Are refried beans OK on keto diet?

The ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has become incredibly popular for weight loss and health benefits. On keto, carbs are restricted to 20-50 grams per day to induce ketosis, a metabolic state where your body switches from burning carbs to burning fats for fuel. This causes rapid weight loss without hunger.

Keto limits most grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes due to their high carb content. So a common question is – are refried beans keto-friendly? Refried beans are a staple Mexican side made of mashed pinto beans fried in oil or lard. But with 6-10 grams net carbs per 1/2 cup serving, can they fit into a keto diet plan?

This article reviews if and how you can incorporate refried beans on a ketogenic diet, their nutrition facts, and low-carb bean alternatives for keto.

Are Refried Beans Keto?

The main consideration for keto-friendliness of any food is its net carb content. Net carbs refer to total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. On keto, net carbs should be kept under 20-50g daily.

A 1/2 cup serving of canned refried beans contains around 15-20g total carbs, 6-10g as net carbs after subtracting fiber. So a moderate 1/2 cup portion would use up 20-50% of your daily carb limit on keto. Eating any more could quickly knock you out of ketosis.

So are refried beans keto? In moderate amounts, yes – but they must be accounted for in your daily carb limit. Be mindful of portion sizes and closely monitor your net carbs from other foods that day.

Nutrition Facts of Refried Beans

Here are the nutrition facts of 1/2 cup canned refried beans in detail:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 110
Fat 2g
Carbs 15g
Fiber 5-9g
Net carbs 6-10g
Protein 7g

As you can see, nearly half the carbs in refried beans come from fiber, which is subtracted to calculate net carbs. The protein and fiber also contribute to keeping you full.

So while not very low-carb, refried beans can squeak into many keto meal plans occasionally. Let’s look at how.

How to Fit Refried Beans into Keto Diet

Here are some tips to work refried beans into a keto diet:

Watch Portions

Stick to a 1/2 cup serving or less per meal, measured precisely. This will provide 6-10g net carbs – enough to stay in ketosis if the rest of your diet is very low-carb that day. Resist going for seconds to avoid kicking yourself out of ketosis.

Balance with Low-Carb Foods

On days you eat refried beans, choose lower carb foods for the rest of your meals. For example, pair it with a low-carb protein like grilled chicken, steak or fish. Add a side salad or sauteed greens instead of another starch.

Skip the Tortillas

Avoid eating refried beans wrapped in flour or corn tortillas, which can provide over 50g extra carbs. Go tortilla-less to make room for the beans in your carb budget.

Watch Other Ingredients

Many store-bought canned refried beans contain added sugars and starches as thickening agents. Check labels and pick a brand without these. Better yet, make your own from scratch.

Make Your Own

Homemade allows control over ingredients. Cook dried pinto beans from scratch. Mash them with oil/lard and seasonings of your choice. This avoids added sugars and starches for far fewer net carbs.

Substitute Low-Carb Veggies

For lower carb bean replacements try – cauliflower rice, riced broccoli or butternut squash as the base instead of beans. Still delicious.

Add More Fiber

Increase fiber from other foods the same day you eat refried beans. Fiber subtracts from total carbs. Aim for 25-30g of fiber daily.

Cut Back Elsewhere

If refried beans are a must-have, look for other ways to slash carbs that day – forgo fruits, sweeteners, low-carb baked goods, etc. Saving carbs for beans helps them fit into keto.

In short – appreciate refried beans in moderation alongside low-carb foods while paying close attention to portion sizes and net carbs.

Health Benefits of Refried Beans

What makes refried beans worth fitting into a keto diet? Here are some of their biggest health perks:

High in Fiber

Just a half cup of refried beans gives you around 5-9g of fiber, keeping your digestion regular on keto. Beans are one of the best fiber sources.

Rich in Protein

With 7g protein per serving, beans offer an affordable vegan protein to complement keto. This helps maintain muscle mass when limiting carbs.

Provides Key Vitamins

Refried beans supply important vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, folate, manganese and phosphorus. Their antioxidant content gives an extra health boost.

May Lower Cholesterol

The fiber in beans binds to cholesterol in digestion to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

Helps Control Blood Sugar

The protein, fiber and low glycemic impact make refried beans a healthy choice for steadier energy and blood sugar levels.

Supports Gut Health

The resistant starch and prebiotics in beans act as food for healthy gut bacteria. This improves digestion and immunity.

So while not a very low-carb choice, incorporating some beans can add valuable nutrition to a keto diet.

Healthier Keto Bean Alternatives

What are some lower-carb bean replacements to consider on keto? Here are a few ideas:

Black Soybeans

With only 1g net carb per 1/2 cup, black soybeans can readily fit into keto diets. Their texture is similar to black beans when prepared.

Green Beans

At 4g net carbs per cup, green beans allow you to load up on servings. Saute them in oil or bacon for delicious low-carb side.

Lupini Beans

Sometimes called lupin beans, these contain only 5g net carbs per 1/2 cup. They have a mild taste complementing many dishes.

Pinto Beans

At 7g net carbs per 1/2 cup, pinto beans are one of the lowest-carb bean options. Great mashed in recipes mimicking refried beans.


With about 5g net carbs per 1/2 cup serving, shelled edamame soybeans make a solid swap. Enjoy boiled, roasted, etc.


Fermented soy tempeh provides 10g protein and only 3g net carbs in a 1/2 cup serving, along with probiotics.


Made of pressed soy curds, tofu contains under 3g net carbs per 1/2 cup serving. It’s very versatile for keto recipes.

Experiment with these lower-glycemic bean varieties and soy foods on keto for far fewer net carbs than refried beans.

Keto-Friendly Recipes with Refried Beans

Here are some keto-approved recipes that incorporate moderate amounts of refried beans:

Mexican Taco Salad

Make a taco salad with seasoned ground beef or turkey and add a few tablespoons of beans. Top with cheese, avocado, salsa and lime.

Stuffed Poblanos

Fill roasted, deseeded poblano peppers with a bit of refried beans, chicken and cheese for a tasty, portable hand-held meal.

Bean Soup

Saute aromatics then simmer chicken and veggies in broth with 1/4 cup beans. Keep other carbs very low the rest of the day.


Add a small amount of mashed beans to chili along with meat and low-carb veggies. Top with cheese and sour cream.

Mexican Casserole

Layer beef, peppers, onions, beans, salsa and cheese in a casserole for an easy weeknight one-pan meal.

Breakfast Tacos

Scramble eggs with a tablespoon of beans, salsa, peppers and cheese for a satisfying low-carb breakfast.

The key is keeping the refried bean portions small alongside more keto-friendly ingredients. Get creative with recipes!

Final Word on Refried Beans on Keto

Can you eat refried beans on keto? In moderate 1/2 cup portions, refried beans can occasionally fit into a well-formulated low-carb ketogenic diet. To make them work – be diligent about net carb counts for the rest of the day and combine with lower carb foods. Better yet, try substituting with lower-glycemic bean varieties like soybeans, lupini and green beans.

What matters most is keeping total net carbs under 20-50g per day. Refried beans can be incorporated in this amount with care and creativity. But keto dietary results will be best by focusing on healthy low-carb vegetables, high quality proteins and natural fats. Refried beans can be an occasional sensible treat.


Refried beans are not off-limits on keto if consumed mindfully. Limit portions to 1/2 cup alongside low-carb foods while tracking net carbs diligently. Or explore healthier keto bean swaps like green beans, soybeans and tempeh. With some adjustment, refried beans can be enjoyed on occasion to diversify protein sources and fiber intake. A flexible keto approach allows room for dietary preferences while still maintaining ketosis for results.

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