Low-carb fruits and berries – the best and the worst

What are the best and the worst fruits and berries to eat on a low-carb diet?1 Here’s the short version: most berries are OK low-carb foods in moderate amounts, but fruits can be seen as candy from nature (they contain quite a lot of sugar).2 Just because the sugar comes from a fruit does not mean that it’s good for you.

For more details, check out this guide, with the lower-carb options to the left.

Berries

Low-carb berries

The numbers above are the percentages of digestible carbohydrates i.e. net carbs (fiber is not counted).3 Think of them as numbers of grams of carbohydrate per 100 g of berry (3½ ounces).

Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries can be eaten in small amounts on a ketogenic low-carb diet, and you can eat them more freely if you’re on a more moderate low-carb diet.4

Blueberries contain more carbs, so don’t overdo them – on a keto low-carb diet eat them only occasionally, in small amounts.

Fruits

Low-carb fruits

So how about fruit? As you can see, fruits contain quite a few carbs (mostly in the form of sugar). That’s why fruits are sweet! Fruit is candy from nature.

For easy comparison all numbers are grams of digestible carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces) of the fruits.

A medium-sized apple (180 grams) may contain about 21 grams of carbs.

How much fruit can you have?

This means that on a keto low-carb diet (<20 grams per day) you're probably better off having some berries instead. You don’t actually need to eat fruit. You can get any nutrient in fruit from vegetables – without all the sugar. Therefore, perhaps you want to try eating plenty of low-carb vegetables instead.56

Even on a more moderate low-carb diet (20-50 grams per day) you’ll have to be careful with fruit – probably no more than about one a day.

On a liberal low-carb diet (50-100 grams per day) you may be able to squeeze in two or three fruits a day, if that is your biggest source of carbs.

As you see, grapes and bananas are the highest-carb fruits of them all.
 

Top 10 low-carb fruits

Top 10 low-carb fruits

Let’s say you occasionally want to eat a fruit (or some berries) while still staying relatively low carb. What fruit would be the best choice?

Below, you’ll find the best options, ranked by grams of net carbs.7 The lowest-carbs options are at the top.
 

  1. Raspberries – Half a cup (60 grams) contains 3 grams of carbs.
  2. Blackberries – Half a cup (70 grams) contains 4 grams of carbs.
  3. Strawberries – Eight medium-sized (100 grams) contains 6 grams of carbs.
  4. Plum – One medium-sized (65 grams) contains 7 grams of carbs.
  5. Clementine – One medium-sized (75 grams) contains 8 grams of carbs.
  6. Kiwi – One medium-sized (70 grams) contains 8 grams of carbs.
  7. Cherries – Half a cup (75 grams or about 12 cherries) contains 8 grams of carbs.
  8. Blueberries – Half a cup (75 grams) contains 9 grams of carbs.
  9. Cantaloupe (melon) – One cup (160 grams) contains 11 grams of carbs.
  10. Peach – One medium-sized (150 grams) contains 13 grams of carbs.

 
As a comparison, a large orange contains about 17 grams of carbs, a medium-sized apple about 21 grams and a medium-sized banana about 24 grams of carbs.

 

Isn’t fruit natural?

banana1banana2

Fruit is usually considered a very natural food, something humans have always eaten. However, from an evolutionary perspective there are often massive differences between today’s fruits in the supermarket, and what fruit used to look like before, in nature:

What fruits and vegetables looked like before

Furthermore, for the majority of human history, fruit would usually only have been available for a limited time during the year, in season. Our ancestors, just like primates in natural habitats, could only eat plenty of fruit when it was available.8 If any excess sugar helped them gain weight, this could have been helpful to survive through lean times.

These days, fruit is always available and many people may find that their bodies have a hard time handling the excess sugar in fruit eaten throughout the year.9

Berry recipes

A moderate amount of low-sugar berries can be OK on a low-carb diet. Here are our top recipes:

 

 

 

Worse choices

Muffin and M&M's

Of course a fruit is still probably better than many other snack options – like a muffin or a handful of candy. All fruit (even bananas) are much lower in carbs than these.10

 

 

Q&A

Below you’ll find a few common questions about low-carb fruits, with answers. For more like this, check out our full low-carb FAQ.

