The Best and Worst Keto Nuts

Are nuts allowed on keto?

Many people love the ketogenic diet because it keeps them satiated for longer periods of time. As a result, snacking no longer becomes a necessity. However, snacking regularly is a habit that many people coming from a Standard American Diet have developed. Although you may not be truly hungry, you may still find yourself reaching for an afternoon snack to satisfy mental cravings. Instead of popcorn or chips, nuts are a great keto-friendly alternative.

So yes, nuts are allowed on keto. In general, nuts are high in fat, and low in carbohydrates. However, not all nuts are created equal. There are several types of nuts that have great ketogenic macronutrient ratios, and others that are less optimal.

Are nuts good for a ketogenic diet? The answer: they can be, in moderation. Nuts are naturally very calorically dense and can be easy to overconsume. If your goal is weight loss, be aware of serving sizes, and which type of nut you are consuming.

keto nuts

Oil, butter, and flour, oh my!

Nuts are versatile and have tons of uses in a ketogenic diet besides snack. There is a nut butter, oil, or flour version of almost any nut. They are a great tool to help you stay on track if you choose to include them in your diet. I like to enjoy nuts and nut butter on occasion, especially the ones that are highest in fat, like pili nuts. I rarely use nut oils (with the exception of coconut oil, which isn’t really a nut anyway) because they can be very expensive, but nut flours are great to use in baking.

My favorite way to consume nuts is with my dessert. Almost every night I have a small square of dark chocolate with a serving of pili or macadamia nuts. Occasionally I will do nut butter instead of the whole nut. If this is the case, I’ll reach for peanut butter, pili nut butter, or the nut butter from Perfect Keto.

Nut Flours

Nuts are commonly used in baking ketogenic desserts. For example, almond flour and coconut flour are often used as a substitute for regular flour in baked goods. If you are using nut flour to replace regular flour, make sure you know the correct substitution ratio. Most ketogenic recipes will take care of the conversions for you, but if you are experimenting and trying to create a keto version of a high carb recipe, keep these conversion tips in mind.

Also, when baking with nut flours, be sure to let the finished product cool completely before cutting open or serving. Almond and coconut flour do not bind completely until everything has cooled. If you do not wait long enough, your cookies or cake will crumble apart in your hands!

Almond Flour

Almond flour has a 1:1 substitution ratio with regular flour. However, the almond flour may require more eggs to properly bind the ingredients properly, so keep that in mind when making the switch.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is extremely absorbent, so you will need much less if you are using it in place of regular flour. For every 1 cup of regular flour, use ¼ cup of coconut flour. You may also have to use extra eggs to keep the mixture from being too dry.

Nut Options

Below is a list of nuts sorted from most ketogenic friendly, to least. None of these nuts are strictly “not keto”, as long as you keep in mind how many carbs are in a serving, and how much you are actually consuming.

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Pili Nuts

Macros per 1oz serving:

204 calories

23g fat

1.1g carb (0.1 net)

3.1g protein

Pili nuts are grown on a pili tree in Northern Australia, Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. They are buttery and delicious.

Pili Hunters has flavored pili nuts and pili nut butter. My favorite is the Coconut Oil and Himalayan Salt sprouted nuts. You can buy them by the pound, which is exactly what I do. Their other flavors are Raw Cacao, Rosemary and Olive Oil, Spicy Chili, and Turmeric and Black Pepper.

Right now, they are only available online. However, Pili Hunters has tons of sampler pack options if you aren’t sure which one to get first. I would recommend the Ultimate Sampler Pack to try out the different varieties of nuts and nut butter. You can use the code HEALTHCODEHACK to save on your order!

Macadamia Nuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 10-12 nuts):

204 calories

21g fat

3.9g carb (1.5 net)

2.2g protein

Before I discovered pili nuts, macadamia nuts were my favorite low-carb nut. They have a buttery delicious taste and are great as an after-dinner snack.

MacFarms sells delicious dry roasted macadamia nuts. They are available in most stores, and Amazon. Avoid the flavored ones that are not keto friendly.

Pecans

Macros per 1oz serving (about 20 halves):

201 calories

21.1g fat

3.8g carb (1.2 net)

2.6g protein

Pecans are my favorite in the fall-time. I love dry roasted pecans. They are easy to roast yourself, and they make your house smell amazing. To roast, first soak the nuts in water overnight. Then, drain and place on a baking sheet in the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-24 hours. Toss halfway and roast until the nuts are crunchy, and not soggy.

