With rates of diabetes and heart disease on the rise, the ketogenic diet is gaining popularity. Especially since the keto diet has been shown to help alleviate a wide range of potentially fatal health conditions—including heart disease, diabetes, many types of cancer, and neurological disease. For individuals in these high-risk groups, the keto diet can be a safe, successful method of weight loss and help reduce the risk of future health problems. However, the keto diet is not a quick fix. It requires a highly restrictive lifestyle that cuts out a wide range of different foods. This leads us to a common question- Are peanuts keto?
With the restrictive guidelines of what you can and cannot eat on the keto diet, there are also some gray areas that can cause confusion. And this may be detrimental to dieting success.
The question, are peanuts ketogenic, is one that comes up frequently for dieters, and it’s a subject of debate within the keto research community.
Peanuts are a low-carb food, but they are high in polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. Should you include peanuts in your keto diet or cut them out entirely and enjoy potentially healthier alternatives?
What can you eat on the keto diet?
The keto diet is based on the process of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body starts breaking down fat cells for stored energy rather than relying on sugars from carbohydrates in the bloodstream.
Few carbs should be consumed on the keto diet. The following foods must be cut out almost entirely:
- Sugary foods—including soda, candy, and fruit juice.
- Grains and starches like pasta, bread, and oatmeal.
- Fruit—with rare exceptions, such as small portions of berries.
- Beans—though high in fiber and protein, they also contain a high ratio of carbs.
- Legumes, including peas.
- Potatoes and other root vegetables.
- Processed vegetable fats and other unhealthy fats.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Sugar-free and diet alternative foods, such as diet soda and sugar-free pudding. Artificial sweeteners mimic the effects of real sugars in the body, preventing ketosis.
Though there is a long list of foods that should be avoided on the ketogenic diet, it by no means requires that you starve yourself.
In fact, there are tons of food choices that fall into the acceptable category with the keto diet. These include:
- Meat and fatty fish, focusing on whole cuts rather than highly processed varieties of meat.
- Eggs, ideally free-range.
- Butter and cream, opting for grass-fed varieties when possible since they are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Unprocessed cheeses, such as cheddar, goat cheese, and fresh mozzarella.
- Healthy oils, including extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, and avocado oil.
- Green vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli, and kale.
- Other low-carb veggies, including onions and garlic.
- Avocados—though a fruit, they are low in sugar and high in good fats.
- Nuts and seeds.
What’s the problem with peanuts in a keto diet? Are peanuts keto?
Because nuts and seeds are in the clear for the keto diet, you might assume that peanuts are fine as well.
However, peanuts are not technically nuts at all. Peanuts are legumes, which are generally not acceptable in the keto diet since they tend to be high in sugars.
Additionally, peanuts have a different fat content than true nuts. While nuts like almonds and pecans are high in omega-3 fatty acids, peanuts are not.
They have more omega-6 fatty acids, which can be problematic if you are following the keto diet to address heart disease and other conditions where inflammation is a problem. To balance the high ratio of these potentially harmful fatty acids in peanuts, it is important to round out your diet with more choices that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and spinach.
Can peanuts be incorporated into the keto diet?
Peanuts should be consumed carefully and in moderation, but they are still a worthy snack to include in your diet. While they do have a higher ratio of omega-6 fatty acids, they are also a great source of folate. Folate is a key mineral for brain development and preventing cognitive decline.
Additionally, peanuts are a great grab-and-go snack in situations where healthy choices are limited, such as at convenience stores. Since peanuts are high in protein, they keep you full so that you’re able to continue your day without feeling hungry or agitated.
When eating peanuts on the keto diet, you should limit yourself to a one-ounce serving. Peanuts have a higher number of net carbs than many other nut choices—about three to four grams per serving. So are peanuts keto? yes.
If you don’t have a scale handy, one handful is about one ounce.
You should only choose dry roasted peanuts (salted are okay). Avoid honey roasted peanuts and other flavored options, as these will generally have many more added sugars and starches.
Another common question surround are peanuts keto is delicious peanut butter. While there is no peanut butter keto diet for you peanut butter lovers out there, peanut butter on keto can be a healthy, viable option. However, read labels carefully to make sure you are only eating peanuts without additives.
Your best bet is to shop for peanut butter in natural foods stores where you can grind your own from whole roasted peanuts. Not only is this the most reliably healthy option, but it will also offer a much richer, truer flavor when trying to have peanut butter on keto.
With all-natural peanut butter and celery sticks on hand, you will have a quick and easy snack to give you a fiber and protein boost.
Be wary of prepackaged peanut butter on keto labeled as “all-natural,” as these may still contain added sugars and additional carbs.
Is there a better alternative to peanuts on the keto diet?
If you have a peanut allergy or you simply want to rely on lower-carb alternatives for your snacking, then you might look to tree nuts and seeds as an alternative. However, not all nuts are created equal, so it’s helpful to know which varieties will pack the fewest carbs per serving.
Here is a look at the net carbs per ounce for the most popular nut and seed choices out there:
- Pecans: 1.1 g
- Macadamia nuts: 1.5 g
- Walnuts: 1.9 g
- Hazelnuts: 2.3 g
- Chia seeds: 2.4 g
- Pine nuts 2.7 g
- Almonds: 2.9 g
- Sunflower seeds: 3.1
- Peanuts: 3.8
- Pistachios: 5.8
As you can see, peanuts do rank higher than most true nuts in terms of net carb content, but they are not the worst option out there. Incidentally, lower carb nuts tend to be higher in fat, making them richer and more satisfying, and thus more difficult to overeat.
Why should you be eating nuts?
While you do not want to overeat any one variety of nuts on the keto diet—especially peanuts—you should still include nuts in your diet plan.
Nuts have a wide range of nutritional benefits that make them worth calculating into your daily carb total. Unlike many other high-fat foods that are acceptable for the ketogenic diet, true nuts and peanuts pack in a good amount of fiber. Having that added fiber is important for your digestive health and blood sugar stability.
Nuts also boast anti-inflammatory qualities, thanks to their fatty acids, magnesium, and L-arginine.
Finally, nuts are just downright convenient. They can take the place of snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and other vending machine favorites, which happen to be loaded with carbs.
Nuts and peanuts are both keto-friendly options that can round out your diet and offer much more nutrition than other snack choices. However, they should be consumed in moderation with careful ketone monitoring after snacking.
So overall, are peanuts keto? Yes, and don’t be afraid to have peanut butter on keto either.
Additional Reading Resources: