POPCORN IS a classic snack food and movie-night essential, but if you’re on a ketogenic diet, you might be wondering if, in fact, popcorn is keto-friendly.
Could chowing down on a bag of warm, salty, freshly popped popcorn cost you your oh-so-challenging-to-attain state of ketosis and subsequently knock you out of the fat-burning state?
Corn, after all, does contain carbohydrates, the great enemy of ketosis—and why a keto diet severely restricts your daily carb intake in the first place. (Side note: a ketogenic diet is also controversial for the same reason.)
The keto diet is all about keeping carbs down and increasing fat intake, as well as keeping protein consumption moderate.
That means that on a keto diet your total daily net carbs, which are the number of carbohydrates you get from subtracting fiber and some keto sweeteners, such as erythritol from the total number of carbs, should come in under 25 or so grams a day.
Back to the snack in question: One cup of air-popped popcorn has 6 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber, for a total of 5 grams of net carbs, says Natalie Rizzo, M.S, R.D. Unless you’re eating some kind of wacky sugary caramel-coated popcorn, that’s not a ton of carbs.
But still, popcorn is, by nature of its source, a carb-heavy snack. Your first guess might be that you should stay far away from popcorn because it doesn’t seem like a food that might fit into a keto diet. That said…
Is popcorn keto?
Because 5 grams of net carbs is pretty low, popcorn can definitely fit into a keto diet, says Rizzo. “It’s a healthy whole-grain snack that is low in carbs,” she says.
Plus, it has healthy carbs and fiber, which contribute to energy production and digestion, so you’re getting in some nice sources of fiber to promote gut health and keep you regular—something that is actually of concern to those on keto due to the lack of naturally high fiber sources.
What foods are good to eat with popcorn on keto?
Now, if you go ahead and drizzle your popcorn with chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, or another high-sugar topping, then your popcorn, though now more delicious, is likely not keto.
To bump up the fats (and flavor) in your popcorn snack: “Pair a cup of air popped popcorn with nuts and top with cinnamon and salt to make a trail mix. Or drizzle 1 cup of air popped popcorn with nut butter,” says Rizzo.
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