What Are the Best Low-Carb Fruits to Eat on a Keto Diet?
The keto diet can help increase your chances of weight loss. But if you don’t eat the right kinds of fruits, and in the right amount, you may kick yourself out of ketosis and stall your weight loss efforts.
Avocados, raspberries, and lemons are keto-friendly fruits when eaten in moderation.
A Primer on the Keto Diet and Ketosis
First, it’s important to understand how keto may help you lose weight. The purpose is to kick your body into ketosis, a natural metabolic state that forces your body to burn fat rather than carbs. This happens because, on the keto diet, you’re usually taking in 50 grams (g) or fewer of carbs per day, says Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, RD, CDCES, a nutritionist based in the New York City area. While several variations of the keto diet exist, the standard approach to this plan requires you to take in about 70 to 80 percent of your calories from fat, 10 to 20 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbs, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Because some fruits have more carbs than others, knowing which ones to avoid is key for accelerating weight loss and reaping other possible benefits of keto. Just know that large, long-term, randomized controlled trials on the keto diet are limited, so it’s unclear whether keto is safe and effective to follow for the long haul, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Also important before you jump on the bandwagon is to know that keto can pose health risks to some individuals, including people with type 1 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes who are on medication, people who are at risk for heart disease, people with kidney disease, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, according to a review.
For anyone, regardless of any underlying health issues, the so-called keto flu is a possibility (and even likelihood) as your body adjusts to ketosis on the keto diet, says Tori Schmitt, RDN, founder of YES! Nutrition, based in Dayton, Ohio. Fatigue, irritability, headaches, and nausea are all symptoms of the keto flu, Schmitt says. Fortunately, keto flu lasts only about one to two weeks. Play it safe and ask your healthcare team if keto is right for you.
What Fruits to Eat on a Low-Carb Keto Diet
If you’ve decided keto is a good fit for your wellness goals, and you want to add fruit to your meal plan, choose fruits with the least amount of net carbs, which is the total amount of carbohydrate content in a fruit minus its fiber content (since the body can’t digest fiber), according to the website for the low-carb Atkins diet. The keto diet allows for about 25 g of net carbs per day, per the healthy-lifestyle website Ruled.me. Dietitians recommend reaching for the following fruits.
Can’t get enough avocados? You now have a great excuse to eat more of the creamy green fruit. A ½ cup of sliced avocado has almost 11 g of fat and fewer than 3 g of net carbs, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. While they can be nutritionally dense because of their fat content (that same ½-cup serving contains 117 calories), a little goes a long way as a sandwich spread, salad topper, or dip. You’ll also get plenty of fiber (17.5 percent daily value, or DV) and potassium (354 milligrams [mg], or 7.5 percent DV).
Whether you’re adding them to a recipe or snacking on a handful of them raw, blackberries can make a great addition to your keto meal plan. A ½-cup serving barely contains any fat (less than half a gram) and is also low in net carbs, with just 3 g, according to USDA data. The same size serving offers nearly 4 g of fiber (13 percent of your DV) and 3.5 g of sugar. Blackberries also provide 117 mg of potassium, 15 mg of vitamin C, and 14 mg of vitamin K. This low-cal fruit is also a great snack for weight loss, containing about 31 calories per ½ cup.
Some people group tomatoes with vegetables, but a tomato is actually a fruit. A cup of cherry tomatoes contains fewer than 30 calories and has around 4 g of net carbs, according to USDA data, making them keto-friendly. Their lower calorie count is due to their high water content, but research shows that tomatoes also contain many antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene. A 2021 study found that lycopene, a plant-based pigment, has anticancer properties and also may help prevent heart disease.
This red-stalked fruit isn’t often seen outside of its growing season, from spring to mid-summer, according to Almanac.com, although it can be frozen or pickled. One diced cup of this tart produce delivers more than 2 g of fiber for 26 calories, according to USDA data. It’s also got some bonus protein, potassium, and vitamins C and A. The fruit’s tart flavor can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or pureed in a small, low-carb smoothie. Just remember to remove the leaves before eating, as they can be toxic in large amounts due to oxalic acid, according to MedlinePlus.
Carambola, or star fruit, is native to Asia and more common there than in the United States, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It’s named for the shape it resembles when sliced, and has a sweet and sour taste. And this fruit is worth a try if you’re on keto and want to add some variety to your diet. A cup of cubed star fruit contains about 5 g of net carbohydrates, with nearly 4 g of fiber, per the USDA. It’s also low in calories (around 40 per cup) and contains potassium and vitamin C.
These berries contain flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that can help reduce blood pressure and promote healthier arteries, lowering your risk of heart disease, according to a research review from 2021. A cup of fresh raspberries has 64 calories but a whopping 8 g of fiber. With a little more than 5 g of sugar, the net carbs of that serving comes to under 7 g, according to USDA data. They’re great eaten as a snack or as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt.
Like most melons, cantaloupe’s high water content makes it hydrating and keeps calories low, around 54 per cubed cup, per USDA data. Although its fiber content is nothing to boast about, with fewer than 2 g per cup, and it has close to 13 g of sugar, cantaloupe contains a reasonable amount of carbs per serving, which makes it a fit on most keto plans. Like other fresh fruits, cantaloupe is full of vitamins and nutrients such as potassium, vitamins C and A, and beta carotene. A slice can be a refreshing snack, or try adding some to your next salad.
Strawberries are another delicious, sweet, and filling fruit that you can eat in moderation on the keto diet. A cup of sliced strawberries contains more than 3 g of fiber and around 9 g of net carbs, according to USDA data. With 53 calories per cup, strawberries are a low-cal addition to yogurt, cereal, or smoothies. Strawberries also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, per a study from 2021. They also deliver plenty of antioxidant vitamin C.
This juicy melon is a refreshing way to get a keto-friendly fruit fix, with just 46 calories per diced cup, per USDA data. Like other melons, it’s no fiber superstar, but the high water content keeps calories and carbs in check, with under 12 g per cup. And researchers in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service recently identified over 1,500 beneficial phytochemicals in watermelon, including antioxidants and lycopene.
This sunny citrus fruit and its juice are also keto-friendly, so go ahead and add a wedge or squeeze to your ice water. The juice from one lemon has 3 g of carbohydrates, per USDA data, and only around 11 calories. Yet you’ll still get a dose of immune-boosting vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radicals (compounds associated with aging and chronic illness) and promotes healthy digestion, according to the Cleveland Clinic.