When first starting a ketogenic diet (and even after months of navigating the keto course), you may still have a few questions about what’s allowed and what’s not. One common question we often get about the keto diet is whether or not nuts are allowed.
The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. But because so many want to know if nuts are allowed on keto, we put together this helpful guide. You’ll learn which nuts, if any, are allowed and how to add some variety to your diet.
Are Nuts Keto-Friendly?
Let’s cut straight to the chase. Yes, you can eat nuts on keto. But it’s not quite that simple.
When you break down the makeup of a nut, they’re actually perfect for keto. They’re naturally low in carbs and high in fat. They’re also delicious, which is a nice added bonus! However, eating a diet mainly comprised of nuts will almost certainly mess up your ketosis state.
What many keto followers often forget to take into consideration is calories. When they come across a food that’s high in fat and low in carbs, they instantly make it a large part of their diet. But unfortunately for nut lovers, most nuts are high in calories. This means that going just the tiniest bit overboard, which is easy to do with nuts, can throw off your diet for the day. If you overindulge enough, you could be setting yourself up to fall out of ketosis. Getting back into ketosis could take several days, making your snack an expensive one.
To summarize, yes, nuts are allowed on a ketogenic diet. But this doesn’t mean they can be eaten as often as one likes. We’ll cover the pros and cons of nut eating on keto along with which nuts are better and which should be avoided so you don’t find yourself munching on the wrong type.
Pros of Eating Nuts on Keto
Nuts come with a handful of benefits that shouldn’t be ignored on a keto diet. They can help you stay within your macros and reach your health goals when properly included. Here are just some of the benefits that come along with eating nuts on keto.
High in fat
Most types of nuts are high in fat. Some are better than others but for the most part, your favorite type of nut is likely to match up with your macros. Food that is high in fat is great for reaching ketosis but there’s also another great benefit. You’ll remain fuller for longer.
So, if you find you’re struggling to stay out of the pantry in-between meals, adding a snack of almonds or macadamia nuts is a great idea. A handful of dry roasted almonds serves up an impressive 14 grams of fat. Macadamia nuts are even better, providing you with just over 20 grams of fat in a serving.
Low in carbohydrates
Nothing can be keto approved if it’s high in carbs. Now this benefit is a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, in general, nuts are low-carb. But this is for a serving size. Because they’re tasty and easy to mindlessly munch on, it’s easy to go overboard when enjoying nuts. This can quickly take a low-carb snack and turn it into a ketosis enemy. When eating nuts, make sure to measure out a serving size beforehand so you don’t accidently overdue it.
One issue keto followers have is what to do when hunger suddenly strikes and they’re without keto-approved food. It’s not always easy to find keto-friendly fast food and most keto-friendly foods require a bit of prep. You could rely on packaged keto bars, but you need to be careful with these as they could have more carbs than they’re suggesting on the packaging. But it’s easy to keep pre-portioned bags of nuts in the car, in your purse, or coat pocket for when hunger emergencies strike.
Keto-approved food wouldn’t be any good if none of it tasted yummy! Luckily, some types of nuts are known for their rich, smooth taste. Whether you prefer pecans, macadamia nuts, almonds, or walnuts, there’s sure to be at least one type that agrees with your taste buds.
Plenty of nutrients
Nuts contain a surprising number of vitamins and minerals. The exact amount and type will depend on the type of nut of course but examples include magnesium and manganese, which are both hard to come by in other foods. Another advantage of nuts is that most contain high amounts of fiber, which is difficult to find in keto-approved foods. This can help keep you regular and healthy.
Cons of Eating Nuts on Keto
While we’ve gone over the benefits of nuts on keto, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of. As long as you’re aware of the cons of eating nuts on keto, you’ll be less likely to experience them.
Lots of calories
Calories can add up quickly with certain types of nuts. For example, 100 grams of macadamia nuts, which is an average serving, contains 718 calories. The same serving size of walnuts contains just over 650 calories. It’s easy to see how a quick snack can steal away a large percentage of your daily calories.
Wait, didn’t we just tell you nuts were full of nutrients? This is true, but they also contain phytic acid, which is considered anti-nutritious. It prevents the body’s absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc. More of this acid is found in raw nuts so eating soaked and roasted nuts can limit your exposure.
Easy to overeat
One handful can quickly turn into two, three, or even four, especially if you’re munching on nuts while watching television or scrolling through your phone. Before you know it, you could have gone way over your calorie limit and consumed too many carbs. Eating nuts on keto is a test of willpower, which is why some prefer to leave them out of their diet.
Can contain less than ideal ingredients
Unless you buy organic and unaltered nuts, there’s a good chance they’ve been roasted in oil or heavily salted. While these may still fit into your diet, as long as you stay within the serving size and your macros, you’re still consuming ingredients that are frowned upon in the keto world. As long as you’re not eating salted or oiled nuts morning, noon, and night, there’s no reason to stress yourself out about it. But as with all things, moderation is key.
Best Nuts for a Keto Diet
Listed below, you’ll find a large list of keto-approved nuts. As long as you stay within the serving size and closely watch your macros, you should be able to enjoy these nuts without having to worry about throwing your body out of ketosis.
Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, copper, and protein. There are also high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids in each handful. Almonds are also thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease thanks to their high levels of antioxidants. A serving of almonds comes in at just under 3 net grams of carbohydrates, making them a great snack on the go. Making almond butter is always a fun treat as well.
Though not as common as almonds, Brazil nuts are still a great nut for keto. They’re mainly a monounsaturated fat. This is exactly the type of fat you should be looking for on keto. You’ll also find protein and other great nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and B vitamins. Some studies suggest Brazil nuts can protect against skin damage, age spots, and even skin cancer. A serving of Brazil nuts will only set you back 1.3 net grams of carbohydrates.
