Are pickles beets Keto?

The ketogenic diet, commonly known as “keto,” has become an increasingly popular way of eating for weight loss and health in recent years. The diet focuses on eating foods that are very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in fat. This forces the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where fat becomes the primary source of fuel instead of carbohydrates. Many people find that being in ketosis provides significant benefits like steady energy, better focus, and efficient fat burning.

When starting a keto diet, it’s important to understand which foods are keto-friendly and encouraged, and which foods should be limited or avoided altogether. There can be some confusion around whether certain vegetables like pickles and beets can be eaten on a keto diet. This article will take a detailed look at pickles and beets in the context of a keto diet, and provide a clear answer on whether they can be included.

What is Keto?

The ketogenic diet is characterized by a very low intake of carbohydrates, usually less than 50 grams per day. This restriction of carbohydrates forces the body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose.

Specifically, a keto diet typically includes:

  • 60-75% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% of calories from protein
  • 5-10% of calories from net carbs (total carbs minus fiber)

When following these macronutrient guidelines, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, the liver begins converting fat into compounds called ketones, which become the new primary fuel source for the body and brain.

Benefits of Keto

The keto diet offers a variety of health benefits supported by scientific research:

  • Weight loss – Keto promotes fat burning and can lead to significant weight loss without needing to count calories.
  • Reduced appetite – Ketosis reduces hunger hormones, leading to a natural decrease in appetite.
  • Lower blood sugar – Keto diets have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Reduced inflammation – The keto diet is anti-inflammatory, which can ease joint pain and other inflammatory issues.

Additionally, studies show keto may have therapeutic effects for certain conditions like type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and neurological disorders.

However, the keto diet’s strict requirements mean that certain foods need to be avoided or heavily restricted. This includes sugars, grains, legumes, most fruits and starchy vegetables, and unhealthy fats.

Keto dieters must stick to the approved keto foods to maintain ketosis and continue experiencing benefits.

Are Pickles Keto?

Pickles can be a great low-carb choice and fit into a keto eating plan.

Most pickles have only 1-3 grams of net carbs per serving. The brining process used to make pickles leaches out most of the carb content from the original fresh cucumber.

Here are some of the most common varieties of keto-friendly pickles:

  • Dill pickles – These are one of the most popular types, flavored with dill. 1 medium dill pickle has around 1.5g net carbs.
  • Bread and butter pickles – Sweetly flavored with a distinct butter taste. 2-3 slices is about 2g net carbs.
  • Kosher dill pickles – Crunchy with a distinctive savory garlic flavor. Each spear has 1-2g net carbs.
  • Gherkin pickles – Smaller, tangy pickles flavored with spices. 5-6 gherkin pickles contain about 2g net carbs.
  • Jalapeno pickled peppers – Spicy addition with only 1g net carb per pepper.

One thing to watch with pickle nutrition labels is added sugars, as some commercially sold brands add sugar to their pickles. Try to choose pickles without added sugars like high fructose corn syrup for the best low-carb option. For maximum control, you can easily make keto dill pickles at home with just cucumbers, vinegar, salt, and seasonings.

In reasonable portions, dill pickles, sour pickles, and other natural pickled vegetables can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a keto diet.

Are Beets Keto?

Unlike pickles, beets are generally not considered a keto-friendly vegetable.

One medium cooked beet contains approximately 9-10g net carbs, which can quickly use up a sizable chunk of your daily allotted carb intake on keto.

Beet Nutrition Facts

Here is the carb breakdown for 1 medium (3-1/2″ across) beet boiled without skin:

  • Total carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Net carbs: 9g

As you can see, with 9g net carbs per beet, it is quite a high source of carbohydrates compared to low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, and others.

This means that a single serving of beets could potentially kick you out of ketosis, depending on your personal daily carb limit. Consuming high-carb foods can quickly destabilize ketone levels and interrupt fat burning.

Reasons Beets Are High in Carbs

There are a couple reasons why beets have substantially more digestible carbs than most other vegetables:

  • Beets contain natural sugars – Raw beets are around 7% sugar by weight, mostly in the form of sucrose and glucose.
  • High starch content – Up to 80% of the carbohydrates in beets come from starch.

During cooking, the starch in beets breaks down into simpler sugars, increasing the carb content even further.

Downsides of Eating Beets on Keto

Here are some potential downsides of including beets in your keto diet:

  • Could quickly use up daily carb allotment – Following a strict keto diet, beets take up nearly half or more of a day’s allowed 20g net carbs.
  • Risk getting kicked out of ketosis – High carb intake from beets can interrupt the state of ketosis.
  • Blood sugar spikes – The digestible sugars in beets may cause blood glucose fluctuations.
  • Unpleasant digestive effects – Some people experience gas, bloating or uncomfortable bowel movements from the sugars present in beets.

Considering their high carb content, most people following a keto or ultra low-carb diet avoid beets. Small amounts of beets may be possible to fit into some higher-carb versions of the keto diet, but still require caution and planning.

Keto Vegetable Substitutes for Beets

While beets themselves may be too high in net carbs for keto, there are many delicious low-carb vegetables you can eat instead that offer similar nutrition without sacrificing ketosis.

Great keto-friendly vegetable choices include:

Leafy Greens

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Swiss chard
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula

These provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.

Above Ground Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Peppers

Great low-carb options with vitamin C and other nutrients.

Other Low-Carb Veggies

  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Onions/garlic
  • Green onions

These add flavor and variety to keto meals.

