popcorn blog - ketonut

Is Popcorn Allowed On The Keto Diet?

Snacking on keto can be fun and delicious because even while you sacrifice the carbs, you don’t have to sacrifice the flavour. However, some dieters might look at their favourite snacks with longing in their eyes, and one favourite many give up almost immediately is popcorn. After all, popcorn is a whole grain, right?

It is a whole grain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a place for it in your keto diet! It all comes down to net carbs and what makes popcorn a healthier snack than other grains.

Popcorn

movie popcorn - ketonutBelieve it or not, plain popcorn is a very healthy snack. It’s a good source of vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fibre, all while coming from a very simple source: dried corn kernels. The special varietal that makes popcorn expands to as much as 50% its size when heated, creating the starchy snack food we know and love. 

It’s this “starchy” part that has many keto dieters hesitating when at the movies. Because of the carbs, they may wonder whether popcorn can fit into their low-carb, high-fat diet. It’s true that popcorn, being a kind of corn, is a whole grain, and that the keto diet recommends the dramatic reduction of whole grains of all types. But the rules are more nuanced than that.

The end goal of a keto diet is to put the body through a metabolic change called ketosis. To get there, dieters typically have to reduce their carb intake to 50 grams per day, though some people may have to reduce carbs even further. The diet is full of low-carb foods like avocados, olive oil, eggs, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, as well as non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. This might lead people to believe that there’s no room for popcorn on the keto diet.

However, popcorn can fit into your diet if you’re careful. The carb limit of 50 grams or fewer refers to something called “net carbs.” Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the grams of fibre from the total grams of carbs in a serving of food. As such, whole grains and other carbs rich in fibre contain fewer net carbs than foods without as much fibre, such as refined grains. 

Net Carbs And Popcorn

bowl of popcorn - ketonutSo what is the net carb count of a serving of popcorn? A typical serving is 24 grams (roughly three cups) of popcorn. This serving contains 4 grams of fibre and 18 grams of carbs; subtract 4 from 18 and you get 14 grams of net carbs. This would take up a large portion of your daily net carb allowance, but it’s still well below 50. Whether or not it’s worth it is based on how much you love popcorn!

If you’re going to make a snacking exception, popcorn is one of the best choices. Chips, candy, and other snacks made from refined grains and starches are high in carbs and contain little (if any) fibre. Popcorn has more fibre and fewer net carbs than any of these, satisfying your cravings while not putting you over the top. You can add some butter to it and still have an appropriate, healthy keto snack!

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