Is Zucchini Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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Vegetables are often low-carb but there are exceptions too. Find out whether zucchini is keto-friendly or not and what substitutes you can consider.

100 grams of raw zucchini contain around 2.1 grams of net carbohydrates which comes down to total carbs minus fiber.

This is relatively low in carbs so you can definitely say that zucchini is keto-friendly.

You can eat zucchini raw on its own, in salads, cooked with parmesan as zucchini “pizza”, as an ingredient in bread, as low-carb noodles, and in many other ways and recipes.

One thing you do want to keep in mind is that just because a food like zucchini is low in carbs does not mean you can eat unlimited amounts on keto.

If you already ate a lot of carbohydrates with other foods, you may still need to be mindful about your portions.

Besides that, zucchini is definitely also not the only food option you have. You may prefer one of its substitutes in terms of taste and texture.

Carbs in zucchini

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet. This means you definitely want to know how many carbs zucchini contains.

With that information, you can estimate how many grams would still fit in your keto diet.

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

  • Total carbs: 3.1 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1 gram
  • Net carbs: 2.1 grams

2.1 grams of net carbs per 100 grams is relatively low compared to many food options. In turn, it is fair to say that zucchini is keto-friendly.

At the same time, you may still need to pay some attention to the other foods in your diet to avoid getting kicked out of ketosis.

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

  • Total carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.7 grams

As you can expect, increasing the amount of zucchini you eat would also increase your carb intake.

Even so, you should still be able to fit the 2.7 grams of net carbs in one cup of raw zucchini into your keto diet.

Other nutrients in zucchini

You definitely want to keep an eye on your carbohydrate intake on a keto diet but there are other nutrients in zucchini too.

Fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals still influence whether you stay in ketosis and how healthy your ketogenic diet will be.

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

  • 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.

There are definitely keto-friendly foods that are more impressive in these areas but zucchini does offer you a few valuable vitamins and minerals in nice amounts.

In combination with other nutritious foods, this can round out your nutrient intake.

Why you can not always eat zucchini on a keto diet

Zucchini is relatively keto-friendly but that does not mean you will always stay in ketosis while eating it. To understand why this is the case and how to avoid this it can be helpful to quickly go over the keto basics.

The main goal of ketogenic diets is to get and keep your body in ketosis. This is a state where you mainly use fat as fuel (2).

If you want to make this happen, you need to keep your carbohydrate consumption low enough.

Something that makes things more complicated is that different people can consume different amounts of carbs while staying in ketosis. This is due to differences in things like weight, muscle mass, activity levels, etc.

That being said, there are some general guidelines that are not perfect but can put you in the right direction.

A typical recommendation is that you want to get about 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates to stay in ketosis.

That will likely mean you can eat somewhere around 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day.

Make sure you don’t include fiber in these amounts. This is a category of carbs but your body processes them in more keto-friendly ways.

With this, you can start to figure out how much zucchini would fit into your daily diet without kicking you out of ketosis.

Are zucchini noodles aka zoodles keto-friendly?

Grating zucchini into noodles and boiling these is a popular practice on low-carb diets.

These so-called zoodles allow you to replace spaghetti and other noodles with something that aligns more with your health goals.

100 grams of cooked zucchini contain the following amounts of carbs (3):

  • Total carbs: 2.7 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1 gram
  • Net carbs: 1.7 grams

These nutrition sources imply that zucchini noodles are even more keto-friendly than the raw version.

Substitutes for zucchini on keto

Botanically speaking, zucchini is a fruit. That being said, the ways to use it in the kitchen are more vegetable-like.

If you don’t like the taste or texture of zucchini you likely don’t have to force them into your keto diet. There are a variety of other low-carb substitutes that you may like too.

The numbers next to the vegetables are the amounts of net carbs 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

You want to keep in mind that these zucchini substitutes still contain carbs. There are cases where you need to keep your portions in mind to stay in ketosis.

Why do you follow a ketogenic diet?

Zucchini is a great food option for ketogenic diets. It is low in carbs but still offers a variety of valuable nutrients in small amounts.

That being said, there are situations where even a few extra net carbs kick you out of ketosis. Whether this is an issue depends on your goals with the keto diet.

For example, there are individuals who need/want to stay in ketosis 24/7. These people can likely still consider zucchini but do want to be careful.

On the other hand, if you follow a ketogenic diet to lose weight and get healthier, zucchini can still be good even if it would raise your net carb intake just a bit too much.

This diet is not the only way to achieve the goals above.

Something else to note is that you want to be careful about keto-friendly recipes like zucchini pizza when trying to lose weight.

While these are low in net carbs, they can be relatively high in overall calories which still matters on the ketogenic diet.

Is zucchini carb free?

Zucchini is not completely carb free. It still contains around 2.1 grams of net carbohydrates per 100 grams.

Is zucchini low-carb?

100 grams of raw zucchini contains around 2.1 grams of net carbs. That means zucchini is relatively low-carb.

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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.