Keto diet nuts can be an amazing asset on a ketogenic diet, but knowing which are best to help keep your body in a state of ketosis, as well as exercising portion control, will go a long way to curb the carb overload when snacking.
Are nuts a friend or a foe on the ketogenic diet if your goal is fat loss or muscle gain?
The Konscious Keto answer has a few parts and we will definitely share the best nuts to eat to maintain ketosis and which to moderate to keep your body in fat-burning mode.
There’s a pressing question for some not seeing weight-loss progress or lean muscle gain on keto and it’s this—can eating nuts hinder fat loss on keto?
Keep reading to learn more about the fat-burning benefits of certain low-glycemic nuts and which nuts to limit to prevent fat-loss stalls.
Keto Diet Nuts - The Good
Eating low-glycemic, keto-friendly nuts on a ketogenic diet is great because of the minimal glucose impact and the benefit of their abundant amount of healthy fats to keep you satiated, support ketosis, and charge your fat-fueled lifestyle.
Nuts are Low in Carbohydrates
There are sweeter nuts like pistachios and cashews that should be limited on a low-carb diet, as they contain a considerably higher carb load than their low-glycemic counterparts.
There are also many nuts that are low in carbs and ideal on a ketogenic diet—especially if you’re in the maintenance phase or looking to achieve lean muscle gain.
Almonds, macadamia nuts, and pecans are some of the best nut options to reach for when keeping it low carb, high fat.
These nuts are relatively low in carbs and deliver a significant dose of healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals.
However, it’s wise to note that although lower in carbs than starchy carbohydrates, it’s still advisable to monitor the types and amounts of nuts you eat on keto—especially if just getting started on the diet or experiencing a weight-loss plateau.
Here’s a breakdown of the carb amounts for many nuts often eaten on keto to provide perspective on the differences in each nut’s glucose impact.
As you can see, there’s a difference between the glucose consumed in a serving of pecans versus a serving of chestnuts:
Carbs per 1 oz serving:
- Pecans: 1.1 grams
- Brazil nuts: 1.3 grams
- Macadamia nuts: 1.5 grams
- Walnuts: 1.9 grams
- Coconut: 2 grams
- Hazelnuts: 2.3 grams
- Pine nuts: 2.7 grams
- Almonds: 2.9 grams
- Peanuts: 3.8 grams
- Pistachios: 5.8 grams
- Cashews: 8.4 grams
- Chestnuts: 13.6 grams
Nuts are High in Nutrients
Nuts are very nutrient dense and an easy way to get inadequate, low-sugar, nutrition on-the-go.
Also, nuts are packed with fiber, selenium, magnesium, and manganese while offering a significant amount of fat content, not all that common a nutrient profile found in many other foods encouraged on a ketogenic diet.
Keto Diet Nuts We Love
Pecans are a nutrient-dense, fibrous nut packed with potassium, calcium, and zinc, all essential—vitamins and minerals that must be supplemented on keto.
Pecans contain a total of 19 vitamins, including vitamins A and E, and are a great addition to any keto meal plan.
Along with adding a unique flavor to food, pecans are also rich in quality fat and antioxidants which provides an additional anti-inflammatory benefit.
Brazil nuts are very well-rounded. They are high in fat, an excellent source of protein, and provide a significant amount of vitamins and minerals.
Brazil nuts are particularly rich in selenium and also an excellent source of thiamin, copper, and magnesium.
Another noteworthy benefit of the Brazil nut is that it’s the highest food-based source of selenium on the planet!
Eating just a few nuts is thought to be a more bioavailable source of the chemical element than any man-made supplement!
This heart-healthy nut is full of monounsaturated fat and also packs a powerful protein punch!
Also, the mild-flavored nut is full of vitamins and minerals like manganese, iron, and folate—an excellent option on keto.
This nutritious nut of the macadamia tree is full of protein, healthy fats, iron and antioxidants.
Rest assured, adding macadamias to your list of nut options on keto is a tasty and ideal way to maintain stable glucose levels.
Full of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, walnuts are an excellent choice if you’re eating a low-carb diet.
Also, walnuts are said to offer heart and mood health benefits, providing plenty of omega-3, an essential fatty acid.
The abundance of omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts is particularly beneficial in supporting brain health and function.
What’s more, the increased consumption of omega-3s is said to facilitate healthy nervous system development and supports effective mood regulation.
Coconuts are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. A true whole food, coconuts are so versatile and can be added into a ketogenic diet in the form of full-fat coconut milk, coconut meat, coconut butter, or unsweetened coconut flakes.
Coconuts also contain essential B-complex vitamins such as folate, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine—all of which need to be supplemented as the body cannot make them on its own.
