The ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities to low carb diets like the Atkins diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. On a keto diet, you typically consume less than 50 grams of carbs per day. This leads to huge reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, along with other metabolic changes. Ketosis has many potential benefits, including weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improved brain function. However, it also has downsides. One thing to consider on keto is which foods to avoid. You need to severely restrict foods high in carbs, including grains, legumes, certain fruits and vegetables, milk and sweets. However, you can enjoy low-carb vegetables, nuts and seeds, meats, eggs, full-fat dairy and natural fats like butter and olive oil. You may also wonder about berries. Can you eat berries on the ketogenic diet? What types of berries can you have and which should you avoid?
What Are Berries?
Berries are small, pulpy and edible fruits produced by various flowering plants. They typically have higher fiber and lower calorie content than other fruits. Common types of berries include:
Berries contain beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols, which act as antioxidants in your body. They protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Eating polyphenol-rich foods like berries may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental decline and obesity. Berries are also relatively high in fiber, which can slow digestion and help improve gut health. In addition, they’re tasty and require little to no preparation, making them easy additions to a ketogenic diet. Still, some berries are better choices than others due to their higher sugar and carb contents.
Berries to Eat on Keto
Here are some of the top low-carb berries you can enjoy in moderation on the ketogenic diet:
Raspberries are one of the lowest carb berries, containing only 5–6 grams of net carbs in a 1-cup (123-gram) serving. They’re very high in fiber, providing 8 grams per cup. Fiber does not raise blood sugar or need to be restricted on keto. For this reason, raspberries have a net carb count of only 4 grams per cup. What’s more, they’re very rich in antioxidants and provide small amounts of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds like ellagic acid.
Blackberries are another super low-carb berry option. One cup (144 grams) contains 6 grams of total carbs and over 5 grams of fiber. They provide just under 1 gram of digestible net carbs. Additionally, blackberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and copper. They also contain beneficial plant compounds known as anthocyanins, which give blackberries their deep purple color. Anthocyanins have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help lower your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
While not as low in carbs as raspberries and blackberries, strawberries can still be included in moderation on a ketogenic diet. One cup (152 grams) of whole strawberries provides 11 grams of total carbs and 3 grams of fiber. Their net carb count comes out to 8 grams. Although strawberries are fairly carb-dense, they are also high in vitamin C, manganese, folate and potassium. They also contain the antioxidants pelargonidin and ellagic acid. Both test-tube and animal studies suggest that eating strawberries may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, brain-protective and antidiabetic effects.
Blueberries provide 12 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per 1-cup (148-gram) serving. This makes their net carb count 9 grams, which is close to the limit of what can be considered a low-carb food. However, their numerous health benefits make them worth including in moderation on lower-carb diets like keto. Some research shows that blueberries improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Other studies suggest they may benefit blood sugar control. Blueberries provide manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C and copper, in addition to antioxidant polyphenols.
Cranberries are a low-glycemic fruit, meaning they do not raise blood sugar levels much or cause a large insulin spike after consumption. One cup (100 grams) of raw cranberries contains only 12 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber, making their digestible carb content just 8 grams per cup. Additionally, animal studies have observed that cranberries can improve multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. They also contain anti-inflammatory compounds like proanthocyanidins, which may reduce disease risk and promote better health.
Berries to Avoid on Keto
The following berries are higher in carbs and should be limited or avoided on the ketogenic diet:
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are nutritious and linked to health benefits. However, they are much higher in carbs than other berries. One ounce (28 grams) provides 23 grams of total carbs, including 2 grams from fiber. This makes their net carb count 21 grams — too high for most ketogenic diets. If you want the nutrient benefits of goji berries, it’s best to consume them only occasionally in small amounts.
Grapes are common fruits containing 17 grams of carbs per 1-cup (151-gram) serving, only 1 of which is fiber. With a net carb count of 16 grams, grapes are one of the worst fruits to eat on keto. Their high sugar content causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise rapidly. For people on a ketogenic diet, it’s best to avoid grapes.
