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Is Zucchini Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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

Zucchini is a type of green food, botanically a fruit, used in cooking as a vegetable, with relatively high water content.

You can eat zucchini raw on its own, in salads, cooked with parmesan, as zucchini “pizza”, to make bread, to make noodles, and in many other ways and recipes.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw zucchini is around 2.2 grams per 100 grams.

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

If you are not the biggest fan of this food there are substitutes that are even better than zucchini 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 zucchini

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

  • Total carbs: 3.3 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.1 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.2 grams

While possible depending on the other foods in your diet, it is unlikely that the 2.2 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of raw zucchini are enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One cup of raw zucchini is about 124 grams, and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 4.2 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.4 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.8 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 cup of zucchini, 2.8 grams, is slightly harder to fit into a keto diet but still very doable.

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

Other nutrients in zucchini

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

100 grams of raw zucchini contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 16
  • Protein: 1.2 grams
  • Carbs: 3.3 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 1.1 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 28% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
  • Manganese: 9% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 8% of the DV
  • Folate: 7% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

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

How to avoid eating too much zucchini

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

Preparing a big bowl of zucchini mini pizzas and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this. You can avoid eating too much zucchini with some of the following tips:

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

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

Substitutes for zucchini on keto

Zucchini is not the only option when you want to eat vegetables on the ketogenic diet. Zucchini is not the highest in net carbs but there are a few 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 (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):

  • 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 zucchini. However, even with these examples you may have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.

That being said, zucchini is still relatively low in net carbs.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of zucchini 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, zucchini can be a good food option even if it potentially puts you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.

When trying to lose weight you do want to be careful about keto-friendly recipes like zucchini pizza. While low in net carbs, these can be relatively high in overall calories. This still matters on the ketogenic diet.