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 select nuts with the lowest carbs, to help you succeed on keto.1
 
You’ll find the lowest-carb (keto) options to the left.
 

 
 
Keto nuts
keto nuts
The numbers above the nuts represent the amount of net carbs in 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces.23
 
A rough guide is that 100 grams of nuts is about three handfuls — but hands come in different sizes.

If you want to know exactly how many grams of carbs you’re eating, here are the number of individual nuts in a 100-gram serving:

  • 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 of the image, have the lowest amount of carbs per serving and can be enjoyed freely on a keto diet.

Well, almost freely. Some of us enjoy eating dry-roasted, salted nuts so much that we end up going overboard with them. If this is you, limit yourself to one handful, or simply avoid them.

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

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. Less than three handfuls — about 60 cashews — is enough to reach this limit.

Avoid nuts that have been treated with sugar and other glazes, such as those labeled “honey roasted,” “sweet chili,” “salted caramel,” and “spiced.”

Whichever type of nuts you choose, read labels to make sure no sugar has been added.

A reason not to go nuts on nuts

While Brazil, macadamia, and pecan nuts are good keto options, you may still want to be careful when eating nuts. If you want to lose weight or reverse type 2 diabetes, even these nuts may be problematic.

Keep in mind that all nuts contain lots of fat and calories (plus some protein and minerals) – they are very nutritious.4

Eating nuts is fine if you’re hungry and need energy. But if you’re just snacking on them between meals because the nuts taste good or you feel bored, then you’re adding calories and fat that you don’t need.

The result? Your body will burn the fat from the nuts, instead of your stored body fat — which isn’t a problem if you’re happy with your current weight.

But if you want to lose weight, it’s a different story. In this case, minimizing between-meal snacking may be the best option.5

As always, eat when you’re hungry, and don’t eat when you’re not hungry.

How to avoid eating too many nuts

Nuts are so tasty that they can be easy to overeat, especially salted varieties.6 Adding salt to nuts makes them more more rewarding — and for some people, almost addictive.7 This can lead to eating far more than you need to feel satisfied.8

What’s more, eating too many nuts, especially with higher carb counts, can seriously slow down weight loss.9

Here are some tips to help keep your nut consumption under control:

  • Select the amount you want to eat.
  • Put the nuts in a small bowl – don’t eat out of the full bag or container.
  • Avoid mindlessly munching nuts while in front of the TV, watching a movie, reading or doing another activity that has most of your attention.10 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, 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 grams (3.5 ounces) contain 4 grams of net carbs.
  2. Brazil nuts – 100 grams contain 4 grams of net carbs.
  3. Macadamia – 100 grams contain 5 grams of net carbs.
  4. Walnuts – 100 grams contain 7 grams of net carbs.
  5. Hazel nuts – 100 grams contain 7 grams of net carbs.
  6. Peanuts – 100 grams contain 8 grams of net carbs.11
  7. Almonds – 100 grams contain 9 grams of net carbs. They 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.
 
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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 randomized controlled trial (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. To determine which numbers to use for net carb counts, we generally 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: 16.6 grams, CoFID: 8.2 grams, German database: 11.6 grams, a review on pistachios: 14.9-17.7 grams, Danish database: 17.7 grams, Canadian database: 18.7. (The USDA database may sometimes have problems with net carbs because carbs are defined as “carbohydrate by subtraction”). We conclude that 15 grams may be a good average.

    Cashews: USDA: 26.9 grams, CoFID: 18.1 grams, German database 22.2 grams, a review on cashews: 20.5 grams . We take an average of these four numbers (26.9+22.2+18.1+20.5)/4=21.9, or 22 grams.

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

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

  5. Eating more often than three times a day may be counterproductive 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]

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

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

  8. 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]

  9. According to this review, people who carry excess weight often end up eating more calories when consuming nuts:

    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]

  10. 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]

  11. Peanuts are technically legumes, but they’re often grouped with nuts because of their similarities.