Are Brussels Sprouts Keto

The Keto diet has gained popularity in recent years thanks in part to the glowing reviews it’s received from celebrity chefs, athletes and social media stars.  If you’ve been drooling over Keto meals that you’ve seen online or you’re looking to reap the many health benefits that the Keto diet has then you’re probably wondering what you can eat on this diet.  Brussel sprouts are a great vegetable option on Keto and the following article will explain what makes them so great and how they can best be incorporated into your Keto meal plan.

Keto Overview:

Before you can understand why Brussel sprouts work well on Keto you need to first understand how Keto works and why the rules of Keto are in place. The Keto diet is essentially a very low carb diet that has you focus on getting the majority of your calories from healthy fat sources.

The reason for this isn’t to simply keep you away from cake or deprive you of your morning bagel.  There are scientific reasons that the Keto diet asks you to abstain from carbs.  The biggest of these reasons is to change the way your body creates energy.

Modern diets tend to be very high in carbohydrates.  This is how your body prefers to see things because it allows your body to take the carbs that you eat and turn them into glucose.  Glucose, or blood sugar, is formed in the liver and is used to provide energy for a wide range of bodily functions.  It’s a very quick form of energy for your body to create and it’s also burned through rapidly.  

After a high carb meal your body is provided with glucose quite quickly.  You might have experienced the surge of energy that you get after eating a plate of pasta.  However, a few short hours later you might have also experienced the crash that comes from your blood sugar levels dropping.  This cycle is repeated throughout the day with your body storing any glucose it doesn’t immediately use as body fat while sending you hunger signals every few hours asking for more food.

In this way, your body is a bit of a glutton.  It asks you to provide more fuel in the form of carbohydrates and meanwhile it’s socking away excess glucose as body fat.  Although this may seem strange, there’s a very good reason for your body to do this. Even though we have plenty of food available to us today, our ancestors didn’t have the same resources that we do.  It was impossible to tell where the next meal would come from or when they would eat next.  This caused the body to create a survival mechanism by storing excess glucose when meals were plentiful for use when there was a shortage of available food.

How is the Keto diet different?

Although this survival strategy made sense in the past and it served our ancestors quite well, it doesn’t work as well in the modern era.  The Keto diet looks to change the way your body creates energy, so it begins producing ketones instead of glucose.  This is what our ancestors would have done unknowingly when they were faced with a food shortage.  Their bodies would have begun producing ketones from stored body fat in order to keep them alive.

The Keto diet doesn’t want you to be faced with a shortage of food in order to see the benefits that ketones have to offer.  Instead, you simply reduce your net carbs to 20-25g per day which stops your body from receiving the fuel it needs to produce glucose and it instead produces ketones. 

Ketones have several benefits over glucose in terms of fuel.  For starters, the fat that ketones are sourced from is an abundant resource.  Since your brain is one of the largest consumers of energy in your body ketosis allows you to properly power your brain with the fuel it needs which helps to clear up mental fog.

The availability of ketones also allows you to provide a longer lasting source of energy to your entire body.  Ketones take a while to burn through and this slow burning process gives you a steady source of energy without the highs and lows associated with glucose, stabilizing your blood sugar levels and reducing the number of hunger signals that your brain sends out.

One of the biggest advantages of Keto is that it allows you to access that stubborn body fat that was stored away and burn it as fuel for your body.  This usually results in weight loss which is the reason that the majority of people begin Keto in the first place.

Net Carbs

In order to reap these benefits, you need to keep your net carbs to 20-25g per day.  What are net carbs?  Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can actually digest and turn into glucose.  Fibre and sugar alcohols aren’t digestible, so they don’t count towards your net carbs; although, they are carbohydrates.  In order to calculate your net carbs, you simply take the total carbs of a food and subtract any grams of fibre or sugar alcohol

Are Brussel Sprouts Keto?

Now that you understand what Keto is and how it works you can better understand which foods are and are not allowed on Keto.  The majority of above ground vegetables can be included in your Keto meal plan without throwing you out of ketosis.  Starchier vegetables that grow below ground such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and radishes tend to be higher in carbs and therefore off limits.

Brussel sprouts are an above ground vegetable, and they should fit into your Keto plan without too much trouble.  They’re low in calories with only 28g in a half of a cup.  They’re also relatively low in carbs.  A half of a cup of cooked Brussel sprouts contains 6g of total carbs.  However, they also have 2g of fibre so that brings the net carbs down to 4g.  It would be easy enough to fit ¼ of Brussel sprouts into your meal plan with only 2g of net carbs and if you have a little more wiggle room you could certainly indulge in a ½ a cup.

Benefits of Brussel Sprouts:

You might not be a fan of Brussel sprouts so it makes sense that you might be wondering why you should include them in your Keto meal plan.  There are a variety of health benefits to Brussel sprouts that make them worth adding to your diet, even if you only have ¼ of a cup a day.

One of the biggest benefits to Brussel sprouts is that they’re high in fibre.  Fibre can be difficult to get enough of on the Keto diet since a lot of the foods we traditionally associate with fibre such as pasta, whole grain bread and cereals are not allowed on Keto.

The 2g of fibre in a ½ cup of Brussel Sprouts can improve your digestion and increase the healthy bacteria in your gut preventing constipation.  When a food is high in fibre it means that it moves through your digestive system at a slower rate which can help slow down the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream thereby stabilizing your blood sugar levels. This means that the fibre that’s in Brussel sprouts might help to prevent diabetes.

In addition to fibre, Brussel sprouts also have alpha-lipoic acid which has been shown in studies to help stabilize blood sugar by increasing your insulin sensitivity.  Brussel sprouts also contain the antioxidant kaempferol which may help battle cancer cells, improve the health of your heart and reduce any inflammation in your body.

These health benefits come from the large array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can be found in Brussel sprouts. You can get over 100% of your daily Vitamin K from a serving of Brussel sprouts.  Vitamin K is vital in the formation of blood clots as well as the formation of strong bones.  Getting enough Vitamin K might help prevent you from developing osteoporosis and bone disease.

Along with Vitamin K you will also get a healthy dose of Vitamin C as well as vitamins A and B6.  Roughly 80% of your daily recommended Vitamin C can be sourced from a serving of Brussel sprouts.  Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that gives your immune system a boost and repairs broken down tissue in the body.

Although they’re found in smaller amounts, there is manganese, magnesium, potassium, folate, iron and ALA Omega-3 fatty acids.  These omega 3’s are a type of fatty acid that’s found in plant sources and they give your body a tiny boost of healthy fats which is always encouraged on Keto.

Conclusion:

If you’re a lover of Brussel sprouts, then you’ll be happy to know that they’re a welcome addition to any Keto meal plan.  If you’re not completely sold on these little green cruciferous veggies, you should give them a try.  Fry them in avocado oil or roast them with some parmesan cheese and spices to give them a flavor kick and a boost of healthy fats.

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