Is Tilapia Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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Animal meats are basically always keto-friendly. You may wonder whether this also applies to fish like tilapia in its boiled and fried forms.

Similar to most other meats and fish, 100 grams of cooked tilapia contains about 0 carbs. In turn, you can definitely say tilapia is keto-friendly.

This fish is also relatively low in calories and high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. This makes tilapia great for things like weight loss and general health too.

One thing you do want to keep in mind is that some tilapia recipes include high-carb sauces or breadcrumb coating. These ways of eating tilapia are generally less helpful for staying in ketosis.

Additionally, there are many other fish and meat options too. If you prefer these over tilapia you can definitely consider them too.

Carbs in tilapia

The amounts of carbohydrates in foods like tilapia offer some valuable information about how many grams you can eat while staying in ketosis.

100 grams of cooked tilapia contain the following amounts of carbs (1):

  • Total carbs: 0 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 0 grams

Food does not get any more low-carb than 0 grams of net carbohydrates per 100 grams.

That means cooked tilapia is definitely keto-friendly.

Other nutrients in tilapia

How many carbohydrates foods like tilapia contain is definitely important when following a ketogenic diet.

Even so, you may also want to pay attention to other nutrients like fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

These still influence things like how full you will feel and how healthy you will be.

100 grams of cooked tilapia contain the following nutrients (1):

  • Calories: 128
  • Protein: 26.2 grams
  • Carbs: 0 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 0 grams
  • Fat: 2.7 grams
  • Selenium: 78% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B12: 31% of the DV
  • Niacin: 24% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
  • Potassium: 11% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Tilapia is not just low in carbs. It also contains protein, vitamins, and minerals in nice amounts.

This makes it a great food option for people who want to follow a healthy ketogenic diet.

How many carbs are there in fried tilapia?

Something important to keep in mind is that there are popular tilapia recipes where you coat the fish in bread crumbs or flour and then deep-fry it.

As you can expect, this is a lot less keto-friendly than the regular boiled version.

More specifically, one example of fried tilapia contains the following amounts of carbs per 100 grams (2):

  • Total carbs: 11.7 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Net carbs: 11.2 grams

As you can expect, fried tilapia is not that keto-friendly.

You could be able to fit in small amounts while staying in ketosis but you may not want to consume this many of your daily carbs in such a small amount of food.

That being said, fried tilapia recipes do vary. You may be able to find some keto-friendly versions too.

Is tilapia always good to eat on a keto diet?

Ketogenic diets are basically any way of eating where you stay in ketosis. This is a state where your body mainly burns fat as fuel (3).

To do this you have to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. A typical recommendation is below 5% to 10% of your daily calories which is often somewhere around 20g – 50g of carbohydrates a day.

While the actual amount can vary a lot from person to person, this does help you understand why even foods with higher amounts of carbs like fried tilapia can sometimes be possible on keto in limited amounts.

That aside, it is also worth mentioning that there even could be situations where you want to limit your boiled intake on a keto diet.

This is not because the tilapia would kick you out of ketosis but because it can be unhelpful for other health goals.

Tilapia is generally good for weight loss and health but in some cases, you don’t want to eat more calories or protein.

In short, boiled tilapia will basically always be good to eat on a ketogenic diet in terms of staying in ketosis. At the same time, you may want to limit portions for other reasons.

Is fried tilapia keto-friendly?

The fried tilapia example from above contains around 11.2 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (2).

This is relatively above average when it comes to carbohydrate content so it is fair to say that fried tilapia is not that keto-friendly.

At the same time, from the section above, it should be clear that you can potentially still eat some amounts of fried tilapia without getting kicked out of ketosis.

Substitutes for tilapia on keto

The zero carbs in tilapia may sound magical if this is the first time you have encountered a food like this. However, there are other alternatives that are this low in carbs too.

You may prefer these tilapia substitutes in terms of taste, texture, and/or nutrient composition. Additionally, they can help you keep your ketogenic diet a bit more varied.

The amounts next to the foods are the net carb values per 100 grams (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

  • Salmon: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Beef: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Eggs (hard-boiled): 1.1 grams of net carbs
  • Shrimp: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Chicken: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Tuna: 0 grams of net carbs

Similar to tilapia there could be situations where you want to keep your portions of these substitutes small.

These foods tend to contain decent amounts of calories and protein.


Is tilapia high in carbs?

Boiled tilapia contains 0 carbs per 100 grams so it is definitely low in carbs. On the flip side, fried tilapia with breadcrumbs or flour tends to be higher 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.