Is Kale Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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Leafy greens are typically good for ketogenic diets. Find out whether kale is keto-friendly too, what the best way to eat it is, and what alternatives there are.

100 grams of raw kale contains around 0.3 grams of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber).

This does not only sound low. Kale is very low in carbohydrates and in turn, very keto-friendly.

On top of that, kale contains a variety of valuable nutrients in nice amounts. Even if you don’t like this food, it can be worth adding to the salads, soups, and other dishes in your keto diet.

Something to note is that your preparation method can influence the nutritional content per 100 grams. For example, kale chips tend to be not so keto-friendly.

Total and net carbs in kale

The amounts of carbs in kale and the other foods in your diet will play a big role in whether this leafy green is keto-friendly and in what portions.

100 grams of raw kale contain the following amounts of carbs (1):

  • Total carbs: 4.4 grams
  • Of which fiber: 4.1 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.3 grams

In theory, even the 0.3 grams of net carbs could put you over the maximum carb intake required to stay in ketosis.

That being said, kale is very low in carbs so it is typically very keto-friendly. The fiber in it can also reduce to what extent the other foods in your meal raise your blood sugar.

One cup of raw kale is about 21 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 0.93 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.86 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.7 grams

As you can expect, eating smaller amounts of kale will reduce the number of carbs in your diet and in turn, make your meal more keto-friendly.

If you get out of ketosis while eating raw kale, it will mostly be because of the carbohydrates in the other foods in your diet.

Other nutrients in kale

Ketogenic diets require you to pay a lot of attention to the amounts of carbs in the foods you eat. At the same time, it can also be worth looking at the fats, proteins, and minerals in kale and other foods.

These nutrients also influence whether you stay in ketosis and how good your general health will be.

100 grams of raw kale contain the following nutrients (1):

  • Calories: 35
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Carbs: 4.4 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 4.1 grams
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Vitamin K: 488% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin C: 156% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 96% of the DV
  • Manganese: 46% of the DV
  • Copper: 3% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Kale can offer you a variety of valuable nutrients in great amounts without adding many net carbs to your diet. This can make it a great addition to your ketogenic diet.

Something to note is that kale contains a lot of vitamin K. This nutrient can interfere with certain blood-thinning medications (2).

If you take these kinds of medications you likely want to talk with your doctor before eating a lot more kale.

Carbs in cooked kale

The way you prepare foods can influence what their nutrition details per 100 grams look like and in turn, how keto-friendly they are. This is actually the case with kale.

100 grams of cooked kale contain the following amounts of carbs (3):

  • Total carbs: 5.3 grams
  • Of which fiber: 4 grams
  • Net carbs: 1.3 grams

Cooked kale is definitely still low-carb enough to be considered keto-friendly.

At the same time, it becomes clear that this preparation method is less ideal for ketogenic diets than just eating the kale raw.

Carbs in kale chips

Kale chips are another popular way to eat this leafy green.

This preparation method involves baking kale in the oven in a way that removes a lot of water and makes the vegetable crispy.

An effect of this is that it raises how many carbohydrates the kale contains per 100 grams. The exact numbers will vary between different cooking methods, brands, and side ingredients.

However, in one example, kale chips contain 14.3 grams of net carbs and 500 calories per 100 grams (4). That means kale chips are generally not keto-friendly or good for weight loss.

Substitutes for kale on keto

Kale is one of the top options when it comes to vegetables on the ketogenic diet but there are other low-carb options too.

You may like the taste and texture of some of these substitutes more than kale. Another reason to consider these is to add some variety to your keto diet.

In any case, the amounts next to the substitutes are the numbers of net carbs 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

Keep in mind that these kale substitutes still contain carbohydrates. If you already ate a lot of carbs you may need to pay some attention to portion sizes.

Why do you follow a ketogenic diet?

It is very unlikely but theoretically, there are cases where even the few extra net carbs in kale have the ability to kick you out of ketosis.

Whether or not this is an issue depends on why you follow a ketogenic diet.

For example, some individuals need/want to stay in ketosis every minute of the day. These people can likely still eat a nice amount of kale but want to be careful anyway.

On the other hand, kale tends to be good for weight loss and health even if the few extra net carbs would be too much to call your diet ketogenic.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.