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Are Bell Peppers Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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

Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are botanically speaking a fruit but mostly used as a vegetable. Bell peppers are great to eat on their own but they also make an amazing addition to a wide variety of recipes.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw green bell peppers is around 2.9 grams per 100 grams.

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

If you are not the biggest fan of this food there are substitutes that are even better than bell peppers 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 bell peppers

100 grams of raw green bell peppers contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 4.6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.7 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.9 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 2.9 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of raw bell peppers are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One ounce of raw green bell peppers is about 28 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 1.3 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.8 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 ounce of bell peppers, 0.8 grams, is even easier to fit into a keto diet. Whether or not bell peppers are keto for you ultimately depends on what portion you have in mind, your individual situation, and the rest of your diet.

What color bell pepper is best for keto?

The above amounts of net carbs in bell peppers are in the green variation. There are also other colors like red and yellow. Interestingly enough these different bell pepper colors influence how keto-friendly they are.

Here is the comparison between raw green bell peppers, red bell peppers, and yellow bell peppers as an example (2, 3, 4).

Values Per 100gGreen Bell PeppersRed Bell PeppersYellow Bell Peppers
Total Carbohydrates4.6 g6.3 g6.3 g
Of Which Fiber1.7 g2.1 g0.9 g
Net Carbs2.9 g4.2 g5.4 g
Chart of carbs in raw green bell peppers vs red bell peppers vs yellow bell peppers

As you can see, when it comes to the number of net carbs, green is generally the best color bell pepper for a keto diet. After that, red bell peppers, and lastly yellow bell peppers.

You can likely still fit all of these colors in a ketogenic diet but it will be easier for the bell pepper colors that are lower in net carbs.

Other nutrients in bell peppers

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

100 grams of raw green bell peppers contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 4.6 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 9% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 7% of the DV
  • Manganese: 6% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Besides being low in net carbs, bell peppers can also provide you with valuable nutrients. A great combination for a ketogenic diet.

How to avoid eating too many bell peppers

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

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

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

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

Substitutes for bell peppers on keto

Bell peppers are not the only option when you want to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Bell peppers are not the highest in net carbs but there are many vegetables that are more keto-friendly.

Some of the following substitutes may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10):

  • 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
  • Asparagus: 2.1 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 bell peppers. However, even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.

That being said, bell peppers are still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of bell pepper 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 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, bell peppers can be a good food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.