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When you first start on the keto diet, one major stumbling block you may encounter is finding keto friendly snacks. Most snack foods are laden with sugar and carbohydrates. That is why many keto adherents like to snack on keto friendly nuts.
The ketogenic diet advises people to eat fewer carbs and instead eat more proteins and healthy fats. Most nuts are low in carbs and high in both protein and healthy fats, making them the perfect option. However, not all nuts are equally nutritious and fat-laden. A couple of them are actually fairly high in carbs, which might throw you out of ketosis if you indulge in too many of them. Fortunately, you can use this in-depth guide to eating nuts while on keto to keep yourself on the right track.
A Look at Keto Friendly and Not So Keto Friendly Nuts
Most nuts are a great snack for keto dieters, thanks to their typically high fat and protein content. If you’re new to keto, you should know that the right amount of protein, fat and carbs can vary, depending on which particular version of the plan you’re following. The standard ketogenic diet, for example, allots 75% of your daily calories for fats, 20% for proteins, and just 5% for carbohydrates. The high-protein version of the keto diet allots 60% of your daily calories for fats, 35% for proteins, and 5% for carbs.
Of course, individual dieters may choose to adjust these ratios slightly. Once you are in ketosis, you can gradually adjust your macros (macronutrients—fat, protein and carbs) until you find the best ratio for you that allows you to remain in ketosis. In order to make nuts fit into your macro ratio, you will need to take a closer look at their fat, protein and carbohydrate content.
Here’s a look at some of the most keto friendly nuts, based on their nutritional profile per one-ounce serving:
- Macadamia nuts: 21 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of net carbs
- Pecans: 20 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of net carbs
- Brazil nuts: 18 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 1 gram of net carbs
- Walnuts: 18.3 grams of fat, 4.3 grams of protein and 1.9 grams of net carbs
- Hazelnuts: 17 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of net carbs
Remember, in keto not all carbs are counted equally. For instance, macadamia nuts actually have four grams of total carbs per one-ounce serving. However, two of those grams are dietary fiber, which means you’ll only count two grams toward your daily carb allotment. These are referred to as net carbs.
Other types of nuts are moderately keto friendly, but should be consumed in moderation only.
Here’s a look at the nutritional breakdown for one-ounce servings:
- Pine nuts: 19 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of net carbs
- Almonds: 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of net carbs
- Cashews: 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 8 grams of net carbs
- Pistachios: 13 grams of fat, 5.7 grams of protein and 4.7 grams of net carbs
- Peanuts: 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein and 3.8 grams of net carbs
Tips for Incorporating Nuts into Your Ketogenic Diet
One problem you may encounter with choosing nuts as a keto friendly snack option is the fact that you’ll reach your maximum serving size very quickly. One ounce of nuts is about one handful, depending on the nut. In addition to or instead of eating nuts as a snack, you may want to use them as a condiment. Sprinkle some pine nuts or slivered almonds on your salads, for example, or use a few chopped walnuts as a topper for your smoothies.
Health Benefits of Nuts
In addition to making a great addition to your keto diet plan, nuts are powerhouses of nutrition. One of the key health benefits of nuts is their potential for improving cardiovascular health.
There are three types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): A bad kind of cholesterol
- Triglycerides: Another bad kind of cholesterol
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): The beneficial kind of cholesterol
A significant body of research has suggested that the regular consumption of nuts can help lower your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This can reduce the risk of accumulation of plaque deposits in the arteries. Evidence also suggests that nuts can improve the health of the arterial lining and reduce levels of systemic inflammation that is associated with heart disease.
In addition, eating nuts may reduce the risk of blood clot formation. Blood clots are beneficial when they form over a wound, but not when they develop inside your veins and arteries. Once blood clots enter the bloodstream, they can travel to your brain. A blood clot can block the flow of blood to the brain, causing a stroke. In other cases, blood clots can block blood leading to the heart, causing a heart attack.
So how exactly can nuts give you all these heart-healthy benefits? Take a closer look at their nutrients for the answer:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Much of the fat content in nuts is healthy fat, including omega-3s. Among other benefits, omega-3s can help prevent the irregular heart rhythms that may lead to heart attacks.
- Fiber: Fiber is a natural cholesterol reducer and it may help prevent type 2 diabetes. Plus, fiber helps you feel fuller, so you may eat less overall.
- Vitamin E: Nuts are a great source of vitamin E, which can stop plaque development in the arteries.
- L-arginine: L-arginine is a substance that helps the arterial walls stay flexible and less apt to blood clot development.
- Plant sterols: Plant sterols are sometimes added to food products like margarine, but they are found naturally in nuts. These substances can help keep your cholesterol in check.
There are many other health benefits of nuts, as well, other than their cardiovascular benefits. For example, eating nuts on a regular basis may help prevent diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They’re also ideal for people who already have diabetes. This is because their low carbohydrate count helps to stabilize blood glucose levels
Furthermore, keto friendly nuts are an ideal food for people who want to lose weight, which is a major goal among people who start keto diet. Before switching to the diet, you might have avoided nuts out of fear that their fat and calorie content would make you gain weight. But in fact, research suggests exactly the opposite. Dozens of scientific studies have found that people who eat nuts regularly are no more likely to gain weight than people who do not often eat nuts. In fact, these studies demonstrate that nut eaters have a lower risk of weight gain and that eating nuts may actually aid in weight loss.
A Final Word of Caution
Although there are many incredible health benefits of regular keto friendly nut consumption, it should be emphasized that you can, in fact, eat too many of them—especially on the keto diet. Exercise caution to avoid throwing your keto macros out of balance. It is generally a good idea to decide in advance how many nuts you can safely eat on any given day. Then, count them out or measure them on a food scale. Before enjoying your snack, put the bag of nuts back in the cupboard to avoid the temptation to reach for more.
Another issue to consider is the processing of the nuts. Look for nuts that are only minimally processed, such as unsalted or lightly salted nuts. These days, you can find many different nut-based food products, such as nut milks, nut “cheese,” nut “sour cream,” and a wide variety of nut butters. Always double-check the labels on these food products before buying them, as they likely contain other added ingredients that may increase the total carb count.
And if you’re having trouble finding a nut butter that doesn’t include added sugars, consider making it yourself. Measure out your nuts and then pulse them in a food processor for several minutes or until they turn the consistency of a spread. There is no need to add any other ingredients.
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Amy White, is an author, blogger and personal finance expert with a love of personal development and healthy living. Amy has over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and loves anything related to building and developing long term business growth. You can follow Amy on her blog Daily Successful Living.