When eating keto, your carb count is an important aspect of the diet. How many carbs you consume will determine whether you are keto dieting right or not. The carb count of a food will determine whether it’s low carb and if it qualifies as keto friendly. These foods usually are low in net carbs and will not spike your blood sugar.
When we look at plant foods with a low carb count, we recommend eating those that grow above the ground like leafy greens. The basic rule of thumb is below-the-ground starchy vegetables are not allowed on the keto diet because they are high carb. Some examples of these are sweet potatoes, true yams, regular potatoes, white potatoes, and cassava.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, since legumes like beans and black beans grow above the ground but are not low-carb. Consuming these foods will kick you out of ketosis because a high carb intake provides the body with glucose, which means you will make energy through glycolysis rather than ketosis.
Speaking of below-the-ground vegetables, sweet potatoes are one of the most popular tubers consumed in the USA. It can be eaten whole, as fries, chips, and tater tots. You probably have been told of the benefits of eating sweet potatoes, but are they allowed on a low-carb diet? Today we will be looking at the carb content of these tubers to answer the question, are sweet potatoes keto-friendly?
Are Sweet Potato High in Carbs?
There are different varieties of sweet potatoes, the most popular ones being the orange sweet potato, white sweet potato, and purple sweet potato. Different varieties fall under these major types of sweet potatoes. On the keto diet, we check the net carbohydrates rather than total carbs to determine our carb intake.
Let’s look at the nutritional facts of sweet potatoes to know, are sweet potatoes keto.
Are Sweet Potatoes Keto?
How many grams of carbs are in sweet potatoes? According to the USDA, 100 g of orange sweet potatoes contain:
- Energy: 79 kcals
- Protein: 1.58 g
- Total fat: 0.38 g
- Total carbs: 17.3 g
- Dietary fiber: 4.44 g
- Net carbs: 12.86 g
- Total sugar content: 6.06 g
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 14.8 mg
- Potassium: 486 mg
One large sweet potato contains 36 grams of carbohydrates, 5.4 grams of fiber, and 7.5 g of sugar, meaning your carbohydrate intake will be 30.6 g of net carbs. A medium-sized sweet potato contains 24 g of carbs, 3.8 grams of fiber, and 4.18 g of sugar, meaning you will get 20.2 grams of net carbs.
The glycemic index (GI) of raw sweet potatoes is 50, which classifies it as a low glycemic index food. However, when you consume sweet potatoes made with certain cooking methods, the rate at which your blood glucose rises increases. Boiling lowers the GI of sweet potatoes to 46. The GI of baked sweet potato is 94, meaning it will spike your blood glucose fast.
The standard ketogenic diet limits your net carbs intake to 20 g to 50 g. Eating an entire sweet potato will have you meeting half to 100% of your carb limit, depending on how restricted your keto diet is.
Looking at how many carbs are in a medium sweet potato, are sweet potato high in carbs? Yes, sweet potatoes have too many carbs which can kick you out of ketosis. Can you consume sweet potatoes on a ketogenic diet? No, they should be avoided on low-carb diets.
Fats Sweet Potatoes
The keto diet not only looks at the grams of carbs in food but its fat content. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein diet. You are meant to get 70%-80% of your calories from fats when on the keto diet. Sweet potatoes are fat-free. When you eat sweet potatoes, you will increase the net carbohydrates you consume, and won’t get any fats to trigger ketosis.
Are sweet potatoes keto? Checking on how many carbs they contain, both total carbs and net carbs, and their zero fat content, they are not keto-friendly.
Is Sweet Potato a Good Carb or Bad Carb?
Forget about the casseroles and pies you make with sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving! Sweet potatoes are one of the healthy foods since they are nutrient-dense. They have a natural sweetness that won’t have you adding sweeteners which increase your net carbs, kicking you out of ketosis.
You may assume that a sweet potato is less healthy than a white potato, just because it starts with the word “sweet”. Comparing the nutrients in one sweet potato and a typical white potato, they have the same carb content and amounts of fat and protein. However, sweet potatoes have fewer calories than regular potatoes, and have a higher vitamin A content.