Hazelnuts are a great choice because of their high-fat content and abundance of oleic acid. Also, like macadamia nuts, hazelnuts promote heart health.
In addition, the nutrients present in hazelnuts support joint and digestive health, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and even provide the nutritional building blocks to promote healthy bones, hair, skin, and nails.
Pine nuts aren’t just a key ingredient in pesto, a food that’s great in limited quantities on keto, by the way, these nuts are a magnesium powerhouse and are quite low on the glycemic scale.
Many know the benefits of some other popular nuts, like almonds, but the pine nut is not to be overlooked.
In addition to the delicious flavor it adds to food, pine nuts are also said to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and mitigate the symptoms of some mood disorders.
Almonds are rich in antioxidants and they’re a fantastic nut option on keto if eaten in limited amounts.
Loads of antioxidants present in almonds help fight against oxidative stress in the body to ward off many diseases.
Also, the large amounts of vitamin E and magnesium in almonds help to protect cells from accelerated deterioration and regulate blood pressure as well as glucose levels, very powerful.
Although their name deceives many, peanuts, actually a part of the legume family, are not nuts at all, yet still keto-friendly.
Overall, these tasty pods are packed with nutrients such as manganese, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium—all essential on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Also, these powerful pods are teeming with additional nutritional benefits worth noting.
Peanuts contain powerful components like resveratrol and phytosterols that reduce bad (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) cholesterol, reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and gallbladder disease, and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Keto Diet Nuts We Eat Occasionally
Low-glycemic nuts are an excellent option on the ketogenic diet, but, as we know, the glucose impact of every nut is not equal.
It is important to take particular care to limit some higher-carb nuts in order to maintain ketosis.
Here are a few of the nuts that, despite being delicious, we advise you consume in moderation:
Although a bit higher in carbs than say Brazil nuts, pistachios are still low enough in carbs to eat on keto as long as you are mindful of portions.
Similar to peanuts, pistachios are in fact not a nut but are technically the edible seeds found within a pit.
It’s amazing, these flavorful seeds are packed with many essential nutrients that actually support weight loss, as well as heart and gut health.
But again, with pistachios, cashews, and chestnuts, it’s crucial to be very mindful of portions as not to get carried away with the amount consumed in a sitting as it can easily blow your net-carb budget.
Although an absolute favorite for their sweet taste and the creaminess they add to dishes, cashews are a bit higher on the glycemic scale, as well, and you’ll really want to monitor your portions with these delicious seeds, if not avoid them completely.
Cashews contain less fiber than most other “nuts” mentioned, but for what they lack in fiber they make up for in nutrients.
Along with vitamins K, E, and B6, cashews are also rich in antioxidants and minerals like zinc, iron, and copper.
This is the highest-carb nut mentioned and one you definitely want to limit to keep your carbs low enough to maintain ketosis.
Chestnuts are a great nutritional resource and can be consumed in small amounts to benefit from their powerful anti-inflammatory properties to help ward off disease.
Although a nut whose benefits may be lesser known in the mainstream than the beloved almond, the chestnut is one well worth adding to your low-carb diet in limited quantities for its medicinal properties.
Chestnuts are said to boost the immune system and promote glucose regulation to prevent or manage diabetes.
They are attributed to improving brain function, helping to prevent chronic illness and aiding in blood pressure regulation.
I told you, this nut is a nutritional powerhouse!
Nuts are Convenient
Nuts are so handy because they are easy to pre-portion and toss into your bag as you head to the gym or out to run errands.
Also, a portioned packet of nuts can keep you on track while you’re out and about as their high-fat content will keep you fuller longer while helping to crush sugar and carb cravings—win-win!
Nuts are Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation is at the root of all disease. Fortunately, we can combat oxidative stress in the body with the foods, vitamins, and minerals we consume.
Nuts are particularly high anti-inflammatory foods and contribute to nutritional health as well as keeping your fat levels high enough to produce the number of ketones needed to maintain metabolic ketosis.
Ideal for Maintenance or Ketogains
Although high in fat, minerals, and vitamins, nuts can also be very high in carbs and protein which can kick you out of ketosis with a few handfuls of the wrong nut.
It is possible to include nuts on a ketogenic diet even if the goal is to lose fat, but it is important to track your portions accurately to stay under your daily net-carb threshold.
Once in a maintenance phase and less focused on weight loss or if looking to achieve lean muscle gain, nuts can be an ideal fuel source.
But with this being said, it’s still highly advisable to track macros closely when consuming nuts—or any carbohydrates—because they are really easy to overeat and that simple oversight can derail your hard work.
