A keto diet is a diet high in dietary fats and very low in carbohydrates. Typically most vegetables are ok to eat when on a ketogenic diet because most vegetables are low in carbs. However, not all veggies are equal when trying to keep carbs to a minimum. This is especially true for many of the rooted vegetables such as carrots since they have higher amounts of starch and sugar. But does this mean that you cannot eat carrots on a keto diet?
Simply put, carrots are not the best choice for a keto diet. However, as long as you keep your net carbs under 20 or so net carbs a day, then you can add a small number of carrots to your keto diet. That said, there are plenty of better food choices for a keto diet with fewer carbs than carrots.
I would suggest that most of the vegetables you consume on a keto diet should come from nutrient-dense and high-fiber sources. Though fiber is a carb, it does not affect blood sugar as sugars and starches do. This is why you subtract fiber from total carbs to get net carbs.
Of course, there are many low-carb recipes that call for carrots you can find online. So then should you avoid these recipes all together then? Well like I stated earlier as long as you keep your carbs in check you can have fit a small amount of carrot in your diet. But before we do that let us look at how many carbs are in carrots in the first place.
How Many Carbs Do Carrots Have?
One cup of chopped carrot has roughly 12 total carbs, 6 grams of sugar, and 3.6 grams of fiber. Now to get the total amount of net carbs in one cup of carrots we need to subtract the fiber from the total carbs. This equates to 8.4 net carbs in one cup of chopped carrots.
We can be sure that 6 of the net carbs from this cup of carrots are in the form of sugar. The starches in the carrot are going to make up for the majority of the remaining net carbs. Let’s compare this to a commonly eaten keto veggie such a cauliflower. One cup of chopped cauliflower has roughly 5 total carbs and 2 grams of fiber. Giving it just 3 net carbs!
So even though carrots are obviously much lower in carbs than many other foods, there are still better choices for the keto diet. But again, if you absolutely just have to add carrots to one of your recipes just make sure you keep your net carbs for the day to about 20 net carbs.
I personally just do not find carrots to be worth the carbs since one cup can fill almost half of my total carbs for the day. Of course, maybe you just can’t imagine what life without carrots because you love them so much. Most people seem to miss the cookies and ice cream but if carrots are your thing then no judgment here. If so you are in luck. Thankfully, there are a few tricks you can implement to fit a small amount of carrot into your keto diet.
How To Include Some Carrots On A Keto Diet
If you are simply following a low-carb diet then carrots are likely perfectly fine to eat. However, when on a keto diet you must keep your carbs to a very low amount. With a low-carb diet, you might be allowed up 100 grams of carbs a day. However, with keto, you need to keep your total carbs to 50 or less a day or your net carbs to roughly 20 per day.
That said, just a small amount of carrot in your diet can stack up a decent amount of net carbs pretty easily. If you are going to include them just use a small amount each day. If you find a good recipe that calls for carrots just make sure the overall meal is low enough in net carbs.
You can always modify your recipes to make them more keto-friendly. For example, if a recipe calls for a cup of chopped carrots, you can simply reduce the amount to a half cup instead. In addition, make sure that whatever recipe you are making that it is also high in keto-friendly fats.
After all, a keto diet is not simply a low-carb diet, but also a diet high in dietary fats. Adding more fats to your recipes will reduce the percentage of calories are coming in the form of carbohydrates or proteins in your diet.
At the end of the day as long as you keep your net carbs under 20 and you are getting most of your calories from fats, then you will likely be just fine. But like I stated earlier there are plenty of other keto-friendly foods that carrots are not likely worth the trouble.
But What About Vitamin A On The Keto Diet?
Typically the most thought of health benefit to eating carrots is that they contain high amounts of beta carotene. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that your body can turn into vitamin A. It is also what gives the carrot its bright coloration. One cup of carrots supplies a whopping 427% of your daily Vitamin A.
However, there is plenty of other keto-friendly foods that are high in beta carotene as well as many foods that are high in an already complete source of vitamin A. For example just 100 grams of beef liver contains 1049% DV of vitamin A. That’s near twice the amount that you can get from carrots.
That said, I understand that beef liver is likely not on your list of favorite foods, especially if you can’t even use flour to cook them. Thankfully, however, there are plenty of other keto-friendly foods that are also high in vitamin A or beta carotene.
One of my favorite ways to get vitamin A is through cod liver oil supplementation. Just one teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 150% daily recommended amounts of Vitamin A. In addition, cod liver oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D as well!
Other foods that are great sources of Vitamin A include king mackerel, salmon, bluefin tuna, goat cheese, cheddar, and even butter. That said if you are looking for a keto-friendly veggie to source your beta carotene from besides carrots there are still a few good options.
One cup of cooked dark leafy greens, for example, contains 105% DV of beta carotene. Obviously this is still not as much as carrots but still a great place to get all the beta carotene your body needs. Lettuce and broccoli are also good sources of beta carotene as well.
Though you can get away with adding a small amount of carrot to your keto diet, there are certainly better choices. From an overall health standpoint, carrots are loaded with plenty of vitamins and minerals and are a very healthy food choice. However, that does not mean they are a good choice for a keto diet. In addition, the vitamins and minerals found in carrots can be found in many other keto-friendly foods.