How many carbs are in a standard serving size of sweet potatoes makes it not keto-friendly. However, small amounts of sweet potatoes can be keto, on a less restrictive ketogenic diet. Most of the carbs in sweet potatoes are starches, with 11% of them being resistant starch. Cooling your sweet potatoes will increase carbohydrate intake from resistant starch that escapes digestion.
Sweet potatoes are also high in low-carb fiber, containing both soluble and insoluble fibers. A high intake of soluble fibers increases satiety, reduces food intake, and lowers blood glucose spikes by slowing down digestion and absorption of foods. Insoluble fibers lower your risks of developing diabetes and improve gut health.
Can I Eat Sweet Potato Fries on A Keto Diet?
Are sweet potato high in carbs? Yes, they are! And so are sweet potato fries! Sweet potato fries are not keto-friendly, because, like sweet potatoes, they are high in carbs. A 3-ounce (85 g) serving of sweet potato fries contains 21.7 g of total carbs, 2.89 g of fiber, 5.49 g of total sugars, and 18.81 g of net carbs. Consuming sweet potato fries will have you exceeding your carb limit on a strict ketogenic diet.
Are Sweet Potato Chips Keto Friendly?
The keto diet avoids processed foods, which included sweet potato chips. Just like sweet potato fries, these chips have a very high carb content. One bag (28 g) of unsalted sweet potato chips contains 15.9 g of total carbohydrates, 2.46 g of fiber, 2.47 g of sugar, and 13.44 g of net carbs. Sweet potatoes and their products are high carb and should be avoided on a keto diet.
How to Make Sweet Potatoes Keto Friendly
Sweet potatoes have many health benefits so adding them to your low-carb recipes can do you some good. It is important to mention that you can incorporate sweet potatoes into a less strict keto diet like the targeted keto diet and not on a strict keto diet. Carb count any time you add sweet potatoes to your healthy recipes.
Cut the portions: Instead of eating an entire sweet potato, cut a small portion of it to reduce your carbohydrate intake.
Boiling them is best: Boiling lowers the carb content of sweet potatoes.
Pick fried over baked sweet potato: The glycemic index of a baked sweet potato is 94 and that of a fried sweet potato is 76, meaning your blood sugar will spike faster after eating baked sweet potatoes than fried ones.
Eat homemade fried sweet potatoes over store-bought ones. Use healthy fats to make your fries like coconut oil. This will increase your fat content. Pay attention to the portions you consume too!
Add high-fat toppings to sweet potato dishes: Sour cream, cheese, and avocados are a great way to add the fat content of your food to make them keto. Load your dish with healthy fats and use small amounts of sweet potatoes.
Keep the peels on: The peels contain high amounts of fiber which help lower the carb content of food.
Avoid processed foods: If they come in a bag or you did not see them being made then they are best avoided. Processed foods may contain ingredients that are not keto-friendly which could increase your carb intake kicking you out of ketosis.
Use low-carb sweeteners instead of sugar: Your traditional sweet potato sugar pies and casseroles have high sugar content. Instead of using sugar or honey, you can use low-carb sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia for flavor.
What are the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes that make them a healthy ingredient despite their carb content? In small amounts of course!
Nutritional Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a nutritious food due to their high vitamin and mineral content. They are high in vitamins C, A, B6, B5, and E and high in minerals like potassium and manganese.
They are also high in beta-carotene, anthocyanins, and chlorogenic acid. These compounds are associated with the many health benefits of sweet potatoes. Vitamin C helps boost your immunity reducing risks of infection.
Some Varieties Can Control Blood Glucose
Sweet potatoes are not keto-friendly. However, some varieties have been shown to help regulate blood glucose. This study on the efficacy of Caiapo sweet potato on diabetes control resulted in a decrease in HbA1c, fasting blood glucose, and body weight and improved glucose control.
Another study was done to investigate the mechanism of action for the improvement of metabolic control of Caiapo in diabetes. When you eat Caiapo, insulin sensitivity is improved and short-term treatment with nutraceutical Caiapo has been shown to improve metabolic control by decreasing insulin resistance.
Reduces Oxidative Damage and Cancer Risk
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, phenolic compounds, chlorogenic acid, and anthocyanins which are antioxidants. When you eat antioxidant-rich foods, you lower your risks of developing stomach, kidney, and breast cancers.
