Are Pinto Beans Keto?

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz

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While beans can be an excellent source of protein and fiber, they are also a source of carbs. 

This means that they are not good for keto, right? 

Well, technically, that is correct: beans are not considered keto-friendly. 

However, if you are careful with the portion size and keep track of your carb intake throughout the day, you might be able to include some in your diet. And doing so can help boost your intake of important nutrients. 

In this article, we will explore everything related to this food and the keto diet. We’ll cover topics like nutrition facts and macros, if they are okay to eat, how much you can fit into your keto diet, and keto-friendly alternatives for you to consider.


What are pinto beans?

These are from the legume family. Other members of that family are black beans, lentils, and chickpeas

They are native to South and Central America and are commonly found in their traditional dishes. 

They are referred to as “pinto” since the uncooked beans have spots on them. (“Pinto” means spotted or mottled in Spanish.) However, it is interesting that when they get cooked, they lose their spots. 

Like any other bean, they have a nutty and earthy flavor. However, compared to other types, their taste is slightly sweet. 

One of their drawbacks is that they take a long time to cook, presenting a challenge to those who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Nonetheless, you can also find them already cooked in cans or jars, ready for you to eat. 


Nutrition facts

Now that we know the origin of this food, let’s talk about their nutritional composition. How many carbs do they have? Are they high in protein?

  • Serving size: 1 cup cooked (171 g)
  • Calories: 245
  • Fat: 1.1 g
  • Net carbs: 29.4 g
  • Total carbs: 44.8 g
  • Fiber: 15.4 g
  • Protein: 15.4 g

One of their benefits is that they are very high in fiber since one cup provides about 50-60% of the daily recommended value.

Another positive aspect about them is that they are very high in protein. One cup gives you 15.4 g of protein, similar to 2 large eggs. 

This is a great food to add for those who have trouble reaching their protein intake or are looking to decrease their animal protein consumption. 

However, they are still very high in carbohydrates since one cup offers 29.4 g of net carbs. 




Are you allowed to eat pinto beans on keto?

Technically, no. 

Pinto beans are not keto-friendly since they are very high in carbs. 

However, as long as you stay within your daily budget in carbohydrates, there is some wiggle room to add them in small amounts. This would mean that you must thoroughly measure the portion size and ensure that the rest of the foods you have that day are low in carbs. 

For those following a less restrictive keto diet or those with a higher carb intake on certain days, you can include them. Again, just ensure you measure the portion size and keep track of it. 


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

The amount depends on your overall carb intake. 

For example, those following a strict keto diet usually aim to stay below 50 g of net carbohydrates per day. If you have ¼ cup of cooked pinto beans, this will give you 7.3 g of net carbs, which seems reasonable. 


What kind of pinto beans can you have on keto?

You can have them cooked or refried. 

Cooked beans tend to be higher in nutrients and lower in sodium. Eating too much sodium can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. 

Cans of refried beans tend to be higher in sodium, sugar, and added fats. You need to be careful if they have higher sugar content since it will give you more carbohydrates. 

My advice is if you want to have refried beans to make them at home. You can even mix them with some cauliflower to decrease the carb content. 




What can you eat with this food?

Since they are high in carbs, you will want to look for other foods that are low in carbs to compensate and avoid eating more carbs that will add onto your daily intake. 

Here are some ideas of foods to eat with this tasty legume. 

  • Salad
  • Meatloaf
  • Ground beef
  • Grilled chicken
  • Keto nachos 
  • Cauliflower rice for a keto burrito bowl

To compensate, add high-fat foods like avocado or olive oil. Nuts and seeds contain a fair amount of carbs, so you may want to limit those foods on the days you include beans.


Keto-friendly pinto bean alternatives

It might be challenging to find if you are looking for a replacement since most legumes are high in carbs, making them not very keto-friendly. 

There are two foods you can include that won’t add as many carbs as pinto beans:

  • Edamame 
  • Green beans

While they still contain some carbs, they are a better option than other legumes. 

If you want a lower-carb version but that it’s still high in protein, try adding: 

  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds


FAQ about pinto beans on a keto diet 

If you are still unsure about this tasty food and the keto diet, here, you can find some common questions to help clear any additional questions you might have.

Most legumes are high in carbs, not making it an ideal option for those following a ketogenic diet.
Green beans and edamame are some of the few options you can include that won’t spike your carb intake through the roof.
One cup of edamame has 5.7 g of net carbs, and one cup of green beans has 4.3 g of net carbs. 

This food is high in carbs. However, if you are careful with the portion size, you might manage to add some to your keto diet. 

Still, you would need to be careful how much you have, and the other foods you include throughout the day need to be low in carbs to compensate.
That way, it won’t jeopardize your ketosis. 

Quinoa is actually still higher in carbs. One cup of cooked quinoa has 34.2 g of net carbs, compared to 29.4 g.

However, the same logic applies with both. If you are careful with the portion size, you might manage to eat a small amount without affecting your ketosis. 

They are considered both. They are high in carbs but also an excellent source of plant-based protein. 

Remember that plant-based protein is not as high quality as animal protein since it doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. 

Yes, soaking them at least 12-24 hours before cooking them may help to prevent gastric discomfort. It will also shorten their cooking time. 

Yes, they are good for weight loss since they are high in protein and fiber. Both are essential when you are on a weight loss journey since they help to increase your fullness levels. 

However, they are high in carbs and calories, meaning you need to be careful with your portion size to avoid overeating.