Can You Eat Nuts in the Keto Diet?
Nuts are the perfect keto snack, but not all nuts are the same.
This post discusses the best keto nuts. It’s the ultimate guide to the best high-fat and low carb nuts.
Here are the top 5 nuts for a ketogenic diet, plus simple tips for choosing low carb and high fat nuts, and which nuts you should avoid.
Which nuts are best with a low carb or ketogenic diet?
Nuts are excellent as a small snack or snack between meals and as most of them contain more healthy fat than carbohydrates, they are ideal for a ketogenic diet.
But not all nuts are suitable for ketogenic nutrition.
While high-fat macadamia nuts outperform all other nuts in keto and help you stay in ketosis, other nuts have the potential to fill half your carbohydrate budget for the day in one meaningless snack.
If you’re not sure about nuts, we’ll start with a few reasons why you’re making a big mistake when you avoid nuts in a ketogenic diet (unless you have a nut allergy).
Why Nuts Are Helpful for Keto
Nuts are a perfect food in a ketogenic diet because:
Nuts are very rich in nutrients.
Similar to chia and pumpkin seeds, nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals such as Magnesium, an essential mineral that both your body and your brain need to function properly.
Selenium, an antioxidant that strengthens your immune system.
Manganese, which helps digest fat and carbohydrates and regulate blood sugar.
Nuts contain a lot of healthy fat & protein.
Thanks to the many fibers in nuts, the net carbohydrates are low (total carbohydrates minus the fiber = net carbohydrates).
Fiber also plays another important role: the control of blood sugar. This means that if you eat a portion of keto-friendly nuts, you will not trigger a blood sugar increase as with other carbohydrate-containing snacks. Studies have shown that this combination of nutrients in nuts can help reduce the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, early death, certain inflammatory markers.
Nuts are a handy snack.
Because these keto snacks are perfect for on the go, you can keep a small supply in your pocket or in the car, so that you always have a keto-friendly snack at hand wherever you are.
Just remember: it’s an absolute must to always portion your portions correctly and not eat too much of it. Nuts are only low-carb if you pay attention to the size of the portion.
As a rule of thumb, never eat more than a handful of nuts. Double the portion and you will quickly exceed your maximum carbohydrate number in just one snack. Repeat this mistake and you’re putting ketosis at risk for all your hard work.
And that’s not the only caveat with nuts that you should be aware of. While most nuts are high in fiber – reducing the total carbohydrate count – some nuts contain less carbohydrate than others.
To help you find the best low-carb nuts, we have compiled a list of the top 5 nuts for the keto diet here:
5 Best Nuts for the Keto Diet
To mention it again, as long as you pay attention to portion size and don’t eat too much of it, the following low-carbohydrate nuts are the best you can eat on a ketogenic diet.
Why is macadamia the king of keto nuts?
Because with 21g of fat per 30g serving (about 10-12 nuts), macadamias consist of 89% healthy fats.
Macadamias only contains about 1g of net carbohydrates, so it’s no wonder they get all the glory when it comes to the best low carb nuts in keto.What makes this fat of macadamia nuts so special is the 16 g of monounsaturated fatty acids per serving.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are the type of fat that lowers insulin resistance and cholesterol levels while preventing the accumulation of abdominal fat and heart disease.
Macadamias are also rich in magnesium, manganese, potassium and selenium, which provide the following health benefits:
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Reduced blood pressure
- Anti-inflammatory effect and reduced inflammation
- Satiety (feeling full), which can contribute to weight loss
- Strengthened nervous system
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer
- Stronger bones and teeth
- Reduced risk for diabetes
Macadamia nuts are a great keto snack for on the go.
Pecans have a completely different taste and shape than macadamias – but their macro profile is not so different.
This buttery nut is an excellent choice for keto and low carb.
Pecans alone are not very sweet, a 30g serving contains only 1g net carbohydrates, 20g fat, and 3g protein. Similar to macadamias, pecans are therefore made up of over 80-90% healthy fats.
- 11g of monounsaturated fat
- 6g polyunsaturated fats
- 1g saturated fats
Pecans contain high levels of oleic acid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but also to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
The next keto-friendly nut on the list is also a member of the 1g Net Carbohydrate Club.
Brazil nuts are quite easy to recognize because they are so massive and large. And since Brazil nuts are so huge, you don’t have to eat much of them. A single handful (30 g portion) is about eight Brazil nuts.
