Keto nuts – the best and the worst

Can you go nuts with nuts on a keto diet? Well, yes and no… it depends on what kind of nut you choose. This visual guide will help you choose nuts with the lowest carbs, to help you succeed on keto.1
 
You’ll find the lower carb (i.e. keto) options to the left.
 
Keto nuts

The numbers above the nuts represent the amount of net carbs in 100 grams, or 3½ ounces.23
 
A rough guide is that 100 grams of nuts is about three handfuls. But hands come in different sizes, so if you want to know exactly how many grams of carbs you’re eating, here are how many individual nuts you need for 100 grams:

  • 65 pecan halves
  • 20 Brazil nuts
  • 40 macadamias
  • 70 hazelnuts
  • 25 walnuts or 50 walnut halves
  • 2/3 cup of peanuts
  • 80 almonds
  • 3/4 cup of pistachios
  • 3/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 60 cashews

Keto nuts to love

Pecans, Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts, all on the left side, have the lowest amount of carbs per serving and can be enjoyed freely on the keto diet. At least it’s very hard to get too many carbs this way.

Eat these low-carb nuts as a snack (if you need one) between meals, toast and toss into salads and other dishes, or grind them into nut butters to spread into celery, other veggies or low-carb crackers.

The nuts in the middle are not the best keto options, but you can probably get away with a few here and there.

The nuts to the right – especially cashews – should be avoided on keto. You’ll very quickly reach the daily keto limit of 20 grams of carbs.4 Less than three handfuls — about 60 cashews in total — is enough to reach this limit.

For all these various types of nuts, never eat any version that has been treated with sugar and other glazes, such as with labels like “honey roasted”, “sweet chili”, “salted caramel” and “spiced.” Read labels to make sure that no sugar has been added. These days many brands are adding sugar.

A reason to not go nuts on nuts

While Brazil, macadamia and pecan nuts are good keto options, you may still want to be a bit restrictive when eating nuts. Especially if you’re aiming to lose weight, or reverse type 2 diabetes, even these nuts can still be problematic.

Keep in mind that all nuts contain lots of fat and calories (plus some protein and minerals) – they are very nutritious.5 Eating nuts is fine if you’re doing so when you’re hungry and need energy. But if you’re just snacking on them between meals – without being hungry – because the nuts taste good or because you’re bored, then you’re adding tons of fat that you don’t need.

The result? Your body will burn the fat from the nuts, instead of your stored body fat. This is fine if you’re happy with your current weight and metabolic health. But if you’re aiming to lose weight it’s a different story. In that case, reducing snacking between meals to a minimum may be the best option.6

As always, aim to eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry.7

Salt, reward and how to avoid a nut binge

Nuts are so tasty and good, that they may be easy to over consume, especially salted varieties.8 Adding salt to nuts makes them significantly more rewarding and, for many people, almost addictive.9 This can lead to eating far more than you need to feel satiated.10

Eating too many nuts, especially with higher carb counts, can seriously slow down weight loss.11 Here are some tips to help control consumption, if you need them:

  • Select the amount you want to eat.
  • Put the nuts in a small bowl – don’t eat out of the full bag or container.
  • Preferably don’t mindlessly munch nuts while in front of the TV, watching a movie, reading or doing another activity that has most of your attention.12 Aim to instead enjoy them deliberately and mindfully.
  • Cut back on nuts if you find your weight loss is stalling, and make them an occasional indulgence.

Recipes

Here are some popular keto recipes that use nuts.

More (including snacks)

 

 
 

Worse choices

Worse choices than keto nuts: M&M's, potato chips, donuts, chocolate bar

Of course all nuts are still better than most other snack options, like potato chips or candy. All types of nuts (even cashews) are much lower in carbs – and higher in nutrients – than these.

 

Top 7 keto nuts

Top 7 keto nuts

Here’s our list of the top 7 keto nuts, ranked by the amount of carbs.

  1. Pecan nuts – 100 g (3½ ounces or about three handfuls) contains 4 grams of net carbs.
  2. Brazil nuts – 100 g contains 4 grams of net carbs.
  3. Macadamia – 100 g contains 5 grams of net carbs.
  4. Walnuts – 100 g contains 7 grams of net carbs.
  5. Hazel nuts – 100 g contains 7 grams of net carbs.
  6. Peanuts – 100 g contains 8 grams of net carbs.
  7. Almonds – 100 g contains 9 grams of net carbs. Almonds can also be ground into almond flour. Their neutral flavor makes them a good substitute for high-carb flours, and almond flour can be used in many keto recipes for bread or even pizza.
 
Return to the top of the keto nuts guide

More visual 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

A ketogenic diet for beginners
Ketogenic diet foods – what to eat and what to avoid
14-day keto diet meal plan with recipes and shopping lists
 

  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 carb = total carbs minus fiber

  3. Some information on how we determine which numbers to use for net carb counts: Generally we look in multiple nutritional databases, and when there are major discrepancies, we aim for an average of plausible numbers. Here are two examples:

    Pistachios: USDA says 16.6, CoFID 8.2, German database 11.6, a review on pistachios 14.9-17.7, Danish database 17.7, Canadian database 18.7. We conclude that 15 may be a good average.

    Cashews: USDA says 26.9, CoFID 18.1, German database 22.2. The USDA database may sometimes have problems with net carbs (carbs are defined as “carbohydrate by subtraction”). This review on cashwes says 20.5. We take an average of these four numbers (26.9+22.2+18.1+20.5)/4=21.9, or 22 grams.

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

    How low carb is keto?

  5. Nuts might also help reduce heart disease risk factors:

    Nutrients 2017: Nuts and human health outcomes: a systematic review [strong evidence]

  6. Eating more often than three times a day may be bad for weight loss or metabolic issues:

    Diabetologia 2014: Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study [moderate evidence]

    PLOS One 2012: Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males [moderate evidence]

    Journal of Nutrition 2017: Meal frequency and timing are associated with changes in body mass index in Adventist Health Study 2 [weak evidence]

  7. How to lose weight #2: Eat when hungry

    How to lose weight #4: Eat only when hungry

  8. Medical Hypotheses 2009: The Salted Food Addiction Hypothesis may explain overeating and the obesity epidemic [overview article]

  9. Current Drug Abuse Reviews 2011: The addiction potential of hyperpalatable foods [overview article]

  10. Frontiers in Psychology 2014: Food cravings, appetite, and snack-food consumption in response to a psychomotor stimulant drug: the moderating effect of “food-addiction” [overview article]

  11. How to lose weight: Eat less of dairy products and nuts

    According to this review, people with excess weight might often end up eating more calories when consuming nuts. The same effect was not apparent in people of normal weight:

    Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2018: Effect of nuts on energy intake, hunger, and fullness, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials [strong evidence]

  12. Studies demonstrate that eating when distracted may increase food intake somewhat:

    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013: Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating [strong evidence]