Beans fall into the legume family, along with lentils and peas, and feature a number of great benefits — they’re inexpensive; high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, including thiamine, magnesium, and iron; and they can add some heartiness to your favorite meal! After all, what’s grandma’s homemade chili without a dash of love and a can of dark red kidney beans?
All of that is great, but it doesn’t really matter if you can’t eat beans while on the ketogenic diet. So, if you’re interested in whether beans have a high carbohydrate count or fit into the keto lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place. To get to the bottom of this, let's take a look at the basic guidelines for keto and how your favorite beans fit into the lifestyle.
Keto at a GlanceWhether you’re new to the ketogenic way of eating or a seasoned vet, it’s helpful to go over how keto works in order to understand whether or not you can include beans in your diet.
In short, the ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat way of eating. By ridding your body of the carbohydrates you would normally consume for energy, your body turns to burning fat instead. When this occurs, your liver produces ketones which your body then uses for fuel in a process called ketosis.
In order to achieve this state of ketosis, you have to focus on the number of macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fat — you are consuming. For the standard ketogenic diet, 75% of your daily calories should come from fat, 20% should come from protein, and 5% should come from carbohydrates. There may be some wiggle room depending on your gender, weight, nutritional goals, and activity level, but for a person consuming a 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean consuming 167g of fat, 100g of protein, and 25g of net carbohydrates (net carbs = total carbs – fiber – sugar alcohols). In order to keep your body in a state of ketosis, you must keep your carb count as low as possible.
Are beans keto-friendly?If you’re new to the ketogenic diet and doing the math, you’ll soon realize that 25g of carbohydrates (give or take) is not a lot. If you’re living a ketogenic lifestyle, then you already know how particular you need to be about the foods you eat to ensure you don’t overdo it on the carbs. Beans are healthy and provide a number of health benefits, but where do they stand with regard to carbs?
Generally speaking, most beans are high in carbohydrates, so unless eaten in extreme moderation, you’re going to find it tough to stay within your daily carbohydrate limit. Here’s the carb count for one cup of the beans that are most commonly used in recipes.
Black Beans: 26g net carbs
- 41g carbs, 15g fiber, 15g protein, 1g fat, 227 calories
Pinto Beans: 30g net carbs
- 45g carbs, 15g fiber, 15g protein, 1g fat, 245 calories
Kidney Beans: 23.5g net carbs
- 40g carbs, 16.5g fiber, 16g protein, 0.2g fat, 219 calories
Lima Beans: 26g net carbs
- 39g carbs, 13g fiber, 15g protein, 0.7g fat, 216 calories.
Lentils: 24g net carbs
- 40g carbs, 16g fiber, 18g protein, 0.8g fat, 230 calories
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): 32.5g net carbs
- 45g carbs, 12.5g fiber, 14.5g protein, 4.2g fat, 269 calories
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Now, if you really want any of the beans listed above, you could limit yourself to half of a cup or less. However, doing that will still put you close to half of your daily allowance of carbs so keep that in mind.
Are there keto-friendly bean options?Seeing as beans aren’t a keto-friendly food, what choices are you left with, if any? Luckily, we have a couple options worth considering.
If you’re not familiar with edamame, give it a try. They’re a part of the soybean family and are extremely popular in Asian cuisine. If you go to an Asian restaurant, you’ll likely find them offered as an appetizer or side dish. They’re delicious steamed, with a sprinkling of sea salt. Unlike most of their bean cousins, they’re low in carbs and high in fat. You could eat a half cup -- or even a full cup -- and stay within your daily carb limit.
Edamame: 8g net carbs
- 16g carbs, 8g fiber, 17g protein, 8g fat, 189 calories
Eden black soybeans are an even safer option than edamame. These are a staple in many low-carbohydrate diets because they only contain 2g of net carbs in a 1-cup serving. Incorporate these beans into any of your keto-friendly recipes — soups, salads, hummus, and more.
Eden Black Soybeans: 2g net carbs
- 16g carbs, 14g fiber, 22g protein, 12g fat, 240 calories
The Keto Verdict on BeansDon’t get us wrong — beans are great. They are a good source of nutrition and will fill you up and keep you satiated. However, when it comes to consuming beans on a ketogenic or low-carb diet, you’ll want to steer clear as best you can. If you over-consume carbs, you’ll kick yourself out of ketosis. With high carb counts, even eating beans in a small amount is probably a fire you don’t want to play with. That being said, if you’ve got a hankering to add beans to your next meal, edamame and Eden black soybeans are solid, low-carb alternatives that will help you stay in ketosis.
In need of a new recipe to spice up your diet? We’ve got you covered. Head over to our recipe section for keto dishes that will help you meet your health and nutrition goals.