Are Oranges Keto Friendly?

Introduction

The Keto diet has increased on popularity over recent years thanks to endorsements from celebrities, chefs and athletes alike.  If you’ve been considering trying this new eating style, then you probably have questions about which of your favorite healthy foods are allowed on Keto.  Although they’re full of vitamins and healthy nutrients, oranges aren’t a Keto-friendly food.  The following article will explain why oranges should be avoided on Keto as well as Keto-friendly foods that you can eat in their place.

What is the Keto diet?

The Keto diet is an ultra-low carb diet that focuses on healthy fats with a moderate amount of protein.  Generally, this macronutrient ratio looks like 70-75% healthy fats, 20-25% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates.  If you were eating a 2000 calorie diet this would mean that you would eat roughly 1500 calories of healthy fats, 400 calories of protein and 100 calories or less of carbohydrates.

Foods that are commonly found on Keto include leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, meat, eggs and some dairy.  You should avoid sugar, processed foods, breads, pasta, sugary fruits and starchy vegetables.  

People usually begin the Keto diet in order to lose weight.  In addition to its ability to help you shed stubborn pounds, Keto can also give you increased energy and mental clarity as well as benefiting your heart and brain health.  A lot of the people who follow a Keto diet find that they have more energy throughout the day while also sleeping better at night.  It’s also been shown to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize your blood sugar.

Why can’t you eat carbs on Keto?

The Keto diet doesn’t ask you to refrain from carbs just to deprive you of pizza and spaghetti.  There’s a very scientific reason behind the low carb limit.  The goal of Keto is to see a change in the way your body metabolizes food into energy.  When you’re not following Keto your body relies on glucose in order to fuel itself, but the Keto diet looks to change your body’s preferred fuel to ketones.

Glucose is created from the carb rich foods that you eat.  After you eat a high carb meal your body creates glucose in your liver.  This process is quick which is why you feel a spike in energy shortly after your meal.  This spike is caused by your blood sugar levels rising.  Your body then quickly burns through the available glucose while putting some aside for later use in the form of body fat.  It then sends hunger signals to your brain asking you to provide it with more carbs so it can create more glucose.  While it’s waiting for the additional carbs your blood sugar levels drop and you feel a crash in your energy levels. 

The glucose that was stored away for a rainy day in the form of fat is never used.  Your body was designed for survival and thousands of years ago this survival mechanism made sense when our ancestors didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or if indeed it would come at all.  Nowadays we can usually find the food that our body needs to survive so this mechanism actually acts against you by increasing your body fat while making it incredibly hard for you to burn that fat away.

In order to trick your body into lowering its defenses and releasing its iron clad grip on your body fat the Keto diet forces your body to begin making a form of fuel known as ketones.  Like glucose, ketones are made in your liver.  However, they’re made from fat and not carbohydrates.  In order to get your body to switch to using ketones as its primary source of fuel you need to restrict your carbs to a level where your body feels as though there isn’t enough carbs to properly fuel itself.

Benefits of ketones over glucose

This switch has plenty of health benefits.  Unlike glucose, ketones take a while to burn through and there’s plenty of fat to be used to create them.  This means that you feel a steady supply of energy instead of the spikes and crashes that are associated with carbohydrates.  

There is a benefit to your brain as well that results in increased mental clarity for many people.  Your brain is one of the biggest consumers of energy in your entire body.  Because it needs so much fuel, it often works at a slower pace than its potential in order to send energy to other parts of your body that require it more, like your heart and lungs.  However, when powered by ketones, there’s plenty of energy to go around so your brain is able to run at full speed which allows you to experience mental clarity. 

The role of net carbs

Not all carbohydrates are created equally which is why the Keto diet doesn’t restrict the number of total carbs you can eat.  Instead, it restricts the number of net carbs you can eat.  Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can digest and turn into glucose for energy.  Fiber and sugar alcohols are both carbohydrates; however, they’re not digestible by your body and they pass right through without being turned into glucose.  

In order to keep your body in a state of ketosis and prevent it from thinking it has enough carbs to run purely off of glucose, you need to keep your net, digestible carbs to a limit of 20-25g or less a day.  Everyone has a slightly different limit, and you can get urine, blood and breath tests to tell you if your body is still in ketosis; however, the 20-25g daily limit is pretty safe to stick with.

In order to calculate your net carbs, you should take the number of total carbohydrates in your food and subtract any fiber or sugar alcohols from it. 

Are oranges Keto friendly?

Now that you understand what Keto is and how it works to help your body create energy, it’s time to figure out whether or not oranges are Keto friendly.  As mentioned above, oranges aren’t the best food to eat while following a Keto diet.  A single, small orange contains upwards of 15g of carbohydrates. If you’re sticking to a 20-25g daily carb limit it can be difficult to see how you could afford to spend 15 of those on a single orange.

But what about their net carbs you may ask.  Don’t oranges have some fiber or sugar alcohols that you can subtract from the carbs to lower them to an acceptable level for Keto?  The answer is both yes and no.  Although oranges do contain 3g of fiber, this only lowers their net carbs down to 12g.  Although this is lower, and it could be doable to fit an orange into your Keto it would mean potentially cutting out a lot of other nutritious foods. 

What can you eat in place of an orange?

Oranges are loaded with health benefits.  It’s understandable why you’d want to try to fit them into your Keto but if you can’t find room in your carb budget then don’t fret!  There are plenty of other Keto-friendly foods that can offer you similar benefits while putting far less of a strain on your carb budget.  Give some of the following Keto friendly fruits a try.

  1. Berries:  Blackberries and raspberries are loaded with a lot of the same vitamins that you can find in oranges.  They’re high in antioxidants and offer a fruity bust of flavor to your smoothies and shakes.  Berries make a great snack, and you can toss them on top of your yogurt or mix them into some Keto baking.  Aim for a 100g serving of this fruit in order to eat 5g of net carbs.
  2. Olives:  Although not commonly thought of as a fruit, olives are a great snack on Keto.  A serving of 10 olives contains 1g of fiber and only 1g of net carbs making them easy to fit into your carb budget.  Olives offer a healthy dose of fats as well as antioxidants and Vitamin E.
  3. Avocado:  Also not commonly thought of as a fruit, avocados are a perfect match for any Keto diet.  They’re loaded with healthy fats (think avocado oil) and they have more potassium than a banana!  They’re also high in fiber and have only 1.5g of net carbs in a serving of 100g.
  4. Tomatoes: Commonly thought to be a vegetable, tomatoes are a fruit that contain a lot of potassium, vitamins and folate.  In fact, if you’re looking to replace the vitamin C that you’d get from your oranges, tomatoes are a great option since they contain 14mg of vitamin C in every 100g serving.  They also have only 2-3g of net carbs in a serving which makes them Keto friendly.

Limes or Lemons:  These citrus fruits are loaded with vitamins and low in carbs.  If you’re looking for a fruit that will replace the orange that you usually squeeze into your water, then both lemons and limes will work well. They offer the citrus burst of flavor with far less sugar and carbs than oranges do.

Conclusion

Oranges are too high in net carbs to fit into the majority of people’s Keto meals plans.  However, there are plenty of other foods that offer the same health benefits or similar flavors to oranges.  If you can’t live without your morning orange, then you might want to consider doing an alternate form of Keto where you can eat more net carbs. 

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