Sweet potato tubers may not be keto-friendly, but aren’t we glad you get more than this from the plant? Sweet potato leaves are also edible, and they contain high amounts of polyphenolics like caffeic and chlorogenic acids.
Good for Your Eye Sight
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A whose deficiency leads to night blindness. Yellow and orange sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene which your body converts to vitamin A. Studies have shown that consuming the orange variety of sweet potatoes increases levels of serum retinol than other carotene sources.
We know how to make sweet potatoes keto on a less strict ketogenic diet, but which nutritious food can you use to replace sweet potatoes on a strict keto diet?
Keto Sweet Potato Substitutes
Since you cannot eat sweet potatoes on a low-carb diet, which food is a good substitute for sweet potatoes that is keto-friendly?
Butternut squash is a nutritious food with a slightly sweet taste that you can eat on a keto diet. Raw butternut squash contains 11.7 g of total carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber, and 9.7 g of net carbs. Butternut squash has a GI of 51 and a GL of 3.
Eat cauliflowers instead of sweet potatoes to stay within your carb limit. A 100 g serving of cauliflower contains 4.11 g of total carbs, 2.3 g of fiber, and 1.81 g of net carbs. In addition to being low carb, cauliflowers are versatile, just like sweet potatoes. You can even substitute rice with cauliflower on keto!
The basic rule of thumb for keto recommends avoiding below-the-ground veggies, but this may not apply to every food. Carrots are one of the exceptions! In 100 g of carrots, you will get 9.58 g of total carbohydrates, 2.8 g of fiber, and 6.78 g of net carbs. Carrots are also rich in vitamin A which is good for your vision. Eat these veggies in moderation as well.
Other keto sweet potato substitutes and their carb content in 100 g serving include:
- Turnips: 6.43 g of total carbs, 1.8 g of fiber, and 4.63 g of net carbohydrates
- Zucchini: 3.11 g of total carbs, 1 g of fiber, and 2.11 g of net carbohydrates
- Pumpkin: 6.5 g of total carbs, 0.5 g of fiber, and 6 g of net carbs
- Radishes: 3.4 g of total carbs, 1.6 g of fiber, and 1.8 g of net carbs
What is the Lowest Carb Potato?
You know how to make sweet potatoes keto, but they are still not allowed on low-carb diets. The main source of energy from potatoes is carbs, which means consuming them can spike blood glucose. Which potato has the lowest carb content and can be eaten on keto?
Zerella Baby Spud Lite contains 8.9 g of total carbohydrates, 1.4 g of fiber, and 7.5 g of net carbs. These are low compared to other potatoes.
Should Diabetics Avoid Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are high in carbs and can spike your blood sugar. Although, eating sweet potatoes in moderation can be okay for people struggling with hyperglycemia. Combine your sweet potatoes with high-fiber, high-fat, and moderate-protein foods that can help lower your intake of food and increase satiety.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can be beneficial to diabetics. What am I saying? Moderate your sweet potato intake on a diabetic-friendly diet!
How Do You Remove Carbs from Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are high carb, but their carb content like other potatoes can be reduced.
Soaking in Cold Water
You can reduce the number of carbs in a potato by running it through cold water. Have you ever wondered what the white substance on your hand and knife is when cutting potatoes? That’s starch!
Cut your potatoes into small pieces and soak them in cold water for a couple of hours to remove starch. You will remove more starch from a cut potato than a whole peeled potato soaked in water.
This is because more surface is exposed in the former than in the latter. Discard the water with the white residue at the bottom and rinse your potatoes to remove any remaining starch.
Blanch your potatoes in hot water to remove carbs from them. The potato will absorb the hot water, causing starch granules to swell and burst, releasing starch from the potatoes into the water.
Boil water, and add your peeled potatoes into the water. Cut and cook them for a few minutes until tender. Remove from heat and run under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Pat dry and fry.
Are sweet potato high in carbs? Yes, and they are not allowed on the keto diet. You can eat sweet potatoes in moderation on the less strict keto diet to enjoy the benefits it has to offer. Pay attention to the cooking method you use since it can affect its carb content.
Drop your favorite low-carb recipe that uses sweet potatoes on keto down in the comment section below!