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Are Turnips Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about turnips, are they keto-friendly?

Turnips are a root vegetable with typically a white-purple color. They are typically eaten boiled but you can also eat them raw on their own, in salads, mashed, as an ingredient in soup, or many other ways.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in boiled turnips is around 3.1 grams per 100 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people turnips are very keto-friendly. That being said you do not have to force yourself to eat turnips.

If you are not the biggest fan of this food there are substitutes that are even better than turnips for staying in ketosis.

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 turnips

100 grams of boiled turnips contain the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 5.1 grams
  • Of which fiber: 2 grams
  • Net carbs: 3.1 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 3.1 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of boiled turnips are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One cup of turnip cubes is about 156 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 7.9 grams
  • Of which fiber: 3.1 grams
  • Net carbs: 4.8 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 cup of turnip cubes, 4.8 grams, is slightly harder to fit into a keto diet but still very doable.

Whether or not turnips are keto for you ultimately depends on what portion you have in mind, your individual situation, and the rest of your diet.

Carbs in mashed turnips

A popular way to eat turnips is by mashing them together. Does this change anything in how keto-friendly turnips are?

1 cup of mashed turnips, 230 grams, contains about 11.6 grams of carbs in total and 4.6 grams of fiber (2). That means 7 grams of net carbs.

Calculated back to 100 grams this comes down to the same as regular boiled turnips. That means mashed turnips are also generally keto-friendly.

Carbs in turnip greens

Many people focus on the fleshy taproot but the green leaves of turnips can and are eaten too. The nutrition of the greens is different from the white taproot.

100 grams of turnips greens contain 7.1 grams of total carbs and 3.2 grams of fiber (3). This comes down to 3.9 net carbs in 100 grams of turnip greens.

That means according to these nutrition data sources, the boiled taproots are more keto-friendly than the turnip greens. Both can likely fit in a keto diet in certain amounts.

Other nutrients in turnips

Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.

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

  • Calories: 22
  • Protein: 0.7 grams
  • Carbs: 5.1 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Potassium: 5% of the DV
  • Manganese: 4% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the DV
  • Calcium: 3% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Besides being low in net carbs, turnips can also provide you with a few valuable nutrients in small amounts. A nice combination for a ketogenic diet.

How to avoid eating too many turnips

You generally should be able to fit turnips in your keto diet. Even so, in some situations you may have to exercise some portion control.

Mashing up a bit pot of turnips and adding delicious spices, and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.

You can avoid eating too many turnips with some of the following tips:

  • Plan ahead, how many grams of turnips will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount in a bowl or on a plate and leave the rest of the prepared turnips out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
  • Consider not preparing or buying turnips if you crave it too much

If you notice you get out of ketosis you may need to reduce the amount of turnips you eat.

Substitutes for turnips on keto

Turnips are not the only option when you want to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Turnips are not the highest in net carbs but there are many vegetables that are more keto-friendly.

Some of the following substitutes may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

  • Chicory: 0.9 grams of net carbs
  • Spinach: 1.4 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

If you have trouble staying in ketosis but still want to eat vegetables it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over turnips.

However, even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis. That being said, turnips are still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of turnips added to certain daily diets could 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, turnips can be a good food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.