Are Beans Keto? What To Know

Sure, they're loaded with fiber—but are they keto-friendly?

  • Beans are linked to health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular issues, and type 2 diabetes.
  • However, beans aren't the best choice for a strict keto diet because of their carbohydrate content.
  • You could include them in small amounts or when keto cycling.

Here's something about the keto diet you probably already know: It's an adjustment. The high-fat, low-carb plan restricts carbohydrates so much that you're only allowed about 5% to 10% of your daily calories from carbs. That amounts to 25 to 50 grams daily for a 2,000-calorie daily intake.

That said, the diet does allow you a good amount of protein—30% to 35% of your daily calories' worth. Beans are a great (healthy!) source of protein, especially if you're following a vegetarian-friendly keto diet.

With up to 24 grams of protein (and 10 grams of fiber) in one cup, beans such as fava, chickpeas, and edamame can keep you feeling fuller longer. That's helpful on any diet—but are beans even keto?

Are Beans Keto?

Unfortunately, no. Beans—black beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans—aren't exactly friendly to a high-fat, low-carb meal plan. Just one cup of black beans, for example, has 41 grams of carbohydrates.

That's nearly a day's serving of carbs on a keto diet if you're on the upper end of the keto carb spectrum. Even if you cut it to half a cup of black beans, you'd still hit 20 grams of carbs. That just about maxes out your daily carb intake if you aim for a 5% carb intake on the keto diet.

Another type of bean, garbanzo (hello, hummus!), has 38 grams of carbohydrates per cup, while pinto beans have 45 grams of carbs per one-cup serving.

Eating Beans While Keto Cycling

There is another option if you can't live without beans: You can try keto cycling. That means following a ketogenic diet for a few days in a row, then taking a break and eating high (or at least average) levels of carbohydrates for a day—which, yes, can include beans.

Following this cyclical plan has its advantages. "It improves or restores your body's ability to go back and forth between fuel sources," Robin Foroutan, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health.

Plus, Foroutan shared how when you're on a strictly fat-filled diet, your food can be low in fiber and antioxidants and high in inflammatory properties.

Basically: Beans aren't keto-friendly if you're following a rigorous version—but if you're willing to keep your eating plan a little more flexible, beans may be fair game.

Health Benefits of Beans

Beans offer many health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic diseases. Some of the rewards of a balanced, bean-rich diet can include:

  • Reduced risk of obesity
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improved colon health
  • Improved gut microbiome
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure

Keto Friend(lier) Beans

Just about all beans have health benefits, including lots of fiber, phytochemicals, and plenty of nutrients. However, some have more protein and fewer carbohydrates, which is friendlier for keto cycling.

Here are some good options, with nutrition info by the cup.

Green Beans

  • 31 calories
  • 5 grams of carbs
  • 1 gram of protein

Soybeans (Edamame)

  • 224 calories
  • 14 grams of carbohydrate
  • 18 grams of protein

Black Soybeans

  • 240 calories
  • 16 grams of carbohydrate
  • 22 grams of protein

Green Peas

  • 125 calories
  • 23 grams of carbohydrate
  • 8 grams of protein

What To Eat Instead of Beans

If it's too hard to fit beans into your eating plan, there are alternatives and keto recipe swaps you can consider.

These include lower-carb, keto-friendly choices with similar heft and texture, such as:

  • Diced mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Boiled peanuts, which are also legumes and have a bean-like texture

You could also consider lean ground beef or turkey for dishes that traditionally have beans, such as chili.

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  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central beans, black, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt.

  3. Mullins AP, Arjmandi BH. Health benefits of plant-based nutrition: focus on beans in cardiometabolic diseasesNutrients. 2021;13(2):519. doi:10.3390/nu13020519

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central beans, pinto, mature seeds, cooked, boiled without salt.

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central chick peas garbanzo beans.

  6. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central beans, snapped, green, canned, regular pack, drained solids.

  7. United States Department of Agriculture .FoodData Central edamame cooked.

  8. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central black soybeans.

  9. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central peas, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt.

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