You’re trying the keto diet on for size, but all that butter, cheese, and meat can be heavy. Lightening things up with some fruit seems like a solid choice, right?
It’s a little more complicated than that, actually. On this high-fat plan, you’re only getting 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs in order to stay in ketosis—a.k.a., a state where your body is burning fat for energy rather than carbs. And—newsflash—fruit is pretty high in carbs (it’s all those natural sugars).
Take blueberries, for example: One cup contains about 18 grams of net carbs (that’s total carbohydrates minus fiber), which accounts for pretty much an entire day’s worth of carbs on the keto diet (you’re supposed to eat fewer than 20 grams of net carbs a day).
Wait, so can I have any fruit at all on the keto diet?
With the keto diet encouraging you to eat super low carb to stay in ketosis, including fruit as part of a balanced diet can be challenging. But you should still try to incorporate it.
“Often fruit is mostly or completely excluded from the keto diet, which removes many options for high fiber, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant foods,” says Seattle-based registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of ChampagneNutrition.
Knowing the carb content of your fruit is crucial to making sure it can fit in. “Most fruit provides about 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2-cup serving, or about the size of a tennis ball,” says Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, who is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Choosing fruit as your source of carbohydrates is a good choice because of the nutrient punch they pack and the overall lack of fiber on the keto diet.”
And you definitely want the fiber that fruit provides. “Fiber can help keep us full, keep the bowels regular, and helps manage cholesterol levels,” says Majumdar. “Fiber needs are 25 grams for most.”
So, no, you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to go totally fruit-free on the keto diet. But you do have to watch your portions. Here are 17 keto-friendly fruits, selected by RDs, that pass the carb test.
Yep, this creamy delight is actually a fruit—and it’s a keto diet godsend. Not only does a half of an avocado contain a glorious 15 grams of heart-healthy fat, but it has less than two grams of net carbs, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.
These make great additions to smoothies, says Sarah Jadin, RD, who specializes in keto diets. Still, even with avocado you need to be mindful of how much you’re eating in relation to your carb allowance, she notes.
Olives are another fruit you definitely didn’t think were a fruit—so they totally count.
Ten small olives pack about three grams of fat and about 1.5 grams of net carbs. Bonus: they’re salty, and getting enough sodium is important when following a keto diet, says Jadin.
One-half cup of shredded coconut meat yields 13 grams of fat, and a respectable 2.5 grams of net carbs. Sugar is often added to coconut, so make sure you’re buying unsweetened—or buy an entire coconut and scoop the meat out yourself.
Blackberries have an impressive amount of fiber—nearly two grams in a quarter cup. That serving size also have 1.5 grams of net carbs, so you can definitely add these to your morning yogurt.
Stick with a quarter cup raspberries and you’ll get about 1.5 grams of net carbs, per the USDA.
Toss them in a salad, or, even better: whip up heavy whipping cream and toss a few berries on top for a keto-friendly dessert, recommends Jadin.
A quarter-cup of strawberry halves contains a little more than 2 grams of net carbs—or about 10 percent of your daily limit if you’re aiming for 20 grams of net carbs a day.
Yet another should-be veggie that’s actually a fruit. At 2 grams of net carbs per half-cup, cherry tomatoes are a great addition to your keto diet.
No one’s asking you to bite into a lemon—though, if you’re into that, you do you—but when you need to dress up unsweetened seltzer water or plain tea, the sour citrus fruit has your back.
A squeeze from a wedge has less than a half of a gram of net carbs. That’s a negligible amount of carbs, so honestly, squeeze as many lemons as you want, says Jadin.
“A medium pear is 25 grams of carbohydrates, but has the most fiber of any fruit—6 grams—and tastes great with a nutty dip like almond butter, also adding 1 gram of fiber (and 3 grams of carbs) per tablespoon to the snack,” says Majumdar. “Almond butter is a great way to meet fat goals too with 6 grams of total fat and only 0.5 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.”
“Apples range from 12 to 14 grams of net carbs in a small apple or a cup, quartered. It’s possible that you could enjoy some apple (make sure to include the skin for even more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) on a ketogenic diet, but in very small quantities,” says Hultin.
An apple makes a great snack for keto diet followers when smothered in a high-fat nut butter.
“Watermelon has about 11 net carbs in a cup of melon balls, so it could conceivably fit into a ketogenic diet in small amounts,” says Hultin. “Watermelon is high in both vitamin C as well as the antioxidant lycopene which the red color indicates (it’s also found in tomato!).”
Try pairing it with a high-fat yogurt or cottage cheese option.
“One lime fruit contains 5 grams of net carbs so this citrus fruit does fit on the keto diet,” says Hultin. “It is tart and flavorful yet high in fiber and vitamin C.” Utilize lime to flavor water or to mix into sauces to create a vibrant flavor to put on your keto-friendly meals. It goes well in peanut-sauce, in particular, adds Hultin.
“It’s important to maximize fruit and veggie intake on this low-carb diet to get access to the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber,” says Hultin. “Blueberries are sometimes excluded from fruit lists because they are a little higher in net carb, but keep in mind that 1/2 cup has about 8 to 11 net carbs so they could actually be included in small amounts.”
Even just a 1/4-cup of blueberries (to keep the carbs down) sprinkled on some cereal or in some low carb granola could be a nice boost of the specific nutrients in these flavorful berries.
“Pomegranates have phytonutrients that protect our body from cellular damage, and they are super fun to eat,” says Majumdar. “1/2-cup of the arils (seeds) has only 16 grams of carbohydrates and over 3 grams fiber.”
Try making a sauce for some lean protein or sprinkling on any any meat dish.
“A cup of cantaloupe melon balls has about 12 to 13 net carbs, so it can definitely fit into the keto diet on occasion, on otherwise very low-carb days,” says Hultin. “Rich in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, this is a very healthful fruit.”
Snack on cantaloupe or enjoy it as a sweet dessert. Add it, chilled, to smoothies for a frothy, sweet flavor.
“A cup of chopped cranberries has about 8 grams of net carbs, so this tart, colorful berry can be included on a ketogenic diet,” says Hultin. “Cranberries are very high in vitamin C and there’s some interesting research showing potential health benefits to the urinary tract system.”
Include cranberries on a salad for a beautiful garnish or blend them into your next keto fat bomb smoothie.
“Including mango while on keto can help you meet your daily needs of fruit, which are about 1 to 2 cups per day,” says Majumdar. “Mango is high in vitamin C and one of the juiciest fruits and provides about 2 grams of fiber per 3/4-cup.”
Chop mango into a salsa for some seafood or make into a curry for a chicken.
“Kiwis are naturally portioned and a small fruit contains only 8 to 9 grams of net carbs,” says Hultin. “Kiwis are rich in potassium and vitamin C as well as a great source of fiber, so they do complement a ketogenic diet.”
Grab and go! Kiwis are perfectly portioned so you can carry one for a snack or enjoy is as part of a healthy keto breakfast.