Are beets good for a low carb diet?

Beets are a nutritious root vegetable that is low in carbohydrates but high in important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For people following a low carb or ketogenic diet, beets can be a healthy addition in moderation.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover whether beets are keto-friendly, their nutrition facts, health benefits, and potential downsides. You’ll also learn how to incorporate beets into your low carb meal plan.

Are beets keto?

Beets are relatively low in net carbs, meaning they can fit into a ketogenic diet. One medium boiled beet contains about 5-6 grams of net carbs (8-9 grams total carbs minus 2-3 grams fiber).

This carb count is quite low compared to other starchy vegetables like potatoes, which have 15-30 grams net carbs per serving. Beets have a high water content which dilutes their carbohydrate density.

While beets themselves are low-carb, they are commonly pickled, canned or cooked with added sugars which can increase the carb count significantly. It’s best to eat fresh, simply prepared beets to maximize their nutritional benefits on keto.

As with any vegetable, moderation is key. Eating too many beets at once could potentially knock you out of ketosis by exceeding your daily 20-50 gram carb limit. But enjoying beets occasionally as part of a low carb, high fat meal can fit into your macronutrient goals.

Beet nutrition facts

Here is an overview of the nutrition facts in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw beets according to the USDA:

  • Calories: 43
  • Net carbs: 4.8 grams
  • Fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Sugar: 6.8 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Protein: 1.6 grams
  • Manganese: 17% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI
  • Folate: 6% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI

As you can see, beets provide a good amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants without a lot of carbohydrates.

Key nutrients in beets include:


Despite their sweet flavor, beets are low in sugar and rich in fiber. One serving of beets has 2-3 grams of dietary fiber.

This indigestible carbohydrate promotes gut health and slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. Fiber is also filling which helps with appetite control (1).


Also known as vitamin B9, folate plays many important roles in your body. It’s vital for cell growth and DNA production. Pregnant women especially need folate to support proper brain and spinal cord development in the fetus (2).

Just one beet contains 6% of the RDI for folate. The high folate content in beets may promote heart health and help prevent certain birth defects during pregnancy (3, 4).


With 9% of the RDI per serving, beets are an excellent source of the essential mineral potassium.

Potassium acts as an electrolyte that counterbalances sodium in your body. Getting enough of this mineral is important for blood pressure control, nerve function and muscle contractions (5).


All vegetables contain naturally-occurring nitrates, but beets are particularly high in this nutrient.

Dietary nitrates get converted into nitric oxide in your body, which widens blood vessels and enhances athletic performance. Research shows that nitrate-rich beet juice can lower blood pressure and increase exercise endurance (6, 7).

Health benefits of beets

Consuming beets may provide the following health benefits:

Improve exercise performance

Beets contain nitrates that widen blood vessels allowing more oxygen to be delivered to your muscles. Studies confirm that consuming beet juice or foods high in nitrates can enhance physical performance and increase endurance (8).

In one study, runners who drank beet juice for a week shaved an average of 26 seconds off their 5K race time (9). The nitrates in beets allow you to exercise longer before reaching fatigue.

Lower blood pressure

Research shows that the natural nitrates in beets relax blood vessels leading to a reduction in blood pressure (10).

In one study, drinking 8 ounces (240 mL) of beet juice daily lowered blood pressure in people with hypertension within 6 hours. The benefits continued over a 4-week period (11).

Support brain health

The nitrates and antioxidants in beets may boost brain health. In one study, older adults who drank beet juice daily performed better on tests of cognition after just 2 weeks (12).

Animal studies also demonstrate that beet extracts may reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and damage to brain cells (13, 14).

Protect liver health

Animal research indicates that beetroot juice protects against liver toxicity and fat deposits in the liver. Beets appear to stabilize liver enzymes and increase detoxification (15, 16).

More human research is needed to confirm if beets provide the same liver-protecting benefits in people.

Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation contributes to many diseases. Animal studies suggest beetroot juice exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by reducing inflammatory markers (17, 18).

However, human studies are limited. More research is necessary to determine how beets affect markers of inflammation in humans.

May inhibit cancer tumor growth

Beets are a source of betalain pigments such as betanin. Test-tube studies demonstrate that betalain from beets suppress the growth of tumor cells (19).

One study in mice with lung tumors found that feeding the mice beetroot extract reduced tumor size by 30-65% (20).

While beets show anti-cancer effects in test-tube and animal studies, human research is needed.

