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Peanuts: they’re a convenient snack that’s packed with protein and healthy fats. It doesn’t hurt that they are also pretty delicious, either.
Sounds perfect for the ketogenic diet, then, right?
Well, not exactly. There’s a lotto unpack when it comes to eating peanuts on keto. Not every peanut product is the same, and some are healthier than others.
And, while this may be surprising to you, peanuts aren’t actually nuts.
The short answer: Yes you can, but since peanuts are higher in carbs than other nuts, you’ll want to limit your intake.
30g (a typical serving) of peanuts pack almost 5g of carbs, and about 15.5g of fat.
Ketosis is a natural state your body enters produces ketones, which burn stored fat for energy instead of glucose.
Eating more than 30-50 grams of carbs per day may provide your body with enough glucose to stop producing ketones and fuel your muscles and brain with glucose instead.
Not ideal if your goal on keto is to lose weight.
You won’t inherently be kicked out of ketosis by eating a handful of peanuts. Just keep in mind that the handful will contribute less to your fat intake and more to your daily carb limit than other nuts.
You can eat peanuts on keto. There’s no rule banning peanuts. But eating lots of them is not going to help you get into ketosis. If you’re using the keto diet to lose weight, you should limit your peanut (or peanut butter) intake.
See the next section for nutrition facts, and more on why peanuts may not be a great choice.
According to Self Data, one cup of dry-roasted, salted peanuts contains:
And one cup of smooth peanut butter (generic version) contains:
As you can see, both peanuts and peanut butter pack a lot of energy into just one cup. All three macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbs—are present in abundance, which isn’t ideal for keto. Keto dieters typically follow a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb macro split.
Plus, these nutrition facts don’t take into account the various brands of peanuts and peanut butters. Many are made with preservatives, sugar, honey, and other sweeteners that increase the number of carbs and calories in a serving.
And finally, besides their nutritional value, another thing to keep in mind about peanuts is that, technically, they’re not nuts at all.
You read that right. No, peanuts are not actually nuts.
By definition, peanuts are technically classified as peas, which make them a part of the bean and legume family[*]. While their nutritional value (number of calories, protein, fat) is closer to almonds than peas, the body has a different response to legumes than nuts.
This is why the number of calories and carbs in peanuts aren’t the only thing to consider.
For some, consuming legumes can lead to an inflammatory response in the body[*]. Chronic inflammation is linked to many of the diseases that kill Americans, like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Inflammation can also cause joint pain and lead to autoimmune disorders like arthritis[*].
Fortunately, low-carb diets that place an emphasis on eliminating processed foods and eating lots of vegetables (like the ketogenic diet) have been shown to reduce inflammation[*].
Further, nut consumption has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body[*].
For these reasons, you might want to choose a nut butter or nut product over peanuts.
Any type of nut butter can lead to weight gain if you eat too much. Peanut butter and other similar products like almond, cashew, or macadamia butter are all high in calories.
Keep in mind: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those calories come from healthy fats, and are used to fuel your body.
But if your goal is to lose weight, eating too much peanut butter is probably not a good idea.
Everyone needs a certain number of calories to fuel their bodies. This number varies based on how active you are, how large you are, and how much lean muscle mass you have[*]. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you expend to tap into your fat storages.
Since 2 tablespoons contains nearly 200 calories (about 10 percent of your daily calories if you eat 2,000 per day), you should definitely limit consumption[*].
If you can’t imagine life without peanut butter (we know, it’s delicious), here are some guidelines to follow:
In the next section, we’ll look at other nut butter options.
Sold on trying a different nut butter? Here’s a little more about the best keto nut alternatives you can find online or at the grocery store.
So, are peanuts on keto okay? Can you eat peanut butter?
You can, but there are better options out there if you’re following a low-carb diet like keto, both for weight loss and overall health purposes. Nut butters like macadamia, almond, and cashew are lower in carbs, which is important for staying in ketosis.
And as weird as it sounds, peanuts aren’t actually nuts. They’re legumes, and some people’s bodies don’t have a great response to them. Alternative nut butters, on the other hand, actually help reduce inflammation, which may help ward off diseases.
If you’re going to eat peanuts, be cognizant about how you feel after you eat it. Look for brands that have no added sugar or preservatives, and limit your intake to one serving per day.
And we highly recommend giving alternative nut butters a shot. They’re delicious, better for you, and work way better on a low-carb diet.