Is Spinach Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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There are a variety of foods that will not be helpful for staying in ketosis. Find out whether spinach is keto-friendly or not and what alternatives there are.

100 grams of raw spinach contains around 1.4 grams of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber).

This is very low-carb so you can definitely say that spinach is typically very keto-friendly.

The raw version will typically be the best for ketogenic diets but you could also add your spinach to dishes like soups, omelets, lasagna, and more.

Keep in mind that boiled and cooked spinach will be a lot easier to consume in big amounts. This could increase your carb intake more than you expect.

Additionally, even if you eat spinach raw, you want to pay some attention to the other foods in your diet. Small amounts of net carbs in combination with certain diets can kick you out of ketosis.

Carbs in spinach

The carbohydrates in foods like spinach are one of the most important nutritional details when following a ketogenic diet.

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

  • Total carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 1.4 grams

The number of net carbs in raw spinach is very small and it also contains a nice amount of fiber. In turn, you can say that raw spinach is relatively keto-friendly

Something to note is that there are still situations where you need to keep an eye on your spinach portions. Mostly if you already ate foods with decent amounts of carbohydrates.

One cup of raw spinach is about 30 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 1.1 gram
  • Of which fiber: 0.7 grams
  • Net carbs: 0.4 grams

By making your portion of spinach smaller you will also consume fewer carbohydrates. This makes it even easier to eat this food while staying in ketosis.

Other nutrients in spinach

The carbs in spinach are definitely important on keto but you don’t want to forget about fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals either.

These nutrients still influence whether you stay in ketosis and how healthy you will generally be.

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

  • Calories: 23
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams
  • Vitamin K: 604% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 188% of the DV
  • Folate: 49% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 47% of the DV
  • Manganese: 45% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Spinach is not just very low in carbohydrates. It also contains a variety of valuable nutrients in relatively big amounts.

For these reasons, you likely want to add spinach to your keto diet. Even if you don’t necessarily love its taste.

One thing to note is that you can also overdo it with certain nutrients. Spinach contains a lot of vitamin K which may interfere with certain blood-thinning medications (2).

If you take these kinds of medications, you want to consult with your doctor before eating a lot more spinach.

Does cooked spinach have the same number of carbs?

Cooking spinach is a popular preparation method but this does change the vegetable. If you look at comparison pictures, you see that the spinach shrinks down a lot.

Interestingly enough, the USDA nutrition data for cooked spinach show the following amounts of carbs per 100 grams (3):

  • Total carbs: 3.8 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Net carbs: 1.4 grams

However, I assume these numbers are the result of cooking 100 grams of raw spinach, not 100 grams of the end result.

This is because cooking spinach will typically remove a lot of the water from the vegetable.

In turn, the concentration of carbs per 100 grams should go up and make it a lot less keto-friendly than the same weight in raw spinach.

Why spinach is sometimes not keto-friendly

Cooking differences aside, even raw spinach is sometimes not keto-friendly. To understand why this is and how to avoid it, the keto fundamentals can be helpful.

You can consider any way of eating where you get and stay in ketosis to be a ketogenic diet. Ketosis is a state where your body mainly uses fat as fuel (4).

To get to this point, you need to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. Exactly how low depends on details like your weight, muscle mass, activity levels, etc.

You will generally be able to consume more spinach and other carbohydrates when you start working out and building muscle mass.

That being said, a typical recommendation is that you want to get 55%-60% of your calories from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates to get and stay in ketosis.

These numbers are not perfect for every single individual but they do give you some idea of what it takes to follow a ketogenic diet.

Most people will find that the percentages above come down to eating around 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day.

Something to note is that these amounts typically don’t include fiber. This is a category of carbohydrates but your body does not process them the same way.

Is creamed spinach keto?

Creamed spinach is another popular way to consume more of this vegetable. You want to keep in mind that this preparation method influences the nutrients.

More specifically, 100 grams of creamed spinach contains the following amounts of carbs (5):

  • Total carbs: 6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 4.8 grams

So creamed spinach is higher in net carbs than the raw version. If you like both, you likely want to choose the raw version to increase your chances of staying in ketosis.

That being said, the USDA nutrition data implies that creamed spinach is still relatively keto-friendly.

Substitutes for spinach on keto

Spinach is a great vegetable choice on keto diets. At the same time, there are other low-carb vegetables too.

These substitutes are often not as low-carb as spinach but you may prefer their tastes or simply want to switch things up.

Enjoying the foods you eat on your ketogenic diet can improve your consistency.

The numbers next to the vegetables are the amounts of net carbohydrates per 100 grams (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11):

  • Chicory: 0.9 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
  • Zucchini: 2.5 grams of net carbs

Similar to spinach, these substitutes still contain some amounts of carbohydrates. That means you still need to keep the other foods you eat in the back of your mind to avoid getting kicked out of ketosis.

Is spinach or lettuce better for keto?

Lettuce is another keto-friendly vegetable option. You may wonder how this food compares to spinach.

100 grams of green leaf lettuce contains the following amounts of carbs (7):

  • Total carbs: 2.8 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.3 grams
  • Net carbs: 1.5 grams

Spinach is just a bit lower in net carbs and higher in fiber and a variety of valuable nutrients than lettuce. In turn, it is fair to say that spinach is better than lettuce for keto.

That being said, the differences between these vegetables are not that big either. If you like the taste and texture of lettuce a lot more, you can definitely consider it too.

Why are you following a ketogenic diet?

By now it should be clear that while spinach is keto-friendly, there are cases where the few extra net carbs could kick you out of ketosis.

How much of an issue this is depends on why you are following a keto diet.

Some people need/want to stay in strict ketosis every minute of the day. These individuals can likely still consider spinach but want to be very careful about their portions.

On the other hand, spinach can still be great for weight loss and getting healthier even if it would kick you out of ketosis. This diet is not the only way to achieve these goals.

Related posts:


Does spinach count as carbs on keto?

Spinach does not contain that many calories but most of these come from protein and carbs. In turn, you can say that spinach counts as carbs on keto but they don’t contain that many grams of these.

Is spinach high in carbs?

Raw spinach only contains around 1.4 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. This means spinach is low in carbs.

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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.