Weight Loss Made Practical » Dieting

Is Cabbage Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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

Cabbage is a popular type of vegetable with many leaves. Green is generally the most popular color but it also comes in red or white. You can eat cabbage raw on its own, pickled, in a salad, or as an ingredient in soup.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw cabbage is around 3.3 grams per 100 grams.

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

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

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

  • Total carbs: 5.8 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 3.3 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 3.3 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cabbage are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One cup of cabbage is about 89 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 5.2 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 cup of cabbage, 3 grams, is even easier to fit into a keto diet. Whether or not cabbage is keto for you ultimately depends on what portion you have in mind, your individual situation, and the rest of your diet.

Carbs in boiled cabbage and red cabbage

The above amounts of net carbs in cabbage are in green raw cabbage. Another popular way to consume this vegetable is boiled but this will impact how keto-friendly it is. You can also eat red cabbage.

Here is the comparison between raw green cabbage, boiled green cabbage, and red cabbage as an example (2, 3, 4).

Values Per 100gRaw Green CabbageBoiled Green CabbageRaw Red Cabbage
Total Carbohydrates5.8 g5.5 g7.4 g
Of Which Fiber2.5 g1.9 g2.1 g
Net Carbs3.3 g3.6 g5.3 g
Chart of carbs in raw green cabbage vs boiled green cabbage vs raw red cabbage

As you can see, when it comes to the number of net carbs, eating green cabbage raw is preferred on a keto diet. Boiled green cabbage and red raw cabbage can still fit in a ketogenic diet but they are slightly higher in net carbs.

Similarly, cabbage soup will likely be keto-friendly. This can vary depending on the other ingredients.

Other nutrients in cabbage

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

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

  • Calories: 25
  • Protein: 1.3 grams
  • Carbs: 5.8 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 2.5 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin K: 95% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin C: 61% of the DV
  • Folate: 11% of the DV
  • Manganese: 8% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

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

One thing you have to keep in mind is that cabbage contains a relatively high amount of vitamin K. This may interfere with certain blood-thinning medications (5).

If you take these kinds of medications you want to consult with your doctor before implementing large amounts of cabbage in your diet.

How to avoid eating too much cabbage

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

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

  • Plan ahead, how much cabbage will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount in a bowl and leave the rest of the cabbage out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV

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

Substitutes for cabbage on keto

Cabbage is not the only option when you want to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Cabbage is 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 (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11):

  • 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 cabbage. However, even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.

That being said cabbage is still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of cabbage 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, cabbage can be a good food option even if it potentially puts you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.