The ketogenic diet is a popular low-carb, high-fat diet that often involves tracking net carbs.
Those “net” carbs are generally defined as the amount of carbohydrates in a food or drink that your body can digest and use for energy. The idea behind keto, after all, is to move your body away from using carbs for energy and towards using fat for energy.
This state, known as “ketosis,” may then lead to fat loss, proponents of the diet argue.
Put another way: “People following the keto diet are trying to force their bodies to burn fat,” says Natalie Rizzo.
How that looks in terms of macronutrient breakdown: Depending on which keto plan you follow, 70 to 80 percent of your daily calories come from fat, about 15 to 20 percent are derived, and then what remains is 5 to 10 percent carbs. For someone on a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 25 to 50 grams of carbs per day.
The point of all this is to showcase that carbohydrates are very limited on the ketogenic diet and, for that reason, it’s incredibly important to be selective of which carbs you eat. (This is also why the diet is controversial—there is nothing inherently evil about carbohydrates.)
So when considering carb sources, like quinoa, you might be skeptical as to whether or not you can fit this high-carb ingredient into your diet. After all, a 1/2 cup of quinoa has 20 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber, so 18 grams of net carbs.
Which leads to a very important question.
Is quinoa keto-friendly?
For someone following a keto diet, quinoa will eat up a lot of your carb allotment. “If you eat quinoa, you can’t eat many fruits or veggies that day and may miss out on the nutrients they contain,” she says.
“You can eat a 1/2 cup if it’s the only carb in the meal or cut it down to a 1/4 cup if you pair it with a veggie,” she suggests. Or use it as a side dish for a lean protein, like fish, chicken or eggs, or mix it with olive oil and herbs to amp up the flavor.
“Quinoa also has other important nutrients, like 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, both of which contribute to feelings of fullness,” she says.
What foods are good to eat with quinoa on keto?
To hit your fat intake goals with quinoa as part of your diet, turn to fatty sources such as creamy sauces, condiments, and dressings (avocado based, yogurt based, mayonnaise or butter, for example).
Nuts and seeds, oils, and fish are also good sources of fat. You might pair salmon or tuna with quinoa and make a salmon cake or a tuna salad. Or you can chop up almonds or add pistachios for some nice fats to your quinoa side dish and spruce it up with olive oil.
How often can I eat quinoa on keto?
As for frequency, you can eat quinoa everyday—it’s a healthy food. “But if you eat it everyday, stick to a 1/4 cup and pair it with veggies to mix up your nutrient intake,” she says.
Because quinoa has fiber and protein, it contributes to keeping you full throughout the day. Just remember it’s all about what other carbs you’re giving up to keep on eating that quinoa daily—but that’s up to you.
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