Are Lentils Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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To stay in ketosis you have to pay attention to what you eat. Find out whether lentils are keto-friendly and what other legume options you have.

Lentils are lens-shaped legumes that come in a variety of colors. You can eat them boiled on their own, as the main ingredient in soup, or as an ingredient in dishes like salads.

100 grams of boiled lentils contains around 12.2 grams of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber).

If you keep your portions really small, you could eat lentils while staying in ketosis. Depending on the details of your diet, they could fit in certain low-carb diets too.

That being said, it is fair to say that lentils are generally not that keto-friendly.

Even if you absolutely want to eat small amounts of legumes on keto, there are substitutes for lentils that will be more helpful.

How many carbs are there in lentils?

While the number of carbs in foods is not the only detail that matters, it is an important piece of information for figuring out how many lentils you can eat on a ketogenic diet.

100 grams or about 1/2 cup of boiled lentils contains the following amounts of carbs (1):

  • Total carbs: 20.1 grams
  • Of which fiber: 7.9 grams
  • Net carbs: 12.2 grams

In combination with the other foods in your diet, the 12.2 grams of net carbohydrates in 100 grams of boiled lentils is likely enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One ounce of cooked lentils is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 5.6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 3.4 grams

You could theoretically keep your portions really small to limit your carb intake. An ounce of lentils would “only” be about 3.4 grams of net carbs.

Whether lentils are ultimately keto-friendly or not for you depends on details like your portion, the rest of your diet, and other things.

Carbs in lentil soup

Lentil soup is a popular way to consume more of this legume.

Before going into the number of carbs in an example recipe, you want to keep in mind that what ingredients you use in what amounts will influence the actual carbohydrates in lentil soup a lot.

That being said, 100 grams of one lentil soup example contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 8.8 grams
  • Of which fiber: 3.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 5.6 grams

As you can tell, lentil soup is typically a more keto-friendly option than just eating the legumes boiled on their own.

Are lentils carbs, protein, fat, or a combination?

Carbohydrates are important on keto but you want to keep in mind that other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals still influence whether you stay in ketosis and how healthy you are.

From the nutrition details below, it becomes clear that lentils are more of a carb-heavy food than a protein-heavy food.

That being said, they do still contain a nice amount of protein for a plant-based food option.

100 grams of boiled lentils contain the following nutrients (1):

  • Calories: 116
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 20.1 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 7.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams
  • Folate: 45% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Manganese: 25% of the DV
  • Iron: 19% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 18% of the DV
  • Copper: 13% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Lentils are slightly higher in net carbs but they do contain valuable nutrients in small amounts.

There are more keto-friendly foods that offer this too but in theory, you could consider consuming small amounts of lentils to get specific nutrients in larger amounts.

Why lentils are sometimes keto-friendly

To understand why lentils are sometimes keto-friendly it can be helpful to quickly go over the keto fundamentals. This will also help you follow this diet more successfully.

Basically any diet where you stay in ketosis is a ketogenic diet. Ketosis is a state where your body mainly uses fat as fuel (3).

To achieve this state, you have to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. Exactly how low this keto number has to be depends on details like your body weight, body composition, activity levels, and more.

For example, people who have more muscle and exercise often tend to be able to eat more carbs like lentils while staying in ketosis.

That being said, there are some general guidelines. To stay in ketosis you want to get more or less 55%-60% of your calories from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

For most people, that will mean eating around 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day.

Something to keep in mind is that the amount of fiber in lentils and other foods is typically not included in these guidelines. Fiber is a category of carbs but your body processes them in a different way.

Substitutes for lentils on keto

By now it should be clear that lentils are not great for ketogenic diets. At the same time, you may still want to eat some type of lentils because you like their taste and/or texture.

Lentils are not the highest in net carbs but there are a few more keto-friendly legumes. Some of the substitutes below can be more helpful for keto diets.

The values next to the legumes are the amounts of net carbs per 100 grams of the boiled foods (3, 4, 5, 6, 7):

  • Soybeans: 3.9 grams of net carbs
  • Lupins: 7.1 grams of net carbs
  • Peanuts: 7.6 grams of net carbs
  • Green peas: 8.6 grams of net carbs
  • Mung beans: 11.6 grams of net carbs

You do want to keep in mind that most of these lentil alternatives are still relatively high in carbs.

To stay in ketosis, you will likely still have to implement some portion control tips.

How to avoid eating too many lentils

Besides choosing one of the lentil substitutes, another approach you can take is limiting your portion of this food enough to stay in ketosis.

Boiling a big pot of lentils together with your favorite herbs, spices, and other ingredients and hoping that you will not eat too much is typically not a successful tactic.

Some of the following tips can help you avoid eating too many lentils on low-carb diets like keto:

  • Estimate in advance how many grams of lentils would align with your health goals.
  • Weigh out this amount of lentils and put the rest away.
  • Don’t eat unlimited amounts of lentils while doing other things like watching a movie
  • Consider buying or preparing smaller portions of lentils if you crave them too much.

Keep in mind that your initial estimation of how many lentils you can eat while staying in ketosis can be suboptimal. If you notice you get out of ketosis, you may need to eat smaller amounts.

What is your goal with keto?

Lentils are not that keto-friendly which means that even small portions can potentially kick you out of ketosis. Especially if the rest of your diet already contains a decent amount of carbs.

How much of a problem this is depends on your goals with the ketogenic diet.

For example, there are people who need/want to stay in ketosis every minute of the day. These individuals want to be very careful and likely want to stay away from lentils.

At the same time, lentils can still be good for weight loss and general health. Even if they kick you out of ketosis.

Ketogenic diets offer benefits but they are often not the only way to achieve the health goals above.

Related posts:

Are lentils OK for low-carb diets?

Lentils are typically not OK for low-carb diets. That being said, if you are not on a strict low-carb diet like keto and keep your portions small enough, you could potentially fit in some lentils.

How many carbs are there in one cup of cooked lentils?

There are about 39.8 grams (15.6 grams of fiber included) of carbs in one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils.

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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.