Can You Eat Corn if Youre on the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet, you probably know it as “keto,” is seemingly here to stay. Like many of these trendy diets—Paleo, Whole 30, to name a few—the keto diet is extremely restrictive. The goal, in short, is to put your body into ketosis, which means it’s burning fat instead of carbohydrates, for energy.

So what does that look like? Ideally, keto dieters will consume 70 percent of their calories from high-fat foods. And yes, that can include cheese and bacon, without sacrificing weight loss. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for carbohydrates—like corn—or protein.

Here’s where people have a lot of questions about some of their favorite carb foods—like potatoes and corn. Can you eat corn on the keto diet? And what about corn-based products, like corn tortilla, corn chips, corn cereal? The list goes on.

Corn, while a vegetable, is a starchy vegetable, which means it’s high in carbohydrates—not keto-friendly fat. An ear of corn contains roughly 41 grams of carbohydrates. A cup of corn has about 30 grams of carbs.

That doesn’t mean corn isn’t a healthy food, says Melanie Boehmer, M.S., certified nutritionist. Corn contains, for example, fiber, plant-based protein, vitamin C, and a little bit of potassium and plant-based iron.

Corn is also really cheap, which is why you’ll see corn-based products, like corn syrup, in many, many packaged foods. That means when you’re grocery shopping you have to pay close attention to nutrition labelsit’s easy to consume certain products without even realizing it.

Is Corn Keto?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to you, based on the amount of carbs in corn, that corn is not keto. But remember, Boehmer says, keto dieters are allowed roughly 3o to 40 grams of carbs per day.

A half-cup of corn contains about 15 grams of carbs, which makes it a tasty salad topper or egg scramble mix-in.

Can I Eat Corn-based Products on the Keto Diet?

Many foods—tortillas, chips, pizza crust, anything with corn syrup—are made from, you guessed it, corn. So, if corn is a no-no for keto, does that mean these products are, too?

Yep. Corn-based products mean they’re high in carbs.

“If you want to get your carbohydrates from corn and you really love that tortilla, then have your corn tortilla, but everything else that goes onto that meal has to be predominantly high fat or moderate protein,” Boehmer says. One corn tortilla contains about 20 grams of carbs.

What Can I Eat Instead of Corn?

There is no shortage of low-carb vegetables that you can eat instead of corn, Boehmer says. For example, try cauliflower, which has become a popular gluten-free substitute for pizza crust (among other things), too. Beets and carrots are also keto-approved substitutes.

Yes, the keto diet is restrictive, but it allows for a lot of creativity when putting your meals together—beet pizza, anyone?

That said, Boehmer cautions that the diet isn’t for everyone, especially those who live in food deserts and don’t have access to fresh produce.

Since keto relies heavily on certain food groups, you’d want to be near a high-tier supermarket to access your ingredients—and that’s a privilege not everyone has—Boehmer says.

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