serving! 0 Net Carbs* - 90 Calories - Grain Free - Gluten Free

IN THIS ARTICLE
  • High Protein Cereal FAQs
  • What Cereal Is High Protein and Low-Carb?
  • What Cereal Is High Protein and Gluten-Free?
  • What Is the Healthiest Cereal to Eat?
  • What Cereal Has the Lowest Amount of Protein?
  • What Cereal Is High Protein and Keto-Friendly?
  • What Cereal is High Protein and Low Sugar?
  • High Protein Cereals
  • High Protein Hot Cereal Recipe 
  • What Are Some High Protein Breakfast Alternatives?

High Protein, Low Carb Breakfast Cereal

03-31-20


Protein is not just for people looking to build muscle – it is an essential macronutrient we all need, regardless of our dietary preferences or gym routine. Every cell in our body contains protein and we need it for the growth and repair of tissues like muscle, but also for hair, skin, nails, hormones, and antibodies as well as our overall health. The point is that regardless of what kind of diet we choose, in this case we are talking low carb, ensuring our diets contain adequate protein is important.

Most of the time when people think of protein and breakfast, eggs may come to mind before cereal. Typically cereal is full of carbohydrates and many kinds are loaded with added sugar – but if you love cereal, you are in luck because there are high-protein lower carb versions available that will give you that extra boost of protein you might need first thing in the morning without all the added sugar.

If you’re on the hunt for high protein cereal, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll guide you through some of the best readily available high protein cereal options, as well as a few other options that might not be the best choices.

High Protein Cereal FAQs

How Much Protein Should be Consumed on a Daily Basis?

As you might expect, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Protein needs are determined by taking into consideration variables such as:  body composition, physical goals (do you want to lose weight, maintain weight, or build muscle?), exercise level (type, intensity and duration), age, gender, and overall health. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is not, as some may think, the ideal amount of protein needed. It is the adequate amount needed to offset deficiency in most of the population, in other words it is the minimum amount you need to eat to cover your basic nutritional requirements. The RDA for protein is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight. So to determine the minimum level needed you simply multiply your weight in pounds by .36. As an example, someone who weighs 170lb would need ~61g of protein per day. 

If math terrifies you, don’t worry, the easiest way to calculate how much protein you need is to simply use an online calculator such as the one on the USDA website which takes into consideration the variables mentioned above to give you a target protein level. Or if you are living the keto lifestyle, there are many calculators targeted specifically towards meeting the macronutrient needs of keto dieters. Check out HighKey’s Keto Calculator here.   

Is there cereal that fulfills the total amount of protein to consume daily?

No, not really – unless you planned to eat a whole box or use a protein shake for your milk, you’re not going to get all your daily protein needs in your morning cereal. There’s a couple in our lists below that get close but… do you really want to eat all your protein in one go?

You would also have to consider that if you’re following a low-carb diet, cereal would contribute way too many carbs. Plus your snacks and other meals are likely to be high in fat and protein, so there is no reason to consume all of your protein in your first meal of the day. 

For example, Bear Naked Peak Protein contains 10g of protein per ¼ cup, but also 6g of sugar. While this isn’t a lot, if you wanted to consume all your daily protein – around 60g – you’d have to eat 1 ½ cups, and that would include 36g of sugar. Yikes!

What Cereal is Good for Building Muscle?

Cereal per se is not necessarily good for building muscle. But it certainly will contribute to your daily protein needs for building or maintaining lean muscle. Of course, eating pure protein sources like chicken breast will give you more protein per mouthful, but as long as you’re consuming a high quantity of protein in your cereal, it will help. You can find plenty of high protein cereal suggestions in the lists below – just keep reading or scroll down to see what they are!

Do Bodybuilders Eat Cereal?

Typically no, – at least not the kind of cereal you’ll find in a normal trip down the cereal aisle. Bodybuilding is about a lot more than just consuming protein, and cereals can have a part to play, but most bodybuilders will start their day off with a complex carbohydrate, like oatmeal, or jump straight to a high protein source like eggs and turkey bacon.However, that doesn’t mean that bodybuilders don’t ever eat cereal, it just might not be their go-to breakfast choice.

After an intense training session, glycogen (glucose stored in muscles) is essentially depleted and in order for optimal recovery some bodybuilders opt for eating high carb cereal to replenish their glycogen stores. It seems counterintuitive but cereals like CocoPops and Lucky Charms, with all of their simple sugars, can quickly replenish the body’s glycogen levels that are depleted by lifting weights. 

What qualifies a product as high protein?

Although the RDA for protein depends on the variables discussed above, for labeling purposes the recommended daily value (DV)  for protein is 50g. Technically speaking, in order for a food to be considered high protein it must contain 20% or more of the DV or 10 g. To be labeled as a “good source of protein” it must contain 10-19% of the DV or 5-9.5g.