Keto Diet Nuts - The Bad
Nuts are excellent for their nutritional value and quality fat content, but I will never forget how shocked I was about correct portion sizes, in comparison to the amount I was eating, once I started reading labels.
I couldn’t believe that only a few handfuls of nuts could set me back 800-plus calories and a lot more carbs than I’d realized.
Again, it is essential to mind your portions when eating nuts on keto in order to stay within your desired macro budget for calories, fat, protein and, of course, carbs.
Nuts are High in Calories
Nuts are calorically dense and eating them mindlessly can quickly blow your daily macro budget.
Be strategic about when and how much you consume nuts on keto to make sure you get the nutritional benefits and also stay on track with your fitness goals.
Nuts Contain Anti-Nutrients
Despite the many health benefits derived from eating nuts on keto, there are also some other elements to consider.
Nuts contain a lot of phytic acids, which can actually hinder the body’s ability to absorb certain essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron.
This last point is vital because aside from the unwanted glucose spikes that can result from consuming too many nuts: consuming nuts in large quantities may lead to the malabsorption of essential nutrients.
Keto Diet Nuts - The Ugly (Hidden Carbs)
While nuts can obviously work on a keto diet in limited amounts, make no mistake—nuts contain carbs and loads of protein.
Although keto is generally a carefree diet, one where intuitive eating and less concern over portions of quality fatty foods eaten is encouraged, it is really important to monitor portions when eating nuts—or any carbs—to make sure you remain in ketosis.
Avoid Cashews (They’re Not Technically a Nut)
Cashews are absolutely delicious but what are they, anyway? Cashews are a bit of a chameleon.
They are not technically a nut although they grow on a tree; they split in appearance similar to a legume but they are not a legume, and they grow at the bottom of a red fruit-like item that is not considered a fruit.
It’s kind of just unique unto itself, I suppose and is actually the seed of the fruit-like item’s pit—classified as a drupe.
Drupes, literally meaning “stone fruit”, are essentially fruits with a fleshy exterior and a pit, like a plum or a peach.
Oddly enough, as opposed to other drupes, the part we eat and know as the “cashew nut” is actually the seed inside of the pit of the juicy, red, fruit-like food within which it grows.
As sad as it is to say, avoid cashews—especially if you want to lose fat. Cashews are higher in starch, actually having a quarter of its weight being comprised of starch.
Cashews are also pretty high omega-6 fatty acids but lower in omega-3s, not an ideal state of affairs on any diet.
Avoid Nuts When Losing Weight
At the end of the day, nuts are very high in carbs and protein, both things to consider when fitting them into a ketogenic meal plan.
Although they are replete with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, overeating nuts can easily lead to a fat-loss stall so it’s better to limit them in general if your goal is to facilitate weight loss.
Practice Keto Portion Control
Remember, nuts are not a snack you want to mindlessly eat out of the bag while bingeing on your favorite show.
You will quickly find yourself with an empty bag and a huge carb and protein surplus that will likely hinder your fat-loss efforts on keto—remember, excess protein in the body converts to glucose and can impact ketosis as well as carbohydrates.
The fact still remains that we need to create a caloric deficit to lose weight.
Granted, the type of calories we consume (r.e., fats vs. carbs) directly impact our physical and mental performance, but the “calories in, calories out” model is still a great general guideline to follow as you approach your fitness goals.
To ensure the efficient use of nuts on keto, eat them as a post-workout snack for a quick energy boost or a mid-day meal replacement—of course making sure to measure out and log your portions to ensure you’re within your daily macro targets, especially if you’re new to the lifestyle.
Also, it may worth checking your glucose and ketone levels after eating higher-glycemic nuts (e.g., cashews, pistachios, or chestnuts, etc.) to get an accurate gauge of their impact on your system in real-time, to determine whether it’s better to avoid those nuts altogether—especially if the goal is to lose weight.
Limiting or omitting nuts, especially at the start of the low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet will prove most helpful for fat loss.
Although nuts are a viable source of a variety of nutrients, many other food options are much lower in carbs—like bacon, salmon, and avocado.
For starters—that will keep you equally satiated because of their high-fat content but have a much less significant glucose burden to help ease you into or help you successfully maintain metabolic ketosis.
However, with that being said, it is a very realistic goal to successfully incorporate low-glycemic nuts into your meals on a ketogenic diet and remain in ketosis.
You can have the best of the nutrition of nuts without the carb overload with a little planning and a constant eye on portion control.
Again, be strategic about your nut consumption and you will reap the benefits of their flavor, nutrition, and fat content while effectively supporting nutritional ketosis.