A lot of people wonder if they can eat carrots on the keto diet. If I were to save a dollar every time I am asked if carrots are keto compliant, I would be very rich by now. Wondering what to eat on the keto diet is a legitimate concern because a lot of food is not compliant with the ketogenic diet.
You can eat carrots on the keto diet but the quantity of carrots you eat is very important because they are higher in carbs compared to other alternatives like lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.
A standard keto diet allows you to eat a net carb of 25g per day. One cup of shredded carrots contains 12g of Carbs and 3g of fiber leaving net carbs of 9g.
Now imagine if out of the 25g of carbs you are allowed to eat in a day, you have already consumed 9g by eating 1 Cup of carrots. You will have to be very mindful of your other meals throughout the day in order not to exceed your carb count.
Vegetables are very important on the ketogenic diet because they are the main source of carbohydrates that are compliant. You can not eat regular foods like rice, beans, sweet potato, oats, wheat, etc on the keto diet.
Vegetables though loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals contain carbohydrates in varying amounts.
Vegetables that are grown below the ground are said to have more net carbs than those grown above the ground. Carrots are grown below the ground and thus make people on a keto diet anxious about whether they should be eating carrots or not.
Before we go on about carrots, however, let’s take a look at what the keto diet is.
What does the keto diet entails?
The keto diet also called the low-carb high-fat diet is one in which you need to consume less than 50 grams of carbs per day or ideally, 25 grams.
The diet was initially designed to help people with medical conditions such as Epilepsy and Metabolic Syndrome but it is now used to promote quick weight loss, general wellbeing, and good performance.
The principle behind how it works is that by limiting your carb intake, your body is forced to turn to your fat reservoirs for energy.
By making your body turn to the fat content already present in your body, you can burn more fat and lose more weight.
Thus, a dietary carb intake of fewer than 50 grams per day is great and one that is less than 25 grams is perfect. The point is that the lower your carb intake, the better the results you get.
Quick note: A food item’s net carb content is the total number of carbs found in the food aside from its dietary fiber.
Most Nigerian foods are high in carrots hence, you can only hit your goal of 25g of Carbohydrates per day with a few choices of food.
Carrot is a good example of such food.
All about carrots
Carrots are root vegetables as they are grown underground.
They were first grown in Afghanistan around 900 AD. While they are commonly known for their orange color, carrots also come in purple, red, yellow, and white colors.
The early carrots were majorly either purple or yellow and orange carrots didn’t come into existence until the 15th or 16th century when they were developed in central Europe.
Their tastes may vary depending on their size, color, and where they were grown. In Nigeria, carrots are predominantly orange in color and other hues of carrots are rare.
Benefits of eating carrots
Carrots are a rich source of antioxidants and have many health benefits. Some of them are:
They are great for the eyes
Carrots are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, which changes into vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A is vital for the health of the eyes, plus the beta-carotene helps protect the eyes from the harsh effects of the sun.
It also helps lower the chances of cataracts in the eyes and the development of other eye problems.
Aside from beta-carotene, yellow carrots are rich in lutein, which is also beneficial to the eyes.
They can lower your risk for cancer
The antioxidants in carrots are very effective in fighting off harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the by-products of oxidative stress in the body and they have been implicated in enhancing cancerous growths in the body.
Antioxidants mop up these free radicals and reduce the chances of cancers growing in the body.
The two main antioxidants that carrots bring to the table are carotenoids and anthocyanins.
These antioxidants are also responsible for the color that carrots have: carotenoids give orange and yellow colors, while anthocyanins give red and purple colors.
They are great for heart health
The antioxidants in carrots are great for keeping the heart healthy.
In addition to this, carrots also have potassium and fiber, which play their respective parts in maintaining the health of the heart.
Potassium helps keep blood pressure in check while fiber helps lower the chances of heart diseases.
Fiber is also great for helping maintain a healthy weight. Lycopene, which is found in red carrots, is also effective in preventing heart diseases.
They are great immune system boosters
Carrots are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body build antibodies that help guard the immune system.
Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron better and prevent infections. Vitamin C is also great for helping wounds heal.
They are great for digestive health
The high fiber content of carrots makes them a great cure for constipation.
A serving of raw carrots helps improve bowel motility and ease the discomfort of constipation.
They help in keeping Diabetes under control
Diabetic people are generally advised to take lots of non-starchy vegetables, of which carrots are one.
Their fiber content also helps keep blood sugar levels controlled and their vitamin A and beta-carotene contents have been shown to lower the risk of developing a diabetic condition.
They are great for bone health
Being the rich source of calcium and vitamin K that they are, carrots are great for preventing the development of bone diseases such as rickets and for keeping the bones healthy.
Carrots on the keto diet
Most people on a keto diet get their daily net carb content from low-carb veggies like lettuce, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, and salad greens. Generally, foods that are grown below ground have a carb content of seven to seventeen carbs per 100 grams.
If your plan is to eat about 25 grams of carbs daily, you should be aware that 122 grams of carrots. i.e. one cup of carrots will give you about eight point seven grams (8.7 g) of net carbs.
That leaves you with about 11 grams of net carbs for the day.
So if you want to eat carrots on your keto diet and still eat other carbs, you have to be mindful of how much you consume so that you can eat other low-carb foods and still stay with the target of 25 net carbs per day.
They are also high in starch, which gives you another reason to be careful with how much you consume.
Nutritional content of carrots
One medium (61-gram) raw carrot provides:
- Calories: 25
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Net carbs: 4 grams
Additionally, 1 cup (122 grams) of sliced raw carrots contains:
- Calories: 50
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Net carbs: 9 grams
- 73% of your daily requirement of vitamin A
- 9% of your daily vitamin K
- 8% of your daily potassium and fiber
- 5% of your daily vitamin C
- 2% of your daily calcium and iron
Carrots substitutes you may consider
If you are crazy about carrots and can’t trust yourself to restrict yourself to the recommended serving of carrots, you may consider using some carrot substitutes.
Depending on how you incorporate carrots into your keto diet, the following carrot substitutes may work for you:
Lettuce, celery, cucumber, or bell pepper – They contain fewer carbs per serving but have the same crunch as carrots.
Onions – Onions have a carb content that is similar to carrots, but because they are majorly used to add flavor to meals, you may be able to use less of them than you would with carrots.
Broccoli – It has lesser net carb content than carrots (contains 3 grams of net carbs per cup, which is 71 grams).
Cauliflower – It has almost the same carb content as Broccoli (contains 3 grams of net carbs per cup, which is 107 grams).
A keto diet may seem like a challenging feat when you are just starting out.
You constantly have to worry about what to eat and drink to be in ketosis. If you can be patient enough with yourself to get adequate knowledge, you will do well on the keto diet.
You can eat carrots on the keto diet but you cannot afford to eat more than one cup as other foods you will probably eat during the day like coconut flour, almond flour, and other vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, etc will also contribute to your daily carbohydrate intake.