What Cereal Is High Protein and Low-Carb?

  • HighKey Protein Cereal: HighKey is proud to have mastered low carb, high protein cereal! Available in Cinnamon, Cocoa, Frosted, and Fruity flavor, our Protein Cereal has no sugar, but plenty of flavor and crunch. It packs 10 grams of protein per serving and all the sweetness you crave without any of the added sugar. Each serving of our crispy cereal has zero net carbs, no gluten, and no grains, and only 90 calories per serving making it one of the lowest calorie cereals out there. With delicious flavor, fewer calories, more fiber, and more servings per container than the other guys, it’s kind of a big deal that’s why we put it first! 
  • ProGranola 12g Protein Cereal Vanilla Cinnamon – With just 2g of net carbohydrates and 12g of protein, this brand is a good choice. The protein comes from egg white, there’s lots of soluble fiber, and it’s grain-free and gluten-free.
  • Magic Spoon Cereal – This cereal comes in four different flavors and has just 3g net carbs and 12g of protein per serving. Also gluten and grain free.
  • Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast Cereal – Each serving contains 10g of protein and just 5g of net carbs, plus there are six gluten free flavor options to choose from.
  • The Cereal School – The Cereal School brand has done a nice job of providing low carb, gluten and grain free cereal that looks similar to what you might have consumed in your childhood. The difference is theirs has 1 g of net carbs and 16 g of protein per serving. Available in six flavors. 
  • Wholesome Provisions Protein Cereal - Available in Cinnamon, Cocoa and Mixed Berry flavors each serving has 4g of net carbs and 15g of protein, another nice option in the high-protein, low-carb cereal category. 
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What Cereal Is High Protein and Gluten-Free?

  •  I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa – Gluten-free and packed with 5g of protein this also provides you with around 10% of your iron needs.
  • Love Grown Chocolate Power O’s - Made from beans and not grains this gluten-free cereal has 6g of protein in each serving.
  • Barbara’s Bakery Puffins Protein Berry Burst – Non-GMO as well as gluten-free this breakfast option has 6g of protein in every bowl.
  •  Kay’s Protein Cereal Apple Cinnamon – This gives you 12g of protein and 4g of fiber in a crunchy gluten-free package.
  • Holy Crap Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cereal – A serving of this will provide 5g of protein and no gluten and is available in four other flavors.

Can High Protein Cereal Help Me Lose Weight?

No one food is going to help you lose weight. However, High Protein Cereal that is low in sugar can contribute to healthy weight management provided you eat it in moderation. Protein in the morning is  not only an effective way to supply your body with essential building blocks but also a great way to stay full throughout the day.

The best thing about eating a high-protein cereal as your first meal is that it really does set you up for the day. The protein helps reduce hunger and keeps you feeling full right through until lunchtime – which if you’re like me, is quite a feat since 11am is prime snacking time.

High protein cereal can satisfy your cravings for carbs, it is delicious, and fast and easy to eat, so it’s a great thing to keep in your pantry, even if you don’t plan to eat it for breakfast daily.

What Is the Healthiest Cereal to Eat?

What cereal is healthiest depends on your individual dietary needs. For example, oatmeal is an incredibly nutritious cereal choice but it is loaded with carbs so it’s not the “healthiest” choice if you’re following a keto diet.

Equally, while wholegrain cereals are loaded with fiber that is beneficial for heart and digestive health,  if you're gluten-intolerant they’re not a “healthy” choice.

Let’s look at those cereals that are typically considered healthy for most people – just do your research if you have any dietary limitations.

  • General Mills Fiber One – Okay, so Fiber One might not be the most exciting start to your day, but a bowl contains lots of healthful dietary fiber and no added sugar. To make it a little more exciting, add a few berries and some nuts or seeds.
  • Food For Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Golden Flax Cereal – This is one of the least processed cereals available on the market, uses six different sprouted grains, has no sugar, plenty of dietary fiber, and 8g of protein. But keto dieters beware, it is loaded with over 30g of net carbs per serving.
  • Thrive Market Organic Coconut Flakes – This cereal is a good recommendation for those who love cereal but have developed an intolerance or decide to follow a largely grain-free diet. The flakes are made from coconut meat which is naturally high in fiber and good fats and with no added sugar. It’s notoriously low in protein, however, so you’ll have to get your protein elsewhere.
  • HighKey Cinnamon Almond Low Carb Granola – Okay, well we did save one of the best for last….Our version is not the typical granola with toasted oats, sugar or honey, and dried fruit. We combine almonds, pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds with zero-carb sweetener and a hint of cinnamon flavor, only contains 2g net carbs per serving and is ideal for breakfast or as a snack at your desk. It’s got an amazing cinnamon crunch texture and contains 6g of protein, just check out all of the positive reviews and we guarantee you will want to give it a try.

