Even though I’m not a big fan of snacks (but intermittent fasting), nuts are a natural and convenient option for in-between times.
Since most nuts contain far more healthy fats than carbohydrates, they also fit perfectly into a keto diet meal plan.
However, you can’t have all possible nuts on keto.
While macadamia nuts, for example, use monounsaturated fatty acids to help you stay in ketosis, others hide a variety of carbohydrates.
Hence, it’s not always easy to determine which nuts suit a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
Therefore, I’m going to determine the best keto nuts below, which in addition to fat, also bring vitamins, electrolytes, proteins, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet.
Are Nuts Keto?
Usually, nuts are an ideal keto snack. They are sugar-free, have few carbohydrates, and are vegan, paleo- and keto-friendly.
So there are a few good reasons why nuts fit into your low-carb diet plan:
Nuts Are Rich in Healthy Fats
Since nuts are high-fat, low-carb foods, they perfectly suit the keto diet.
In moderation, they help you keep your blood sugar level stable, burn body fat, and lose weight.
For example, a handful of macadamia nuts provides around 21.5g of fat with only 1.5g of net carbs (= carbohydrates – dietary fiber).
Since most of the fat is oleic acid, as in olive oil, macadamia nuts also provide similar health and weight loss benefits.
However, raw macadamia nuts have the advantage over olive oil because fatty acids are more resistant to damage.
Nuts Are Amazing Keto Snacks
Since nuts are not only low-carb but also robust and, therefore, perfect for travel, they are the ideal whole-food keto snack.
With this in mind, you can always have a small supply in your bag, car, or desk.
However, if you are on the road all day, you can quickly eat too many nuts on keto daily. Therefore it is recommended to carry only a reasonable portion (we’ll dig into this later).
Keto-Friendly Nuts Are High in Fiber
Although nuts can have a notable carbohydrate content, this doesn’t mean they don’t fit into a ketogenic diet. Why?
Keto-friendly nuts are rich in fiber, which can be removed from the total carbohydrates as they are not metabolized and excreted by the body.
Therefore, the net carbs (= carbohydrates – dietary fiber) is low. Moreover, nuts’ dietary fibers help dampen blood sugar and insulin reaction.
For example, studies show that people have lower blood sugar and insulin levels after high-fiber meals (Chandalia et al. 20001).
Also, dietary fiber can inflate the food, form a gel that reduces energy density, and thus promote satiety.
Nuts Are Delicious Nutrient-Dense Keto Foods
Moreover, nuts are rich in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, selenium, and B and E vitamins:
- Selenium is anti-inflammatory and counteracts stress on a cellular level (Rayman 20122).
- Magnesium is an essential electrolyte that boosts energy production and protein synthesis (Vernon 19883).
- Potassium is also an essential mineral crucial for muscle contraction, health, and recovery (Shrimanker et al. 20204).
Which Nuts Are Best for Keto?
Since nuts are rich in fat and protein, they are ideal for ketogenic diets. Is it that simple?
However, nuts can impair the ability to burn fat – ketosis.
Hence, knowing which are the best nuts on a keto diet promotes weight loss and gut health is essential.
Since you have probably heard conflicting information about nuts, choosing the suitable nuts for a low-carb diet may not be straightforward.
Therefore, this ultimate guide divides keto nuts into the following categories:
- Best keto nuts: Ideal nuts on keto suitable as a daily snack
- Keto-friendly nuts: Nuts you can eat in moderation
- Nuts to avoid: Nuts inhibit the benefits of a keto diet
Best Nuts on a Ketogenic Diet
For me, two factors are decisive in selecting the best keto nuts:
- The ratio of fat to net carbs (F/NC) and proteins
- The proportion of omega-3, omega-6, and monounsaturated fatty acids
While the first ratio is essential for ketosis, the latter values focus on anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Because the only significant disadvantage of nuts is that omega-6 fatty acids often dominate among the polyunsaturated ones, which can promote inflammation in the body.
