Are Black Beans Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Beans and legumes are a staple food in many regions of the world, including Latin America. So, one of the most common questions is if they are keto-friendly.

The short answer would be no. They are high in carbs and wouldn’t be considered keto. However, you can include it into your ketogenic diet if you measure the portion size carefully and keep your carb intake low for the remainder of the day.

In this article, you will learn everything related to this common legume and keto. The macronutrients and micronutrient composition of them. Are you allowed to eat them on keto? How much can you have without affecting ketosis? What kind of black beans can you eat? Finally, keto-friendly alternatives to beans.


What are black beans?

Black beans are a native food from the Americas. Dated over 7,000 years ago, they are often referred to as turtle black beans. They are considered part of the legume family. Other family members involve lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans.

Like any other legumes, they are high in carbs and vegetable protein. They are also very rich in nutrients, making them a complete food.
They have a black coat with a white center, and an oval shape. They also have a creamy and rich texture with a somewhat sweet flavor.


Black beans nutrition facts

One of the advantages is that they are highly nutritious. However, how many carbs do they have? Are they really that high in protein? Let’s take a look at the macronutrient profile of this legume.

Serving size: 1 cup cooked

  • Calories: 227 kcal
  • Fat: 0.9 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 25.8 g
  • Total carbs: 40.8 g
  • Fiber: 15 g
  • Protein: 15.2 g

One of the benefits of this food is that it is high in fiber. A high-fiber diet helps improve your gut health, increases your satiety levels (which means you are less likely to feel hunger), and helps fight constipation.

Thanks to the high fiber content, the net carb content is reduced. However, it still remains relatively high. One cup of cooked black beans has 25.8 g of net carbs.

Another benefit is the high protein content. One cup cooked has 15.2 g of protein, similar to having two large eggs. It is an excellent food for someone following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Additionally, it is very high in nutrients. It has 64% of the daily recommended value (DRV) of folate, 38% of the DRV of manganese, and 30% of the DRV of magnesium. All of these are essential nutrients for optimal health.


Are you allowed to eat black beans on keto?

Yes, you are allowed to eat them while doing a ketogenic diet. 

Even though they contain carbs, you can add them as long as you are careful with the portion size and remember to measure other carb sources to ensure you are not going over your total carb intake.

If you are going to have some, make sure to avoid other high-carb options during the day, for example, avoid having rice and beans (both high in carbs). Keep the beans but instead of the rice, add a low-carb option like cauliflower rice. This way, you can balance everything out.

How many black beans can you have on a keto diet?

The amount that you can have depends on your target carb intake. If your daily macro amount is  lower, you need a smaller portion than somebody with a higher carb intake.

For example, if you are trying to stay below 50 g of carbs per day. I recommend having ¼ to ½ a cup, for about 6.5 or 13 g of net carbs.


What kind of black beans can you have on keto?

There are different cooking methods and recipes to consider. As long as you measure the portion size and add them towards your daily carb intake, you can add any version of this legume.

  • Boiled. This cooking method uses little to no fat. You can add spices like garlic or onion to make them tastier.
  • Fried. It is common to have them for nachos or as a dip. Be careful with the portion since it can be easy to overeat. Additionally, if you buy them from the store, make sure that they don’t have any added sugars.
  • Pasta. Now you can find pasta made with bean flour. It has the advantage that it is lower in carbs than traditional pasta.
  • Chips. They are an excellent option for those looking for a snack. You can mix them with some veggie chips to have more volume and fewer carbs.
  • Soup. For a cold night or for recovering from a cold, it is a great option to have. Consider including a protein source like chicken or meat to make it more balanced.
  • Veggie burger. It is an excellent option for those looking for a plant-based alternative to make a patty out of them.



What can you eat with black beans?

Since they are high in carbs, whenever you combine them with something else, make sure to choose a low-carb food.

  • Veggies. They are low in carbs and high in fiber. You can have beans with broccoli tortillas or cauliflower rice.
  • Protein. Although they are high in plant protein, they might not be enough during the day. Thus, add a protein source like meat, chicken, or fish to increase your protein intake.
  • Avocado. You can mix it up with some guacamole, keto chips, and cheese to make some fantastic low-carb nachos.


Keto-friendly black bean alternatives

Since legumes are high in carbs, you might want other options that have a lower impact on your total daily carbs. Here is a list of keto-friendly alternatives.

  • Green beans. They are a great alternative when you want to have a low-carb option. One cup only has 4 g of net carbs, compared to 25 g from the black variety.
  • Mushrooms. To reduce the carb content, you can add them instead of any legume to your soups and chili.
  • Avocado. It is primarily fats, and it has a low carb content. Instead of having a bean dip the next time you are going out, try guacamole instead.
  • Nuts. Peanuts or pecans can easily replace this legume in certain recipes (for example, a black bean brownie recipe). To get the same consistency, make sure to boil them first.


FAQ about black beans on a keto diet

Do you still have some questions regarding this popular legume and a ketogenic diet? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions to help you out.

Yes, you can have other beans while on a ketogenic diet.
However, they will have a similar nutritional content, including a relatively high carbohydrate count. If you are going to include any of them, measure the portion size and deduct it from your daily carb intake.

They are not ideal for keto because they contain lots of carbs. However, you can have them in a keto-friendly way by keeping your serving size small. 

Also, make sure that they don’t have sugar in the ingredients list when you buy them. To avoid additives, you can make your own refried beans by sauteing onion and garlic, sprinkling in some cumin and chili powder, adding cooked black beans and a bit of water or chicken broth, and mashing it up with a potato masher.

Yes, you can make chocolatey brownies that are keto and gluten-free using this legume.

There are lots of recipes available online. Common ingredients include black beans, butter, eggs, vanilla, erythritol, stevia, cocoa powder, pecans, and baking powder.

Remember that the final result will still contain some carbs, which means you need to keep in mind how many carbs one brownie has.

Black beans are better when doing keto since they are lower in carbs.

One cup of pinto beans has 29.4 g of net carbs compared to 25 g of net carbs from black beans.

Black bean hummus combines beans, olive oil, tahini, garlic, and cilantro.

Since it contains a legume as a base, it is high in carbs. To decrease the carb content for keto, try adding some zucchini.

Black bean pasta contains this legume as a base instead of flour. Compared to regular pasta, it is higher in fiber and protein.

Depending on the brand, one serving (56 g) of this type of pasta may have around 5 g of net carbs, making it an excellent option for those on a low-carb diet.


Beans and legumes to eat in moderation on keto