Are Sweet Potatoes Keto-Friendly?

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

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Having variety in a keto-friendly diet can sometimes be a bit challenging. Can you eat this? Or that? Most of the foods we commonly crave are limited or prohibited. You might then be wondering, what about sweet potatoes? Are they keto-approved?

There are many ways you can have this delicious starchy root vegetable. Either in baked form or as a mashed form, all kinds will be sweet and simply flavorful. Its high-intensity yellowish color is packed with lots of taste and rich nutrients, making it the perfect carb to incorporate. However, you might have some questions on how it relates to a ketogenic diet.

This article will explain the most common questions regarding this typical starchy food. You’ll learn the answers to questions such as what are sweet potatoes, their main nutrition facts, are you allowed to eat them on keto, how much can you have, and what are some low-carb alternatives.

 

What are sweet potatoes?

Found in the plant family Convolvulaceae, commonly named Ipomoea batatas, they originated in the Central and Southern American region. They were cultivated by the Incas several hundreds of years ago. Different from potatoes, the sweet version is a starchy root vegetable but not a tuber. Although they both grow underground, their density, taste, and nutrition make them from different families.

This food comes in different types of colors. Yellow is the most common, but you may also find them in white or purple. All have similar nutritional characteristics but are very different regarding flavor and culinary characteristics.

Are sweet potatoes carb or protein?

Although they do contain small amounts of protein, they are in the carb group family. The nutritional information below will help you see how many carbs depending on the portion size.

 

Calories and carbs in sweet potato

As complex carbs, they are very nutritious. They are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, and copper. As you can see, they are a very nutrient-dense food. Suitable to incorporate in a healthy diet.

Serving size: 1 medium (151 g) cooked, boiled, without skin

  • Calories: 115 kcal
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 22.9 g
  • Total carbs: 26.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 2.1 g

There are 22.9 grams of net carbs in a medium sweet potato that has been peeled and boiled. This makes it a high-carbohydrate food. Remember that the nutritional information may vary depending on how you prepare it.

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS

 

Can you eat sweet potatoes on keto?

Typically, you would not be allowed to eat them on a ketogenic diet. However, if you control the portion size, you can eat them on keto.

Keep in mind that the portion size must be small to keep the carbohydrate count down. Thus try to mix it up with other veggies so you don’t eat more than you plan to. Decide the number of carbs you want to designate for sweet potatoes and subtract them from your total daily amount. This way, you make sure you don’t go over your carb limit. Have a low intake of other carb source foods that day so that you always stay under your total carb macros.

 

How much sweet potato can you eat on a keto diet?

Although they are high in carbs, they can be incorporated into a ketogenic diet in small amounts. How much sweet potato is a serving for this diet?

It will all depend on the number of carbs you have throughout the day. If you’re aiming for less than 50 g of net carbs per day, one half of a medium sweet potato could be a reasonable portion. It will provide about 11.5 g of net carbs. Remember to keep a careful eye on the carbohydrates you get from other food sources during the day. 

This means that you can have a small amount of sweet potato on keto, but always measure out how much to eat beforehand and store the rest, so you are not tempted to go back for more.

 

What kind of sweet potato can you have on keto?

There are several colors found, such as yellow, white, and purple. All of them will have more or less the same nutritional characteristics. Each will have its unique cooking characteristics which will make it ideal for a specific dish.

You can incorporate it in multiple ways. Either by its cooking method or even its presentation. Here are some ways you can include them in your everyday life.

  • Roasted. Cut them up in small cubes with some spices and olive oil.
  • Fries. Instead of French fries try making sweet potato fries.
  • Chips. Cut them as thin as possible and place them in an over or air fryer.
  • Baked. Try it baked or cooked in the microwave. Add some olive oil, sour cream or butter to top it off.
  • Toast. Cut them in slices to replace a regular piece of toast. Place them in an oven and bake them. Then you can top them with avocado or cream cheese.
  • Mashed. Be careful not to go over the carb intake in this form. Combine them with cauliflower to increase the portion size and reduce the carb load.

