Are Lentils Keto Friendly?
Lentils are growing in popularity. The intriguing legume keeps popping up in healthy curry and soup recipes and you want to know, are lentils keto-friendly?
Lentils, unfortunately, aren’t keto-friendly. The fiber in lentils is great for an overall diet but isn’t the best choice for keto. In a cup of lentils, depending on the color, you can end up with 39 carbs.
If you’re vegan or love lentils, and don’t want to give up this nutritional gem, they can fit into a keto diet. However, you should know it can be difficult to stay in ketosis with lentils. Other high fiber vegetables are more keto-friendly.
If you’d love to hear more about the lentils and their substitutes, stay tuned. I also just mentioned vegan keto, so keep reading to learn more about that.
Are Lentils Keto-Friendly?
Lentils are high in carbs and low in fat, so they aren’t keto-friendly. Between the variety of lentils, the number of carbs in each is different. Sadly, even the lower-carb lentil options are difficult to add to the keto diet.
Adhering to the keto diet properly means you must eat more protein and fat so that you burn fat. Lentils have too many carbs, which is just one problem. The other issue with lentils is they are missing fat, the key ingredient for the keto diet.
While in many diets you focus on low-fat foods keto is not one of them. For ketosis, you depend on healthy fats to help you lose weight. Lentils have no fat, they are all carb, vitamins, and minerals.
Are Lentils High in Carbs?
Lentils are legumes, more specifically a pulse, and they are high in carbs. The carbs that makeup lentils are fiber and a complex sugar that can be difficult to digest. So, even calculating based on net carbs, the carb count in lentils is still high.
Depending on the lentil, you can have between 20g and 39g of carbs in a cup. Even if you’re careful about which carbs you consume, eating good carbs like lentils could take you out of ketosis.
When you calculate net carbs you subtract the fiber, but with pulses, natural sugars are still left behind. These carbs work to lower blood sugar and are actually healthy for you, but don’t work well for keto.
Which Color Lentils Have the Lowest Carbs?
Black lentils seem to have the lowest amount of carbs by a narrow margin. Though the number of carbs is lower in black lentils, it’s more than you need for the keto diet.
You have your options of black, brown, golden, green, or red lentils to choose from.
According to the USDA, lentils have about 39.9g of carbs in one cup. Each color lentil has been reported to have a different amount of carbs.
Red lentils have more carbs than green lentils and green lentils contain more fiber. Green lentils will get you 32% of your daily fiber, while red lentils will only get you 14%.
Here are the lentils colors and carb counts for a 100g portion according to the USDA:
The different variety of colors and can be used in different ways. For example, red and yellow lentils are often used for soups because as you cook them they melt away.
If you’re going to choose a lentil while on keto, try a black or green lentil, that gives you texture in your soup. To make a lentil recipe keto-friendly only add a few lentils for nutritional value. The idea is to aim for the least amount of carbs possible.
Both green and red lentils still have high carb counts at 39g and 40g. So, another option is to choose a different nutrient-dense additive like hemp seeds for your soup.
For a vegan, legumes and beans are important for a complete diet.
Not only do legumes have the nutrition you need they are high in protein. So if you’re on a vegan keto diet you may want to include lentils.
Traditionally for vegan keto, you’d have to eliminate carbs, add lots of fat, and protein-rich vegetables. This means counting out lentils, fruits, grains, and starchy vegetables which are a big part of an overall healthy vegan diet.
The keto diet requires different levels of carb restrictions. So depending on your diet, you can have lentils if necessary.
However, if you choose to substitute lentils replace them with high protein veggies, hemp hearts, and tofu. For example, if you make a stew that requires lentils add extra veggies or tofu instead. When your stew is done top with hemp hearts, so you get more nutrition than you would have with lentils alone.
Other substitutes to lower your carb intake on a vegan keto diet include:
- replacing fruits with berries, in moderation
- replacing grains with nuts and seeds, especially hemp hearts
- replacing starchy vegetables with fatty avocados and leafy greens
A better replacement for high carb foods are low carb foods that contain healthy fat and protein. It’s important not to choose a low carb food that has no nutritional value.
Try adding hemp hearts to your keto diet. Hemp hearts add in fiber, omega fatty acids, iron, protein, and calcium.
Which Beans are Keto-friendly?
Keto-friendly bean options are available, but you’ll want to avoid legumes like pinto, navy, and red beans. The best option for the keto diet is one of the 130 varieties of green beans like edamame, black soybeans, green beans, and peanuts. Beans in a pod, like green beans are the best for the keto diet.
Just make sure you aren’t consuming any legumes, which are your common ‘beans’. Even foods with the name beans or peas in them would surprise you when they are classified. We’re looking at you black-eyed pea.
The bottom line, all legumes should be avoided on keto.
You can always find other substitutes that give you the nutritional profile of beans without the carbs. For example, mushrooms or eggplants make great substitutes for stews.
Hemp is always a great substitute as well. If you need more fat you can add hemp oil and leave out the lentils. If you need more protein in your diet try hemp protein powder.
Are Lentils Good for Losing Weight?
The most interesting thing about lentils is that they can help you lose weight. This high carb protein has the right combination of fiber and low fat to keep you full.
A lot of diets that aren’t carb friendly tend to shun legumes. As with all things you need to eat them in moderation.
If you want to follow keto the right way skip the lentils. Legumes will knock you out of ketosis if you eat too many.
Still, lentils do have good qualities that would benefit an overall diet. Studies show that foods high in fiber and protein, but low on the glycemic index and low in saturated fat, help you lose weight.
In fact, pulses can be a beneficial weight-loss strategy even when diets don’t intend to restrict calories.
Lentils contain soluble fiber that slows down digestion and absorption to trigger weight loss. The fiber also keeps you full. Lentils even lower cholesterol and helps protect against diabetes. These benefits should not be forgotten.
Which Color Lentils are the Healthiest?
Black lentils are the healthiest. They contain the most protein and fiber than any other lentil. The surprise of black lentils is that they contain a large amount of calcium and iron.
Not all lentil types are the same. They contain different nutrients and cook differently. While they’re all healthy in their own way, some lentils have more nutritional value than others.
Red and yellow lentils are similar in profile and come in second to the black lentil. They have the same attributes as the black lentil with a little less calcium. The black lentil has 100mg while the red and yellow lentils have 40mg of calcium.
Any color lentil will get you the nutrition you need, but with a high carb cost. Lentils are great for many other diets, but not keto.
Summary: The Healthiest Food You Shouldn’t Eat on the Keto Diet
Lentils are healthy and great if you are vegan or trying a high fiber diet. The fact is with a carb count of 39g, lentils are not keto-friendly.
The funny thing about lentils is they can help you lose weight. While each color may have a difference in how they are cooked they are all high in carbs.
If you do want to eat lentils on keto, you can, in a small amount. You can mix lentils with other veggies or substitute them all together with green beans or black soybeans. Eating the cousin of a lentil, the peanut will give you some protein without the carb count.
So don’t worry if you just found out about the amazing lentils, only to learn you shouldn’t eat them. You have options that won’t take you out of ketosis, for example, hemp seeds. If you want protein without the carbs, but all the healthy fat, try some hemp hearts today.