Are Pinto Beans Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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Legumes are typically not great for staying in ketosis. Find out whether pinto beans are not keto-friendly too and what other options you have.

Pinto beans are a color-speckled legume that comes in a wide variety of colors. You can eat them boiled on their own or as an ingredient in dishes like chili.

100 grams of boiled pinto beans contains around 17.2 grams of net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber).

In theory, you could consume tiny amounts but in practice, pinto beans are not keto-friendly in most situations.

If you absolutely want to consume legumes on keto, there are some lower-carb alternatives to pinto beans available. Additionally, you could turn to other food categories.

Why pinto beans are typically not keto-friendly

Quickly going over the ketogenic diet fundamentals can help you understand why you could theoretically consume tiny amounts of pinto beans. Additionally, this will help you approach keto in a smarter way.

Basically any way of eating where you get and stay into ketosis is a ketogenic diet. Ketosis is a state where your body mainly uses fat as fuel (1).

To do this, you have to keep your carb intake low enough. Just how low depends on personal details like your weight, body composition, activity levels, etc.

There are some helpful general recommendations but you do want to keep in mind the actual numbers could vary for you.

A typical recommendation to stay in ketosis is to get about 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

This will mean eating around 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day for most people.

One important thing to keep in mind about these amounts is that they typically don’t include fiber.

Fiber is a category of carbohydrates but your body processes them in different ways that don’t raise your blood sugar that much.

Carbs in pinto beans

By now, it should be clear that how many carbs there are in what amounts of pinto beans influences how keto-friendly they are.

100 grams of boiled pinto beans contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 26.2 grams
  • Of which fiber: 9 grams
  • Net carbs: 17.2 grams

If you look at the general keto guidelines above, it becomes clear that the 17.2 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of boiled pinto beans are likely enough to kick you out of ketosis.

At least in combination with reasonable amounts of other food in your diet.

One ounce of pinto beans is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 7.3 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 4.8 grams

Making your portions of pinto beans smaller will make them somewhat more keto-friendly but this legume is still relatively high in carbs.

Even if you would be able to fit in small amounts on a ketogenic diet, you would likely not want to use so many of your daily carbohydrates on such a tiny amount of food.

Other nutrients in pinto beans

The carbohydrates in foods like pinto beans are important on keto but not the only nutrient that matters.

Things like fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals still influence whether you stay in ketosis and how healthy you generally are.

100 grams of boiled pinto beans contain the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 143
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 26.2 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 9 grams
  • Fat: 0.7 grams
  • Folate: 43% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Manganese: 23% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
  • Thiamin: 13% of the DV
  • Iron: 12% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Pinto beans do contain nice amounts of a variety of valuable nutrients. However, because they are so high in net carbohydrates, they are likely still not worth implementing on keto.

Especially if you consider that there are more keto-friendly food options with similar or bigger amounts of these nutrients.

Substitutes for pinto beans on keto

There are multiple ways you can approach substitutes for pinto beans on keto.

The first way is to consider other legumes that are lower in carbs. These are typically higher in carbs than other food categories but do offer similar textures, tastes, and nutrients as pinto beans.

You can find some examples of these more keto-friendly legumes below. The numbers next to them are the amounts of net carbohydrates per 100 grams of the boiled food (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):

  • 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
  • Lentils: 12.2 grams of net carbs

Again, keep in mind that these legumes are still relatively high in carbs. You likely still have to keep your portions small to stay in ketosis.

You can also turn to other food categories like low-carb vegetables. Options like cauliflower, zucchini, and bell peppers do not have the same taste as pinto beans but you may find their texture similar enough.

What is your goal with keto?

By now it should be clear that pinto beans are generally not suited for a ketogenic diet. It is important to keep in mind that this is not always a problem.

Some individuals do want/need to stay in ketosis every minute of the day. These people likely want to stay away from pinto beans.

On the other hand, you can still lose weight by eating pinto beans and use this food to improve your general health. The ketogenic diet is typically not the only way to achieve these goals.

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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.