Is pumpkin good for keto diet?

The keto diet has become one of the most popular diets for weight loss and health improvement. This low-carb, high-fat diet puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which promotes fat burning. On the keto diet, carbohydrate intake is greatly reduced, usually to less than 50 grams per day. This reduction in carbs helps the body transition to using fat and ketones for fuel instead of glucose.

One food that is often considered keto-friendly is pumpkin. Pumpkin is low in carbs and can fit into a well-formulated keto diet. Here is a look at the benefits of pumpkin for keto, as well as how to incorporate it into your meal plan.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It typically limits carbs to less than 50 grams per day. The reduction in carbs puts metabolic restrictions on your body. As glucose becomes depleted, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis.

During ketosis, ketones are produced from stored fat and become the main fuel source for the body and brain. This shift in fuel source causes fat burning to increase dramatically. Ketosis also regulates hormones and blood sugar levels, providing major benefits for weight loss, health, and performance.

To induce ketosis, the keto diet typically recommends:

  • Carbs: less than 50 grams per day
  • Protein: moderate amounts
  • Fat: around 70% of total calorie intake

The keto diet should primarily consist of natural, whole foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables. Processed, high-carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, and sweets must be avoided.

When followed correctly, keto provides impressive benefits:

  • Fast weight loss
  • Decreased hunger
  • Lowered blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Improvements in type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, and more

Let’s look at whether pumpkin can be part of a well-formulated keto diet.

Nutrition Facts of Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It’s native to North America and particularly popular around Thanksgiving and Halloween.

There are many varieties, but most canned pumpkin is made from the Dickinson pumpkin. Raw pumpkin has the following nutrition profile in one cup, sliced (116 grams) (1):

  • Calories: 49
  • Protein: 1.2 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Sugar: 2.7 grams
  • Fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams

Pumpkin is low in calories and carbs compared to other starchy vegetables. It’s also packed with important nutrients and plant compounds, including (1):

  • Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 12% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 11% of the RDI
  • Beta-carotene: antioxidant that gives pumpkin its orange color
  • Alpha-carotene: antioxidant
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: antioxidants that promote eye health

Additionally, the seeds are edible and highly nutritious. They provide protein, magnesium, zinc and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

Benefits of Pumpkin for Keto

Pumpkin can be an excellent addition to a well-formulated ketogenic diet. Here are some of the benefits it provides:

1. Low in carbs and calories

Pumpkin is low in digestible carbs and high in water and fiber. One cup (116 grams) of raw pumpkin contains only 5 grams of digestible carbs, with 2.7 grams from sugar (1).

Once converted into canned pumpkin, the carb content is even lower, with only 4.7 grams of digestible carbs in a 1-cup (245-gram) serving (2).

This small amount of digestible carbs allows pumpkin to be included in a ketogenic diet. Plus, pumpkin can add volume and flavor to meals without weighing down your daily carb count.

2. High in fiber

Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber, with 0.5 grams in raw pumpkin and 7 grams in canned pumpkin (1, 2).

Fiber does not raise blood sugar levels and may help improve digestive health and promote weight loss (3, 4).

For someone on a 2000-calorie ketogenic diet consuming around 20–50 grams of carbs per day, the fiber in pumpkin can account for a large percentage of their total carb intake.

3. Nutrient-dense

Pumpkin is packed with nutrients, especially the powerful antioxidant vitamin A, which has numerous benefits.

Vitamin A supports immune function, vision, reproduction and cellular communication. Lack of vitamin A is rare but can cause night blindness and severe infections (5).

Just one cup (245 grams) of canned pumpkin provides a whopping 245% of the RDI for vitamin A (2).

4. May promote weight loss

Pumpkin is high in water and low in calories, with just 49 calories in 1 cup (116 grams) of raw pumpkin (1).

Its fiber content may also help promote weight loss. Fiber moves through the body undigested, promoting fullness and reducing calorie absorption (6).

One study found that overweight and obese adults who took a fiber supplement for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight than the placebo group. However, a high fiber intake was also associated with more bloating and gas (7).

