On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about chia seeds, are they keto-friendly?
Chia seeds are a type of edible seed you can eat as a part of a wide variety of recipes. This food has been rising in popularity and for a good reason.
The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in dried chia seeds is around 6.1 grams per 100 grams.
At first this may not sound very keto-friendly. However, dried chia seeds absorb a lot of fluid from their surroundings. For this reason, you do not want to eat dried chia seeds on their own. This also means that when they are combined with a fluid their number of net carbs per 100 grams will also be lower.
While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people chia seeds are keto-friendly.
The most keto-friendly fluid to combine chia seeds with would be water. Some options for more taste that can still be keto-friendly include milk, coconut milk and yogurt.
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 chia seeds
100 grams of dried chia seeds contains the following amounts of carbs (2):
- Total carbs: 43.8 grams
- Of which fiber: 37.7 grams
- Net carbs: 6.1 grams
It is possible that 6.1 grams of net carbs is enough to kick you out of ketosis. However, keep in mind that you should not eat chia seeds dry and that dry chia seeds will absorb a lot of fluid.
So at a first look it may seem that chia seeds are not keto-friendly but if you realize how they are eaten it is clear that you can definitely fit in chia seeds on a ketogenic diet.
One tablespoon of dried chia seeds is about 10.2 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:
- Total carbs: 4.5 grams
- Of which fiber: 3.9 grams
- Net carbs: 0.6 grams
In short chia seeds can be a great option if you’re looking for keto-friendly foods. Whether or not chia seeds are keto for you ultimately depends on your individual situation and the rest of your diet.
Other nutrients in chia seeds
Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.
100 grams of dried chia seeds contains the following nutrients (2):
- Calories: 490
- Protein: 15.6 grams
- Carbs: 43.8 grams
- Part of the carbs that is fiber: 37.7 grams
- Fat: 30.8 grams
- Manganese: 108% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 95% of the DV
- Calcium: 63% of the DV
- Zinc: 23% of the DV
- Copper: 9% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.
Besides being relatively low in net carbs, chia seeds can also provide you with great amounts of valuable nutrients. A great combination for a ketogenic diet.
How to avoid eating too many chia seeds
While in reasonable portions chia seeds can fit in your keto diet, some people may have to exercise some portion control for carb intake or other reasons. Pouring chia seeds out of a big bag and hoping that you don’t eat too many is not the ideal way to do this.
You can avoid eating too many chia seeds with some of the following tips:
- Plan ahead, how many chia seeds will you eat?
- Put the planned amount in a bowl and leave the rest of the chia seeds 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 it is possible that you need to reduce the number of chia seeds you eat. In reality, this will often be more because of other foods in your diet.
What is your goal with keto?
Even in some cases, a small number of chia seeds 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, chia seeds can be a good food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.