Although they are much larger than pecans, they share a similar nutritional profile when portion sizes are compared.
Brazil nuts contain less monounsaturated fatty acids than pecans, you get an extra gram of protein in a 30g serving:
- 18 g fat
- 4 g protein
- 1 g net carbohydrates
In one study, the researchers found that a single serving of Brazil nuts helped lower serum lipid levels such as cholesterol and triglycerides in participants.
Although further research is needed to further confirm this, this is not the only health benefit that Brazil nuts have.
Brazil nuts also contain high levels of selenium, which improves cognitive function in older adults and helps combat oxidative stress.
A 30 g serving of these brain-shaped nuts gives you:
- 18.3g of total fat, most of which is polyunsaturated (13.2g)
- 4.3 g protein
- 1.9 g net carbohydrates
These essential fatty acids offer unique health benefits:
- Improvement of testosterone levels
- Reduced risk of stroke and heart disease
- Fight inflammation in the body
- Improving brain health
- Walnuts are also a perfect food if you are trying to lose weight.
During a study with 293 participants, those who consumed 30g of walnuts per day showed the greatest improvements in weight loss over a period of three months. It is also interesting that the walnut group also made better nutritional choices and avoided poor nutritional options.
Researchers also use walnuts in cancer studies and have found positive results.
In animal research, scientists found that walnuts reduced and prevented the growth of breast and prostate cancer in mice.
As for human studies, scientists say that antioxidant levels are higher in those who eat walnuts, which can help prevent DNA damage and cancer.
Hazelnuts are actually quite keto-friendly and, if not consumed with chocolate and sugar, a 30g serving of hazelnuts are a perfect low carb food or snack providing a healthy mix of fat and protein:
- 17g fat
- 4g protein
- 2g net carbohydrates
And this healthy fat can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of over 385 scientific papers shows that a hazelnut-rich diet can help lower total cholesterol without affecting HDL levels (also known as “good” cholesterol). This one characteristic can lead to an improvement in cardiovascular health.
Other Low-Carb Nuts
While these five nuts have shown why they are the best choice for low carb and keto, they are not the only types of nuts you can choose as a healthy low carb snack. What if you don’t like to eat the top keto nuts mentioned above? Or if you’re tired of eating only macadamia nuts as a keto snack?
The good news is that you can have a little fun in the nut world – with a little caution.
These next four types of nuts have slightly higher carbohydrate levels, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them completely in your ketogenic diet, just rather consumed in moderation.
Pine nuts, or pignolias, as they are sometimes called, draw the line between kernels and nuts, which should only be eaten from time to time on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
A 30g serving will give you the following nutritional values:
- 18g fat
- 4g protein
- 3g net carbohydrates
While 3 grams of carbohydrates may seem like no big deal – especially since the other keto nuts only had one or two net carbohydrates – with pine nuts you can quickly go over your 5-10% carbohydrate limit per day if you are only allowed to consume 25 grams of net carbohydrates per day.
It may still be worthwhile to add a few pine nuts to your keto diet every now and then, as they offer many health benefits, such as:
- Support for appetite control
- Help with blood coagulation
- Alleviate menstrual cramps
- Improvement of the blood circulation
Almonds also share some of the advantages of pine nuts, especially when it comes to their monounsaturated fatty acid content.
Just like hazelnuts, almonds contain more monounsaturated fat than any other nut on the list at 8 grams per serving (about 23 almonds). 30g of almonds has the following nutritional values:
- 14.2g of fat
- 6g of protein
- 2.6g net carbohydrates
Although almonds have a bit more carbs, they are still a suitable ketogenic food as long as you pay attention to portion size.
Almonds do not have as much fat as other nuts on this list, but they offer incredible health benefits:
- Reduced risk of heart attack
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved intestinal health
- Reduced risk of obesity
- Support weight loss
You can enjoy the same health benefits of almonds by using almond flour, which is the perfect low carbohydrate flour alternative to processed white flour and can be used in many ketogenic baking recipes.
Cashews have an interesting macronutrient distribution, per 30g:
- 12.4g of fat
- 5.16g of protein
- 7.4g net carbohydrates
Outside the keto world, many people would consider this nut “too fat”, but cashews have only 12 grams of total fat per serving, which is lower than all five of our favorite ketones.
And here’s the tricky part: Cashews contain almost 8g of net carbohydrates. The good news is that you don’t have to give up this delicious snack altogether.
