Beans are generally considered healthy food. They’re rich in protein and fiber and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.
However, they also contain some carbs, so it can be a challenge to work them into a low-carb, high-fat keto diet.
Most people on a keto diet aim to eat 50 grams or less of total carbs per day, or no more than 25 grams of net carbs, which is the number of total carbs minus the fiber and sugar alcohols.
This article reviews the total and net carb counts of various types of beans, which ones are keto-friendly, and some low carb alternatives.
Carb counts of various types of beans
This list provides the carb counts for some of the most common types of beans per 1/2-cup (60–90-gram) serving, cooked:
- Black beans: 20 grams
- Navy beans: 24 grams
- Kidney beans: 20 grams
- Black soybeans: 8 grams
- Green beans: 4 grams
- Chickpeas: 25 grams
- Lima beans: 19 grams
- Pinto beans: 23 grams
- Lentils: 18 grams
- Black-eyed peas: 21 grams
- Great Northern beans: 19 grams
Note that for most varieties of beans, a 1/2-cup serving weighs about 90 grams. However, green beans are much lighter, so a 1/2-cup serving weighs only about 60 grams.
Summary: This list details the total carb amounts in a 1/2-cup (60–90-gram) serving of different varieties of beans.
As you can see, some beans can be fairly high in carbs — both total and net — while others have much lower carb counts.
On a strict keto diet, your best bet for beans is to choose either green beans or black soybeans.
While green beans are typically prepared more like a vegetable than a bean, black soybeans are a great alternative to other, starchier beans in soups, bean dips, refried beans, or other recipes.
However, some people recommend avoiding black soybeans on a keto diet because of the controversy surrounding soy and its potential effects on your hormone balance, although no firm conclusions have been drawn regarding these potential effects.
Regardless, black soybeans have low total and net carb counts that will help you meet your goals while on keto.
What’s more, most of the other types of beans can be incorporated into a well-planned day of keto eating if you stick to the proper portion size of just 1/2 cup (90 grams).
Always check the label, though, as certain products like baked beans commonly contain added sugar, which can drastically increase the carb count.
Summary: Green beans and black soybeans are low-carb beans that can easily be incorporated into a keto diet. With careful planning, other types of beans can be included in small amounts as well.
Substitutes for beans while on a keto diet
If you’re looking for some other keto-friendly substitutes for beans, here are promising alternatives:
- Mushrooms. Cooked mushrooms are low in carbs and calories and can be used in place of beans in soups, stews, and chili to drastically reduce their carb counts.
- Eggplant. Like mushrooms, diced eggplant can be used to replace beans in certain recipes. You can also use eggplant to make a keto-friendly dip called baba ganoush, which can be used as an alternative to chickpea-based hummus.
- Avocado. If you’re enjoying Mexican food, opt out of high-carb refried beans or bean dip with your meal and choose guacamole or smashed avocado instead.
- Ground meat. In soup or chili recipes, you can also omit beans and simply add extra ground meat, such as beef, pork, or turkey. Unlike the veggies listed above, this is a high-protein option.
- Boiled peanuts. When boiled, peanuts adopt a texture that’s remarkably similar to that of cooked beans. They’re also similarly high in protein and fiber, as peanuts are technically a legume in the bean family — not a nut.
Several other low-carb veggies can serve as an adequate substitute for beans in soup recipes, too. You likely have one or two options in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
Suggested read: Is peanut butter keto-friendly? Carbs, substitutes, and more
Summary: Mushrooms, eggplant, boiled peanuts, and ground meat can be substituted for beans in soup, stew, and chili recipes. Meanwhile, baba ganoush and guacamole are keto-friendly dips that can replace higher carb options like hummus and bean dip.
Most beans are too high in carbs to be staples on the keto diet. However, with careful planning, you can include small servings of beans occasionally. Always be sure to check labels for added sugars, though.
Green beans and black soybeans are keto-friendly bean options, each containing only 2 grams of net carbs per 1/2-cup (60–90-gram) serving.
Some promising keto substitutes for beans include mushrooms, eggplant, avocado, ground meat, and boiled peanuts.
With these low-carb beans and bean alternatives, there’s no need to shy away from bean recipes while on keto.