What Cereal Has the Lowest Amount of Protein?

There are quite a lot of cereals out there that have little-to-no protein content. Some of these may seem “healthy” as they are low in fat and calories, but they often have a ton of added sugar and some contain too much salt, and little – if any – health benefits.

  • General Mills Lucky Charms – They have been making Lucky Charms since 1964, and given this kid favorite is loaded with marshmallows and the second ingredient is sugar should give a clue to its nutritional merit! A serving contains just 2g of protein.
  • Kellogg’s Froot Loops – This is another cereal aimed at kids but has little nutritional value. A bowl of Froot Loops has just 1g of protein and 12g of sugar in its 26g of carbs per serving. 
  • General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Cinnamon Toast Crunch contains just 1.5g of protein with 10g of sugar and 206mg of sodium, so it’s definitely not ranked as “healthy” even though it contains added vitamins and minerals. 
  • General Mills Multi-Grain Cheerios – Cheerios isn’t necessarily an unhealthy choice, but at just 2g of protein, it’s not exactly a great choice if you are looking for cereal as a protein source. 

What Cereal is High Protein and Keto-Friendly?

Most of the cereals listed in the High-Protein Low-Carb section are also keto-friendly, but here are a few more to add to the keto friendly cereal list that are not quite as high in protein.

  •  Sola Granola, Vanilla Almond – A tasty, sweet and crunchy granola without the high carbs and sugar you typically find in granola. Sola Granola is available in six yummy flavors and has 11g of fat, 4g of net carbs and 9g of protein, so it’s a good high protein and keto friendly choice.
  • Wildway Grain-Free Hot Cereal, Blueberry Flax – This cereal contains 19g of fat, 10g of net carbs and 6g of protein. While not as low carb as other cereals in the list, it will do in a pinch as long as you keep your portion small.
  • Thrive Grain-Free Granola, Pumpkin Punch – This low-carb granola has 12g of fat, 6g net carbs and comes in a little lower with 4g of protein. 
  • Diabetic Kitchen Granola Cereal, Cinnamon Pecan – This is a particularly good keto option since it’s aimed at diabetics. A bowl offers you 14g of fat, just 3g of net carbs and 4g of protein. Very keto-friendly!

What Cereal is High Protein and Low Sugar?

Technically the term “Low sugar” is not defined or allowed as a claim on food labels. Products labeled as “reduced or less sugar” must have 25% less sugars per serving compared to the traditional variety. Sugar-free must have less than 0.5g of sugar per serving. Or you can have cereal with “no added sugar”. For the purpose here of identifying lower sugar cereals let’s go with options containing less than 7 g of sugar per serving. Obviously, the lower the better, but here are some widely available options for  higher protein and low sugar cereals:

  • Special K Protein Plus – This cereal isn’t particularly low-carb, but it contains 7g of sugar and 10g of protein and you’re likely to find it in your local grocery store. 
  • Nutritious Living Hi-Lo Original Flavor – This cereal has 1g of fat, 12g of protein and only 3g of sugar, plus a healthy 6g of dietary fiber.
  • Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits – This is a great alternative to over-sugared biscuit cereals, with 7g of sugar and 6g of protein. They don’t have a whole lot of sugar, but are pretty high in carbs (43g per serving) since they are made from whole wheat.
  • Bear Naked Peak Protein Original Granola – This is a great high-protein breakfast cereal packed with energy and available in two great flavors, Cinnamon and Honey Almond. A serving contains just 6g of sugar but a hit of 10g of protein for a ¼ cup serving. 

High Protein Cereals 

So, what other high-protein cereals are out there?

  • Kashi Go Lean Original Cereal – Kashi is one of the better brands you can often find in your local stores, and with 13g of protein, it’s certainly one of the highest protein cereals, too. Beware the 9g of sugar and 35g of carbs overall for each 1 cup serving, though, if you’re trying to be low carb.
  • Post Selects Great Grains Protein Blend Cereal - Crammed with flax, soy and blueberries, this healthy cereal has 8g of protein and only 8g of sugar to help you start your day. Since the sugar is from the blueberries, and not added, you can even feel pretty good about that, too.
  • Kind Health Grains Clusters – This granola comes in a variety of flavors, such as peanut butter and cinnamon oat, and all the varieties contain between 5-10g of protein.
  • Cascadian Farm Protein Granola – This is another higher protein granola option available in two flavors (Apple Crisp and Dark Chocolate Coconut) with 10g of protein per ¾ cup serving.
  • Quaker Protein Instant Cereal – Oatmeal is always a healthy option, unless you are looking for low carb. This instant oatmeal is going to be a lot tastier and faster than simply mixing oats with your protein powder. Quaker is the go-to oats brand and has a delicious, wholesome flavor. With 10g of protein in each serving, it does earn a place on this list but beware of the 12g of sugar per packet.
  • Nature’s Path Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax Cereal – Loaded with flax, whole wheat, and blueberries, this is a genuinely healthy cereal and contains 9g protein per ¾ cup serving. If you love cinnamon and you’re not low-carb, this is a good option. 

