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Weight Loss Made Practical » Dieting » Are Cashews Keto-Friendly? (& Better Substitutes)

Are Cashews Keto-Friendly? (& Better Substitutes)

On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about cashews, are they keto-friendly?

Cashews are a very popular food. Botanically speaking they are technically seeds, but due to their nutritional contents, many people consider them nuts.

You can eat some cashews raw but they can also make a great addition to other recipes.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw cashews is around 29.4 grams per 100 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people cashews are not very keto-friendly. There are many substitutes for cashews that are more keto-friendly.

When is a food keto-friendly

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, a state where it starts mainly burning fat as a fuel (1). This comes down to more or less getting 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

For most people this comes down to eating around 20g – 50g of carbohydrates a day.

In reality, this number is different depending on a lot of factors. For example, people who exercise a lot may be able to consume more carbohydrates before getting kicked out of ketosis.

That being said that daily amount can be a good general guideline.

It is also common to exclude fiber from this amount since it doesn’t get absorbed into your body the same way as regular carbohydrates.

Carbs in cashews

100 grams of cashews contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 32.7 grams
  • Of which fiber: 3.3 grams
  • Net carbs: 29.4 grams

Combined with the other foods in your diet the 29.4 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cashews is likely enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One cashew nut is about 1.6 grams, so 10 cashew nuts contain the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 5.2 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 4.7 grams

Even the number of net carbs in 10 cashew nuts, 4.7 grams, may be a challenge to fit into a keto diet.

Different ways to eat cashews

If you do manage to fit in cashews into your ketogenic diet, make sure you stick to whole cashews, maybe salted. There are also cashews treated with sugar. You likely want to avoid labels with “honey roasted, sweet chili, and spiced”, certainly on keto.

There are also different ways to eat cashews.

Cashew flour and cashew butter are just crushed cashews in theory. That means their number of net carbs should be more or less the same as whole cashews. Unfortunately, many brands add sugar and other sweeteners. You want to avoid these on keto.

Cashew milk on the other hand is slightly lower in net carbs which makes it easier to fit into a ketogenic diet. 100 ml of cashew milk contains about 3.6 grams of net carbs per 100 ml (3).

Other nutrients in cashews

Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.

100 grams of cashews contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 553
  • Protein: 18.2 grams
  • Carbs: 32.7 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 3.3 grams
  • Fat: 43.8 grams
  • Copper: 111% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Manganese: 83% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 73% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 59% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 43% of the DV

And other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

While the number of net carbs in cashews may be slightly higher they do contain a lot of important nutrients per 100 grams.

How to avoid eating too many cashews

By now it is clear that to be able to fit cashews in your keto diet, you will have to exercise some portion control. Having a bag of cashews near you and hoping that you don’t eat too many is not the ideal way to do this.

You can avoid eating too many cashews with some of the following tips:

  • Plan ahead, how many cashews will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount in a bowl and leave the bag out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
  • Consider not buying them if you can’t control yourself

If you notice you get out of ketosis you may need to reduce the number of cashews you eat.

Substitutes for cashews on keto

Cashews are not the only option when you want to eat nuts on the ketogenic diet. In fact, cashews are relatively high in net carbs compared to other nuts.

Some of the following substitutes may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

  • Pecans: 4.4 grams of net carbs
  • Macadamia nuts: 5.6 grams of net carbs
  • Walnuts: 7 grams of net carbs
  • Hazelnuts: 7 grams of net carbs
  • Peanuts: 7.6 grams of net carbs
  • Almonds: 9.5 grams of net carbs

If you have trouble staying in ketosis it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over cashews.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small number of cashews added to certain daily diets can potentially put you just over the net carbs border, out of ketosis. Depending on the goal you have with keto this may or may not be a problem.

If your goal is to stay strictly in ketosis 24/7 you want to be careful about your carbohydrate intake.

If your goal is to lose weight and become healthier, cashews can be a decent food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.

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