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Beans In Keto Diet

Bush Beans, Vegetable, Harvest, Beans

The Keto diet, known for its low carbohydrate and high-fat approach, provides numerous health advantages and has become a lifestyle choice. Initially employed as a therapy for conditions such as epilepsy, Keto also proves beneficial for cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this scenario, it is advised to limit the consumption of carbohydrates to under 50 grams per day. Beans are renowned for being a nourishing food, rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Nevertheless, incorporating them into a low carb diet can pose challenges due to their carbohydrate content.

When it comes to keto, the goal is to substitute carbohydrates with fats in order to initiate the process known as Ketosis. Typically, the less carbs you consume, the greater the likelihood of achieving Ketosis quickly. Beans are categorized as legumes among plant-based foods.

All members of the Fabaceae family, commonly referred to as Leguminosae, are considered legumes. These plants bear pods that contain fruits and seeds. Thus, due to their pod-enclosed seeds, legumes are classified as fruits.

Beans and legumes offer ample fiber and B vitamins, making them highly favored globally. As a plant-based protein alternative, they can be used in place of meat for vegetarians. Furthermore, beans and legumes provide numerous health advantages such as reducing cholesterol, regulating blood sugar levels, and fostering beneficial gut bacteria.

Nutritional Value of Beans

According to USDA, beans have a content of 100g in terms of:

  • Water: 11 g
  • Energy: 341 kcal
  • Energy: 1420 kJ
  • Protein: 21.6 g
  • Lipid (fat): 1.42 g
  • Ash: 3.6 g
  • Carbohydrate: 62.4 g
  • Fiber: 15.5 g
  • Iron: 5.02 mg
  • Magnesium: 171 mg
  • Phosphorus: 352 mg
  • Potassium: 1480 mg
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Zinc: 3.75 mg
  • Copper: 0.841 mg
  • Manganese: 1.06 mg

Various Beans and their Carbohydrate Count

If you are following a ketogenic diet, it is vital to check the carb content of different beans due to variability.

Net carbs is the result when you subtract fibers from total carbohydrates, since fibers pass through your system without being absorbed into your bloodstream.

The table provided shows the total and net carbs in half a cup (around 90 grams) of several common types of beans. It is important to note that green beans have a lighter weight, with half a cup weighing approximately 55-60 grams.

Black Beans

  • Total Carbs: 20 g
  • Net Carbs: 12 g

Kidney Beans

  • Total Carbs: 20 g
  • Net Carbs: 13 g

Black Soybeans

  • Total Carbs: 8 g
  • Net Carbs: 2 g

Green Beans

  • Total Carbs: 4 g
  • Net Carbs: 2 g


  • Total Carbs: 25 g
  • Net Carbs: 18 g


  • Total Carbs: 18 g
  • Net Carbs: 11 g

Nutrition and Carbs in Pinto Beans

Pinto beans also contain several phytonutrients. A single cup of pinto beans provides 160 milligrams of calcium and 10.8 milligrams of iron. However, the carbohydrate content in pinto beans surpasses that of black beans.

For the keto diet, one cup contains 88 grams of total carbohydrates and 56 grams of fiber, resulting in 32 grams of net carbs, which is not suitable.

It is probable that you were already aware that the flour or corn tortillas used in authentic Mexican tacos and burritos are not suitable for the keto diet. However, you have now discovered that pinto beans, including refried beans prepared with animal fat such as lard, are also unsuitable.

Anti-Nutrients in Beans

In addition to their high carb content, beans also encompass substances known as “anti-nutrients,” posing another issue. These compounds can be taxing on your digestion and potentially hinder the absorption of the numerous vitamins and minerals present in beans.

Below is a breakdown of the anti-nutrients present in both beans and lentils.


Certain varieties of lectins, which are proteins found in various plants, have exhibited inflammatory and toxic properties, posing potential harm to the mucosal linings of your intestines.


Despite the numerous health advantages linked to phytic acid, also referred to as phytates, it also comes with a significant drawback. Phytic acid serves as the reservoir of phosphorus in plant-based foods.

Phytates have the ability to bind minerals and prevent them from being absorbed, particularly in the case of zinc, iron, and calcium which are essential minerals.

It is fortunate that letting beans soak overnight (for a duration of 8-24 hours) can aid in the release of certain anti-nutrients and enhance their digestibility. Simply ensure that you rinse the beans extensively prior to cooking.

Eden Organics brand excels at pre-soaking some of their canned beans.

Benefits of Incorporating Beans into the Diet

  • Beans and legumes are among the world’s most underappreciated foods. They’re high in dietary fibre, protein, B vitamins, and other vitamins and minerals. Studies have proven that they help lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy gut.
  • Not only that but replacing meat with beans and legumes as a protein source is also better for the environment. To make a nutritious vegetarian dinner, add them to soups, stews, and salads, or eat them on their own.
  • Beans contain an essential nutrient, namely folate, in a high ratio. Folate is necessary for overall health, the production of healthy red blood cells, and the prevention of neural tube abnormalities in a developing foetus during pregnancy. 
  • Beans are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, according to some research. These effects may help to lower cancer risks. Beans may contain antioxidant characteristics that help combat bowel cancer. Black beans showed the most antioxidant activity, according to the findings.
  • As per a study from 2017, a high-fibre diet can help people avoid developing type 2 diabetes. It also allows people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

Watch Your Portion Size

If you keep an eye on your portion size, you might be able to indulge in a small portion of beans, despite their high carbohydrate content.

In order to maintain balance in your meal plan, it could be beneficial for you to distribute your small serving into a larger dish, such as a soup or salad, that includes fiber-rich and low- to no-net carb ingredients.

If consumed in moderation, these lower-carb bean choices could be suitable for your keto diet.

