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Are Walnuts Keto-Friendly? (& Better Substitutes)

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

Walnuts are an extremely popular food around the world. Botanically speaking they are technically seeds, but due to their nutritional contents, many people consider them nuts.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in walnuts is around 7 grams per 100 grams.

Most people can eat at least around 14 walnut halves (which is one ounce or 28 grams) on keto. This amount of walnuts contains 2 grams of net carbs. Depending on your personal situation you may be able to eat more or fewer walnut halves on keto.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people walnuts are keto-friendly in small amounts.

Even if you eat them in keto-friendly portions you may want to exercise some portion control with walnuts anyway for reasons like fiber intake, calorie intake, and protein intake. Being in ketosis is no guarantee for goals like losing weight. There are also nuts alternatives that are more helpful 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 walnuts

100 grams of walnuts contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 13.7 grams
  • Of which fiber: 6.7 grams
  • Net carbs: 7 grams

Combined with the other foods in your diet the 7 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of walnuts can certainly be enough to kick you out of ketosis.

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

  • Total carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.9 grams
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 ounce of walnuts, 2 grams, is slightly easier to fit into a keto diet. Whether or not walnuts are keto for you ultimately depends on how many walnuts you have in mind, your individual situation, and the rest of your diet.

Other nutrients in walnuts

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

100 grams of walnuts contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 654
  • Protein: 15.2 grams
  • Carbs: 13.7 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 6.7 grams
  • Fat: 65.2 grams
  • Manganese: 171% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Copper: 79% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 40% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 35% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 27% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Even though they contain net carbs, walnuts do contain a nice amount of valuable nutrients per 100 grams compared to many other foods.

Alternatives for walnuts on keto

Walnuts are not the only option when you want to eat nuts on the ketogenic diet. Compared to other nuts they are in the middle so there are both nuts higher and lower in net carbs.

Some of the following substitutes may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (3, 4, 5, 6):

  • Pecans: 4.4 grams of net carbs
  • Brazil nuts: 4.8 grams of net carbs
  • Macadamia nuts: 5.6 grams of net carbs
  • Hazelnuts: 7 grams of net carbs

If you have trouble staying in ketosis it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over walnuts.

How to avoid eating too many walnuts

By now it is clear that to be able to fit walnuts in your keto diet, you will likely have to exercise some portion control. Having a bag of walnuts near you and hoping that you don’t eat too many is not the ideal way to do this.

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

  • Plan ahead, how many walnuts will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount in a bowl and leave the rest of the walnuts out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
  • Consider not buying them if you can’t control yourself
  • Buy shelled walnuts instead.

If you notice you get out of ketosis you may need to reduce the number of walnuts you eat.

What is your goal with keto?

Even in some cases, a small number of walnuts added to certain daily diets can 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. Even though they are low in carbs, nuts can still kick you out of ketosis.

If your goal is to lose weight and become healthier, walnuts can be a good food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level. That being said, if losing weight is your goal, keep in mind that walnuts contain a relatively high amount of calories.