Besides the well-known anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids can help fight inflammation too.
Not only do monounsaturated fatty acids help with weight loss, but they also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (Pérez-Jiménez et al. 20025).
For example, the predominant fat in olive oil, macadamia nuts, and also in bacon (who would have guessed that?!) is the monounsaturated omega-9 fat oleic acid.
If you don’t heavily feast on them, the following low-carb nuts are perfect for a ketogenic diet.
Nutrition data of the nuts is based on a serving size of 100 grams to simplify the comparison.
1. Pili Nuts
The pili nut is the hidden champion of the best keto nuts. Although it is hardly known, its nutritional values quickly show why it is the best nut on keto (*):
- Fat: 79.6g
- Saturated: 31.2g
- Monounsaturated: 37.2g
- Omega-3: 0g
- Omega-6: 7.6g
- Protein: 10.8g
- Net Carbs: 4.0g
- F/NC: 19.9
Not only do pilis have a super low carbohydrate content, they also have a significantly beneficial fat profile.
Since healthy monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids dominate in this nut, pilis are a secret weapon against cardiovascular disease (Mozaffarian et al. 20046).
Due to the enormously high fat content paired with very low carbohydrate, protein, and omega-6 contents make them the low-carb and keto nuts par excellence.
Furthermore, pili nuts are a first-class source of potassium.
2. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts consist of three-quarters fat (*):
- Fat: 75.8g
- Saturated: 12.1g
- Monounsaturated: 58.6g
- Omega-3: 0.2g
- Omega-6: 1.3g
- Protein: 7.9g
- Net Carbs: 5.6g
- F/NC: 13.5
More than 50% of the macadamia nut consists of monounsaturated fatty acids, which improve insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels. Furthermore, they help fight abdominal fat and heart disease (Garg et al. 20077).
Macadamia nuts contain potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Thus, they prevent muscle cramps, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of strokes (Griel et al. 20088).
Because of these minerals and the low content of omega-6 fatty acids are also excellent keto foods to fight inflammation.
Walnuts are the omega-3 champion among the best keto nuts (*).
- Fat: 65.2g
- Saturated: 6.1g
- Monounsaturated: 8.9g
- Omega-3: 9.0g
- Omega-6: 38.1g
- Protein: 15.2g
- Net Carbs: 7.0g
- F/NC: 9.3
An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1, unique among nuts, can improve the seriously questionable average ratio of 17:1 in our bodies (Singh et al. 20109).
Therefore, walnuts can lower chronic inflammation risk. They are also high in fats but moderate in protein.
Furthermore, studies have shown that walnuts help to reduce the risk of cancer, prevent cell damage, and lose weight (Neale et al. 201710).
Pecans have the third-highest absolute fat content on our list of best keto nuts (*):
- Fat: 72.0g
- Saturated: 6.2g
- Monounsaturated: 40,8g
- Omega-3: 1.0g
- Omega-6: 20.6g
- Protein: 9.2g
- Net Carbs: 4.4g
- F/NC: 16.4
Like macadamia nuts and olive oil, pecan nuts contain a high proportion of oleic acid.
This omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation (McKay et al. 201811).
Also, pecans contain little protein and carbohydrates.
The only point that pushes pecans out of the top 3 keto nuts is the unfavorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. However, it is debatable whether pecans are better suited for keto than walnuts.
The hazelnut contains a moderate absolute amount of proteins and carbohydrates as well as omega-6 fatty acids (*):
- Fat: 60.7g
- Saturated: 4.5g
- Monounsaturated: 45.7g
- Omega-3: 0.1g
- Omega-6: 7.8g
- Protein: 15.0g
- Net Carbs: 7.0g
- F/NC: 8.7
In this sense, hazelnuts can be a healthy keto snack due to the dominant monounsaturated fatty acids.
According to studies, hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants, prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve blood lipid levels (Perna et al. 201612).
6. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts provide over 25g of fat per 1g of net carbohydrates (*):
- Fat: 66.4g
- Saturated: 15.1g
- Monounsaturated: 24.6g
- Omega-3: 0g
- Omega-6: 20.6g
- Protein: 14.3g
- Net Carbs: 4.8g
- F/NC: 13.8
Moreover, Brazil nuts are the richest whole food source of selenium. Selenium improves cognition in the elderly, combats oxidative stress, and thus inhibits aging (Cardoso et al. 201613).
Moreover, brazil nuts improve blood lipid levels (Colpo et al. 201314).
Good Keto-Friendly Nuts to Consider
The six preceding nuts are ideal for the keto diet due to their nutrient profile and can be eaten daily in appropriate portions.
On the contrary, you can enjoy the following three keto nuts in moderation. Therefore, they can bring variety into your diet, especially as a topping for keto-friendly dishes.
Almonds are the richest source of potassium (705mg per 100g) among the keto nuts. Also, they are low in net carbohydrates (*):
- Fat: 49.4g
- Saturated: 3.7g
- Monounsaturated: 8.9g
- Omega-3: 0g
- Omega-6: 12.0g
- Protein: 21.2g
- Net Carbs: 9.5g
- F/NC: 5.2
Only the relatively high protein and low fat content make the almond a keto-friendly nut that should not be eaten in large quantities.
According to a study, almonds can reduce cardiovascular disease and mortality and help people lose weight (Luo et al. 201415).
Moreover, almond flour, which just consists of ground almonds, is a popular ingredient in keto-baking recipes.
2. Pine Nuts
With over 68% fat and about 10% net carbohydrates, pine nuts are still an acceptable option on a keto diet (*):
- Fat: 68.4g
- Saturated: 4.9g
- Monounsaturated: 18.8g
- Omega-3: 0.1g
- Omega-6: 33.6g
- Protein: 13.7g
- Net Carbs: 9.4g
- F/NC: 7.3
I think pine nuts are more of a salad topping than an everyday snack because their fat consists of 50% omega-6 fatty acids. So they can have an inflammatory effect in large quantities.
Pistachios are the protein champion among keto nuts (*):
- Fat: 44.4g
- Saturated: 5.4g
- Monounsaturated: 23.3g
- Omega-3: 0.3g
- Omega-6: 13.2g
- Protein: 20.6g
- Net Carbs: 17.7g
- F/NC: 2.5
However, combined with the high net carbohydrate content, this makes them a danger for ketosis. Nevertheless, they are harmless in moderation and can give food a unique taste.
Therefore, they are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, associated with improved heart health due to such healthy fats (Lippi et al. 201616).
Since they come in a shell, pistachios are eaten on average in 40% smaller portions. Therefore, they include, so to speak, an automatic portion control.
Nuts You Should Avoid on Keto
First, the following foods are technically no nuts but often referred to as nuts.
Secondly, both have a particular property that negatively affects fat burning. Since nutrition is a complex issue, one cannot merely reduce it to macronutrients.
The peanut is a legume such as beans or peas and has a very high protein content (*):
- Fat: 49.2g
- Saturated: 6.8g
- Monounsaturated: 24.4g
- Omega-3: 0g
- Omega-6: 15.5g
- Protein: 25.8g
- Net Carbs: 7.6g
- F/NC: 6.5
Although the fat content is already low and the omega-6 content is high, the main problem with peanuts hides in specific plant proteins.
Peanuts are lectin bombs. For this reason, intolerance rates are rising steadily.
Lectins are proteins that act as plant toxins against predators (Macedo et al. 201517)
They can lead to autoimmune diseases by inducing the formation of antibodies against healthy human cells (Saeki et al. 201418).
On the one hand, lectins can penetrate the intestinal wall and infiltrate pathogens. On the other hand, they also promote weight gain by binding to insulin and leptin receptors(Shechter 198319; Kamikubo et al. 200820).
