The ketogenic (keto) diet is a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
Many healthy foods are restricted on this diet because they contain carbs. This includes beans and legumes.
However, some beans and legumes can easily be incorporated into a keto diet. Others need more preparation to reduce their carb content.
This article reviews the carbs in different types of beans and provides tips on how to include them on a keto diet.
Are Beans Allowed on Keto?
Most beans and legumes are too high in carbs to include on a ketogenic diet. A typical serving may contain around 20–40 grams of net carbs, which can quickly max out your daily limit (1).
For most people on keto, carb intake is limited to under 50 grams per day. This encourages your body to transition into ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your liver breaks down fat into ketones for energy. It’s the main goal of the keto diet.
Eating too many carbs kicks you out of ketosis because excess carbs are converted into glucose, which is your body’s primary source of fuel when carbs are available.
To stay in ketosis, most keto plans advise limiting high carb foods like grains, starchy veggies, fruit, milk, and legumes.
However, some beans and legumes can be included in keto diets in moderation. Here are some tips:
- Focus on eating very low carb beans like soybeans, peanut butter, and green beans.
- Portion and track your bean intake. Eating a little is fine, but too much can quickly add up.
- Limit higher carb beans to occasional sides and snacks.
- Stick with whole beans rather than processed bean flours and pastes.
By carefully choosing and tracking certain beans and legumes, many can fit into a keto lifestyle.
Lowest Carb Beans for Keto
Here are some of the lowest carb bean varieties and legumes to consider on keto:
Soybeans, also known as edamame, are one of the lowest carb beans available.
One cup (155 grams) of cooked soybeans contains around 16 grams of carbs, 10 of which are fiber (2).
This makes the digestible (net) carb content just 6 grams per serving.
Soybeans are very high in protein as well, providing 28 grams per cooked cup (155 grams). This makes them a nourishing addition to keto.
Peanuts are legumes that are nutritionally similar to beans.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of peanuts contains 6 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber. This provides just 4 grams of digestible carbs (3).
Peanuts can be used to make homemade peanut butter, a tasty keto snack. Make sure to pick all-natural peanut butter without added sugar.
Also called snap beans or string beans, green beans are a non-starchy vegetable low in carbs.
One cup (125 grams) of cooked green beans contains 10 grams of carbs, 4 of which are from fiber (4).
The net carb count comes to just 6 grams per serving, making green beans a fantastic keto side dish.
Snow peas, often called Chinese pea pods, are a nutritious legume vegetable.
A 1-cup (150-gram) serving of cooked snow peas contains 13 grams of carbs, 5 of which are fiber (5).
The net carb count for snow peas is only 8 grams per cup. They make an excellent addition to stir-fries and vegetable medleys.
Peanut butter is fairly low in carbs and can be used in moderation on keto diets.
Two tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter provide 6 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (6).
When shopping for peanut butter, choose all-natural brands without added sugars.
You can make your own homemade peanut butter as well.
Use it in smoothies, on celery sticks, or to make keto-friendly homemade peanut butter cups.
Almonds are actually the seeds found inside the pits of peaches and other stone fruits.
Like other tree nuts, they’re low in digestible carbs and a smart addition to a keto diet.
An ounce (28 grams) serving of almonds contains 6 grams of total carbs — 3 of which are fiber — for a net carb count of just 3 grams (7).
Almonds can be enjoyed raw, toasted, slivered, or made into almond milk or butter.
Also known as black beans, black soybeans are a unique legume native to Asia.
Compared to regular soybeans, they’re very low in carbs.
A 1/2 cup (58 grams) of cooked black soybeans has 4.5 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber. This provides just 1.5 grams of digestible carbs (8).
They have a mild, earthy flavor and can be used to make soybean-based pasta, edamame hummus, and veggie burgers.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are very versatile legumes.
A 1/2-cup (99-gram) serving has 16 grams of carbs, 7 of which are fiber. This provides 9 grams of net carbs (9).
To keep your intake low, enjoy chickpeas occasionally in keto-friendly hummus, curries, or salads.
Beans to Avoid on Keto
All beans contain some carbs. However, some are too high to fit a keto diet.
Varieties with over 10 grams of net carbs per serving should be limited or avoided on keto.
Here are some high carb bean varieties to avoid:
Kidney beans are large red beans popular in chili and curries.
A 1/2-cup (113-gram) serving packs 20 grams of carbs, nearly 5 grams of which are fiber (10).
