Are Peanuts Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Peanuts are the perfect snack. They are convenient, delicious, healthy, and filling. Knowing that they are nuts, they should easily be keto-safe. Right?

Well, it is not that simple. First, they are actually not nuts, and secondly, their nutritional value may change after processing. 

If you would like to learn how best you can add them to a ketogenic diet without going over your daily carbs, read on. In this article, we look at peanut nutrition and why it may not be as keto-friendly as it may seem.


What are peanuts?

The peanut is a legume crop grown for its edible seed. You read that right. Peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes. This means that they belong to the same family as beans and peas. 

The crop originated from South America but is now eaten all over the world. It also goes by the names monkey nut, goober, or groundnut. It is popularly consumed as peanut butter, but the whole seed is just as tasty. It can be eaten raw or roasted and salted. 

Legumes are not approved for low-carb diets, so you might be wondering why we are discussing peanuts for keto when they are part of the legume family. The reason is that they have a nutrition composition much closer to nuts than beans and peas. 

Legumes are rich in protein and carbohydrates and low in fat, which makes them unsuitable for low-carb diets. Nuts, on the other hand, are low in carbohydrates and rich in protein and fat. Peanut seeds are closer to the latter than the former.

 

Peanut nutrition

Peanuts are highly nutritious in terms of both macro and micronutrients. They are rich in protein and fat and provide a considerable amount of dietary fiber. They also provide vitamins and minerals such as niacin (B3), vitamin E, and magnesium. 

It is important to note that while nuts are high in calories, they are equally high in nutrients. The high-calorie count should not scare you away from them as they are very filling and can help protect you from constant snacking. 

Serving size: 100 g of raw shelled Spanish peanuts. Equal to about ⅔ cup*. 

  • Calories: 570 kcal
  • Fat: 49.6 g 
  • Net carbs (total - fiber): 6.3 g
  • Total carbs: 15.8 g
  • Fiber: 9.5 g 
  • Protein: 26.2 g 
  • Unsaturated fat: 42.9 g 

From this information, we see that peanuts do have carbs, but their high fiber content helps to keep the net carb count down. 

The final peanut carb count is 6.3 g per 100 g or ⅔ cup. Therefore, how many carbs are in a cup of peanuts? A not-so-bad 9.5 g.

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS


Can you eat peanuts on keto?

Yes, you can eat peanuts on the ketogenic diet if you practice good portion control. While they are nutritionally similar to nuts, they are higher in carbs when compared to nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts.

Portion control may seem simple, but nuts are very tasty and easy to go through mindlessly. For this reason, it is advisable to portion out what you intend to have before eating. Set your serving aside in a favorite mug or small bowl and savor every mouthful!

To save yourself the trouble of portioning every time you are going to eat, get it over with ahead of time. When you buy a bag from the grocery store, pour it all out and portion it into separate ziplock bags. That way, you can just grab and go whenever you need a snack. You can also buy individual peanut packs at your local supermarket or online if they are available. 


How much peanuts should you eat on a ketogenic diet?

As we mentioned, peanuts are a high-calorie food, so if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight, the key is to not overshoot your calories. 

A handful of peanuts (or about (1oz/ 30g) is a great portion for a snack and will not be too caloric. As an added bonus it will only cost you 1.8 g carbs!

 Keep reading to discover some of the lower-carb peanut alternatives you can try. 


Peanuts and peanut products allowed on keto

  • Raw. These are in their most natural state and have not undergone any form of processing or cooking. They are the most nutritious but lack that crunch that many peanut lovers are looking for. 
  • Dry roasted. These are cooked over dry heat in the pan or oven to dry them and give them a crunchy texture. They make an excellent snack between meals. Be careful of eating too much salt if you are choosing the salted ones.

Both roasted and raw peanuts have similar nutrition compositions, so they are both equally suitable for a low-carb diet.  

The peanut seed can also be processed to make other products. Some of these include:

  • Peanut butter. This is made by grinding roasted peanut seeds and is one of the most popular uses for the nut. You can have natural peanut butter on keto because it doesn’t contain any sugar or additives. Stay away from brands that add sugar and other preservatives. 
  • Peanut flour. Peanut seeds can be dried and mealed to make flour used for baking and other methods of cooking. It can be used as a low-carb alternative to regular wheat flour and contains about 11.3 g carbs per cup.
  • Peanut oil. Peanut seeds are loaded with oil that can be extracted to make cooking oil. Since oil is 100% fat, it is definitely okay to use it on a ketogenic diet.

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN


Keto-friendly peanut alternatives

While peanuts are fairly keto-friendly, there are also other low-carb alternatives. It also doesn’t hurt to have more options to add some variety to your diet. 

The easiest ketogenic peanut substitutes are other types of nuts. Some of the ones you can use include:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Macadamia nuts 
  • Hazelnuts

In addition to all these nuts, you can also have seeds like pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower. Plain popcorn is another good option, which gives about 10 g carbs per 2 cups.


FAQs about peanuts on keto

If we haven't answered some of the questions you had, we have some more answers to common peanut-related questions below.
 

Yes, they are. They are low in carbs but rich in protein and fat. 1 handful gives a mere 1.8 g carbs while offering a good 2.7 g fiber and 7.4 g protein (that’s as much as 1oz / 30 g chicken or meat!)

In addition to protein and fiber, they also provide fat. More importantly, they provide unsaturated fat, which is lacking in many people's diets. In particular, they are rich in oleic and linoleic acid, both of which have been found to provide many health benefits, like improving heart health. 

Planters dry roasted nuts are keto-friendly. They have a similar nutritional composition to regular roasted peanuts and contain 3 g net carbs per handful (1 o z/ 30 g). Beware of eating too much salt when choosing salted versions, each serving of Planters peanuts gives 150 mg sodium which is just under 7% of your daily total. 

However, Planters has flavors that are not keto-friendly. For example, salted caramel has about 7 g of net carbs per 1 oz / 30 g serving. 

Always read the nutrition label to double-check if the flavor you are getting is keto.

No, you can not eat a traditional peanut brittle on the ketogenic diet. A peanut brittle uses sugar as one of the main ingredients, making it unsuitable for a low-carb diet. You can, however, make a ketogenic peanut brittle following this recipe.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts
  • 2 oz of butter
  • 3 oz of Swerve or granulated sweetener of choice 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Directions 

  • Evenly spread out the peanuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Add the butter, sugar replacement, and vanilla to a saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat till the mixture caramelizes.
  • Pour the caramel over the nuts. 
  • Allow to cool for an hour.
  • Break and serve.

On a 20 g carb keto plan, you can have a handful of nuts as a snack (1.8 g carbs) or if you need to make up calories, feel free to have more (depending on the other carb containing food you are having that day). 

Peanuts would be considered a protein or fat. This is because they are rich in both protein and fat and are low in carbs. 

Peanuts are much better than cashews for keto. In fact, among the common nuts, cashews are the least keto-friendly. 

Peanuts are richer than cashews in fiber, protein, and fat. Cashews are higher in net carbs.