Using substitutes in your favorite baking recipes when following a ketogenic diet can be a hassle. Depending on the type of flour you use, the flavor and the texture might change.
Two of the most commonly used flour alternatives in keto are almond and coconut. However, what is the difference between these two?
In this article, you will see how they compare nutritionally and when to use each one. Finally, we’ll discuss which is better for this low-carb diet.
The following table allows you to compare and contrast the two options. The nutrition facts are based on 100 g of each product.
|Nutrients||Almond flour||Coconut flour|
|Energy||607 kcal||400 kcal|
|Fat||53.6 g||13.3 g|
|Protein||21.4 g||13.3 g|
|Net carbs||14.3 g||26.7 g|
|Total carbs||21.4 g||60 g|
|Fiber||7.1 g||33.3 g|
Overall, the almond product is the highest in calories. It has about 200 kcal more, which for some people could make or break their weight loss journey.
Now, let’s talk about the critical macro to control in the keto diet, carbs. Although the coconut product has more fiber, it also has more carbohydrates, resulting in having 26.7 g of net carbs.
On the other hand, almond flour has only 14.3 g of net carbs per 100 g. It also has almost double the amount of protein, and nearly four times the amount of fat.
Regarding the micronutrient content, almond is high in vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium, while coconut is high in iron.
In summary, almond flour is lower in carbs, higher in protein, and higher in fats than coconut flour. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it is better for keto, as we will see below.
We now know the nutritional differences between them. But are there other distinctions? Do they vary in baking, taste, or cost?
One of the most significant differences is the absorption level. Coconut tends to be drier, which means that it absorbs more water. This means that you don’t require as much of the ingredient.
For example, if a recipe requires 1 cup of almond flour, you only need ¼ cup of coconut flour.
So, even though coconut flour has more carbs than almond, having a reduced portion means that you get fewer carbohydrates overall. 1 cup of almond flour (112 g) has 14.5 g of net carbs, while ¼ cup of coconut flour (28 g) has 7.6 g of net carbs.
However, using a different flour than what the recipe suggests could mean you end up with a final product that has a vastly different taste and texture to the original recipe. Be patient when experimenting.
Another difference is taste. Coconut has a sweeter taste compared to the nuttier flavor of almond.
Finally, cost depends on how difficult it is to find either of these products. In some cases, coconut might be cheaper, and since you need to use less of the product, this is usually the more affordable choice between the two.
If you are starting to do some keto baking, it’s recommended that you start with types of almond flour. It is easier to use when you are still figuring out how to bake without using carbs. That’s because you can use it in equal portions as you would regular flour, so you can follow your usual recipes. Once you get into the rhythm of keto baking, you may want to switch it up.
Those on a tighter carb intake (having 25-50 g of carbs per day) may want to opt for coconut flour. Whichever you use, make sure to thoroughly count the net carb to subtract it from your total daily carb intake.
Finally, it also depends on the food you are making and the flavors you like. Both options can be used in low-carb recipes, but each will lend a slightly different flavor and texture.
What are almond and coconut flour used for?
Almond flour is not suitable for people with tree nut allergies, so it’s important to know who will be eating your recipe. Coconut is not a nut (although some people can still be allergic to it).
Coconut flour is better for keto than almond flour. Although it is higher in carbs, you use 75% less than the almond-based product, significantly reducing the total carbs.
Another benefit is its fat composition. A proportion of the fats it has are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are medium chains of carbons. This means that they are not long (like the case with olive oil), so they are faster and easier to digest because our body digests them differently to longer chain fats. In the end, this means that they provide quicker energy.
Another benefit of MCTs is that they are easily converted into ketones, the primary energy source for people following a ketogenic diet.
Several studies have shown that MCT helps decrease fat mass compared to other sources of fat. Thus, if your main goal is to lose fat while following a ketogenic plan, coconut flour may provide a slight advantage over other high-fat flours.
Even though both are good options, the winner is coconut flour. Since you use less product, it means that it offers fewer net carbs. It is ideal for those with a very low carb intake. Additionally, thanks to being a source of MCTs, it may aid in weight loss. Finally, the cost plays a role. Since you need a smaller amount of it, you can reduce your costs significantly while baking.