There are different ways you can include them in your diet. Remember to weigh the portion size so you don’t go over your carb intake.

Looking to have some sweet potatoes but don’t have much time? Try this way of making it in the microwave! It will save you time and allow you to have it regularly.

Instructions

  1. Wash the sweet potato thoroughly.
  2. Pierce it with a fork several times on the front and back sides.
  3. Place the food on a microwavable plate and put it in the microwave.
  4. Cook it for 2 minutes.
  5. Flip it over onto the other side (use a fork, it may be hot to the touch!).
  6. Cook it for another 2 minutes.

Take it out and pierce it once again with the fork. If it is fork-tender, it is done. If it is a bit hard to penetrate, then cook it for another 30 seconds. Continue to cook it until it is tender (in 30 second increments, alternating sides).

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN

 

What can you eat with sweet potatoes?

Since this starchy root vegetable is high in carbs, eat it with something that won’t increase your total carb intake. Non-starchy veggies, healthy fats, and protein are good choices to pair it with.

For example, if you want them as chips or fries, mix them up with zucchini, turnips, and carrots to have low-carb veggies. As a sauce, you could pair them with keto-friendly options such as ranch dressing, guacamole, or even a blue cheese dressing.

If you want to have them for breakfast, a toast-like version would be an excellent way to go. Add some scrambled eggs, or even fried eggs on top, with some avocado. This is another way of making avo toast but with sweet potato.Simply delicious!

 

What is a good keto substitute for sweet potatoes?

Having a healthy diet means having different foods added since they all will contain different nutrients. Sweet potato might make you go over your total carb intake if you are not careful. This is why you might want to incorporate other foods lower in carbs but will have more or less the same characteristics. Here, you can find a list of foods similar to sweet potato but will have less than 6 grams of net carbs per 100 g.

  • Celery
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Rutabaga

 

FAQ about sweet potatoes on the keto diet

There might still be some questions left regarding this fantastic food and its relationship with the ketogenic diet. We have answered the most common questions asked in this section.

Yes, it is considered a complex carb.

It is mainly composed of starch, meaning it is considered a complex carb. However, it is also considered a high glycemic index food. It can range from 41-96 on the glycemic scale. This number will depend on its cooking method, the duration it is cooked, and if it is peeled. The highest number is when it is baked, peeled, and cooked for 45 minutes. The version with the lower number in the glycemic index is boiled but not peeled.

Usually, they are not included in a low-carb lifestyle and don't go hand in hand due to their high carbohydrate content. Nonetheless, most ketoers can eat at least one half of a sweet potato, depending on their daily carb limit Add some mixed low-carb veggies to increase the portion size without increasing the carb content.

Instructions

  1. Chop them into sticks.
  2. Add one teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. Add some spices (like salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and rosemary).
  4. Place them in the oven or air fryer at 400 F (200 C) for about 10-15 minutes.

Yes and no. It will all depend on which way you are looking at it.

Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables. From an agricultural perspective, they are considered a vegetable. However, they are classified as starches on a nutritional level due to their high carb content. They don’t have the same nutritional information as a zucchini, for example. They are higher in carbs.

Yes, but you will have to control the portion size.

If you eat less than 20 grams of net carbs per day, the serving size will have to be tiny. 50 g of food (or ⅓ medium sweet potato) will have approximately 7.6 g of net carbs. You’ll still need to closely control any other carb sources throughout the day, or reduce your portion size even more.

It will all depend on the portion size you eat and what your personal daily carb limit is.

50 g will have approximately 7.6 g of net carbs. If you go over your total amount of carbs per day, either from sweet potato or any other food, it will jeopardize your ability to reach or maintain ketosis. Always stick to the number of total carbs per day to get the best results possible.

They are both high-carb foods.

If we compare 100 g of each product when peeled and cooked, sweet potatoes have 15.2 g of net carbs, while potatoes will have 18.2 g. Although they are very similar, try choosing the one that has a lower carb content, especially if you are following a low-carb diet.

 

More keto-friendly vegetable options