For someone on a ketogenic diet trying to lose weight, pumpkin could be a better option for adding volume to meals than carb-heavy alternatives.

5. May help manage blood sugar

Animal and human studies suggest pumpkin may improve insulin regulation and blood sugar management.

Mice fed pumpkin had better blood sugar regulation than a control group. Pumpkin even outperformed metformin, a common diabetes medication (8).

Data also indicates pumpkin may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. One study in people with type 1 diabetes found that 100 grams of pumpkin lowered blood sugar for up to 5 hours (9).

The blood-sugar-lowering effect may be due to pumpkin’s fiber content. Fiber slows digestion and the absorption of sugar into the blood (10).

How to Add Pumpkin to a Keto Diet

While small amounts of pumpkin can fit into a keto diet, it’s best to moderate your intake and track your daily carb numbers.

Here are some ways to add pumpkin to your keto meal plan:

1. Baked Goods

Pumpkin puree can be used in recipes for keto breads, muffins, cakes and pancakes. Make sure to check the carb count, as baked goods made with almond or coconut flour can add up quickly.

2. Pies and Puddings

Pumpkin pie can be adapted to be keto-friendly using sugar substitutes or low carb sweeteners. Keto pumpkin pudding is also a delicious option.

3. Smoothies

Adding pumpkin to keto smoothies can provide fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Use pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin and limit other high-carb ingredients.

4. Oatmeal

Pumpkin oatmeal made with chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp hearts is an excellent alternative to regular oats. Top with nuts, cinnamon and stevia.

5. Soups

Make a creamy keto pumpkin soup using chicken or vegetable broth. Top with heavy cream or coconut milk.

6. Salad

Pumpkin can be added to salad for extra nutrition. Combine with nuts, cheese, oil and vinegar dressing.

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Roast pumpkin seeds with spices for a keto-friendly snack. They provide protein, magnesium and other nutrients.

8. Puree

Make a vegetable puree using pumpkin, cauliflower and high fat dairy. Use it as a side dish in place of mashed potatoes.

9. Lasagna

Stack lasagna with layers of pumpkin puree, meat sauce and ricotta or cottage cheese.

10. Pumpkin Butter

Make a batch of sugar-free keto pumpkin butter to spread on low carb toast or add a tablespoon to your morning coffee.

Potential Downsides of Pumpkin on Keto

Although pumpkin can be included in a keto diet, there are some potential downsides:

1. Carb content

Pumpkin is relatively low in digestible carbs but can quickly add up if you overdo it. Eat moderate portions, track your intake and stay under 50 grams of total carbs per day.

2. Sugar content

Raw pumpkin contains some natural sugar, around 2.5 grams per cup (1). Canned pumpkin may also have added sugars. Check labels and stick to unsweetened pumpkin puree whenever possible.

3. High GI

Pumpkin has a high glycemic index (GI), meaning it causes a sharper rise in blood sugar than low GI foods (11). Focus on eating whole pumpkin, not juice, and pairing it with fat, protein or fiber.


Pumpkin contains FODMAPs, types of carbohydrates that may cause digestive issues like gas and bloating in some people (12). Level of tolerance varies between individuals.

5. Allergies

Although less common than many food allergies, some people are allergic to pumpkin. Children seem to be most at risk of pumpkin allergy (13).


Here are some recipes that use pumpkin to enhance a keto diet:

Keto Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 12 muffins


  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup erythritol or Swerve
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs melted butter, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined.
  5. Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Keto Pumpkin Soup

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  4. Pour in broth and pumpkin puree. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in heavy cream, curry powder and cinnamon.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  8. Serve warm.

Keto Pumpkin Pudding

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp powdered erythritol sweetener
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Divide into 4 ramekins or small bowls.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, until set.
  4. Serve chilled.

The Bottom Line

Pumpkin can be an enjoyable addition to a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It provides antioxidants, fiber, nutrients, and disease-fighting plant compounds.

However, portions should be controlled due to the carb content. Include pumpkin alongside other low-carb foods as part of a healthy keto eating pattern.

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