On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about lemon, is it keto-friendly or not?
Lemon is a yellow citrus fruit known for its distinctive sour taste. While you can eat lemon on its own most people prefer to consume it as an ingredient in other recipes or as lemon juice with water.
The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw lemon is around 6.5 grams per 100 grams.
While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people lemon is keto-friendly in limited amounts. Especially if you only combine some lemon juice with water this mix will generally be keto-friendly.
That being said you do not have to force yourself to eat lemons. Even if you are not the biggest fan of this fruit there are alternatives that are also keto-friendly.
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 lemon
100 grams of lemon contains the following amounts of carbs (2):
- Total carbs: 9.3 grams
- Of which fiber: 2.8 grams
- Net carbs: 6.5 grams
Combined with the other foods in your diet the 6.5 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of lemon can be enough to kick you out of ketosis.
One ounce of lemon is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:
- Total carbs: 2.6 grams
- Of which fiber: 0.8 grams
- Net carbs: 1.8 grams
The number of net carbs in 1 ounce of lemon, 1.8 grams, is a bit easier to fit into a keto diet. Whether or not lemon is keto for you ultimately depends on your individual situation and the rest of your diet.
Carbs in lemon juice
The above amounts of net carbs in lemon are with regular raw lemon. You can also consume lemon as lemon juice but this will impact how keto-friendly it is.
|Values Per 100g||Raw Lemon||Lemon Juice|
|Total Carbohydrates||9.3 g||8.6 g|
|Of Which Fiber||2.8 g||0.4 g|
|Net Carbs||6.5 g||8.2 g|
As you can see, if you decide to eat lemon on the ketogenic diet, you preferably want to eat it raw, not as lemon juice. That being said the difference in net carbs between these two nutritional value examples is not that big. Do remember that fiber can be helpful for reducing blood sugar spikes.
Also keep in mind that this example of lemon juice is without added sugar. Many lemon juice brands do add sugar which makes this drink higher in net carbs and thus less keto-friendly.
That being said, since lemon juice is often combined with other drinks like plain water, you can likely drink at least some lemon juice on a ketogenic diet.
Other nutrients in lemon
Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.
100 grams of raw lemon contains the following nutrients (2):
- Calories: 29
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Carbs: 9.3 grams
- Part of the carbs that is fiber: 2.8 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Vitamin C: 88% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 4% of the DV
- Potassium: 4% of the DV
- Thiamin: 3% of the DV
- Folate: 3% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.
You can likely have some lemon on the ketogenic diet but they do not contain impressive nutrient amounts per 100 grams. This means they are an option but not essential to be able to get enough nutrients.
Alternatives for lemon on keto
Lemon is not the only option when you want to eat fruit on the ketogenic diet. While lemon is relatively low carb for fruit, there are other fruits that are also relatively keto-friendly.
- Blackberries: 4.9 grams of net carbs
- Raspberries: 5.4 grams of net carbs
- Strawberries: 5.7 grams of net carbs
- Watermelon: 7.1 grams of net carbs
- Cranberries: 7.6 grams of net carbs
- Cantaloupe: 7.9 grams of net carbs
If you have trouble staying in ketosis but still have cravings for fruit you can choose some of these alternatives over lemon. However, even with these examples you will have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.
What is your goal with keto?
Even a small portion of lemon 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, lemon can be a good food option even if it potentially puts you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level. If you are trying to lose weight lemon water is also an option.