It is also easy to make low-carb candied pecans with a drizzle of sugar-free maple syrup, cinnamon, an egg white, and a sprinkle of granulated erythritol:

  • Beat egg white until soft peaks form
  • Toss pecans in a mixture of 5 tbsp erythritol, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp sugar-free maple syrup
  • Gently fold in the egg white
  • Spread pecans onto a baking tray and bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes, tossing every few minutes
  • Allow to cool completely, and wait a few hours for the erythritol to dry and harden completely

Brazil Nuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 6-8 nuts):

186 calories

19g fat

3.5g carb (1.4 net)

4.1g protein

Brazil nuts are much bigger than most other nuts. I prefer to eat them chopped up in a salad, or in a mixture with other nuts and seeds. Since they are so large, a 1oz serving will be about 6 or 7 nuts. You can find them in most grocery stores, or on Amazon.

Walnuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 12-14 halves):

184 calories

18g fat

3.9g carb (1.9 net)

4.3g protein

I typically do not eat walnuts on their own, because I don’t find them to be as flavorful as other nuts. Instead, I will top my salad with a small handful to add extra crunch and texture. You can find these in any grocery store, or on Amazon.

Coconut

Technically, coconuts are drupes, not nuts. But coconuts are widely used in various forms on a keto diet, so I decided to include them in this guide. When shopping for coconut products, make sure to buy unsweetened versions.

The coconut products I would avoid are coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is sugar and is not good for a keto diet. Similarly, coconut milk and coconut water have high sugar contents.

Coconut Butter

Macros per 1oz serving:

210 calories

21g fat

8g carb (3 net)

0g protein

Coconut butter is surprisingly sweet. It makes a great dessert option! My favorite is the unsweetened roasted coconut butter from Eating Evolved. It is not creamy like other nut butter, but it can be melted down to achieve a similar consistency.

Coconut Cream

Macros per 1oz serving:

70 calories

7.3g fat

0.5g carb

0.7g protein

I use coconut cream in dessert recipes or as a base for a curry. The brand I purchase is Native Forest.

Coconut Flakes

Macros per 1oz serving:

187 calories

18.3g fat

2.1g net carb

2g protein

Coconut flakes are a great granola ingredient or topping to a keto dessert. Watch out for sweetened versions and make sure to buy ones that only have coconut in them.

Coconut Flour

Macros per 1oz serving:

122 calories

4.1g fat

6.1g carb

4.1g protein

Coconut flour is a great keto flour. It is often used in baking, but there is not a 1:1 ratio with regular flour because coconut flour is much denser. Instead, the average ratio is about 1/4 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of regular flour.

Coconut Meat

Macros per 1oz serving:

100 calories

9.5g fat

1.8g net carb

1g protein

Coconut meat is fairly low carb and can be a good snack for keto if you have access to it.

Coconut Oil

Macros per 1oz serving:

253calories

28.1g fat

0g carb

0g protein

I use coconut oil for cooking and baking. It is also great to add to coffee to make it bulletproof.

Almonds

Macros per 1oz serving (about 24 nuts):

163 calories

14g fat

6g carb (2.5 net)

6g protein

Almonds have always been one of my favorite go-to snacks, even before I ate a ketogenic diet. For me, they can be especially easy to overeat, so I have to be sure to portion my servings. They are safe for a keto diet provided they are eaten in moderation.

Almond butter is a nut butter commonly used in keto desserts or eaten as a snack. When purchasing almond butter, make sure the only ingredients are almonds and salt, like this one from Kirkland .

Almond flour is commonly used in baking keto desserts or bread. It is very versatile and has a 1:1 substitution ratio with regular flour. Because the flour is very calorically dense, it can be easy to go overboard with foods made from almond flour. Use almond flour sparingly and monitor how your body reacts to consuming it.

Blanched almond flour will be more finely milled because the skin of the almond has been removed. I use the one from Anthony’s.

Unblanched almond flour will have small pieces of almond skin, and the resulting foods will not have as smooth of a texture when cooking with this flour.

Peanuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 28-35 nuts):

161 calories

14g fat

4.6g carb (2.2 net)

7g protein

Peanuts are technically a legume, not a nut. However, I find them to be a delicious keto snack, especially peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of the easiest things for me to overconsume, personally. The carb count of peanuts is on the higher end, so it’s important to watch the serving size if your goal is to stick to keto. My suggestion is to always measure out a serving of peanuts or peanut butter before consuming.

When shopping for peanuts, avoid ones that have been roasted in other vegetable oils or sugars.