Although many people want to declare peanuts as keto-friendly, they counteract any weight loss ambitions. Thus, peanuts are not suitable for a ketogenic diet.
The nutrition data makes it obvious: the net carbohydrates in cashews are too high (*):
- Fat: 43.8g
- Saturated: 7.8g
- Monounsaturated: 23.8g
- Omega-3: 0.1g
- Omega-6: 7.8g
- Protein: 18.2g
- Net Carbs: 29.4g
- F/NC: 1.5
Moreover, cashews are not nuts either and, like peanuts, contain loads of lectins. In short, cashews promote weight gain in two ways.
Furthermore, they are the seeds of the cashew apple and belong to the legume family as well.
Although some diet gurus like to pronounce cashews keto-friendly, even a small portion can kick you out of ketosis.
Seeds on Keto
Like nuts, seeds ketogenic diet plans often contain seeds. Accordingly, they are a basis for flour alternatives as well.
However, most seeds are not as suitable as nuts on a ketogenic diet. Nevertheless, there is a clear champion among keto seeds that I can only warmly recommend.
Seeds to Limit on a Ketogenic Diet
The following seeds show nutrition facts acceptable for keto dieters and are therefore often celebrated as a keto-friendly ingredient.
However, they share a significant disadvantage with cashews and peanuts: lectins.
Since these sticky proteins can attach themselves to nerve endings of the intestine and brain, cause weight gain, inflammation, and toxic reactions, they inhibit the goals of the keto diet (Freed 199921).
For this reason, the following seeds should only be consumed as an exception on the keto diet.
1. Chia Seeds
The hype about chia seeds as so-called superfood will probably not have passed you by either, as they have an excellent nutrient density at first sight (*):
- Fat: 30.8g
- Saturated: 3.2g
- Monounsaturated: 2.1g
- Omega-3: 17.5g
- Omega-6: 5.8g
- Protein: 15.6g
- Net Carbs: 6.1g
- F/NC: 5.0
Especially the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of chia seeds looks remarkable. However, studies have shown that people cannot adequately absorb the omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds.
Due to the high lectin content, the alleged anti-inflammatory omega-3 food is rather pro-inflammatory.
Besides, the same study found that chia seeds do not help with weight loss either (Nieman et al. 200922).
2. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are protein-rich seeds with a manageable amount of carbohydrates (*):
- Fat: 51.5g
- Saturated: 4.5g
- Monounsaturated: 18.5g
- Omega-3: 0.1g
- Omega-6: 23.0g
- Protein: 20.8g
- Net Carbs: 11.4g
- F/NC: 4.5
What makes sunflower seeds so popular is the antioxidative vitamin E. They also contain copper, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
However, supposed benefits are countered by the anti-inflammatory effects of the lectins, which reduces them to an acceptable salad topping on keto.
Furthermore, you should never use sunflower oil, as this omega-6-heavy vegetable oil can oxidize already during production.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Due to their high percentage of net carbs and proteins, pumpkin seeds are not great for keto (*):
- Fat: 45.8g
- Saturated: 8.7g
- Monounsaturated: 14.3g
- Omega-3: 0.2g
- Omega-6: 20.7g
- Protein: 24.5g
- Net Carbs: 13.9g
- F/NC: 3.3
Nevertheless, with 807mg per 100g, they are the richest supplier of potassium among nuts and seeds. Therefore, you can consume them exceptionally when muscle cramps occur.
Nevertheless, pilis, macadamia nuts, or almonds are probably the better choice in case of potassium deficiency – not just because of lectins.
Flax Seeds Are the Best Seeds to Eat on Keto
Not just because of their incredible fat to net carbs ratio, flaxseed is the best seed on a keto diet (*):
- Fat: 42.4g
- Saturated: 3.7g
- Monounsaturated: 7.5g
- Omega-3: 22.8g
- Omega-6: 5.9g
- Protein: 18.3g
- Net Carbs: 1.6g
- F/NC: 26.5
Especially for vegetarians and vegans among the keto dieters, flaxseed is indispensable, as it is one of the few significant vegetable omega-3 sources.
