Are Cherries Keto Friendly?

The Keto diet is a fantastic way to lose weight, increase your energy levels and stabilize your blood sugar.  It’s important to know what you can and cannot eat while on Keto in order to see the best possible results.  When it comes to fruit, there are plenty of keto friendly options; however, cherries may not be one of them.  Read on to discover all you need to know about cherries and how you can best fit them into your keto in order to still reap their numerous health benefits.

Overview of Keto:

If you’re new to the Keto diet then you need to understand what the rules are, but more importantly, why the rules are in place.  Understanding the “why” can help you to stick with your Keto better than if you’re just blindly following the rules.

The Keto diet is, at heart, an ultra-low carb diet.  On Keto the focus is on healthy fats with a moderate amount of protein.  The perfect ratio on Keto is 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein and 5-10% carbs.  If you’re following a 2000 calorie diet this would look like 1400-1500 calories of healthy fat, 400-500 calories from protein and roughly 50-100 calories of carbohydrates. 

This is not a random assignment of your calories.  The reason that Keto restricts your carbs so much is because it’s necessary in order to get your body into the metabolic state of ketosis.  The majority of people are running their bodies off of glucose which is created in the liver from carbohydrates.  Glucose is a very quick fuel to create and this makes it your body’s primary (and preferred) source of energy when given the choice.  However, there are limitations to glucose. One of the major ones that causes people a lot of problems is how inconsistent the fuel from glucose is.

A high carb meal is followed quickly by a sharp spike in energy as your body fuels itself from the glucose and this causes your blood sugar levels to rise.  Unfortunately, a few short hours later you’re going to feel drained, tired and draggy as your blood sugar levels fall.  Your body will send out hunger signals for more glucose and after you eat the whole cycle repeats itself.

Restricting your carbs to 20-25g of net carbs daily prevents your body from being able to rely on glucose for all of its energy needs.  It begins creating a new form of energy called Ketones in your liver from your stored body fat.  Ketones are a stable form of energy because they take longer to burn and you most likely have a large supply of them.  It’s similar to a slow burning log that you throw on the fire as opposed to the twigs that you toss on.  The log (ketones) will produce a lot more heat for a longer period of time than the twigs (glucose).

If you eat too many carbs then your body will slow down on ketones production which kicks you out of ketosis.  Chances are, if you’re following a keto diet and you have too many carbs you’ll reduce your ketones to the level where they aren’t providing your body with enough energy and the carbs that you’re eating are too few to provide your body with energy.  This is why the ratio of carbs to fat to protein is so important.

Fruit on the Keto diet

Fruits are allowed on the Keto diet; however, you need to be cautious as to which ones you choose.  Some fruits are higher in sugar than others and this causes them to also be higher in carbohydrates.  As a general rule, the sweeter the fruit is the higher its carbohydrates will be.  Your taste buds are a good way to test if you’re in a bind; however, it’s better to look into the fruit you want ahead of time if at all possible.   

There are many health benefits to eating fruit on Keto so it’s worth trying to fit as much in as you can.  The fibre that’s in fruit is especially helpful since a lot of foods with fibre are not allowed on Keto due to their carb content (bread, pasta, rice etc).  You may have to get a little bit creative with serving sizes in order to fit in the fruit that your body needs, but it’s worth it for the health benefits.

Are cherries Keto friendly?

Cherries are not typically considered a Keto-friendly fruit.  They tend to be too high in carbohydrates to fit in well on the Keto diet.  A single cup serving of cherries has 22g of carbohydrates!  However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy all of the benefits that cherries have to offer.  As long as you keep your serving size small, you can definitely enjoy cherries on Keto!  A small ¼ serving would contain 5.5g of carbs while a ½ cup serving would contain 11g of carbs. 

There is the fibre in cherries to consider as well.  The Keto diet limits you to 20-25g of net carbs daily.  Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can actually digest and turn into glucose for energy. This means that fibre and sugar alcohols, while counted as carbohydrates, do not count towards your overall net carb limit. In order to calculate the net carbs of your food you simply take the total carbs and subtract any grams of sugar alcohols and fibre.

There are 3g of fibre in every one cup serving of cherries.  Based on the rules for net carbs you read about above, this would mean that one cup of cherries has 19g of net carbs, a half of a cup has 9.5g of net carbs while a ¼ cup has only 4.75g of net carbs.  This may not seem like a large difference but even a difference of a ½ gram of carbs can make a big impact on your carb budget when you’re limited to 20-25g net carbs daily.

Health benefits of cherries

Cherries have a whack of health benefits that make them a beneficial addition to your diet.  If you can work a handful or so into your meals on Keto then it’s worth doing so.

Cherries contain antioxidants which are important for the health of our cells.  Specifically, cyanidin and anthocyanins are found in large quantities in cherries.  These antioxidants are helpful in reducing inflammation which could benefit you if you’re suffering from arthritis.  The link between cherries and their anti-inflammatory properties still needs a bit of study; however, there’s no harm in trying it for yourself and seeing if it helps.

In addition to antioxidants, cherries also have some important vitamins and nutrients.  They’re particularly high in fibre, which is essential for good gut health and very important while on Keto since many of the carbs that you used to get fibre from (bread, rice, pasta etc) are not a part of your diet anymore.  A few cherries could aid in preventing constipation and intestinal discomfort.  There’s also a fair amount of potassium, vitamin A, folic acid and calcium to be found in cherries.

Although it’s unsure as to why this may be the case, there’s evidence that cherries, especially tart cherries, might be helpful for recovering from strenuous exercise.  Tart cherry juice was studied by the  International Society of Sports Nutrition and it was found to improve pain after a strenuous workout, especially if it was consumed in the 7 days prior to the event. 

Cherries may also aid in sleep because they contain melatonin which has long been known to help regulate our sleep cycles. The European Journal of Nutrition did some research the showed there might be a connection between cherry juice and a better night’s sleep.  The research showed cherry juice might help increase how long you sleep for as well as help you in falling asleep.

More research needs to be done but there’s signs that cherries and cherry juice might help lower blood pressure.  The British Journal of Nutrition  preformed a study that showed that the polyphenol in cherries might contribute to lowering blood pressure.

Alternatives to cherries

If you’re looking to get some of the same nutritional benefits that cherries offer but you can’t find room in your calorie budget, then you have a few options.  If you’re looking for a Keto-friendly source of antioxidants then you should try either some pecans or some kale.  Pecans will give you an added boost of healthy fats which is important for Keto while kale is a great source of vitamins that might be lacking in your diet.

Blueberries are also a source of antioxidants and they make a great substitute for cherries if you’re craving a keto-friendly fruit.  They have less carbs than cherries with only 4.5g of net carbs in a ¼ cup serving. Raspberries and blackberries are even lower in carbs with 3g of net carbs in a ½ cup serving for raspberries and 4g of net carbs in a ½ cup serving for blackberries.

Conclusion

It might be difficult to fit cherries into your Keto diet because they’re higher in carbs.  However, if you can squeeze even a ¼ cup in then you’ll get a lot of important nutrients and vitamins that might affect everything from your sleep to your blood pressure.

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