High Protein Hot Cereal Recipe 

Just-add-cold-milk-cereals are what a lot of people turn to for their first meal of the day but a hot breakfast can really give your morning a boost.

An easy way to get a healthy boost of protein is to simply mix protein powder with oatmeal. Oatmeal is easy to make and only takes a few minutes but can be a little… well, bland, lacking in texture, flavor – you get the picture. The simple solution to this is to add a handful of berries, nuts or seeds, but this recipe from The Protein Chef takes it up a level.

The protein powder can be whichever brand you prefer, then you mix it with hot cooked oats, peanut butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a little sweetener. Yum! This recipe only contains 7g of sugar, but a huge 38g of protein along with plenty of fiber and good fat. You’ll find the recipe here.

If you are looking for a low carb and high protein hot breakfast cereal that you don’t have to make yourself, HighKey Instant Hot Cereals is a great choice. Our range of instant hot cereals are easy to grab-and-go in the mornings and contain a blend of plant protein, coconut, keto friendly sweetener, pecans, sunflower seeds, and other delicious and healthy ingredients.  All our flavors have just 3g of net carbs along with 14g of fat and 9g of protein. (Grab it online, here.

High Protein Granola Cereal Recipe 

If you are a fan of granola for breakfast or even a snack, I have good news! Granola is super easy to make at home and you’ve got the major bonus that it only contains the ingredients you like, want, and there won’t be any hidden sugars or additives.

This Homemade High Protein Granola is vegan, gluten-free, high-protein, and could easily be low-carb too! If you follow the recipe exactly, it uses oats, pecans, walnuts, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds as its base, and totals 17g net carbs, 9g of protein, and just 5g of sugar.

If you’re on keto or another low-carb diet, simply swap out the oats for almonds or cashews to get the net carb count down.

Then, rather than using half a bottle of syrup to get it all to stick together, you use a mixture that includes protein powder, ground flax seeds, water, olive oil and vanilla extract plus a touch of agave nectar for sweetness. Then you bake it and voila! Yummy, homemade granola you can eat with milk or dry as a snack.

Of course, that’s still quite a lot of work for many of us, so if you’d prefer to buy a delicious low-carb granola, we’ve got you covered. Our HighKey Granola is not only high in protein with 5 or 6g per serving but high in fat (13-14g) and super low in carbs, with only 2g net carbs per serving. Just like our hot cereals, it uses only healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients, so it’s just as good as making your own! Get it here.

What Are Some High Protein Breakfast Alternatives?

Cereal is not the only way to get a high-protein start to your day, and if you prefer to keep cereal in the pantry for a backup and cook something even more protein-dense, here are some great high-protein breakfast alternatives:

  • Eggs – If you’re looking to up your protein, eggs are a great place to start. They’re extremely versatile, are quick to make, and extremely filling. Plus, two large eggs will put 13g of protein on your plate, so they pack a punch. Try them scrambled, poached, fried, in an omelet, frittata, in egg muffins – you’ve got a lot of choices, so do a little experimentation and see what you like best.
  • Greek Yogurt – if you like something cold, try swapping your milk for Greek yogurt. Either stick with a little cereal or add seeds or berries instead, like flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, blueberries, or raspberries. A 7oz serving contains 20g of protein, and some of those seed options will give you an even bigger boost.
  • Turkey Sausages and Bacon – If you like something meaty with your eggs, turkey products are a great lean option for breakfast. 2oz of turkey sausage has 14g of protein.
  • Protein Pancakes – Chances are you don’t think pancake when you think high protein breakfast? If that is the case, you might just flip over our light and fluffy keto friendly pancakes that provide 7g of protein per serving. HighKey pancake mixes
  • Cottage Cheese Bowl – Okay, I’ll be honest, I can’t get past the texture of cottage cheese well enough to eat it like this, but there are plenty of bodybuilders who do, so it’s worth mentioning. If you like the idea of the yogurt option above but find that most yogurts contain too much sugar, try a bowl of cottage cheese with a tablespoon of seeds or berries mixed in. It’s relatively low-carb and has 11g of protein per 100g.

We need to eat protein regularly throughout the day, but breakfast is a meal that is usually pretty heavy on the carbs. If you stray just a little way from the traditional boxes of cereal in the local grocery store, there are a ton of high-protein breakfast options out there that are just as easy, fast, and tasty as those cereals – if not more so. Plus, you’ll give your body the tools it needs to help you stay fit, healthy, so grab a high-protein breakfast cereal to enjoy for your next breakfast meal!

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