Support digestion

Beets contain fiber which promotes regularity and healthy digestion. One study in 40 people found that eating baked beets increased the frequency of bowel movements (21).

Just make sure to introduce beets slowly to prevent gas and bloating.

Potential downsides

Beets are safe for most people to consume but have some potential downsides:

  • Kidney stones: Beets are high in oxalates which can contribute to kidney stones. If you’ve had issues with kidney stones, talk with your healthcare provider before increasing beet intake (22).
  • Colored urine: Beeturia is a harmless condition that makes your urine appear pink or red after eating beets. It affects about 14% of the population and is not a cause for concern (23).
  • Gas and bloating: Some people may experience gas and abdominal discomfort from suddenly increasing fiber intake. Introducing beets slowly and cooking them properly can help.
  • Dangerously low blood pressure: People with hypotension or on blood pressure lowering medications may need to moderate their beet intake to prevent blood pressure dipping too low (24).

As with any food you’re introducing to your diet, watch for signs of food sensitivity or intolerance.

How to add beets to a low carb diet

Here are some simple ways to enjoy beets as part of a keto or low carb meal plan:

Roast them

Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in beets. Simply clean the beets, drizzle with avocado oil and roast at 400°F (205°C) until tender when pierced with a knife.

Pickle them

Pickling beets adds a tangy flavor and crunch. Look for low carb recipes using apple cider vinegar rather than sugar.

Shred them into salads

Raw beets can be shredded or spiralized then added to salads for color and nutrition. Pair them with keto-friendly ingredients like avocado, walnuts, goat cheese and olive oil.

Blend into smoothies

For a nutrition boost, add some roasted beets to your low carb smoothies along with collagen protein powder and healthy fats.

Make beet chips

For easy keto snacks, thinly slice beets and roast with avocado oil and sea salt. Kids love the natural sweet taste of beet chips.

Drink beet juice

You can juice or blend beets into a drink for an energy-boosting, nitrate-rich addition to your diet. Opt for low-sugar Beet juice rather than sugary bottled juices.

Use in soups

Add diced or spiralized beets to bone broth soups along with low carb veggies like cauliflower and spinach. The beets enhance the color and nutrition.

Beet recipes for keto

Here are some delicious low carb beet recipes to try:

Roasted beets with feta and walnuts

Roast sliced beets drizzled with avocado oil. Top with feta cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinegar for a flavorful side dish.

Beet and goat cheese salad

Toss cooked, sliced beets with mixed greens, goat cheese, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette.

Beet blender muffins

Make high-fiber muffins by blending cooked beets with almond flour, eggs, baking powder and cinnamon.

Beet smoothie bowl

Blend beets with avocado, collagen, ice, macadamia milk and cocoa powder. Top with low carb granola, hemp seeds and coconut.

Golden beet soup

Simmer chopped golden beets with sautéed onions, broth and spices. Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Beet chocolate cake

Shredded beets help make this moist almond flour chocolate cake naturally sweet. Top with whipped cream.

Should you avoid beets on keto?

Beets can be part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet when consumed in moderation. Focus on incorporating fresh, whole beets that haven’t been pickled or canned in sugary brine.

Here are some reasons you may want to limit beets if you’re following strict keto:

  • They are slightly higher in carbs than very low carb veggies like greens, cucumbers and zucchini.
  • It’s easy to overeat beets. Measure out 1 cooked beet per serving.
  • Juiced or cooked beets have more concentrated carbs than raw.
  • Pickled beets can contain added sugars.

The best approach is listening to your body. Monitor your symptoms and watch if you stay in ketosis when you eat beets as part of your overall carb limit.

Beets and keto flu

Some people report that beets can worsen keto flu symptoms. When your body is adapting to burning fat rather than glucose for fuel, eating high-carb foods can make symptoms like fatigue, headache and brain fog worse.

It’s smart to limit beet intake during the initial 2-4 week keto adaptation phase. After you’re fat-adapted, beets are less likely to throw you off or exacerbate keto flu.


Beets provide many nutritional benefits and can be included as part of a healthy low carb or ketogenic diet. Focus on consuming fresh, whole beets in moderation along with other low carb vegetables.

Roasting, pickling, juicing and adding beets to salads, smoothies and soups are some tasty ways to work them into your meal plan.

While beets are low glycemic and keto-friendly, they have slightly more carbs than some vegetables. Eat them in moderation and avoid pickled or sugary options to experience beets benefits without getting kicked out of ketosis.

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