At 22 grams of carbs per cup (154 grams), raw cherries are also too high in carbs for most keto diets. Since they contain only 3 grams of fiber per cup, their net carb count is 19 grams. If you want to enjoy cherries occasionally, limit your portions. Also, opt for tart cherries such as Montmorency, as they are slightly lower in carbs than sweet cherries.
Mangoes are tropical fruits that provide 46 grams of total carbs and 3 grams of fiber in a 1-cup (165-gram) serving. With 43 grams of digestible carbs per cup, mangoes are one of the worst fruits for the ketogenic diet. It’s best to find other fruits and berries to satisfy your sweet tooth while on keto.
Bananas are well known as one of the highest-carb fruits. One medium banana contains 27 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber. This makes bananas off-limits for most people on the ketogenic diet, providing 24 grams of net carbs. Occasionally having a few bites of banana may be feasible for some people on keto, but it should be limited.
How Many Berries Can You Eat on Keto?
When incorporating berries into a ketogenic diet, moderation is key. Although low-carb berries like raspberries, blackberries and strawberries can be included, it’s important not to overdo it. Here are some tips:
– Stick to 1⁄2–1 cup (70–150 grams) of berries per day. This provides 4–9 grams of net carbs, depending on the type.
– Mix lower carb berries like raspberries with higher carb berries for less of a carb impact.
– Balance berry intake with other low-carb foods throughout the day. Avoid pairing them with high-carb foods.
– Track your daily net carb intake, including from berries, to make sure you stay within 20–50 grams per day.
– Monitor your individual carb tolerance. Some people can remain in ketosis with more berries than others.
– Consider lowering berry intake during the first month of keto while your body adapts to ketosis. Later, you may be able to add more.
Best Ways to Eat Berries on Keto
Here are some delicious ways to include low-carb berries in a ketogenic eating pattern:
Make a keto smoothie with a mix of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. Adding chia seeds, flaxseeds or collagen protein can help slow down the absorption of sugars.
Layer berries with full-fat Greek yogurt and chopped nuts for an easy morning parfait.
Toss berries into your favorite keto-friendly salads. Some delicious combinations include strawberries with goat cheese and spinach or blackberries with feta cheese and kale.
Top keto desserts like cheesecake, mousse or chocolate bark with a few raspberries, blackberries or strawberries. You can also make freezer pops with berry purees.
Mix blackberries, raspberries or strawberries into fresh salsa for a sweet, tangy twist. Enjoy with low-carb tortilla chips.
Keep a bag of frozen berries handy for easy high-fiber snacks. Pair them with nuts or seeds for extra nutrition.
|Berries||Total Carbs||Fiber||Net Carbs|
|Raspberries||5 grams||8 grams||4 grams|
|Blackberries||6 grams||5 grams||1 gram|
|Strawberries||11 grams||3 grams||8 grams|
|Blueberries||12 grams||3 grams||9 grams|
|Cranberries||12 grams||4 grams||8 grams|
Although berries can be included in a ketogenic diet, there are some precautions to consider:
– Portion control is necessary. Berries should make up a small part of your overall carb intake.
– Track your ketone levels to find your personal carb limit for ketosis.
– Beware of sweetened dried berries, berries in syrup and berries used in baked goods, as the carb counts can add up quickly.
– If your goal is weight loss, be mindful of overall calorie intake when adding berries to your diet.
– Speak with your healthcare provider before making drastic diet changes if you have an underlying health condition.
Berries can be enjoyed in moderation on a ketogenic diet. The best options are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries. Focus on low-carb preparation methods and limit portions to 4–9 net carbs per day. Avoid carb-heavy berries like grapes, mangoes, bananas and sweetened or dried berries. Incorporating berries into a keto diet provides flavor and nutrition without compromising ketosis. However, portion control and tracking your personal carb tolerance are important. With some care and planning, berries can be included as part of a healthy, well-balanced ketogenic eating pattern.