Who doesn’t love quinoa?

It’s grainy, flavorful, filling, and super healthy!

But you may be thinking that quinoa is not all that keto-friendly due to its carb content and close resemblance to rice (the evil keto grain)…

However, there is a way to incorporate it into your keto lifestyle without compromising ketosis.

You can still enjoy its taste, versatility in cooking recipes, and numerous health benefits while maintaining your diet.

In this article, we’re going to highlight the food quinoa and see what its place is in the keto diet.

First, What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is an Andean plant which originated in Bolivia and Peru, and is known as a pseudo-grain (or pseudo-cereal) due to it being a seed that acts like a grain. [1]

It’s loved by health-conscious consumers due to its delicious taste (hot or cold) and beneficial ingredients. Quinoa is high in protein and contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein, which is quite rare for plant-based food.

It’s filled with manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate, and can be an excellent source of fiber too—a 100-gram serving contains 2.8 grams of dietary fiber which is roughly 11% of your recommended daily intake.

You can use quinoa as a base in many dishes and add a variety of foods to it—broccoli, black beans, cheese, and more. It’s also an excellent food due to it being naturally gluten-free, making it a perfect choice for people with wheat intolerances.

Certain foods are known to be dangerous due to their high glycemic index—this is what controls blood sugar levels—but, fortunately, quinoa has a low score, and it can help neutralize your blood sugars.

When Quinoa is Acceptable

Now that we know a little bit more about quinoa, we can try to work out how to implement it into a keto-diet.

There are two different styles of eating on keto that allow you to consume carbs such as quinoa, but only on certain occasions.

The first being: The Targeted Ketogenic Diet.

this is more or less the same as a regular keto-diet with the exception that you’re allowed to eat carbs around the times of exercising. The most common practice is to intake the carbs around thirty minutes before your workout, so your body uses it as energy, meaning that the carbs won’t be stored in any unwanted places.

Quinoa has a pretty high-carb profile with a 100-gram serving containing 21.3 grams, so you have to make sure you’re doing enough exercise to burn it off so you don’t compromise ketosis.

The second being: The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.

Also known as Keto Cycling, which refers to a period where you switch between eating carbs and not eating carbs.

This could be an effective method for those who have a hard time cutting carbs out. It usually consists of five days of eating, as if you were on your old keto diet, followed by eating moderate amounts of carbs for one or two days.

The reason carbs should be eaten in moderation is that if they’re over-consumed, your body cannot maintain ketosis and all of your efforts goes to waste. However, if you’re disciplined and don’t go too overboard, you’ll have the ability to enjoy healthy carb-based products just like quinoa.

When It Isn’t Acceptable

Taking all of that information in, we can see that quinoa can be safe, but are there times when it should be avoided?

Its nutritional data may suggest so: the carb-levels are high, as we know, and this could interfere with keeping your body in a ketogenic state.

If you are on a keto diet that only allows you to eat 20-50 grams of carbs per day, then it might not make sense to include quinoa as you’ll be limited for the rest of the day’s intake.

It can be easier than you think to accidentally go over your carb-threshold due to lots of food having hidden carbs and sugar content, so it’s probably not worth taking the risk.

Low-Carb Quinoa Substitutes

Maybe you’re not ready to leave the strictness of your current keto diet just yet, and that’s not a problem as there are plenty of great low-carb alternatives to quinoa.

Did you know you can make your own “rice” from other vegetables?

Using cauliflower – A fantastic option due to its versatility in the kitchen and the nutrition it contains. You can flavor it with any herb or spice you love while gaining heaps of vitamins and antioxidants from it, making cauliflower one of the best low-carb replacements for quinoa.

Using Broccoli – Another vegetable that can also be turned into a bowl of tasty rice. You can blend it up or chop it with a knife and then either steam, stir-fry or sauté it for best results.

Like cauliflower rice, broccoli rice is packed with nutrients and contains vitamin C [2] and K [3] which are known for protecting cells and making sure blood clots properly.

Ultimately, you really don’t need to worry about missing out on quinoa as there are plenty of other great low-carb substitutes you can try.

Conclusion: So Is It Keto-Friendly?

There are many benefits to quinoa—it tastes good, it’s teeming with nutrients, antioxidants, and it’s a complete protein.

However, it’s important to remember that it is also a high-carb food, and should only be consumed on both targeted and cyclical keto-diets to keep your body in a ketogenic state.

If these keto variety diets aren’t for you, then it’s worth checking out a low-carb alternative like broccoli and cauliflower to get that rice-like consistency and versatility.

Related Reads:

Tofu: A Popular Vegan Option But Is It Keto Friendly?

Is Almond Butter Keto Friendly? 4 Key Benefits

The 5 Best Low-Carb, Keto-Friendly Noodle Substitutes

Are Cashews Keto Friendly? The Nutrient-Dense Brazilian Seed

Are Mushrooms Keto Friendly?

Is Almond Milk Keto Friendly? A Healthy Substitute for Milk on a Keto Diet

 

References:

[1] Abugoch James LE. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): composition, chemistry, nutritional, and functional properties.

[2] Chambial S., Dwivedi S., Shukla K. K., John P. J., Sharma P. (2013). Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview. Indian J. Clin. Biochem. 28 314–328. 10.1007/s12291-013-0375-3

[3] Vermeer C. Vitamin K: the effect on health beyond coagulation – an overview. Food & Nutrition Research. 2012;56:5329–5329. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.5329.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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