White Kidney Beans

If consumed in smaller amounts, white kidney beans, with their lower carbohydrate content compared to black beans, could potentially be included in a ketogenic diet.

A single portion (around half a cup) of white kidney beans provides a combined caloric intake of 110 calories, with only half a gram of fat, 13 grams of net carbs, and 8 grams of protein.

To ensure you remain in ketosis, be mindful of consuming a maximum of half a cup serving size and not exceeding 13 grams of net carbs, taking into consideration your individual requirements and level of physical activity.

Lima Beans

A portion of lima beans, approximately half a cup, consists of 108 calories and 7 grams of protein. The total carbohydrate content is 20 grams, including 7 grams from fiber, resulting in net carbs of approximately 13 grams.

It is advisable to continue to consume the half-cup serving size as recommended. It is important to note that if you choose to have beans while following a keto diet, remember to soak them beforehand in order to remove anti-nutrients.

Modified Keto Diets

As a keto beginner, it is vital to closely monitor the amount of carbs you consume, which is a fundamental component of the standard ketogenic diet (SKD). It is important to adhere strictly to the low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein recommendations for your daily eating plan.

If you have become accustomed to relying on fat as an energy source, you might eventually find it necessary to incorporate occasional high-carb foods into your diet, especially if you lead an active lifestyle.

Due to this reason, there exist several variations of the keto diet. These altered eating regimes provide some flexibility when it comes to carb consumption in each food portion, allowing for the inclusion of moderate- to high-carb foods such as beans.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

If you have an active lifestyle or exercise regularly, the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) can be highly advantageous. If you have been on the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) for a few months and still experience a significant lack of energy during your workouts, the TKD might be the suitable option for you.

Adding beans to your diet during the TKD is recommended as it permits the consumption of an extra 20-50 grams of carbs within an hour before or after your workout.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

In the event that you engage in activities with exceedingly high levels of intensity, the quantity of carbohydrates permitted on TKD might still prove insufficient to sustain your necessary energy levels. Under such circumstances, the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) would be the recommended dietary approach.

For the majority of the week (approximately five days), the CKD adheres to a standard SKD diet, but incorporates two days of carb backloading. During carb backloading, one consumes high-carb, low-fat meals for 24-48 hours to restore glycogen levels.

When to Avoid Beans on Keto

If you’re on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, it is advisable to minimize your consumption of beans. This advice holds particularly true if you’re adhering to the traditional form of the SKD or have not yet adapted to burning fat for energy.

During the initial phase of the keto diet, as your body adjusts to burning fat for energy, it is crucial to restrict your carbohydrate intake significantly. It is highly recommended to abstain from consuming beans in the first few weeks to guarantee entering ketosis.

Each person’s body is unique, implying that individuals may metabolize carbohydrates differently from one another. Furthermore, after achieving fat adaptation, you might be able to consume a small proportion of beans without being expelled from ketosis.

While a few individuals may be capable of occasionally indulging in a half cup, others may experience ketosis disruption with even smaller amounts. Determining one’s position on this spectrum is a personal journey.

If you are fat-adapted and wish to include a small portion of beans in your keto diet, gradually introduce them. Monitor your body’s response by measuring your ketones after consuming a bean-based meal.

When following a CKD or TKD, athletes often discover that they can consume a higher amount of carbohydrates compared to sedentary individuals, granting them additional flexibility.

Keto-Friendly Beans 

Some beans contain higher amounts of both total and net carbs compared to others, as evident from the information presented.

If you adhere to a strict keto diet, the ideal choices for you in appropriate portions would be edamame, green beans, or black soybeans. Quick sautéing green beans is a viable cooking method. As for black soybeans, they offer more flexibility and enhance the flavors of soups, salads, dips, and various other dishes.

If you adhere to the 1/2 cup serving size, you are able to incorporate beans into your diet, even if you are following a Keto or low carb plan. Nevertheless, ensure to carefully examine the label if you are not preparing your meals at home.

Including added sugar in certain foods, like baked beans, significantly raises their carbohydrate levels. Inaccurate portion sizes of beans can lead to excessive carb consumption, which can, in turn, disrupt the body’s Ketosis state, hindering weight loss objectives.

Black beans are often excluded from dietary plans due to their alleged contentious nature, particularly because black soybeans have been associated with potential hormonal imbalances, sparking an ongoing debate.

Despite this fact, black soybeans have a lower net carb content and total carb content. Therefore, incorporating them into a keto diet would support you in achieving your goals.

Incorporating various types of beans into your keto meal is possible as long as the amounts don’t exceed 1/2 cup per day (90 grams). In recipes, you can substitute beans with other low-carb vegetables such as mushrooms, avocado, and brinjal.

Possible Side Effects

In addition to mentioning the advantages and health benefits of beans, it is crucial to underscore certain potential health risks beans pose for human health.

Certain individuals can experience allergic reactions to beans and other legumes. Peanuts and soy are two highly prevalent allergens. Therefore, individuals who have an allergy to a specific type of bean should exercise caution when consuming different varieties.

Beans and pulses, which are rich in lectins, proteins that may pose a risk to humans, can have their lectin levels decreased by soaking and boiling.

Gas and digestive pain have been found to be the most common negative consequences of consuming beans, as indicated by research.

While they may cause irritation and discomfort for certain individuals, beans do not pose any health risks. When incorporating beans into your diet, it is advisable to slowly increase the quantity so that your digestive system can adapt.

Additional comments

Exercise caution when consuming beans if you are following a low-carb or keto diet. Choose alternatives to beans that are low in carbohydrates instead.

There are certain situations where you can increase your carb intake while on the ketogenic diet. These include the pre and post workout periods on the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD), or on designated high-carb days if you are following the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD).

However, the remainder of your days following the keto diet should limit carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams, and sometimes even less.

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