Beans are healthy, nutritious, and one of the most common foods on the planet.
They are a cooking staple in dozens of countries and are one of the most popular foods found in vegetarian keto dishes.
In many diets, bean consumption would be encouraged for their protein and fiber density…
But are they really all that keto-friendly?
Let’s find out!
First, we need to examine what beans are, the different types of beans, and what their nutritional value really is.
To make a conclusive statement or dietary recommendation, we’ll need to know the following:
- Nutritional information of beans
- The specific type of ketogenic diet you are currently following
- What type of bean you are interested in incorporating into your daily plan
An Introduction to Beans
Beans are one of the oldest and most common ingredients in history.
They have been farmed for centuries and have provided protein and fiber to people for generations. Getting your fill may even result in a lower risk for heart disease .
Beans also contain several vitamins and minerals  such as:
- Vitamin A
Almost all beans are very high in calories as well as carbohydrates…
Though they are packed with nutritional value, however, they are also not considered to be a very “healthy” food that is diet-friendly.
Black beans and pinto beans have been found to be the largest offenders, with insanely high-calorie counts for even just a cup of beans. Beans can also be a source of digestive problems due to inflammation caused by enzymes.
Are Beans Keto Friendly?
Well, it’s not that simple.
Beans that are high in carbs would be very difficult to work into a ketogenic diet, and it would require a great deal of planning as well as the careful recording of your carbohydrate intake.
However, not all beans have the same amount of calories and carbs. There are options out there for people that want to work beans into a ketogenic diet.
But they are few and far between…
Beans that are high in carbs and calories are decidedly not keto-friendly. These include beans such as black beans and pinto beans.
One cup of cooked black beans contains:
- 227 calories
- 40 grams of carbs
- 15 grams of fiber
- 15 grams of protein
And one cup of pinto beans contains:
- 670 calories
- 121 grams of carbs
- 30 grams of fiber
- 41 grams of protein
As you can see, these nutritional facts are not at all keto-friendly.
These common beans have far too many carbs to be considered for regular inclusion in a ketogenic diet. However, there are alternatives for people wanting to work beans into their diet.
Though you will still have to monitor your intake closely, there are beans available that have fewer carbs.
Two examples of these more keto-friendly beans are eden black soybeans and kidney beans. These both have a more tolerable carb count.
One cup of kidney beans contain:
- 220 calories
- 24 grams of carbs
- 16 grams of protein
One cup of eden black soybeans contain:
- 240 calories
- 16 grams of carbs
- 22 grams of protein
Another notable alternative is white kidney beans.
These have higher carb counts than the eden black soybeans or kidney beans, but much less than black beans or pinto beans.
Much better, right?
Even though these beans are much better substitutes for the carbohydrate-rich black beans and pinto beans, they still are quite high in carbs and will take significant planning and tracking if you want to work them into your ketogenic diet.
Another factor that will contribute to whether or not you can consume beans regularly on a ketogenic diet is what your level of activity is.
If you are adhering to the standard ketogenic diet guidelines, chances are that you won’t have room for any beans in your everyday keto diet.
However, if you are using the targeted ketogenic diet guidelines, you may have some more flexibility to allow for beans in your diet.
The targeted ketogenic diet is designed for individuals that exercise far more often. These people will have a higher threshold for carbohydrate intake, up to 100 total additional carbs per day.
If you are extremely active and use the cyclical ketogenic diet plan, you will need more carbs still.
This version of the ketogenic diet is centered around carbohydrate consumption, and these carbs are necessary to keep you energized.
This diet uses the standard ketogenic diet for five days of the week and then allows for two days of carbohydrate backloading. These two days of carbohydrate consumption is where you would presumably be able to consume all the beans you’d like.
While beans have always been and continue to be valuable food in worldwide cuisine, their relationship with the ketogenic diet is unfortunately strained.
For most people, it would be unreasonable to expect to be able to consume a significant amount of beans daily. The carbohydrates in beans are just too high to be able to include it in a standard ketogenic diet.
If you are active and follow either the targeted ketogenic diet or the cyclical ketogenic diet, you may have room for beans in your diet, but will still need to plan out your carb intake and be sure you don’t consume too many.
Not only are beans high in carbs, but they are also highly concentrated. Due to that concentration, a small number of beans can account for a lot of calories and carbs. It can be easy to overeat and ruin your ketosis.
We have found that a majority of keto dieters will not be able to enjoy beans and therefore we must declare it not “keto-friendly”.
While it is possible to consume some types of beans while in ketosis, you’ll largely want to avoid them and instead eat foods that are lower in carbs and allow you to eat a higher volume of food for less of a hit on your carb count.
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 Bouchenak M, Lamri-Senhadji M. Nutritional quality of legumes, and their role in cardiometabolic risk prevention: a review. J Med Food. 2013 Mar;16(3):185-98. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0238. Epub 2013 Feb 11.