Are beans Allowed on the Keto Diet?

Updated on October 19th, 2020
Are Beans Keto-Friendly

Beans are generally considered a healthy food. They’re rich in fiber and protein and provide a variety of minerals and vitamins. However, they also have some carbs, so it can be challenging to work them into high fat, low carb, keto diet.

Most people on a keto diet target to eat 50 grams or less of total carbs per day, or no more than 25 grams of net carbs, which is the number of total carbs minus the sugar, alcohol, and fiber. This write-up reviews the total and net carb counts of several types of beans, keto-friendly ones, and some low carb alternatives.

Keto at a Glance

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or novice to the ketogenic way of eating, it’s useful to go over how keto functions to understand whether or not you can incorporate beans into your diet.

In brief, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate way of eating. By ridding your body of the carbs you would typically consume for energy, your body turns to burn fat rather. When this happens, your liver produces ketones, which your body then uses for fuel in a process called ketosis.  

To achieve this state of ketosis, you should concentrate on the number of macronutrients — fat, protein, and carbohydrates  — you are taking. For the typical ketogenic diet, 75% of your daily calories should come from fat, 20% should come from protein, and 5% should come from carbohydrates.

Depending on your weight, gender, nutritional goals, and activity level, there may be some wiggle room. Still, a person taking a 2,000-calorie diet would infer taking 167g of fat, 100g of protein, and 25g of net carbohydrates (net carbs = total carbs – fiber – sugar alcohols).

To keep our body in a ketosis state, we must keep your carb count as little as possible.

[Also Read: Health Benefits of Cluster Beans]

Are beans keto-friendly?

If you’re a novice to the ketogenic diet and doing the math, you’ll soon know that 25g of carbohydrates (take or give) is not a lot. If you are used to living a ketogenic lifestyle, then you already know how specific you need to be about the foods you consume to ensure you don’t overdo it on the carbs.

Beans are healthy and provide various health benefits, but where do they stand concerning carbs?

It depends.

Plainly speaking, most beans are rich in carbohydrates, so unless consumed in extreme moderation, you’re going to find it challenging to stay within your everyday carbohydrate limit. Here’s the carb count for a single cup of the beans that are most generally used in recipes.

1. Black Beans

  • 26g net carbs 
  • 15g fiber, 15g protein, 41g carbs, 1g fat, 227 calories

2. Pinto Beans

  • 30g net carbs
  • 15g fiber, 45g carbs, 1g fat, 15g protein, 245 calories

3. Kidney Beans

  • 23.5g net carbs
  • 16.5g fiber, 40g carbs, 0.2g fat, 16g protein, 219 calories

4. Lima Beans

  • 26g net carbs
  • 13g fiber, 39g carbs, 0.7g fat, 15g protein, 216 calories.

5. Lentils

  • 24g net carbs
  • 16g fiber, 40g carbs, 0.8g fat, 18g protein, 230 calories

6. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

  • 32.5g net carbs
  • 12.5g fiber, 45g carbs, 4.2g fat, 14.5g protein,  269 calories

The verdict? Beans will give you many carbs, a decent amount of protein, and practically no fat. They are good for other diets, but not for keto. We say avoid them.

Moreover, beans contain carbohydrates that are challenging for our body to process, so most individuals have trouble digesting them. This can result in constipation, gas,  stomach cramps, and bloating. No fun.

[Also Read: Benefits of White Kidney Beans]

Can You Take Beans on a Keto Diet?

Most bean types such as black beans, red kidney beans,  and pinto beans should be skipped on a standard ketogenic diet due to their rich carbohydrate content. However, low-carb bean alternatives such as black soybeans and green beans can be relished in moderation. [2

Additionally, those following a cyclical targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) or ketogenic diet(CKD) may be able to include higher carb beans into their diet during carb-up days. [4]

Which Beans Are the Most Keto-Friendly?

Beans having the lowest amount of net carbs per serving are:

1. Green Beans

Green beans are one of the finest keto-friendly beans available because a single cup of green beans only has 5.8g in net carbs. Eat great beans tossed in pepper, salt, and lemon juice alongside the grilled chicken for a protein-packed, low-carb meal.

2. Black Soybeans

Ketoers like black soybeans because they have just 2g of net carbs per each cup. That’s extremely low, so you can consume these almost as much as you desire. Be free to substitute these in for any bean-based recipe you miss eating.

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Which Beans Are the Least Keto-Friendly?

Beans having the highest amount of net carbs per serving are:

1. Baked Beans

Sorry backyard barbeques, but the ketoers will have to sit out on this classic cookout side. Baked beans are incredibly rich in carbs, with one cup having adequate net carbs (37.9g) to knock most individuals out of keto.

2. Chickpeas

Chickpeas weigh in around 32.5g of net carbs per single cup, which is entirely too many to call keto-friendly. Luckily, there are various keto hummus substitutes that you may use to get your dip fix in.

3. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are also a strict no on keto, so you will have to forgo the chili for the time being. A single cup of pinto cooked pinto beans has 29.5g of carbs!

4. Red kidney beans

While these beans may have a lot of protein, they are also loaded with many carbohydrates. Just a single cup of red kidney beans have a little over 29g of net carbs.

5. Navy(Cannellini) Beans

Navy beans contain 28g net carbs per cup, so that’s not going to work on keto. This, unfortunately, knocks a lot of bean-based soups out there, but there are loads of other keto snacks and foods to eat!

[Read: Health Benefits of Cannellini Beans]

Bottom Line

Most beans are extremely high in carbs to be staples on the keto diet. However, with meticulous planning, you can incorporate small servings of beans once in a while. Always make sure to check labels for added sugars, though.

Black soybeans and green beans are keto-friendly bean options, each having only 2 grams of net carbs per 60–90-gram (1/2-cup) serving. Some promising keto substitutes for beans include eggplant, mushrooms, ground meat, avocado, and boiled peanuts.

With these bean alternatives and low carb beans, there’s no need to shy away from bean recipes while on keto.

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