Best Nuts for Keto: A Guide to the Healthiest Low-Carb Nuts
Nuts are well-known for being great snack foods, and they can also add a delicious twist to many home-cooked recipes. While keto-friendly snacks like baked cheese crisps and turkey roll-ups are yummy, you can also make a healthy snack out of just a handful of low-carb nuts.
Just remember that not every nut is low-carb or keto-friendly. Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) nuts for a keto diet.
Why Does Keto Restrict Carbs?
For your body to enter a state of ketosis, it needs to stop getting all of its energy from glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. The goal is to turn fat molecules into ketones for energy, but if the body has enough carbohydrates in its system, it will choose to use glucose over making ketones. That’s why the keto diet typically allows 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
For ketosis to work, the liver needs to break down fat into ketones and begin the ketosis process. Within two to four days, your body will have a new energy source!
It can be frustrating to figure out what is keto-friendly and what is not. That’s why having access to keto-friendly products and resources can make it easier to stick to the diet long-term. Having low-carb nuts on hand can help keep you from reaching for old favorites.
Which Nuts Are Not Keto-Friendly?
While most nuts are in the keto-safe zone, there are still a few that don’t pass the test, even with their other nutritional benefits.
Cashews are delicious but deceptive, with around 18 grams of carbs per 100 grams of cashews. So while one or two probably won’t hurt, a whole serving of cashews shouldn’t be a staple in your daily meals.
One cup of pistachios can easily have over 25 grams of carbs, which is incredibly high! And don’t even get us started on pistachio ice cream. If you must have pistachios, eat them sparingly and directly from the shells.
One ounce of pine nuts can contain four grams of carbs, a gram of sugar, and nearly 200 calories. While not the worst of your options, you may want to swap pine nuts out for more keto-friendly options.
Yikes! With 28 grams per 100 grams, it’s generally best to avoid chestnuts entirely on keto. Instead, opt for other low-carb nuts or another snack entirely.
What Are Some Low-Carb Nuts That Are Keto-Friendly?
We know it can take some time to get used to the rules of keto. That’s why we put together this list of nuts that are Dr. Kellyann-approved for those following a keto diet.
A North American treasure and what might be the best option, pecans are high in good fats and extremely low in carbs at four grams per serving. Thanks to their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, pecans are also great for supporting metabolic and heart health.
As a bonus, pecans are also a fantastic source of fiber, which can support digestive health and the immune system. You can also expect tons of vitamin E, B6, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
As the name suggests, Brazil nuts come from South America and have a distinct taste that separates them from other nuts. Like pecans, they’re filled with healthy fats and nutrients. With 19 grams of fat and four grams of protein per serving, they can help you feel fuller longer.
Brazil nuts also contain selenium, a mineral that supports thyroid and overall immune system health. Just one Brazil nut has enough selenium for your entire daily value (which makes sense, as they’re quite large).
They’re also great sources of magnesium and vitamin E, which can help support muscular and cognitive health.
It’s important to note that Brazil nuts are highly caloric, so don’t over-indulge in this unique snack.
Macadamia nuts are an all-around great snack with many nutritional benefits. Besides being a great source of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, many people feel fuller for longer when they have macadamia nuts as a snack. That's because they’re high in monounsaturated fats.
One ounce (10 to 12 pieces) of macadamia nuts has a little over two grams of protein and over 20 grams of fat.
While not devoid of carbs, hazelnuts are great for small snacks. You can enjoy them plain or roast them for a smokey flavor. Each serving is about 12 hazelnuts and only has 6.5 carbs.
Not only are they a great source of plant-based protein, but hazelnuts also have a wide range of nutritional benefits. Hazelnuts have omega-3s, which can support heart health, and they may also support metabolic health.
Walnuts have 12 grams of protein per serving, making them a filling snack. Even better, they only have two grams of carbs per serving.
With plenty of fiber, they can also support overall digestive health while having little to no cholesterol.
Remember that snacks like candied walnuts should only be enjoyed occasionally as a dessert, as the added sugar and other ingredients can disrupt your keto process.
In a ¼ cup serving of almonds (raw or roasted), you can expect around seven grams of carbs. Almonds can also be easily incorporated into keto-friendly recipes, like energy balls and trail mixes.
Almonds are also quite filling, so you can use them to help beat any cravings for ultra-processed carbs.
While not technically a nut, sunflower seeds have many of the same benefits as the other nuts we’ve mentioned. Sunflower seeds are considered a superfood because they’re packed with healthy fats and protein. They’re also rich in magnesium, vitamin E, folate, and iron.
Sprouted sunflower seeds may have additional benefits, such as better nutrient absorption. One serving of sunflower seeds has 29 grams of protein, but remember that they also have the same amount of carbs — so don’t go overboard.
What Are Some Other Low-Carb Snacks for Keto?
We’re guessing you don’t want your snacks to be limited to nuts — which is fair. Thankfully, there are plenty of other low-carb snacks that you can use to keep things interesting.
Bone broth has been around forever and is commonly used as a base for soups and stews (although we prefer to drink it straight out of the mug). Our ancestors knew bone broth was a winning snack, and we continue to modify it in the modern age with delicious flavors and recipes.
If your lifestyle is too busy to spend hours over a stock pot, consider Dr. Kellyann’s bone broth.
There are plenty of protein bar options on the market, but not all of them are made the same. To avoid ultra-processed ingredients, you can make your own at home or find keto-friendly protein bars that aren’t packed with additives.
While there are many ways to enjoy eggs with keto, hard-boiled eggs are a delicious and quick snack that you can easily pair with other delicious options. They can be enjoyed alone or dipped in salt or pepper to taste. You can even enjoy deviled eggs while on keto!
Sliced avocado with salt can make an excellent snack. Packed with healthy fats, it can leave you feeling happily full as well. You can also slice one up and put it on some keto toast for a low-carb avocado toast.
Many fruits are high in carbs, but berries are a lovely exception. You can enjoy raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries on their own, in a fruit mix bowl, or dipped in Greek yogurt or heavy cream.
No preparation required! Enjoy a serving of olives paired with a slice of cheese, cold-cut meats, and nuts for a miniature charcuterie board.
When enjoyed in moderation, cheese can be a delicious low-carb snack. Enjoy a slice paired with olives or cold cuts, or indulge in a standalone slice. The options are endless!
Carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, and other low-carb veggies are delicious and refreshing snacks. Pair them with cream cheese or a low-carb dip for a delicious daily snack.
Beef jerky is packed with protein and is great for on-the-go snacking, coming in many delicious variations. Just make sure to check your ingredient list, as beef jerky can sometimes have hidden sugar in it.
You probably didn’t think any chocolate would be on the list, did you? Chocolate in its purest form (without all of the sugar and milk) can actually have a few health benefits when enjoyed in moderation. Plus, it’s a great low-carb snack.
The Bottom Line
Not every nut is good for a keto diet, but nuts like almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans are excellent options for a low-carb snack. Sunflower seeds also have similar properties to many low-carb nuts.
However, not all nuts make the cut. It’s generally best to avoid cashews, pine nuts, pistachios, and chestnuts on keto due to their high carbs and calories.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for your keto diet, check out Dr. Kellyann’s keto recipes. We also have many products that are keto-friendly, from smoothies to bone broth to shakes. After all, being on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy every meal.