Any experienced keto dieter will tell you that getting your macros right is the key to keto success. Limiting carbs, eating a moderate amount of protein and consuming a higher amount of fat is important. But not just any fat, a whole variety of healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. One of the ways to achieve this balance is by snacking on nuts in between meals. But before you get too excited, it is important to know that like most things on keto, not all nuts are created equal. To make things easier, we have put together a guide of the best nuts to eat on a keto diet.
Why Choose Nuts On A Keto Diet?
Other than the fact that nuts are oh so scrumptious and extremely versatile, they deliver a powerhouse of nutrients that can benefit you in so many ways. Just to give an idea of the nutritional value of nuts, here is a snapshot of the macronutrients in a 100g serving of oil roasted mixed nuts:
- Calories – 617
- Total Carbs – 21.4 g
- Dietary Fiber – 9 g
- Net Carbs – 12.4 g
- Total Fat – 56.3 g
- Vitamin E – 8.3 mg (41% RDI)
- Folate – 83 mcg (21% RDI)
- Calcium – 108 mg (11% RDI)
- Iron – 3.2 mg (18% RDI)
- Magnesium – 235 mg (59% RDI)
- Phosphorus – 464 mg (46% RDI)
- Potassium – 581 mg (17% RDI)
- Sodium – 419 mg (17% RDI)
- Zinc – 5.1 mg (34% RDI)
- Manganese – 1.9 mg (95% RDI)
- Selenium – 141 mcg (201% RDI)
Looking at these values, the carb count is quite high but it is important to factor in that this is a bag of mixed nuts and the carb content is variable. This is also based on a 100-gram serving, which may or may not fit into your daily macro quota, but more on that later. Looking at these figures we can see that nuts, in general, are an excellent source of fat, vitamins, and minerals, which can be beneficial for anyone following a low carb diet.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Nuts On A Keto Diet?
One of the main principles of the keto diet is to eat a substantial amount of fat. It should make up at least 75% of your diet. The reason this macronutrient is so important is because of the metabolic state you are trying to induce – ketosis. By reducing the number of carbs from your diet, the body is deprived of its predominant fuel source, sugar. By replacing these carbs with fat, the body starts to metabolize fatty acids instead of glucose and converts them into ketone bodies, which are then used as the body’s alternative source of fuel. Snacking on nuts helps to rev up your fat intake, which ultimately leads to the production of more ketones. But this is not the only reason why nuts should form part of a keto diet.
While nuts may carry a high-calorie count, some studies suggest that nuts may promote weight loss. One study, in particular, measured the weight loss effects of a low carb nut enriched diet. What this study showed was that those who supplemented with nuts lost an average of about 2 inches from their waistlines, which was significantly higher in comparison to those who were instructed to eat a low carb olive oil-enriched diet.
Based on the nutritional value of the mixed nuts shown above, it doesn’t come as a surprise that nuts are jam-packed with potent antioxidants. The plant-based micronutrients otherwise known as polyphenols found in nuts have shown a positive impact on neutralizing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals are toxic molecules that can cause significant damage to tissues and living cells.
Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial when following a keto diet, especially in the early stages. Nuts are an excellent source of fiber. The human body is not able to digest fiber, however, the healthy gut bacteria which is present in the colon help to ferment the fiber and convert it into short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids have shown promise in reducing the risk of obesity and type two diabetes as well as improving overall gut health.
Other Benefits Of Eating Nuts On A Keto Diet
- Can decrease inflammation
- Reduces blood sugar levels
- Can lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides
- May help reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks
Best Nuts For A Keto Diet
While most nuts are low in carbs, it’s always important to remember that no nut is created equal and therefore you should always choose the ones that will fit in best with your daily macros. There are a few types of nuts that can be enjoyed on a keto diet.
#1 Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts hold the top spot for lowest net carbs per one-ounce serving. Like most nuts, Brazil nuts offer a wide range of health benefits but this type of nut outshines the rest when it comes to sodium and selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that is vital for protein synthesis, reproduction, and other bodily functions. A single Brazil nut delivers more than the recommended daily intake of selenium for both men and women.
Brazil nut carbs per one-ounce serving:
- Net Carbs – 1 g
- Dietary Fiber – 2 g
- Protein – 4 g
- Fat – 18 g
When it comes to the lowest carbs per ounce, pecans also outshine most other contenders. Don’t let their size fool you either, they pack quite a hefty punch when it comes to nutrients. Pecans are not only made up of 70% fat but also contain a substantial amount of oleic acid, which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related disease and diabetes.
Pecan carbs per one-ounce serving:
- Net Carbs – 1.5 g
- Dietary Fiber – 2.5 g
- Protein – 3 g
- Fat – 20 g
#3 Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts come in at a close second and hold a very similar nutritional profile to pecans, however, their fat content is slightly higher at 75% per ounce. A substantial portion of the fat content is made up of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, which have shown to help with lowering cholesterol levels and reducing insulin resistance.
Macadamia carbs per one-ounce serving:
- Net Carbs – 1.5 g
- Dietary Fiber – 2.5 g
- Protein – 2 g
- Fat – 21 g
Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In fact, when compared to other nuts, their omega 3 fatty acid content is significantly higher, providing roughly 2.5 grams per 28-gram serving. This is enough to meet the recommended daily intake of ALA for both men and women.
Walnut carbs per one-ounce serving:
- Net Carbs – 1.9 g
- Dietary Fiber – 1.9 g
- Protein – 4.3 g
- Fat – 18.3 g
Other Keto Nuts To Enjoy In Moderation
- Pine Nuts – 3 g net carbs per 1 oz
- Almonds – 2 g net carbs per 1 oz
- Cashews – 8 g net carbs per 1 oz
- Pistachios – 4.7 g net carbs per 1 oz
Fitting Nuts Into Your Keto Diet
Including nuts into your low carb lifestyle is a great way to boost your fat intake and reap some of the incredible health benefits they provide. However, it’s important not to go overboard with your servings. Some nuts are more low carb than others but portion control is key. It’s best to look for nuts that are raw or have been roasted in oil and lightly salted rather than opting for ones that have been sugar-coated or caramelized. If you haven’t reached your macros for the day, snack on a few keto-approved nuts in between meals or add them to your favorite salad for that extra crunch. These tiny gifts from nature can help you maintain ketosis in a healthy and sustainable way!