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Is Asparagus Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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

Asparagus is a popular vegetable all around the world. This vegetable can be eaten raw on its own, prepared with or without sauce, or as an addition to a wide variety of recipes.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw asparagus is around 1.9 grams per 100 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people asparagus is very keto-friendly. That being said you do not have to force yourself to eat asparagus.

If you are not the biggest fan of this food there are substitutes that are even better than asparagus or about as good for staying in ketosis.

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 asparagus

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

  • Total carbs: 4 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.1 grams
  • Net carbs: 1.9 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 1.9 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of raw asparagus are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One cup of raw asparagus is about 134 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 5.3 gram
  • Of which fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.5 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 cup of asparagus, 2.5 grams, is slightly harder to fit into a keto diet but still very doable.

Whether or not asparagus is keto for you ultimately depends on what portion you have in mind, your individual situation, and the rest of your diet.

Other nutrients in asparagus

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

100 grams of raw asparagus contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 2.1 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin K: 52% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 15% of the DV
  • Folate: 13% of the DV
  • Iron: 12% of the DV
  • Thiamin: 10% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Besides being low in net carbs, asparagus can also provide you with nice amounts of a few valuable nutrients. A good combination for a ketogenic diet.

How to avoid eating too much asparagus

You generally should be able to fit asparagus in your keto diet. Even so, in some situations you may have to exercise some portion control. Preparing a big pot of asparagus and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.

You can avoid eating too much asparagus with some of the following tips:

  • Plan ahead, how much asparagus will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount on a plate and leave the rest of the asparagus out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
  • Consider not buying asparagus if you crave them too much

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

Substitutes for asparagus on keto

Asparagus is not the only option when you want to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Asparagus is relatively low in net carbs but there are a few vegetables that are even more keto-friendly.

Besides that, there are also a few vegetables that contain slightly higher but similar amounts of net carbs. Some of the following substitutes may be better or a nice alternative to asparagus on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):

  • Chicory: 0.9 grams of net carbs
  • Spinach: 1.4 grams of net carbs
  • Green leaf lettuce: 1.5 grams of net carbs
  • Celery: 1.8 grams of net carbs
  • Radishes: 1.9 grams of net carbs
  • Zucchini: 2.5 grams of net carbs

If you have trouble staying in ketosis but still want to eat vegetables it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over asparagus. Others can just be a nice alternative to switch up the vegetables in your keto diet.

Keep in mind that even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.

That being said, asparagus is still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of asparagus added to certain daily diets could potentially put you just over the net carbs border, out of ketosis. Depending on the goal you have with the keto diet 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, asparagus can be a good food option even if it potentially puts you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.