Fruits and berries: A keto guide

Most fruits and berries contain quite a lot of carbs. That’s why they taste sweet. They can be seen as nature’s candy.

In general, the sweeter or larger the amount of fruit, the more sugar it contains. On a keto diet, while berries are fine in moderation, for the best results you may want to avoid other fruits.1

Below is a visual guide. On the left are the best keto choices.

Berries

Keto berries

Each number represents the percentage of net carbs in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of each berry.2 So, for example, 100 grams of blueberries (approx 3 handfuls) would have 12 grams net carbs.

On a keto diet, small amounts of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are okay.3 Be careful with blueberries, because their carbs can rapidly add up. Eat only small portions, infrequently, or not at all.

Fruits

Keto fruits

As you can see, other kinds of fruit are fairly high in carbs, making it very challenging to eat them and stay on a keto diet. Again, each number represents the percentage of net carbs in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of each fruit. One medium size orange is about 12 grams of carbs.

If you eat a large apple (about 25 grams of carbs) or a medium-sized banana (24 grams of carbs) you will have exceeded your daily carb limit on a keto diet.

Fruit = Nature’s candy

On a keto diet you can have some berries every-so-often and it won’t likely take you out of ketosis.4 You might even be able to eat a few cherries or a small plum. Be careful, however, and if in doubt you may want to measure your ketones to assess how fruit impacts you.
 
Don’t we need fruits’ nutrients? No, you can get those nutrients from vegetables.5 In fact, some vegetables, including bell peppers and kale, have more vitamin C than any of the citrus fruits — and a lot less carbs and sugar.6

Top 5 fruits to choose

Top 10 low-carb fruits

From time-to-time you may be able indulge in a modest amount of fruit as a treat, while still staying in ketosis. Try them with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.7

Here are some of the best choices, in net carbs:

  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. Blueberries: Half a cup (75 grams) contains 9 grams of carbs.

Fruit treats

In a pinch, fruit is still a much better choice than many other snacks or treats, like a muffin or candy.8

Even though other fruits are higher in carbs, you can indulge every-so-often. Treat it like candy and eat small portions. Here are examples of the carb amounts of other fruit.

  • Kiwi: One medium size (70 grams), contains 8 grams of carbs.
  • Cherries: Half a cup (75 grams) contains 8 grams of carbs.
  • Clementine: One medium size (75 grams) contains 9 grams of carbs.
  • Cantaloupe: One cup (160 grams) contains 11 grams of carbs.
  • Peach: One medium size (150 grams) contains 13 grams of carbs.

Fruit then and now

watermelan1watermelon2

 
Many people ask: “Isn’t eating fruit very natural from an evolutionary perspective?” But modern fruit is very different from the fruits of the past. Today’s fruit has been selectively bred to maximize yield and increase sweetness, thus increasing the sugar and carb content.

What fruits and vegetables looked like before

In addition, for most of human history, fruit would only have been available in a seasonal window. Just like primates in natural environments and other mammals like bears today, ancient humans could have gorged on fruit when available, using the excess carbs to pack on pounds to survive through lean times.9

In short, in modern times some people might find that their bodies cannot handle the excess carbs and sugar in fruit available 365 days a year.10

Berry recipes

Here are some of our best keto recipes for berries, with the lowest amount of carbs per serving.

 

 

Similar keto guides

Meal plans

Get lots of weekly keto meal plans, complete with shopping lists and more, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial).
 

More

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Ketogenic diet foods – what to eat
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  1. 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

  2. Net carbs = total carbs minus fiber

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

    How low carb is keto?

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

    How low carb is keto?

  5. 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.

  6. Nutrition facts for oranges, yellow bell peppers, green bell peppers and kale.

  7. There’s no good reason to fear natural saturated fats, including from dairy:

    Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis [strong evidence]

    In fact, if anything, people eating higher-fat dairy products tend to on average have lower body weight and possibly fewer metabolic issues:

    European Journal of Nutrition 2013: The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease [weak evidence]

  8. Do you want suggestions for even lower-carb snacks? Have a look at our full guide:

    Keto snacks – the best and the worst

  9. Regarding “primates in natural environments”, “gorged on fruit” and “pack on pounds to survive”, see the following references:

    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]

  10. 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]