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Is Cucumber Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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

Cucumbers are a popular type of food that is botanically a fruit but in cooking, they are often used similar to most vegetables.

You can eat cucumber raw on its own, pickled, made into cucumber snacks, in a salad, as an ingredient in soup, or many other ways.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw cucumber with peel is around 3.1 grams per 100 grams.

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

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

100 grams of cucumber with peel contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 3.1 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 3.1 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cucumber are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One ounce of cucumber with peel is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 1 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.1 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.9 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 ounce of cucumber, 0.9 grams, is even easier to fit into a keto diet.

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

Carbs in cucumber slices

Something else people wonder about is whether the number of carbs in cucumber slices is the same as the whole version. Half a cup (52 g) of cucumber slices with the peel contains about 1.9 grams of carbs in total and 0.3 grams of fiber (3).

Calculated to 100 grams this comes down to 3.65 grams of total carbs and 0.58 grams of fiber or 3.07 grams of net carbs. Basically the same as a regular cucumber with peels.

Carbs in cucumber without peel

Next, there are peeled cucumbers. These contain about 2.2 grams of total carbs and 0.7 grams of fiber (4). The number of net carbs in 100 grams of cucumber without peel is 1.5 grams.

That means according to these nutrition data sources, cucumbers without peel are more keto-friendly than ones with peel. One thing to keep in mind is that peeled cucumbers also tend to contain fewer vitamins and minerals.

Other nutrients in cucumber

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

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

  • Calories: 15
  • Protein: 0.7 grams
  • Carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin K: 21% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin C: 5% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV
  • Manganese: 4% of the DV
  • Vitamin B5: 3% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

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

How to avoid eating too much cucumber

You generally should be able to fit cucumber in your keto diet. Even so, in some situations you may have to exercise some portion control.

Slicing up three cucumbers, covering the slices with cream cheese and some spices, and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.

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

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

If you notice you get out of ketosis you may need to reduce the amount of cucumber you eat.

Substitutes for cucumber on keto

Cucumber is not the only option when you want to eat (foods used as) vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Cucumber 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 (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 vegetable-like foods or vegetables it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over cucumber.

However, even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis. That being said, cucumber is still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

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