Like beans and peas, legumes are generally considered carbohydrate powerhouses, making them unsuitable for a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
However, there are some exceptions and some specific varietes that are lower in carbs.
Other legumes considered to have a moderate carbohydrate content include mung beans, lentils, fava, black-eyed peas, and black, lima, and navy beans.
Legumes are the seeds or fruits of the Fabaceae family of plants.
They have long been credited with many health benefits, such as reducing cholesterol, regulating blood sugar levels, and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
In addition to that, legumes are an excellent source of protein and fiber.
They offer more protein than meat per calorie, making them an essential part of the vegetarian and vegan diet.
Including legumes in a low-carb diet requires careful selection and portioning.
A typical low-carb diet recommends 20 to 50g of net carbohydrates depending on the person’s size, age, and lifestyle.
Legumes vary greatly in carb content.
For example, a single cup of chickpeas contains about 35g of net carbs, while a cup of green beans contains about 7g.
Total carbohydrates are not net carbohydrates.
Total carbs are made up of fiber, natural sugars, and starches.
Complex carbs like fiber and some sugars are not included in the net carb calculation due to the body’s inability to digest them.
The amount of fiber should be subtracted from the total carb to get the net carb.
In addition, the body only digests some sugars.
Half the amount of sugars should also be subtracted from the total carb to get the net carb.
For example, 1 cup of chickpeas contains 44.7g of carbohydrates, 7.8g of sugar, and 12.5g of fiber.
The net carb of a cup of chickpeas will therefore be:
44.7g (total) – 12.5g (fiber) – 7.8/2 (half the sugars) = 28.3g
Are Beans High Carb Or Low Carb?
Beans are an incredible source of nutrition packed in tiny little packages.
They deliver loads of fiber, protein, iron, folate, and antioxidants in addition to numerous other nutrients.
They have been known to help reduce cancer, decrease heart disease, regulate blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes, prevent fatty liver, improve gut health, and help with weight loss.
However, on any low-carb diet, beans deliver too many carbohydrates and have to be limited to smaller portions.
The exceptions are black soybeans and green beans.
For example, green beans have 3.7g of net carbs per 100g, while adzuki beans have a whopping 50.2g.
In comparison, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) stand somewhere in the middle at 19.8g.
The high carb content of beans shows that there are plenty of healthy foods rich in carbohydrates.
Not only do they deliver the necessary energy you need, but they are also packed with all kinds of nutrients, protein, and fiber, making them an excellent choice for all diets aside from a low-carb diet.
Can You Eat Beans On A Keto Diet?
Pay attention to the carb content of each type of bean, the portion size, and know how much you can eat without exceeding the recommended daily intake.
As beans are a high-carb food group, most keto followers avoid beans altogether.
The keto diet has rapidly gained popularity in the last few years.
First introduced in the 1920s, it was originally developed to treat epilepsy.
Doctors realized that keeping epileptic patients on low-carb, high-fat diets forced their bodies to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This diet was abandoned soon after the development of anticonvulsant medication.
To this day, records acknowledge the ketogenic diet as one of the most successful treatments for epilepsy.
The modern keto diet has only become popular over the last few years.
In 2018, the global keto market was valued at $9.7 billion. With a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.5%, this is projected to reach $15.64 billion by 2027. (Source)
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that limits daily carbohydrate intake to between 20mg and 50mg according to size, lifestyle, and age.
In comparison, 100g of kidney beans contain 22.8g of carbs, more than the recommended daily intake for a small person on a keto diet.
By following this diet, a participant is said to get into a state called “ketosis”, where energy is fueled mainly by fat.
It lowers insulin levels and directs the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat.
Ketosis happens when you reduce your consumption of carbs, which limits your body’s supply of glucose.
Protein should also be limited, as it can be converted into glucose if high amounts are present.
Followers of the keto diet have also reported weight loss and improved mental function.
There are four types of ketogenic diets: The Standard Keto Diet (SKD), the high protein keto diet, the Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD), and the Targeted Keto Diet (TKD).
The two most commonly-used diets are the SKD and the high protein keto diet.
The CKD and TKD are used primarily by professional athletes and bodybuilders.
The SKD typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs, while the high protein diet’s ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
Common sources of fat include meat, eggs, nuts, fish, and oil.
Are Chickpeas Keto?
Chickpeas are considered a superfood that has numerous health benefits.
They are packed with nutrients, incredibly rich in fiber and protein, benefits digestion can help with weight control, and prevents diabetes.
How do we wiggle chickpeas into the keto diet while still sticking to the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates? Enter hummus!
Hummus is a dip made with mashed chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic, sesame paste, and tahini.
Because of its high fiber content, hummus, made up primarily of chickpeas, can be consumed sparingly.
Since net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber from the total carbs, adding more fiber will lower the net carbs and make hummus more keto-friendly.
Better yet, if hummus is paired with vegetables as opposed to crackers, the fiber content of your snack goes way up.
As a general guideline, 2 to 3 tablespoons of hummus is about 3g of carbohydrates.
So keto followers and chickpea lovers rejoice!
Following the keto diet does not equate to giving up chickpeas entirely.
As long as you keep an eye on the carbohydrate bank, there’s room for hummus in your life.
8 Interesting Facts About Hummus
- The earliest record of hummus was found in 13th-century cookbooks in Egypt
- No one can agree where hummus came from
- Fights have broken out in Israel over who makes the best hummus. They sure like their hummus!
- The word “hummus” literally means “chickpea” in Arabic. The full name “hummus bi tahina” means “chickpeas with tahini”.
- The Lebanese currently are in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest plate of hummus, weighing in at 10,452kg (23,042 lbs).
- A couple in Canada found a large dumpster filled with tubs of unexpired hummus. They proceeded to live on it for eight weeks!
- Hummus, because of chickpeas, is an aphrodisiac. Chickpeas contain arginine, the amino acid responsible for blood circulation and internal lubrication.
- Hummus is suitable for pregnant women as a source of B vitamins, preventing the congenital defect known as “spina bifida”.
Legumes have been nourishing us for thousands of years.
They are known almost universally as an enormous source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and nutrients.
Because of that, many on the low-carb or keto diets avoid them like the plague.
However, there are exceptions to every rule, and as previously explained, black soybeans and green beans are low-carb legumes, and with proper knowledge, others can be used sparingly.
Stay healthy and keep enjoying the tiny bundles of powerful nutrients!