Vegetables, the non-starchy type of vegetables, can be lifesavers in a ketogenic diet. They provide small amounts of total net carbs since they are packed with fiber. Fiber plays an essential role in our diet, not only for being responsible for having a healthy bowel movement but also for satiety.
Carrots are one of the most frequently used vegetables in our kitchen. Not only for their versatility, since you can add them to all sorts of recipes, but for their nutritional value as well. They are loaded with beta carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for a number of important functions like your eyesight and healthy immune system.
This article will answer the most common questions regarding this common vegetable: Are carrots safe to eat on a keto diet? What are its macronutrient and micronutrient compositions? How many carrots can you eat and stay in ketosis? How can you incorporate them into your diet? Is celery better than carrots?
Let’s find out!
The carrots we know today are very different from the ones our ancestors used to eat. This commonly known root vegetable has records of being cultivated originally in Afghanistan about 1000 years ago. They come in various colors, including yellow, white, orange, and purple — each with its properties and benefits.
Carrots are grouped in the vegetable family. A vegetable is the edible part of a plant: its leaves, stem, roots, tubers, and bulbs of flowers. However, it is essential to know that tubers, such as potatoes, are high in carbs and are generally incorporated in the carbohydrate or starch section.
One of the main benefits that carrots offer is that they are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, so their net carb count is quite low.
These nutrient-dense vegetables are low in sugar and a good source of beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber. In addition, they are a very crunchy and filling snack that can help get rid of that craving for crispy foods.
Serving size: 1 medium raw carrot (61g)
Serving size: 1 cup chopped raw carrot (128g)
As we can see, the carbohydrate count for carrots is relatively low, as long as you don’t eat too much. One medium carrot contains 4.1 g of net carbs, while net carbs per cup is about double that. The amount of natural sugar (aka intrinsic sugar) in carrots is higher than in many green vegetables, which also helps to explain their higher carb count.
Yes, carrots are a delicious nutrient-dense vegetable perfect for incorporating into a low-carb diet. However, they do provide carbs, so you must count them in your total carb intake.
Be careful with the serving size you are using. Since they are a crunchy snack and we view them as just a vegetable, it is easy to munch your way over your daily carb limit without realizing.
Always weigh or measure out your portion, especially if you are eating carrot sticks that are already store-bought and ready to eat. Separate the portion you want depending on the number of carbs you are aiming for at that time. This will ensure you don’t go over your total amount for the day.
The ideal serving size will depend on your total carb intake for the day. For example, if you have a total limit of 50 g of net carbs per day, a cup of carrots (2 medium ones chopped) will provide small amounts of net carbs and provide a lot of satiety.
If you aim to have less than 25 g of net carbs per day, you could consume less. If you are using them as something crunchy like a snack, try to have no more than a medium one. It will allow you to have more carbs reserved for other carb sources you might want to add throughout the day.
Any serving size you choose to have, you can have carrots in any presentation you wish, chopped, sticks, or even as round slices.
You can find them in almost any color: yellow, purple, red, or white. They are also found in various sizes: small, medium, large, or baby carrots.
Each color will provide its unique health benefit. For example, purple carrots are high in anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. When incorporating carrots into your diet, try adding one of a different color to make sure you get other nutrients each time. Remember always to eat a rainbow, meaning getting vegetables of different colors.
One of the main benefits is that you can incorporate them into your diet several ways.
There are numerous ways to add them into your diet; it can be as simple as adding them to a salad or as a way to replace several high-carb foods such as pasta.
Just remember that cooking them with honey or sugar will make them high in carbs, so avoid eating them glazed.
Even if these root vegetables are low in carbs, you must be careful with serving them. Avoid combining them with foods that also have carbs, for example, hummus. This way, you won’t use up too many of your daily carbs with just a snack.
Instead, you can have them with more healthy keto-friendly options like guacamole, peanut butter (if your total carb allows it), mustard, lemon, or even balsamic vinegar. You can also use convenience options like mayonnaise or sugar free ranch dressing, but remember that it is best to stick to unprocessed or minimally processed foods as much as possible.
If you are looking for a homemade dip for your carrots, you could try this fantastic dill dip.
Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Although carrots are keto-friendly, you might want to incorporate other vegetables that are lower in carbs if you have a tighter carb intake. For example, if you are looking for a crunchy snack, try celery, red bell peppers, turnips, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, and broccoli. These vegetables will provide less net carb per serving, meaning they are allowed in a ketogenic diet and still have that crunchy feeling you might be craving.
Remember that each color of a vegetable offers a different nutrient; thus, adding various snacks to your diet will help to make sure you are not deficient in any nutrient.
You might still have some questions regarding carrots and their relationship with a ketogenic diet. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
Yes, they are a good snack option when on a keto diet.
However, they are not carb-free, meaning they do contain a small amount. For example, a medium-size carrot has 4.1 g of net carb. Therefore, always measure the food to check how much you are willing to eat at each meal.
No, regular carrot salad contains apple and raisins, which are not keto-friendly foods.
You can modify and make a keto carrot salad: mix shredded carrots, lemon, Dijon mustard (make sure it doesn’t contain added sugars), olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, and chopped shallots.
Yes, they are considered a good keto side dish as long as you control the serving size.
Just be careful what you are adding to it. For example, avoid glazed carrots since they contain sugar and honey, which are not safe to eat.
Yes, it is approved in a ketogenic diet.
Nonetheless, remember it does contain carbs. So, if you are making soup for the entire family or a batch for several days, write down the total amount of carrots used and divide them per serving; this way, you can know how many carbs you are eating.
You can add them to almost anything! Some of the best keto recipes are:
Both are good options, but celery is much lower in net carbs.
If you are on a higher carb intake (50 g) there is no problem with eating one or two medium carrots. However, if you are on a lower carb intake (25 g), have a smaller portion or replace them with celery.