Notably, flaxseed must be freshly ground to be better absorbed by the body.
For example, you can put them in a pepper mill.
How Many Nuts Are Too Many?
Whether as a snack or a recipe ingredient, it is vital to maintain a certain amount when eating keto nuts.
My tip is not to include nuts as a snack every day. Do not carry more than a small pack of 4 ounces at most when traveling. For example, this serving size of macadamia nuts already yields 800 calories.
With this in mind, there are several good reasons to keep an eye on portion sizes:
Although the keto diet primarily aims at keeping the storage hormone insulin low to enable fat burning, nuts can bring a considerable amount of energy into the body.
Even though these calories are burned more efficiently, you can easily overlook the serving size of nuts. And this can ultimately lead to excess energy stored as subcutaneous belly fat.
Although the best keto nuts contain less than 5 grams of net carbs, they can be a significant factor in getting you over the daily limit.
With 5-10% of your carbohydrate energy intake, that’s 25-50g of net carbohydrates for a daily basal metabolic rate of 2000 calories.
However, without consuming other net carbs, you would need to eat about 500-1000g of our best keto nuts to exceed net carbs. Nevertheless, such serving sizes are not desirable due to the following points.
Besides lectins, mainly found in cashews and peanuts, most nuts also contain oxalates.
These antinutrients, which also occur in spinach, are one of the leading causes of kidney stones (Mitchell et al. 201927).
Hence, they are an additional reason to limit the portion size.
Besides oxalates, nuts contain a further antinutrient.
Phytic acid inhibits the absorption of zinc and iron, which can lead to deficiency symptoms (Gupta et al. 201528).
When you experience flatulence or other digestive problems after eating nuts, phytic acid could be a cause.
In this case, it is best to generally avoid nuts.
How to Buy Nuts on Keto
When buying nuts, it is essential to read the packaging carefully and avoid the following additives:
- Vegetable oils
- Safflower oil
- Grape seed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Corn germ oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Rapeseed oil
Because these industrial vegetable oils oxidize during production, they are highly pro-inflammatory and increase the overall mortality rate (Ramsden et al. 201329).
Hence, you should always avoid them and never use them for frying. Extra virgin coconut and olive oil are better plant-based alternatives.
Nevertheless, you are on the safe side with raw, whole-food nuts. When buying nut flours, it is also vital that they contain only ground nuts without additives.
Best Keto Nuts Have Few Net-Carbs
Nuts are a natural keto snack. Also, they are a good source of healthy fats, proteins, minerals, and antioxidants, while their carbohydrate content is low.
Moreover, nuts and seeds are saturating keto foods that bring variety to low-carb and keto diets.
Accordingly, they add extra flavor and crunch to keto-friendly meals and desserts.
Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that not all nuts suit a ketogenic diet.
Therefore, the best keto nuts have a high-fat ratio to net carbohydrates, a high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids, and a low rate of omega-6 fatty acids.
Although pili nuts are my favorite, native walnuts or macadamias are also excellent nuts on keto.
Nevertheless, it is advisable not to eat an 8-ounce pack at once and enjoy nuts in moderation.
Best Nuts to Eat on Keto FAQ
What nuts can you eat on the keto diet?
Pili nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and Brazil nuts are the best nuts to eat on keto.
Can we eat nuts in keto diet?
Since they contain healthy fats and few carbs, you can eat most nuts on the keto diet. Check out this article for the best keto nuts to eat and for those to avoid.
What kind of nuts are low in carbs?
The best low-carb nuts are pili, macadamia, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and brazil nuts.
What are the worst nuts to eat?
The worst nuts to eat are cashews and peanuts. Furthermore, they are not nuts but legumes. Their pro-inflammatory compounds can inhibit weight loss and foster autoimmune disease.
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