You don't need to hear it again: Keto requires cutting carbs. But slashing that macro also means you'll be missing out on fiber. (ICYMI: Fiber is a type of carb.)
Quick recap: Keto calls for eating no more than 50 grams of carbs per day, per Harvard Health Publishing, which is much less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans' recommendation of getting 225 to 325 grams of carbs (or 45 to 65 percent of your calories via carbs) each day. Since all of the fiber in our diet comes from carby foods, it can be tricky to maximize your high-fiber foods while staying within your personal limits. (And that's exactly why the keto diet isn't super sustainable or ideal for long-term weight loss and weight-loss maintenance.)
That's where net carbs come in. Net carbs are the number of carbs you get when you subtract the number of grams of fiber from the number of grams of total carbs. That total leaves you with the amount of sugar and starch in your meal — two types of carbs that can spike your blood sugar and kick you out of ketosis.
And what better time to start than your first meal of the day? Check out these lower-carb, high-fiber options that will keep you fueled and full all morning. All of these healthy breakfast recipes pack in 5 grams of fiber or more and fewer than 20 grams of total carbs.
Want to Easily Track Your Net Carbs Without Doing the Math?
1. Vegan Curry Sunrise Scramble
Contrary to popular belief, you can eat vegetables while living a lower-carb lifestyle. This vegan curry sunrise scramble calls for low-carb spinach, onions and tomatoes — which also provide fiber, vitamin C and iron. With 13 grams of total carbs and 5 grams of fiber, you'll get just 8 grams of net carbs from this brekky.
Loading up on non-starchy vegetables, like the ones included in this recipe, is a great way to start the day and help you make good and nutrient-dense choices when following a ketogenic eating plan.
Get the Vegan Curry Sunrise Scramble recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: The 'Do Not Eat' List for Low-Carb Diets
2. Tex-Mex Vegan Breakfast Hash
This vegan breakfast hash comes together in less than 10 minutes and packs in just 15 grams of net carbs. The 5 grams of fiber in this dish comes from two kinds of bell peppers and avocado while the fat mostly comes from the grapeseed oil, but you can swap that out for any other oil you might have on hand, such as canola or olive oil.
Tofu, a star ingredient in this hash, is a great option for those following keto because it's low in carbs and moderate in protein.
Get the Tex-Mex Vegan Breakfast Hash recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Mesclun Egg Salad
Eating greens for breakfast is a great way to start the day and get vegetables in early and this salad is a low-carb dieter's dream. Packed with veggies, you get 8 grams of fiber from greens, peppers, onions and avocado galore so forking into this for breakfast will put you well on your way to the recommended amount of fiber per day.
With 20 grams of total carbohydrates, subtracting the belly-filling fiber will give you 12 grams of net carbs and no added sugar.
Get the Mesclun Egg Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Walnut Ricotta Avocado Toast on Almond Bread
This flavor-packed breakfast sneaks in a serious amount of dietary fat as well as an impressive 5 grams of fiber. When you subtract that from the total carbs, that leaves you with just 4 grams of net carbs.
The almond flour, avocado, and walnuts are your big sources of fiber and heart-healthy fats here. Walnuts also contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat you'll want to get via food sources rather than supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health. A major morning-time bonus: This meal comes together in less than 10 minutes.
Get the Walnut Ricotta Avocado Toast on Almond Bread recipe and nutrition info here.
5. High-Protein Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie
If you're going low-carb, you might find yourself reaching for fiber supplements to get in the extra fiber you need — after all, getting enough of the nutrient is absolutely essential for good digestive health. There are 12 grams of fiber from two types of fiber supps in this smoothie, which brings the net carb count to just one gram. We repeat, one gram of net carbs.
Keep in mind that you should work to increase your daily fiber intake gradually and remember to drink plenty of water with high-fiber meals. Doing so will help you avoid digestive upset and keep things moving along.
Get the High-Protein Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Western-Style Eggs in a Wok
You won't even feel like you're low-carbing it with this a.m. meal that contains fiber from bell peppers, shallots and a jalapeño. The entire dish, which also packs a good protein punch at 16 grams, has a total carbohydrate count of 20 grams. When you subtract the 6 grams of fiber, your net carb total is 14 grams.
Major bonus: Just a single red bell pepper provides more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, according to the USDA.
Get the Western-Style Eggs in a Wok recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Avocado Egg Cups
Avocados are a staple food on the ketogenic diet and for good reason: They're filled with both fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Eggs, another star ingredient in this dish, are another nutrient-dense option — but you'll want to keep those yolks in there.
Egg yolks contain choline, which is an important neurotransmitter that's involved with regulating mood, muscle function and metabolism, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Get the Avocado Egg Cups recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Chia Pudding
When you choose to follow a low-carb diet or full keto, you really have to do your homework with nutrition. This chia pudding makes breakfast a bit easier and checks off many boxes for nutrients that you might be missing on your low-carb diet.
Chia seeds are high in fiber, but also contain calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, according to June 2019 research published in Nutrients. Add in fortified almond milk and you'll get additional bone-protecting calcium and vitamin D.
Plus, this pudding has extra protein from tofu and almonds while the high-fiber, low-carb blueberries provide you with much-needed antioxidants. As for the net carbs? There's so much fiber in this recipe — 8 grams or 32 percent of your daily value — bringing your net carb total to 3 grams.
Get the Chia Pudding recipe and nutrition info here.
9. California Scrambled Eggs and Avocado
You'll get what's arguably the tastiest breakfast combo, eggs and avocado, plus some pico de gallo for some extra low-carb veggie goodness. Pico de gallo can easily be made with just finely diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeño and cilantro, deeming it a great way to add flavor, fiber and antioxidants without too many calories.
There are 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams total carbs per serving in this dish, so net carbs count is 6 grams.
Get the California Scrambled Eggs and Avocado recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: Negative Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet
Keep in mind that the American Diabetes Association doesn't recommend calculating net carbs for people with diabetes since the calculation method isn't FDA-approved. So if you're living with diabetes, checking your blood sugar can help you figure out how certain types of carb foods affect you.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020
- Harvard Medical School: "Should You Try The Keto Diet"
- American Diabetes Association: "Making Sense of Food Labels"
- NIH Factsheet: "Choline"
- Nutrients: "The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge"
- NIH Factsheet: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- USDA: "Sweet Red Bell Peppers"