A good way to eat cashews at Keto without getting all those carbohydrates is to find a nut butter made from a mix of high-fat, low-carbohydrate nuts (like macadamia) and cashews. This keto-friendly nut butter helps you reduce carbohydrates – from 8g to just 2g – and keeps your daily nut afternoon snack interesting.
The last nut suitable for a low carb or ketogenic diet is pistachios.
Although they have slightly less fat than the other nuts in this category, pistachios also have one of the highest protein levels.
A 30 g serving of pistachios contains:
- 13 grams of fat
- 5.7 g protein
- 4.7 g net carbohydrates
Studies have shown that an increased intake of pistachios can lower blood lipid levels, which improves heart health.
Just remember that these studies have pointed out that this positive effect only occurs if the right amount of pistachios is consumed.
This means that you should not overdo it with pistachios just to take advantage of the health benefits.
In addition to unwanted weight gain, you can also unknowingly throw yourself out of ketosis (or prevent your body from ever getting there) because of the carbohydrates.
By the way, another feature that pistachios share with other nuts on this list (with the exception of hazelnuts and Brazil nuts) is that you can still buy them with their shells. Some researchers have pointed out that the process of shelling nuts before eating them slows down the amount you consume. They also learned that when study participants could see the empty shells of all the pistachios they consumed, they ate 35% less nuts.
So next time you eat your pistachios, keep an eye on the mountain of shells instead of throwing them in the garbage, and you can unconsciously self-regulate your snack and protect yourself from overeating.
Okay, now you know the best keto nuts, which contain a lot of healthy fat and very few carbohydrates.
But before you eat all the nuts at once, here are some simple tips on how to choose the right nuts and products.
Simple Rules for Eating Nuts in Keto and Low Carb Diets
Never buy a nut mixture or consume another nut without remembering these 4 rules:
1. Avoid suspicious ingredients
These include preservatives, sugar, added flavours and unhealthy oils used for roasting (such as soya oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, palm oil and other vegetable oils).
These not only cause inflammation and damage to your system, they also cancel out any positive health benefits.
While roasted and salted nuts can add more electrolytes to your day, you can always do this process yourself with dry nuts to control the quality of the ingredients you add to your body.
2. Pay Attention to Nut Sensitivities
Some people have problems digesting nuts thanks to the so-called anti-nutrients like phytic acid that are contained in them.
If you are sensitive to them, digestive problems can occur after eating nuts, and your body cannot absorb nutrients and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc.
This does not mean that you can never eat nuts again. It just means that you should choose roasted varieties or nuts that have been soaked or germinated rather than those that are raw. Soaking or germinating nuts helps to break down the phytic acid in the nuts and make them more digestible.
3. Always Weigh Your Portions
In case this has not been sufficiently emphasized, you must always be aware of the portion sizes for nuts.
It is best to weigh your portions rather than guessing or even counting nuts, as each portion varies.
Although nuts are one of the healthiest foods in the world, many people unknowingly overdo it and end up exceeding their carbohydrate intake without realizing it.
Avoid this mistake. Because if you eat too many nuts at once, you risk breaking your ketosis – and possibly gaining weight instead of losing it.
4. Providing Variety
Add variety to your keto nut snacks and you will offer your body a wide range of nutrients.
This tip applies to most vegetables, meats, and fruits, but it’s just as important for nuts, because as you’ve seen today, each nut contains different nutrients that benefit your health.
So, instead of just looking at the nuts with the most fat and the fewest carbohydrates, try to incorporate a little of all nine nuts on this list into your diet.
You can also add variety by preparing various keto treats with keto-friendly nut butter, such as smoothies, mousses, bars and cookies.
This tip will also keep you from creating imbalances in your body’s nutritional values, which you should always look out for.
Choose your nuts carefully when you are on a ketogenic diet.
You probably already knew that nuts are a good source of healthy fats, proteins and fiber, but now you know the five best keto nuts to add to your ketogenic diet plan:
- Pecan nuts
- Brazil nuts
So experiment with these keto-friendly nuts and the four alternatives that you can incorporate into your diet.
Nuts are the perfect snack for in-between meals at Keto. Nut butter can also be an excellent alternative to jam. Combine macadamia nut butter or cashew nut butter with some MCT oil for the ultimate nut upgrade that will help you get and keep you in keto.
As long as you follow the rules in this guide and only eat a handful at a time, nuts are a quick and convenient way to improve your overall health and stay in ketosis in a smart way.
Thanks for reading!