Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?

A keto lifestyle is great for your health. Focusing on high-fat low-carb foods such as eggs, meats, and dairy, this way of eating leaves you feeling revitalized, full of energy, and helps you to perform at your peak self. You’re reaping the rewards – of which there are plenty – but like anyone else, you may find yourself craving a crunchy snack from time to time.

Popcorn is the perfect answer, but the big question is will it fit in with your keto diet? We take a look at whether this tasty treat is suitable for this specific diet, or whether it’s best to leave it on the grocery store shelf.

What is Keto?

A ketogenic diet is generally high in fat and low in carbs with the main aim being for your body to reach a state of ‘ketosis’.

It’s achieved when you reduce the number of carbs your body uses for its energy source in a very drastic way. Once this happens, your body switches from glucose metabolism to fatty acid metabolism and uses both dietary and body fat to help power your nervous system with ketone bodies.

There are several benefits to following this kind of diet including rapid weight loss, improved blood sugar management, and lowering bad cholesterol to name a few. This type of diet is also a popular recommendation for several medical conditions, such as:

Brain Health – Ketone bodies that are created while on a keto diet have been found to help protect aging brain cells from degeneration and prevent inflammation. There is also high interest from scientists as to whether a keto diet can help treat Alzheimer’s disease, something that a huge number of people would benefit from.

Cancer – Following a keto diet could help make your body an inhospitable place for cancer cells to grow. It could also enhance the effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and the results that can be achieved with this treatment.

Epilepsy – Generally, this is managed with medication but doctors may also recommend following a keto diet which can also help prevent seizures.

Diabetes – For people with type 2 diabetes, a keto diet may be the answer. Studies have shown that by following this type of lifestyle you can lower blood glucose and insulin, resulting in a reduced need for medication.

With all of these incredible results and benefits simply from following a ketogenic diet, it’s no surprise this lifestyle is so incredibly popular. But does popcorn have a place in this diet? A huge part of a ketogenic diet is eating precise amounts of fat to protein to carbs so with that being said, let’s take a look at what popcorn has to offer.

Popcorn Nutrition

We all know that popcorn tastes delicious and trying to say no to a handful of it is impossible (for some of us). But what exactly makes up popcorn?

The nutritional value for one cup of plain, air-popped popcorn is:

  • Magnesium: 11.5mg
  • Phosphorus: 28.6mg
  • Fiber: 1.16g
  • Carbs: 6.22g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Calories: 31

Looking at these statistics, popcorn has a huge amount of nutritional benefits, such as supplying the body with both fiber and protein. The compound benefits of popcorn include antioxidants and more specifically polyphenol antioxidants. These help to clean up free radicals in the body which can contribute to both cell damage and disease. Great news if you’re a popcorn lover.

A keto diet focuses on keeping carbs to a minimum, but as you can see from above, there are quite a few of those little carbs in a serving of popcorn. However, with a keto diet, the main carbs you need to be considerate of are ‘net carbs’ which aren’t nutrients but are what your body converts into energy.

Calculating how many net carbs something has is pretty simple. You take the total grams of carbs in one serving and subtract the grams of fiber in the same serving. So for the stats above you would take the number of carbs which is 6 (rounded up) minus the amount of fiber, which is 1 (rounded up) which would leave you with 5 net grams of carbohydrates in that serving. From there you’ll be able to work out how many net carbs in total you are eating in one day.

Does Popcorn Fit into my Keto Diet?

As long as you are calculating the net carbs of your foods, you should be able to include popcorn in your keto diet without any problem. If your doctor has prescribed this specific diet to help manage epilepsy then make sure you check with them first, just in case they advise against it.

When it comes to healthy snacks, popcorn is actually quite a good choice. Eating more whole grains has been linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, cancer, and also diabetes and the good news is that popcorn is a whole grain.

The main thing to bear in mind with a ketogenic diet is that you have to hit specific targets to meet the ratio of fat/protein/carbs. As long as you can use the method mentioned above to work out the net carbs for your popcorn you should easily be able to include it as part of your keto lifestyle. So go and grab a bag of your favorite popped corn and enjoy a little, guilt-free, crunchy treat knowing that you are still supplying your body with all the goodness it needs.

How to Prepare Popcorn

By preparing your popcorn at home, you’re able to control what is added to it as well as your portion size. To help you feel more satisfied, add fats such as coconut oil or butter to cook the popcorn in, which will provide extra flavor and reduce the calories.

Method:

Heat 1tbsp of either coconut oil or butter (good fats) in a cooking pot over medium-high heat.
Once melted, add your preferred amount of popcorn kernels to the pot.
Cover the pot with the lid and let the popping commence.
Once the popping stops, remove the pot from the heat, season to your liking, and simply enjoy!

Andy Waters
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