This provides 15 grams of digestible carbs, making them too high for keto diets.
Pinto beans are medium-sized, brown speckled beans used in Mexican cuisine.
They contain 36 grams of carbs per cooked cup (171 grams), 10 of which are fiber (11).
The net carb count comes to 26 grams per serving. They’re best avoided on keto.
Black beans are smaller beans popular in Latin American cuisine. Do not confuse them with the black soybeans listed above.
Per half-cup (86-gram) serving, cooked black beans offer 20 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber (12).
The 12 grams of net carbs make these beans too high for keto meal plans.
Canned baked beans are navy beans cooked in tomato sauce with sugar added.
Half a cup (128 grams) of baked beans contains 19 grams of carbs, 7 of which are fiber (13).
The net carb count still comes out to 12 grams per serving, excluding it from a keto eating pattern.
Refried beans are pinto beans that have been mashed and fried with oil and seasonings.
A 1/2-cup (122-gram) serving of canned refried beans has 16 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber (14).
That provides 8 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It’s best to consume them only occasionally on keto.
Fava beans, also called broad beans, are larger beans native to the Mediterranean.
There are 17 grams of carbs in 1/2 cup (100 grams) of cooked fava beans, 4 of which are fiber (15).
This totals 13 grams of net carbs per serving. They should be avoided on keto diets.
Also known as butter beans, lima beans are flat, oval beans.
There are 22 grams of total carbs in a 1/2-cup (115-gram) serving. After subtracting 7 grams of fiber, lima beans have 15 grams of net carbs (16).
They’re too high in carbs for keto meal plans.
Tips for Adding Beans to Keto
Here are some tips for including beans on a ketogenic diet:
- Focus on very low carb varieties. Green beans, soybeans, peanuts, and black soybeans fit easily into keto diets.
- Mind your portions. Even low carb beans can add up quickly. Keep servings small, around 1/2 cup (100 grams) or less cooked beans.
- Balance with non-starchy veggies. Pair beans with plenty of low carb vegetables like leafy greens, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Add healthy fats. Combine beans with olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, or fatty fish to balance your meal.
- Don’t rely on bean pastes. Bean flours and pastes like hummus can be high in carbs. Stick with whole beans.
- Use beans as a side or snack. Bean-based dishes may be too high in carbs for mains. Enjoy beans on the side or as a snack.
- Skip sugary baked beans. Canned baked beans have added sugar. Make your own baked bean recipe instead.
Healthy Keto Bean Recipes
Here are some healthy keto recipes featuring low carb beans:
Keto Green Bean Casserole
This green bean casserole uses grated cauliflower instead of wheat flour in the creamy mushroom sauce. Topped with crispy fried onions, it’s a delicious keto Thanksgiving side.
Keto Chickpea Salad Wraps
This tasty lunch wrap is made with mashed chickpeas rather than chicken or egg salad. It’s lower in carbs but still nutritious and filling.
Edamame Avocado Sushi Rolls
Using cauliflower rice and wrapped in nori seaweed sheets, these vegetarian sushi rolls get a kick from wasabi and creamy avocado.
Keto Peanut Butter Protein Shake
This rich shake blends together peanut butter, almond milk, coconut oil, and protein powder for a nutritious keto breakfast or snack.
Black Soybean Bolognese
By swapping the traditional ground meat for black soybeans, this bolognese sauce cuts carbs without sacrificing flavor and protein.
Should You Eat Beans on Keto?
Most beans and legumes are too high in carbs for ketogenic diets. But some varieties can easily fit into a keto lifestyle.
Focus on eating low carb beans like soybeans, peanuts, and green beans. Keep portions small and balance them out with other keto foods.
Avoid carb-heavy beans like kidney, pinto, black, and baked beans, which can quickly surpass your daily carb limit.
Including beans in keto requires careful carb counting and portion control. Yet they can add nutrients and variety.
Using the tips above, many beans can be enjoyed in moderation on a well-formulated keto diet.
The Bottom Line
- Most beans are too high in carbs for keto diets. However, some varieties are low enough to eat in small amounts.
- Good options include green beans, peanuts, soybeans, snow peas, black soybeans, and chickpeas.
- Higher carb beans like kidney, pinto, black, lima, and baked beans should be limited or avoided.
- Enjoy low carb beans in small portions along with other keto foods to stay in ketosis.
- Carefully tracking your intake allows you to incorporate beans into a well-formulated keto diet.