Can You Eat Beans on Keto?

The ketogenic diet has taken the world by storm. It promises quick weight loss just by limiting carbs and increase the healthy fats and proteins that your body craves. While learning about the keto diet and the foods you can consume, you may wonder whether you can eat beans. 

You can eat beans on a keto diet, provided you are one a keto program that allows some amount of carbs. It is important to remember they are higher in carbs than some other food choices. Those who follow the keto diet will need to count the beans into their total carb count for the day. 

Let’s take a look at how beans can fit into the keto diet and how you can determine if you are going to add beans to your keto diet. 

Are Beans Keto-Friendly?

It is possible to eat beans on the keto diet. The amount of beans you can eat will depend on what other carbs you consume during the day and which type of keto diet you decide to follow for weight loss. 

Even though you can eat them, there are a couple reasons to avoid beans on the keto diet anyway:

  • They are starchy and high in carbs
  • There are healthier foods with lower amounts of carbs

Since the beans are so high in carbs, most people choose to go with other foods to help them reach their carb content rather than wasting it on the beans. Leafy greens and some fruits have more nutrients and can be eaten in higher quantities without breaking through your carb content for the day. 

The number of carbs that you can consume on the keto diet will depend on the specific type of keto diet you choose to go on. 

There are four main types of the keto diet that you can choose including:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet
  • Cyclic Ketogenic Diet
  • Restricted Ketogenic Diet (used therapeutically)

Each of these have different rules on the number of carbs you can consume. The ones that allow a few more carbs make it easier to consume more beans within the diet. 

The Standard Keto Diet and Beans

When you think of the ketogenic diet, you are probably thinking about the Standard Ketogenic Diet. 

The SKD comes in two main forms:

  • Strict: This one asks participants to eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day. 
  • Moderate: This one allows for up to 100 carbs a day. 

If you are on the strict version, you probably want to cut out beans. They are higher in carbs and will quickly eat up the limited number of carbs that you can consume. There is a little more room to play with when you are on the moderate version. 

Targeted Keto Diet and Beans

This one asks you to choose the exact time you consume the carbs. Instead of spreading them through the day, you eat them around the time you plan to exercise. 

On a targeted keto diet, you are restricted to:

  • Eat up to 50 grams of carbs or less half an hour before exercising
  • Spread another 50 grams throughout the day.

Since you are focusing on getting energy for your workout, it is best not to eat beans for the carbs you need before working out. Easily digestible carbs like fructose are best so they don’t upset the stomach. Save the beans for later in the day, such as a few for supper, or skip them entirely and spend those carbs elsewhere

Cyclic Keto Diet: The Most Bean Friendly

This method allows the most freedom for adding in more carbs, even those from beans, but only on certain days. The idea is to alternate days of keto dieting with higher-carb days, in a process known as carb loading, to help for high-performance athletes. This one is often not recommended for non-athletes. 

A standard cyclic keto diet is:

  • Follow the keto diet most days a week, staying under 50 grams of carbs a day. 
  • One or two days a week, up the carb intake to 400 to 600 for those days. 

The idea here is that eating in this way will maximize how much fat is lost while dieting. Lean mass is also built up this way. It also helps you to keep the muscles strong as you go through it. On the days when you can have more carbs, it is easier to enjoy a lot of healthy beans and enjoy their additional health benefits

Restricted Keto Diet and Beans

The ketogenic diet can also be used to help with different medical conditions. The rules that need to be followed for this depends on the exact medical condition being handled. Talk with your doctor about the allowed carbs and whether beans are good for this one. 

The Carb Content in Beans

Before you choose whether to add beans to your keto diet, it is important to know the exact carb content that you are seeing in each of them. If you want to add them in you will need to limit the other foods that you consume, which can be difficult with such a limited amount of carbs. 

The net carbs in half a cup of some of the popular beans include:

  • Great Northern beans: 12.5
  • Lima Beans: 13.1
  • Chickpeas: 16.3
  • Green Beans: 2.9
  • Pinto beans: 14.7
  • Kidney beans: 14.6
  • Navy Beans: 14.4
  • Black beans: 12.9

With the exception of green beans, most of these are pretty high. For a small amount of beans, you can take up over 1/3 of the total carbs that you can have for the whole day on the keto diet. Consider other, healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, for your carb intake. 

Are Lentils Keto Friendly?

We have been talking about beans so far in this article, but you may wonder whether lentils are safe for the keto diet. Lentils are similar to beans when it comes to the macronutrients inside. They come with a skin that is high in protein and starchy insides as well. 

All of the lentils are going to be a little different, just like with the beans. However, for half a cup of lentils, you will get about 12.2 grams of net carbs. You will need to limit your consumption of these if you are on the keto diet. 

What are Some Keto-Friendly Beans?

There are a few beans that are considered keto-friendly because they are lower in carbs compared to some of the other popular options. The three types that are good choices include black soybeans, green soybeans or edamame, or mature soybeans. 

The net carbs you will find in half a cup of each of these include:

  • Black soybeans have one gram of carbs
  • Mature soybeans have 3.4 grams of carbs
  • Green soybeans have 3.5 grams of carbs

While these are considered keto-friendly, consider whether you have a sensitivity to soybeans ahead of time. Most people are fine eating them, but others fine that these can cause an unpleasant feeling in them. Always choose high-quality soybeans too. 

Eating Beans on the Keto Diet

While many sources say that beans are not keto-friendly, it is more a matter of how you organize your diet on whether you add them in. Beans are higher in carbs, but you can add them into a meal or have a few on the side, as long as you count them into your carb total. 
If you plan out your meals and are careful with the other carbs that you have during the day, then beans are fine on most keto programs. Since beans are high in carbs, many people on the keto diet will avoid them and choose other foods to take up their carb allowance.

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