Are strawberries OK on keto?

As a low-carb, high-fat diet, the ketogenic diet (keto for short) emphasizes foods that are low in carbs and moderate in protein. Many fruits are restricted due to their high carb content, but some fruits can be enjoyed in moderation on keto. Strawberries are one fruit that is often considered keto-friendly when consumed in small portions.

An Overview of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with other low-carb diets like the Atkins diet. It involves limiting carb intake to usually less than 50 grams per day in order to induce ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body switches from using glucose as its main source of fuel to using fats and ketones instead. This shift in fuel source and increase in ketones (produced in the liver from fats) has been associated with health benefits like weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and improved mental focus.

On keto, dietary fat should account for about 70-80% of total daily calories. Protein makes up roughly 20-25% of calories, while carbs are restricted to only about 5-10% of total calories.

Foods to enjoy on keto include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini
  • High fat dairy like butter, heavy cream, hard cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
  • Berries in moderation

Foods that are often restricted on keto include:

  • Grains like bread, pasta, rice
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas
  • Legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Sugar and sweets
  • Fruits other than berries
  • Unhealthy fats like vegetable and seed oils
  • Processed foods

Are Strawberries Keto-Friendly?

When it comes to fruits and the ketogenic diet, berries tend to be the best option because they are lower in sugar than other fruits. Strawberries clock in at around 5-6 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. This carb count is a bit higher than some other berries like raspberries and blackberries, but strawberries can still be incorporated into a keto diet in moderation.

Nutrition Facts for Strawberries

Here is an overview of the nutrition profile of strawberries (per 100 grams):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 32
Protein 0.7g
Fat 0.3g
Carbs 8g
Fiber 2g
Sugar 4.9g
Net carbs 6g

As you can see, strawberries are low in calories, fat, and protein. They contain 8 grams total carbs per 100 gram serving, but 2 grams come from fiber. On keto, we subtract grams of fiber from total carbs to get net carbs, since fiber does not impact blood sugar levels like other carbs. Therefore, the net carbs in strawberries comes out to about 6g per 100 grams.

Serving Size Guide for Strawberries on Keto

Considering their net carb content, here is a guide to reasonable serving sizes of strawberries on a ketogenic diet:

  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries: 5g net carbs
  • 1/4 cup whole strawberries: 3g net carbs
  • 10 medium strawberries: 5g net carbs

Aim to stick within about 5-10g net carbs per serving. Going over 10g net carbs may jeopardize ketosis depending on your personal carb tolerance.

Benefits of Adding Strawberries to a Keto Diet

In addition to being low carb, strawberries offer some benefits that make them worth including in moderation on keto:

1. Rich in Antioxidants

Strawberries contain high levels of antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, and vitamin C. These antioxidants protect your cells from damage that can lead to increased inflammation and chronic diseases.

2. May Improve Heart Health

The polyphenols and anthocyanins in strawberries have been shown to improve several heart disease risk factors. Studies find strawberries may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, inhibit blood clot formation, and decrease inflammation in the arteries.

3. Help Control Blood Sugar

Despite having some natural sugars, strawberries have a low glycemic index. Multiple studies demonstrate strawberries can help regulate blood sugar levels and insulin response. The fiber and polyphenols in strawberries slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar after meals.

4. Support Immunity

With almost 150% of your daily vitamin C needs in one cup, strawberries are one of the best vitamin C food sources around. Vitamin C boosts white blood cell function and acts as a powerful antioxidant to support immunity.

5. Promote Gut Health

The fiber and polyphenols in strawberries make them beneficial for your gut microbiome. They help nourish healthy gut bacteria and may reduce inflammation along gastrointestinal tract.

6. Contains Manganese

Strawberries provide a good source of manganese, an essential mineral that acts as an antioxidant enzyme cofactor. Manganese is important for bone health, wound healing, blood sugar regulation, and brain function.

Potential Downsides of Eating Strawberries on Keto

While strawberries can be part of a keto diet, there are a few potential downsides to be aware of:

1. Carb Count Can Add Up Quickly

Due to their natural sugar content, strawberries need to be carefully portioned on keto. It’s easy to overdo it and quickly go over your daily carb limit if you’re not paying attention to serving sizes.

2. May Trigger Cravings

For some people, having any sweet-tasting fruit may increase cravings for other high-carb foods and lead to going over carb intake for the day. Pay attention to your personal response when adding strawberries to spot any craving issues.

3. Pesticide Exposure Risk

Strawberries tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides compared to other types of produce. If possible, choose organic strawberries to minimize this risk.

4. Easy to Overeat

Strawberries taste delicious, which can lead to overeating them. Be mindful of portions to avoid excess carb intake. Measure out a serving instead of snacking straight from the container.

Tips for Enjoying Strawberries on a Keto Diet

Here are some tips to incorporate strawberries into your ketogenic diet:

1. Be Aware of Portions

Carefully weigh or measure out single serving portions of no more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup strawberries based on your personal carb tolerance.

2. Balance with Low-Carb Foods

Pair strawberries with low-carb foods like plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or unsweetened whipped cream.

3. Freeze for later

Freeze excess strawberries in single serving portions to pull out for a sweet treat later.

4. Blend into Smoothies

Add a few small strawberries to low-carb protein smoothies along with keto-friendly ingredients.

5. Make Infused Water

Create sugar-free “spa water” by infusing water with sliced strawberries, cucumbers, and mint.

6. Use for Desserts

Incorporate sliced strawberries into lower carb desserts recipes like cheesecake, mousse, chia pudding, or layered parfaits.

7. Top Salads

Toss sliced strawberries into lettuce or spinach salads for a pop of sweetness.

8. Blend into Fat Bombs

Add a few chopped strawberries to blended coconut oil fat bombs for flavor.

Keto-Friendly Strawberry Recipes

Here are some recipe ideas that deliciously incorporate strawberries into keto meals and snacks:

Keto Strawberry Smoothie

Blend together:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp powdered peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • ice cubes

Strawberry Cheese Danish Fat Bombs

Mix together and freeze in molds:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries

Strawberry Avocado Salad

Toss together:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Strawberry Shortcake Chia Pudding

Mix and chill:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp Swerve sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries

The Bottom Line

Strawberries can be incorporated into a keto diet in moderation. Aim for around 1/4 to 1/2 cup portion sizes, and balance their carb content with low-carb foods. Focus on maximizing their antioxidant and health benefits by enjoying strawberries in recipes and snack combinations that fit your macros. Measure servings carefully and be mindful of your personal carb tolerance and potential cravings or overeating triggers. Strawberries add delicious sweetness and nutrition to the keto diet when consumed occasionally in small portions.

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