Tips for Preparing Keto Vegetables

To get the most nutrients and flavor from low-carb vegetables:

  • Try roasting cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus and more with olive oil for caramelization.
  • Saute spinach, kale, cabbage or swiss chard with garlic and oil for an easy side.
  • Make cucumber salad, tomato salads, coleslaw, or zucchini noodles for lighter meals.
  • Add veggies like peppers, onions and mushrooms to egg scrambles and omelets.
  • Stir fry any combination of low-carb veggies in coconut aminos or reduced-sodium soy sauce.

Replacing beets with these low-carb, high-nutrient options allows you to stay in ketosis while still enjoying a variety of delicious and healthy vegetables.

Keto Condiments and Pickled Foods

While beets themselves are too high in carbs for keto, there are some great beet-based condiments and pickled items you can enjoy in moderation on a keto eating plan, like:

Pickled Beets

The pickling process removes most of the carbohydrate content from beets, creating a pickled beet with only around 2-3g net carbs per serving. Enjoy pickled beets in moderate portions as a garnish or topping for keto salads and meals.

Beet Kraut

This is a fermented food made from shredded beets, like sauerkraut. The live active cultures create natural probiotics. Beet kraut only has about 3g net carbs per 1/2 cup serving. Use as a tangy, nutritious condiment.

Beet Kvass

Kvass is a fermented beverage made from beets. It contains beneficial probiotics that support digestion and immunity. Each 1 cup serving has around 3-5g net carbs, so kvass can be consumed occasionally in small portions on a keto diet.

Golden Beet Chips

Dehydrated golden beet chips in small portions can make a crispy, earthy keto snack. About 14 chips contains 5g net carbs. Track portions carefully.

Red Beet Hummus

Hummus gets a vibrant color and flavor from red beets. Two tablespoons of beet hummus have 3-4g net carbs. Pair with low-carb veggies.

Other Condiments

In addition to beet-based options, keto-friendly condiments like ranch, blue cheese, guacamole, salsa, and olive tapenade are great for adding bold flavor without excess carbs.

Health Benefits of Beets

While they may not be the best choice for a keto diet, beets do provide some important nutrients and health benefits, including:

  • Natural Nitrates – Beets contain nitrates that convert to nitric oxide, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels to improve circulation.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Compounds in beets like betalains act as powerful anti-inflammatories that may help reduce chronic inflammation.
  • Detoxification – Beets support detoxification, which binds and eliminates toxins from the body through the liver and colon.
  • Antioxidants – Brightly pigmented beets are high in antioxidants like vitamins C and A, and manganese.
  • Nutrient Dense – Beets provide folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium.

Some people may tolerate small 3-5g net carb servings of beets a few times per week, gaining some benefits while staying in ketosis. However, most keto dieters avoid beets completely due to the risks of getting knocked out of ketosis.

Summary: Are Beets Keto?

In summary, beets are high in net digestible carbohydrates and sugar, so they are typically not recommended on a strict ketogenic diet. Consuming a full serving of beets could easily use up your daily allowance of net carbs.

Potential issues with beets on keto include:

  • Kicked out of ketosis
  • Blood sugar spikes
  • Gastrointestinal problems

A better approach is to substitute beets with low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, zucchini, peppers, cucumber, asparagus and others to get similar nutritional benefits without the excess carbs.

You can also enjoy some pickled beet products like beet kraut and kvass in very small portions as an occasional treat. But for the most part, standard cooked beets should be avoided on a keto, low-carb and diabetic diet due to their high carb content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pickled beets keto-friendly?

Pickled beets can be included in a keto diet in moderation. The pickling process lowers the carb count substantially. About 2-3 medium pickled beets would contain around 5g net carbs. Track portions to keep carb intake in check.

Can you eat beet greens on keto?

Yes, beet greens are very low in net carbs, with only around 2g carbs per cooked cup. The greens are super nutritious and high in vitamins A, K, B6, magnesium and potassium. Enjoy beet greens sautéed, or add raw leaves into salads for some green nutrition.

What are good keto beet alternatives?

Great low-carb alternatives to beets include:

  • Red cabbage
  • Red radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomatoes
  • Red/purple cauliflower

These all provide color and nutrients without too many digestible carbs.

Can you eat golden beets on keto?

No, golden beets are still too high in net carbs for keto. A medium cooked golden beet contains around 10g total carbs and 7g net carbs, exceeding most daily carb allotments on keto. Avoid all varieties of fresh beets.

Are beet chips keto-friendly?

Dehydrated beet chips can potentially fit into a keto diet in very small portions, around 15 chips for 5g net carbs. However, beets have a high starch content that can spike blood sugar. Most keto experts recommend avoiding beet chips and sticking to low-carb vegetables instead.


Beets pack a lot of carbohydrates and sugar given their small serving size, making them a poor choice for the very low-carb keto diet. Consuming a full serving of beets could easily break ketosis.

On the other hand, most pickled and fermented foods like pickles can be enjoyed in moderation on keto. Dill pickles, gherkin pickles, and other naturally fermented vegetables make tasty low-carb options.

When a recipe calls for beets, you can replace them with lower-carb alternatives like red cabbage, radishes, rhubarb, tomatoes, or raspberry-flavored items. This allows you to mimic the color and flavor of beets without going over your carb limit and being knocked out of ketosis.

Overall, beets are one of the vegetables that should be avoided on a ketogenic diet, while pickles are keto-approved. Focus on low-carb vegetables, high-fat meats, oils, nuts, seeds and dairy for your keto meals, snacks and smoothies. With the right foods, you can successfully reach and maintain ketosis for better health.

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