The Keto diet is an ultra-low carb diet that focuses on healthy fats. If you’re considering beginning Keto you might be wondering what you’re allowed to eat. If strawberries are one of your favorite fruits and you can’t imagine giving them up, then I have good news for you! Strawberries are Keto-friendly as long as you eat them in moderation. The following article will help you understand the rules behind Keto as well as outline how strawberries can best fit into your Keto meal plan.
Overview of the Keto diet
As mentioned above, the Keto diet is extremely low in carbs with a focus on healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein. The reasoning behind these rules is not arbitrary. There is good reason for the Keto diet to ask you to give up your beloved bread, cakes and crackers!
Glucose vs ketones
Regular diets that are higher in carbs provide fuel for your body with glucose. Glucose is created in your liver from the carbs that you eat. It’s a very quick form of energy for your body to produce and because of this it’s your body’s preferred energy source. If you’ve every eaten a high carb meal such as pasta before playing a sport then you’ve probably experienced this sugar rush of energy.
One of the problems with glucose is that it disappears as fast as it arrives. Have you ever felt your energy take a nose-dive a few hours after a high carb meal? If so, you’ve experienced the sugar crash that comes when your body has burned through all of its glucose.
These highs and lows of energy can be difficult to manage and this is why the Keto diet seeks to create a different, more stable fuel for your body. Ketones are created in your liver out of your stored fat cells. There is a steady supply of them so it’s easy for your body to constantly replace its energy when you’ve burned through the ketones that are already created.
Ketones are also slower to burn through than glucose is. A good comparison is twigs on a fire versus a large log. Glucose is like the twigs, it sparks up fast and burns quickly; however, you have to constantly replace the twigs if you want your fire to keep going. Ketones, on the other hand, are more like the log. They take longer to spark up; but once you get them lit you can sit back and relax knowing that your fire is fed for hours to come.
In order for your body to produce ketones it needs to be deprived of glucose. When your body has glucose, it will use it above everything else and any glucose that isn’t needed immediately is stored away in your body as fat to be used at a later date. Because your body is a survival machine, it won’t surrender this stored away energy unless absolutely necessary. This is why stored fat can be so stubborn and difficult to burn away.
When your body is deprived of carbohydrates and it cannot make enough glucose to fuel your entire body it switches to its backup mode and begins producing ketones. This state is known as ketosis and in order to stay in ketosis and continue to create ketones you need to keep your net carbs to 20-25g daily.
What are net carbs?
Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body cannot process and use as glucose. Fibre and sugar alcohols are two types of carbohydrates that your body cannot convert into glucose. If you’ve ever looked at the nutrition label on your food you’ve probably noticed the “Total Carbohydrates” has one or two subcategories. These are usually sugar alcohols and fibre.
In order to calculate your net carbs, you simply take the number of total carbohydrates in your food, and you subtract the amount of fibre and sugar alcohols so that you’re left with only your digestible, net carbs. This is why some very high fibre foods can be higher in total carbohydrates and still allowed on Keto.
Fruit on Keto
Now that you know how Keto works and why the rules are set the way they are you can begin to look at individual food groups. Where does fruit fit into the Keto diet? The short answer is, it depends on the fruit.
Fruit tends to be high in fibre which means that it’s net carb count is lower than its total carbs. However, the amount of sugar in some fruits leads that net carb count to climb too high to be allowed on Keto.
Fruit has a lot of health benefits and it’s important to try to fit a little bit of fruit into your day in order to reap the benefits of fruit’s many vitamins and nutrients. It might be wise to cut back on your net carbs in some other areas so that you can fit in some fruit.
As a general rule, the sweeter the fruit, the higher the carbs will be. It’s always best to look up the nutrition information on any food you want to eat on Keto; however, a quick taste test can give you a pretty decent idea as to whether the fruit will be too sweet for your Keto meal plan.
Benefits of strawberries
Strawberries are a nutrient packed powerhouse. One serving of strawberries contains almost 100% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C! They also contain vitamins A, E and K as well as fibre, niacin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc.
Strawberries have a plethora of health benefits including boosting your immunity, improving your eyesight, protecting your heart, boosting your brain function and preventing allergies and asthma. They’ve been helpful to diabetics due to their low GI rating. Strawberries might even help prevent birth defects and protect you from cancer!
Strawberries on the Keto diet
All of the amazing benefits of strawberries are available to you on Keto because strawberries are a Keto-friendly food. The average 100g serving of strawberries contains 7.7g of total carbs; however, they also contain 2g of fibre so the net carbs in a serving of strawberries is only 5.7g.
Now this might seem a little high when you look at your total net carb budget; however, if you’re careful where you spend those carbs you can definitely include strawberries in your Keto meal plan! If you’re struggling to fit them in you can always reduce your serving size. Have 50g of strawberries instead of 100 and you’ll cut your net carbs down to only 2.85g. You won’t get as many nutrients as you would at a larger serving; however, you’ll still reap the health benefits that strawberries provide.
What other fruits can I eat on Keto?
If strawberries aren’t your thing then there are plenty of other fruits that are Keto friendly for you to enjoy.
One of the best fruits to eat on Keto is avocados. Avocados are a staple for many people on Keto. Despite being technically classified as a fruit, avocados are packed with healthy fats, monounsaturated fatty acids and nutrients. They contain vitamins C, I and K as well as potassium, magnesium, folate and bunch of other nutrients that are vital to your body. The beta- sitosterol in avocados has been shown to help you lower your cholesterol levels. They’re also low carb. A single avocado has 8g of carbs and 6g of protein which means that you’re left with only 2g of net carbs!
Lemon is also a great fruit to eat on Keto as it has only 5g of net carbs per fruit and only 0.5g of net carbs in a single slice. This makes it easy to add a squirt of lemon juice to your smoothies, water or meals to get a burst of citrus flavor as well as some healthy vitamin C. The fibre in lemons is pectin which helps your body stabilize blood sugar levels and it’s also been known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Watermelon is packed with an antioxidant known as lycopene that can help your cells repair any damage and fight off disease. If you eat a ½ cup watermelon slices you’ll be eating 5.75g of net carbs since this fruit isn’t very high in fibre; however, that’s still doable on Keto. Watermelon is another great source of vitamin C as well as having some potassium and copper.
Tomatoes are usually thought of as a vegetable; however, they’re technically a fruit and they’re low enough in carbs that you can enjoy them on Keto. A 1 cup serving of tomatoes contains 7g of carbs and 2g of fibre so you’re left with 5g of net carbs. They’re packed with antioxidants such as lycopene, beta carotene, and naringenin that can help ward off disease and cell damage.
If you’re considering beginning the Keto diet you can rest easy knowing that strawberries are Keto-friendly. As long as you keep your portion sizes small or re-distribute where you spend those precious 20g of net carbs you can enjoy all of the benefits that strawberries have to offer.