If you are looking for peanut butter, make sure the only ingredients are peanuts and salt. The oil will naturally separate in the jar. If you store the peanut butter upside down, the oil will not rise to the top and it will be easier to eat. My favorite peanut butter is the Kirkland brand from Costco.

Hazelnuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 25-28 nuts):

178 calories

17g fat

4.7g carb (2.7 net)

4.2g protein

I love hazelnut flavored drinks and desserts, but I don’t often find myself snacking on hazelnuts. However, they can be enjoyed in moderation on a keto diet. A 1 oz serving is plenty of nuts to satisfy a crunchy craving for only 3 net carbs!

Amazon has tons of brands available. I recommend looking for ones that are dry roasted.

Pine Nuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 18-28 nuts):

191 calories

19g fat

3.7g carb (2.7 net)

3.9g protein

Pine nuts are used in many pesto recipes. They are also great to top on salads, or mix in with roasted veggies for added texture.

MyKetoKitchen has a great recipe for keto pesto.

Cashews

Macros per 1oz serving (about 18 nuts):

157 calories

12g fat

9g carb (8 net)

5g protein

Although cashews are higher in carbs than most other nuts, they can still be enjoyed in moderation on a keto diet. They can be used in keto versions of popular dishes like cashew chicken. Also, they are great snacks. A serving is about 18 cashews, so it is especially helpful to pre-portion a serving of cashews instead of going to town on the whole container!

You can purchase single serving packs of cashews to avoid over-consuming them. These are 1.5 oz packs, which comes to about 13g of carbs. This is definitely on the higher end, but if you love cashews, you can find a place for them in your keto diet.

Pistachios

Macros per 1oz serving (about 40 nuts):

159 calories

13g fat

8g carb (5.1 net)

6g protein

Pistachios can be purchased with or without the shell. I find that it’s easier to moderate consumption of pistachios if I buy the shelled version. It takes me a few seconds to remove the shell to get to the nut, so I’m not consuming them as quickly.

Individual serving packs of pistachios with the shell are a great on-the-go snack.

If you don’t enjoy shelling pistachios, you can find unshelled pistachios online or in grocery stores.

Chestnuts

Macros per 1oz serving (about 3 nuts):

37 calories

0.4g fat

8g carb

0.6g protein

I have only had a chestnut once in my life, and I honestly did not enjoy it. They are very low in fat, so they do not have the buttery texture that most other nuts do. However, if you have an affinity for chestnuts, by all means, enjoy them!  A 1oz serving is about 3 chestnuts, which is around 8 carbs.

Some Final Thoughts

How to Consume

Nuts are best consumed soaked and slow-roasted, which is also referred to as “sprouting”. Nuts have naturally occurring anti-nutrients like phytic acid and lectins. They exist to protect the plant in nature and the phytic acids and lectins can prevent nutrient absorption. Soaking nuts will break down the phytic acid and lectins so our bodies can digest the nuts better and increase nutrient absorption. If you have digestive discomfort after eating nuts or seeds, try soaking and roasting the nuts. Phytic acid can cause inflammation and irritation in the gut. Removing the acid will make digestion easier.

Avoid nuts from the store that have been roasted in vegetable oil or coated in sugar. Dry roasted nuts are an option in many grocery stores. If not, I would opt for the raw nut.

 

Should you eat nuts every day?

Nuts are a great source of fat, and can be a great keto snack. However, it is easy to go overboard. Most nuts are calorically dense, so they can be easy to over-consume. On more than one occasion, I have found myself sitting next to the jar of nuts and “just having a few more”. Before I was aware, I had probably consumed 800 extra calories of nuts! Depending on your goals, consuming nuts in excess can hinder your progress. That’s not to say that nuts are off limits, though. Instead, portion out single servings beforehand. Avoid sitting down with the entire container. This goes for every other snack, but I feel that nuts are one of the easiest things to overeat.

Along with nuts being extremely easy to consume in excess, they also have a high omega-6 content. Read my article about comparing omega-3 to omega-6 ratios to find out why we want a balanced ratio. In summary, the ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is 1:4, but the average ratio is 1:20! An easy way to balance the ratio is to eliminate major sources of Omega-6 fatty acids from your diet. This could mean lowering nut consumption. Balancing omega-3 to omega-6 ratios is important for preventing inflammation, promoting proper nervous system function, and improving overall health. The omega-3 and omega-6 contents of nuts is represented in the following graph.

Source: Wikipedia

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