“Carbs are usually the body’s preferred substance for producing and using energy," says Rachel Gargiulo, a certified nutrition consultant at Nourishing Journey in Baltimore, Maryland. "However, when adhering to a keto diet, the body switches from using carbs, in the form of glucose, to using fat reserves instead.”
Staying in ketosis depends on limiting your carb intake—which is where fruit can get kind of tricky. Generally, most keto plans call for eating 30 grams of carbs per day max. Within this restrictive framework, one mango (which has over 50 grams of carbs per fruit and roughly 45 grams of sugar) puts a person well over the day's carb limit. “Entering ketosis usually takes anywhere from three days to a week. Eating too many carbs in one day will bump you out of ketosis," says Gargiulo.
However, fruits are filled with important nutrients—vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants—that make them well-worth keeping in your diet. That's why Gargiulo suggests that her keto clients introduce low-carb fruits one at a time to see how they impact their body's ability to stay in ketosis. As for knowing exactly what keto-friendly fruits are out there, Gargiulo shares some of the best options below.
What does a top dietitian think about the keto diet? You might be surprised:
Keep reading for the five best keto-friendly fruit options if you're craving something sweet.
At first glance, keto adherents might be surprised at the carbohydrate count of the fruits on this list. But remember: Most fruits also contain fiber, an important nutrient that helps with digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes. It also affects their net carb count (carbohydrate minus fiber), which is typically what people on keto and other low-carb diets use to calculate their carbohydrate intake.
It's also important to note that just because these fruits are keto-friendly doesn't necessarily mean they're inherently "better" than other fruits, or that other fruits are unhealthy. Instead, the below list of options from Gargiulo is to help people on the keto diet balance trying to stay in ketosis while still enjoying the flavor and the benefits of fruit in general.
Gargiulo recommends berries, and raspberries in particular, if you're looking for keto-friendly fruit. Berries are generally low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. They also typically contain high levels of antioxidants and associated health benefits. For reference, here are the carb and sugar contents in a few popular berry options (nutrient composition is for a cup of raw fruit):
- Raspberries: 15 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 5 g sugar
- Blackberries: 14 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 7 g sugar
- Strawberries: 13 g total carbs, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar
- Blueberries: 21 g total carbs, 4 g fiber, 15 g sugar
Peaches are another lower-carb fruit option if eaten in small portions. One small yellow peach has about 12 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of sugar. The juicy summer treat also contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.
If you’re searching for a keto-friendly fruit with a sweet-but-tart flavor profile, apricots are here for you. One raw apricot contains just 4 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. But FYI: The carb count in dried apricots is significantly higher per serving (about 29 grams per five pieces of fruit), so stick to the fresh stuff while you're on keto.
Gargiulo says that most melons fall within the keto-friendly fruit spectrum. Melons also have high water content, which helps to provide some extra hydration. Here's what you get from a cup of these types of melons:
- Watermelon: 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 9 g sugar
- Honeydew: 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar
- Cantaloupe: 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar
5. Lemons and limes
If you want to add a splash of citrus flavor to everything from ketogenic pad Thai to vegan pesto, take heart—Gargiulo says both lemons and lime work well with the keto diet. One ounce of lemon juice has just 2 grams of carbs and just under 1 gram of sugar, and the macronutrient composition of lime juice is similar (3 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar per ounce).
The keto diet certainly isn't for everyone. But if you're contemplating a jump into low-carb territory (and you have a practitioner's blessing), don't forget about fruit when you're doing your meal planning. Your bod (and taste buds) will thank you after long weeks of avocados and cauliflower rice.
This story was originally published on January 8, 2019; updated on February 5, 2021.
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