Are Pecans Keto

Introduction

The Keto diet has been made famous by celebrity chefs, athletes and social media influencers in recent years due to the amazing health and weight loss benefits it provides.  If you’re considering beginning Keto you might be wondering which of your favorite foods are going to be allowed on this ultra-low carb diet. 

If you’re a fan of snacking on a handful of pecans every day then there’s good news for you.  Pecans are Keto-friendly!  The following article will explain why pecans are allowed on Keto, the health benefits of this nutritious nut as well as how to best incorporate pecans into your Keto meal plan.

Overview of Keto

If you’re new to the Keto diet then there are a few basic things that you need to understand in order to make sense of Keto’s nutritional guidelines.  The Keto diet is known for being extremely low in carbohydrates and producing great health benefits to those that follow it.  But how does it achieve those health benefits and why can you only eat a few carbs on Keto?

The answers to these questions lie in the goal of Keto.  On Keto you’re looking to reduce the number of carbohydrates that you eat until they’re at a low enough amount that your body no longer is able to rely on them to produce glucose.

Your body on glucose

Glucose is created in your liver from the carbs that you eat.  It’s very quick to create and gives you an instant boost of energy as it raises your blood sugar levels.  You can think of it like adding small twigs to a fire, they’re going to light right away.  However, the downside is, your body burns through glucose very quickly as well.  This means that a few hours after you eat a high carb meal you crash as your blood sugar levels drop and your energy drops alongside them.

Any carbohydrates that your body doesn’t immediately need for glucose it stores in your body for a rainy day when food isn’t as plentiful.  This survival response is a remnant of our ancestor’s struggle to find consistent sources of food.  However, in our modern era when food is more plentiful, it doesn’t serve us as well.  This stored glucose is turned into body fat and its extremely hard to burn through with exercise alone.  Your body doesn’t want to give up its backup plan!

How ketones are different

The Keto diet changes this by restricting the number of carbs you eat to 20-25g of net carbs a day.  At this amount, your body realises that it doesn’t have enough carbs to fully fuel everything it needs to which forces it to switch to burning fat as fuel.  It does this by creating an energy source known as ketones in your liver.  Ketones are created from fat and they’re more like large logs that you put on the fire; slower to light but also slower to burn through.

Ketones allow your body to get rid of that stored body fat which can contribute to weight loss.  They’re also a more stable form of energy which means that once you’ve made the transition, you’re going to feel more energized with less brain fog.  In addition, ketones also help stabilize your blood sugar levels because you don’t have the sugar highs and energy crashes that are associated with a high carb diet. 

What do you eat on Keto?

In order to keep your net carbs to 20-25 grams a day or less you need to fill your plate with plenty of healthy fats (roughly 70-75% of your calories), protein, leafy green veggies and low-sugar fruits.  This means that you’ll find yourself eating a lot of nuts, seeds and healthy oils on Keto because they’re high in healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  Fish, red meat and poultry are also big parts of the Keto diet.  Full-fat dairy such as cheese, yogurt and milk are also allowed on Keto.  Vegetables such as kale, spinach, bell peppers and broccoli are also Keto-friendly.  Low-sugar fruits such as berries, olives and avocados are also great additions to a healthy Keto diet.

On Keto you should avoid all traditional forms of carbs such as bread, pasta, flour and baked goods.  You should also avoid sugar on Keto as well as any processed foods and foods that contain trans-fats.  Although the Keto diet is high in fats, it’s high in the right types of fats that are found in plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds and healthy oils.  

What are pecans?

Pecans, although commonly referred to as a “nut” are technically what’s known as a “drupe”.  The coconut is one of the most commonly known types of drupes; however, stone fruit such as peaches, plums and nectarines are also members of this family.

The pecan is the fruit or seed of a hickory tree and they’re native to the Northern parts of Mexico and the Southern parts of the United states.  Today they’re grown as a commercial crop in many regions of the United States.

Pecans are commonly found in deserts such as pecan pie and praline chocolates.  They don’t have a super nutty flavor, instead they tend to have a buttery rich flavor that lends itself well to adding richness to deserts.  They’re easy to find in local stores although they do tend to be one of the pricier nuts. 

Health benefits of pecans

Pecans offer a variety of benefits to your health.  For starters, they’re a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and this makes them fantastic for the health of your heart.  A serving of pecans a day can help you to lower your LDL cholesterol levels while raising your HDL cholesterol levels.  

Pecans are also jam packed with antioxidants.  On fact, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that pecans have more antioxidants than any other tree nut. Antioxidants are important in limiting the damage done to your cells by free radicals and they may help improve your immune system and prevent certain types of cancers.  Pecans also contain vitamin A and vitamin E.  When you combine antioxidants and these two vitamins you have the recipe for healthy looking firm skin without lines and wrinkles.

Pecans are loaded with fibre which means that they’re great for your digestive system and may help prevent constipation and stomach pains.  A single 100g serving of pecans has a whopping 9.6g of fibre!  This fibre can also help with weight loss by filling you up.  When you eat foods with a high satiety level such as pecans they help you feel full so you don’t eat as many calories in one sitting.

In addition to their fibre and healthy fats, pecans are loaded with tons of other nutrients and vitamins.  They’re a good source of iron (100g contains 19% of your daily recommended value) which is important in preventing hair loss and anemia.  They also contain manganese (a whopping 214% of your DRI), vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and almost half of your daily recommended zinc. 

Are pecans Keto-friendly?

Pecans are extremely Keto-friendly.  They’re high in monounsaturated fat (40g) and polyunsaturated fat (21g), the two types of fats that are vital to your success of Keto.  They’re also loaded with fibre which can be hard to find on the Keto diet due to the elimination of bread and pasta.  That fibre also plays a role in determining the net carbs in pecans.

Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can actually digest and turn into glucose which is why they’re the only carbs that count on Keto.  This means that fibre and sugar alcohols don’t count towards the net carb total of your pecans.  When you look at the total carbohydrates in a 100g serving of pecans (13.86g) you might think that they’re way too high in carbs to be allowed on Keto.  However, if you subtract the fibre (9.6g) that’s in pecans you’re left with only 4.2g of net carbs per serving.  If you only have a 50g serving of pecans you’re only looking at 2.1g of net carbs and that’s do-able on anyone’s Keto!

How to eat pecans on Keto

Pecans are a delicious and versatile nut.  One of the most common ways to add pecans into your diet is to mix them in with some of your Keto-friendly baking.  They will add a sweet crunch to any Keto muffins, breads or cookies that you bake.  

Pecans are also great when added to a salad.  The crunch they give will help you forget that your salad doesn’t have any croutons.  They’re also great on salads because they help you increase the healthy fats in your meal.  It can be tough to get 70-75% of your calories from fats on Keto so the healthy fats in pecans are welcome wherever you can fit them in.

Of course, you can always just eat pecans whole as a snack.  They’re easy to carry with you for a boost of healthy fats on the go.  They’re also relatively easy to find in stores so if you find yourself hungry while shopping or travelling, a quick trip to the nut aisle in your closest store will help give you a boost of energy and keep those hunger pains at bay.

Conclusion

Pecans are a great addition to any Keto diet.  They’re low in net carbs, high in healthy fats and easy and versatile to incorporate into your meals.  Use your imagination to find new and exciting ways to add this healthy nut into your diet.  Can you say, pecan crusted pan-fried chicken?

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