Want to be nice to your heart? Eat hazelnuts. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that promote heart health and can help increase HDL cholesterol. They’re also considered an excellent brain food thanks to high levels of folate and thiamine. One serving will cost you 2.3 grams of carbohydrates.
Macadamia nuts are a favorite of many keto followers. They’re full of vitamin A, iron, protein, riboflavin, and niacin. They also have selenium, an antioxidant, and calcium. One serving is only 1.5 grams of net carbs so it’s possible to sneak in more than one during the day.
Pecans are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. They also contain high levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. They’re great toasted and can be flavored in multiple ways to give your taste buds something different every time. One serving is only 1.1 grams so they’re the perfect snack to keep with you for surprise hunger attacks.
What’s not to love about pistachios? They’re great for keto as they promote healthy gut bacteria, are low in calories, and loaded with nutrients. They can even help lower blood sugar and blood pressure while also helping you lose weight. At 5.8 grams of net carbs, you’ll need to use caution when enjoying them, but they can fit into a keto diet.
Like just about every other nut, walnuts contain plenty of good fats, great for keto. They also include iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin E. They’re great to eat straight from the package or can be prepared to your liking. One serving comes out to 1.9 net grams of carbohydrates.
Nuts to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Not all nuts should be indulged in when following a ketogenic diet. Here are a couple to avoid, based on their high carb content. Carb counts are based on serving sizes of one ounce.
We know, cashews are delicious. They’re one of the most popular nuts and are often used in bars and trail mixes. Unfortunately, there are over 8 grams of carbs per serving, making them a bit too carb dense to fit into a keto diet.
With nearly 14 grams of carbs per serving, chestnuts should be avoided on keto. If they’re your favorite, sneaking half a handful here and there can be done. But they shouldn’t be a nut you rely on for a keto snack on a regular basis.
What About Peanut Butter?
It surprises most people to learn that peanuts are not actually nuts. Instead, they are a legume. But they’re still ideal for the ketogenic diet because they’re relatively low-carb. They also have plenty of health benefits and are nutritionally dense.
But for some on keto, they prefer to stay away from peanut butter. The issue is that for some, the food is just too tasty and easy to overindulge so it’s easier to just keep the ingredient out of the pantry instead of leaving the chance. A serving is usually only one tablespoon, which could be all you need. But if you find yourself reaching for more and straying from your macros, then it might be better to avoid peanut butter completely.
There are alternatives to peanut butter. Many on the keto diet turn to almond butter and we’ve included a great homemade recipe below for you to try. Some eat it as is for a quick snack while others use it in fat bombs or as a spread. If you do decide to eat peanut butter on occasion, make sure the brand you choose doesn’t add additional sugar or vegetable oils.
Keto Nut Recipes
As mentioned, keeping the right kinds of nuts nearby can prevent you from going off your diet. They’re convenient, tasty, and filling. While you can eat nuts just as they are, here are a few great keto nut recipes to give your taste buds something to look forward to.
Spicy Keto Candied Pecans by Typically Keto, 0.6 net carbs per serving
4 cups unsalted pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup erythritol
- Place butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat slowly to melt.
- Stir in vanilla, cayenne pepper, salt, cinnamon, and erythritol.
- Add pecans and mix well to coat.
- Pour pecans onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, turning as needed. Do not overcook.
- Allow pecans to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Enjoy!
Spicy Walnuts by Diet Doctor, 2 net carbs per serving
8 ounces walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika powder
- Heat up a frying pan on medium heat.
- Add all ingredients and mix well.
- Cook until walnuts are heated through.
- Cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Enjoy!
Chocolate Almond Keto Fat Bombs by The Keto Summit, 3 net carbs per serving
1 cup almond butter
1 cup coconut oil
½ cup cacao powder
¼ cup coconut flour
Stevia to taste
10-15 whole almonds
- In a saucepan, melt and combine almond butter and coconut oil. Stir in cacao powder, coconut flour, and stevia.
- Once ingredients are fully mixed, remove from heat and cool.
- Form 10-15 balls from the mixture.
- Stick an almond into the center of each fat bomb.
- Refrigerate to set. Enjoy!
Macadamia Nut Fat Bomb by Perfect Keto, 2 net carbs per serving
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons erythritol
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 macadamia nuts
Pinch of salt
- Whisk room temperature coconut oil, vanilla, erythritol, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth.
- Line a small baking or plastic container with parchment paper. Use a spatula to spread mixture into the bottom of the container. Make sure it’s thin and even.
- Top mixture with macadamia nuts. Lightly sprinkle with salt.
- Place container in the freezer. Wait for at least 20 minutes before removing and cutting into 6 squares.
- Store in the freezer. Enjoy!
Keto Almond Butter by My Sweet Keto, 1 net carb per serving
8 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread almonds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Toast for about 20 minutes, stirring as needed.
- Let almonds cool completely.
- Pour almonds into a food processer. Add salt.
- Pulse for a few minutes, scraping sides as needed. It should start to resemble butter after several minutes.
- Add coconut oil and pulse for one more minute.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Enjoy!
Nuts are a great tool for keto. They’re rich in nutrients, taste great, and are convenient. Keeping a keto nut supply nearby can prevent you from straying from your diet when sudden hunger strikes. But they’re not perfect. You’ll want to make sure you’re eating nuts that are keto-approved. You’ll also want to make sure you’re not going overboard.
If you’re not sure about your limits, increase your ketone testing temporarily to make sure you’re not throwing yourself out of ketosis. When properly consumed, nuts are great for any keto diet.