Low Carb Beans You Can Enjoy on a Keto Diet

article title in front of beans

Low-carb diets can help you lose weight quickly, making them popular for decades. Keto is no exception: The diet's intense focus on remaining in a state of ketosis through low-carb, high-fat and moderate-protein foods means making careful decisions about certain food groups. Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses, but low net carb beans are rare.Is it possible to find "keto beans" that are at least keto-friendly? Let's find out.

1. Green Beans (fresh or cooked)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (60g)

Total carbs: 4 grams
Net carbs: 2 grams
Protein: 1.2 grams
Fat: <.1 grams
With only 5.8 net carbs in a full cup, the humble green bean takes first place as the bean lowest in carbohydrates. They're easy to prepare in a wide variety of ways, too. Try tossing fresh beans in lemon juice, salt and pepper for a bright pop of color on your plate. You can also toss them in olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast and roast them until crispy in the oven to enjoy some green "fries." Pair them with a high protein main, like grilled chicken or steak, as they're lower in protein than other legumes.

2. Black Soybeans (canned)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (130g)

Total carbs: 8 grams
Net carbs: 2 grams
Protein: 11 grams
Fat: 6 grams
Search the Internet for keto bean recipes, and you'll find a plethora of copycat recipes for traditional bean dishes using black soybeans. While some brands list slightly different carb counts for their products, the average carb count for black soybeans is low, earning them high marks as one of the low net carb beans. They're also a solid protein source, so your macros will balance nicely. Black soybeans can stand in for refried beans or as a fun take on traditional hummus.

3. Edamame (shelled)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (74g)

Total carbs: 8 grams
Net carbs: 5 grams
Protein: 9 grams
Fat: 5 grams
In their mature form, after processing into tofu or tempeh, soybeans contain significant carbohydrates. However, In their immature state, edamame has fewer carbs and a higher percentage of protein. Edamame are a complete protein, meaning they contains the nine essential amino acids your body needs to obtain from your diet. Even though edamame is one of the low net carb beans, five grams of net carbs constitutes 20% of your daily allowance. If you decide to add it to your list for the day, you can eat edamame, hot or cold, straight from the pod. 

4. Lima Beans (boiled, not raw)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (85g)

Total carbs: 20 grams
Net carbs: 7 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Fat: .25 grams
Lima beans have gotten a bad reputation from a general misconception that the beans are unappealing and tasteless. These baseless rumors aren't true! While still a bean (and therefore higher in carbs than other plant-based proteins), the delicious lima is packed with nutrition and flavor, especially prepared the right way. They still contain many carbohydrates, so plan these for a carb-up day. Dress up your lima beans with butter and salt, or enjoy them cold on a fresh salad with grilled chicken. 

5. Firm Tofu (unflavored)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (126g)

Total carbs: 5 grams
Net carbs: 2 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Fat: 11 grams
Controversy continues to swirl around the benefits versus potential harm of consuming soy products in large quantities. Despite concerns about xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens, firm tofu may be an option for keto dieters looking for low net carb beans to enjoy as a plant protein source. As with all soy products, consume firm tofu in moderation to avoid these effects. Make sure to purchase only unflavored firm tofu to bypass added sugars.

6. Mung Beans (sprouts only)

Amounts in 1/2 cup (126g)

Total carbs: 3 grams
Net carbs: 2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: .1 grams
Mung beans come in at 20 grams of total carbs per half-cup serving, but their sprouts fit into a keto diet with aplomb. These tiny sprouts can fill you up at just two grams of net carbs and a surprising two grams of protein while you remain in ketosis. You might add the raw sprouts to a sandwich or a salad, but there's a risk of illness due to the growing conditions the sprouts need. Instead, roast them in the oven or add them to your favorite soups and stir-fries.

While most keto practitioners avoid legumes altogether, it may be possible to find keto beans, particularly if you're following a targeted or cyclical ketogenic diet. You can enjoy them on your ketogenic diet with some careful planning. Varying the types of foods you eat is crucial to your overall health and your long-term ketogenic diet, and Prospre Nutrition's meal planning and tracking app can help you find ways to keep your keto diet enjoyable and successful.

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