What fruits are the lowest in carbs?

Remember: “Berries are best.” Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are your best bet, with net carb counts of around 5 or 6 grams per 100 grams. Beyond that, perhaps a plum or a few cherries. Check out the visual guide above for exact carb counts for common fruits.

What fruits are high in carbs?

The worst offenders are bananas, at 20 net carbs per 100 grams, and grapes, with 16 net carbs per 100 grams. But most fruits, including oranges and apples, are fairly high in sugar and carbs.

What is the best fruit to eat to lose weight?

There’s no great option. Because of their sugar content, it’s probably better to keep the fruit intake low if you want to lose weight on a low-carb diet.11 But a handful of berries is a fairly safe option if you want something fruit-like, without eating a lot of sugar. Beyond that, have a look at our .

Why isn’t avocado or tomato listed?

While technically they are fruits, most people probably think of an avocado or a tomato as a vegetable. Therefore, we’ve chosen to list them on our low-carb vegetables page.

 
Full low-carb diet FAQ

 

 

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  1. Scientific studies now prove that compared to other diets, low carb is generally more effective, for weight loss and certain health markers:

    PLOS ONE 2015: Dietary intervention for overweight and obese adults: comparison of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A meta-analysis [strong evidence]

    Most studies on low-carb diets contain so few carbs per day (e.g. below 20 grams) that fruits can’t be freely consumed in unlimited quantities. Learn more on our low-carb science page.

  2. What fruits and vegetables looked like before

  3. Fiber does not directly affect blood sugar levels, though it can indirectly slow down the absorption of digestible carbohydrates that you eat.

    Fiber can have both beneficial and some potential negative effects on gut health, but it usually has no major impact on the effects of a low-carb diet.

  4. We define a ketogenic diet as having less than 20 grams of carbs per day:

    How low carb is low carb?

  5. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.

    This is mainly based on the consistent experience of experienced practitioners, and stories from people trying different levels of carb restriction [weak evidence].

    There is not yet any RCT that has actually tested two low-carb diets of varying strictness head-to-head. But RCTs of strict low-carb diets appear to generally show better results, compared to RCTs of less strict low-carb diets.

    RCTs of low-carb interventions for weight loss

  6. Regarding nutrients in vegetables, you can check for yourself in the USDA Food Composition Databases that vegetables generally are as rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial plant compounds as fruits, if not more.

  7. Net carbs = digestible carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fiber.

  8. International Journal of Primatology 1998: Changes in orangutan caloric intake, energy balance, and ketones in response to fluctuating fruit availability [very weak evidence]

    Dr. Christopher S. Bard: Why do humans crave sugary foods? Shouldn’t evolution lead us to crave healthy foods? [overview article]

    Obesity (Silver Spring) 2013: Redefining metabolic syndrome as a fat storage condition based on studies of comparative physiology [overview article]

  9. This could primarily apply for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), where studies have demonstrated that a low-carb diet can be helpful:

    PLOS ONE 2015: Dietary intervention for overweight and obese adults: comparison of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A meta-analysis [strong evidence]

    Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice 2018: Effect of dietary carbohydrate restriction on glycemic control in adults with diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis [strong evidence]

  10. There is one exception: dried fruits like raisins, dates, apricots, figs and prunes can contain 40-65 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

    Be extra careful with dried fruit as they are a concentrated source of sugar, and it is quite easy to eat large quantities of them.

  11. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.

    This is mainly based on the consistent experience of experienced practitioners, and stories from people trying different levels of carb restriction [weak evidence].

    There is not yet any RCT that has actually tested two low-carb diets of varying strictness head-to-head. But RCTs of strict low-carb diets appear to generally show better results, compared to RCTs of less strict low-carb diets.

    RCTs of low-carb interventions for weight loss