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Looking for that light snack that hits the spot whilst you’re on that high fat low carb diet? Popcorn is probably the most popular snack to munch on, whether its absentmindedly, in front of a movie, at the cinema, or in bed when you crave salty, buttery crispy delights. The question is can you eat popcorn on a keto diet? This will depend on the amount of carbs that are present in the popcorn, which would determine whether these little magic, tongue tingling popcorn can be added to your diet or not.
Table of Contents
- What is Keto?
- What is Popcorn?
- Is Popcorn Healthy?
- Is Popcorn Good For Weight Loss?
- Is Popcorn High in Carbs?
- Can You Eat Popcorn on a Keto Diet?
- Keto-Friendly Popcorn
- Other Keto Friendly Snacks
- So Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?
What is Keto?
A ketogenic diet is when you eat foods that are high in fat, low in carbs – 50 grams per day. The goal is to get your body into a state of ketosis, which is what happens when you drastically reduce the carbs your body has to use for energy. This makes your body transition from glucose metabolism to fatty acid metabolism. So your body will use dietary and body fat to power your nervous system with ketone bodies. Versions of keto can differ, but the carbs and proteins will typically make up less than 10% of the calories you consume, and the rest will come from fat.
What is Popcorn?
Popcorn is exactly what you’d picture it to be – popped corn kernels. Kernels are the fruits or corn, and a single ear of corn can hold over 800 of them. There are many varieties of corn or maize, but farmers in the corn belt grow a specific type known as “popping corn” for popcorn. This corn has kernels that are great for drying and popping due to their moisture level.
The entirety of popping kernels has a starchy tissue called an endosperm. When the endosperm is exposed to high heat, the moisture inside it turns to steam and rapidly expands until the kernels split and become the light, crispy snack we all know and love.
Is Popcorn Healthy?
Popcorn can be both good or bad for a person’s health depending on the elements are used to make it. On it’s own, without any added sugar or salt, popcorn makes a nutritious and healthy snack. Popcorn contains lots of nutrients and vitamins when made in the correct way.
However, many popcorn brands in supermarkets and movie theatres happen to contain lots of added butter, sugar, and salt – additions that are bad for a person’s health. Popcorn is a whole grain – a group of foods that help boost heart health. It has the following nutritional benefits:
- High in fiber
- Contains protein
- Contains vitamins and minerals
- Low in fat and sugar
- Contains no cholesterol
Is Popcorn Good For Weight Loss?
Air-popped unflavoured popcorn is low in calories, fat, and sugar, and high in fiber. Popcorn can help you lose weight, once added to a balanced diet. The best way for one to lose weight is through adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes healthy eating habits, with regular physical activities as well as balancing the number of calories consumed with those that the body burns.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are an essential part of a heathy diet, as well as foods that are low in saturated fats, cholesterol and added sugars. Adding butter, sugar and salt can make popcorn an unhealthy snack which can potentially lead to weight gain.
Is Popcorn High in Carbs?
Popcorn does contain carbohydrates, and if a person is following a low-carbohydrate diet – like keto – they will need to consider how many carbs they have already eaten, or intend to eat that day before sitting down with a large bowl of popcorn. Popcorn is relatively high in carbohydrates but this doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy, as long as it’s part of a balanced nutritious diet.
For instance, eating nothing but popcorn without incorporating some exercise as part of your daily routine, is not good for one’s health. Whereas eating some popcorn, as part of a balanced diet and doing regular exercise is a much healthier option. A standard 100 gram serving of white popcorn popped in oil with a little salt for flavour contains:
- 57.2 g of carbs
- 2.8 g of water
- 9 g of protein
- 28.10 g of fat
- 10 g of fiber
- 0.88 g of salt
Popcorn is a whole grain, which is a type of food that is high in fiber and other essential nutrients. If a person is following a low-carb diet, such as a keto diet, it is essential to check how many carbs they have eaten or intend to eat that day before eating a serving of popcorn.
If you are on a low-carb diet and have not consumed any carbohydrates during the day, then you can eat a whole portion of popcorn – depending on your daily carb allowance.
However, if a person on a keto diet decides to fulfil their daily carb allowance, they will inevitably deprive their body of essential nutrients provided by other carbohydrates like vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Can You Eat Popcorn on a Keto Diet?
If you eat air-popped popcorn or popcorn popped with a healthy fat source like coconut oil or ghee, whilst maintaining the portion size, then popcorn is certainly keto-friendly. Most types of sugary and mass -produced popcorn such as movie theatre popcorn, kettle corn and microwave popcorn should be avoided on a standard keto diet, due to their high carbohydrate content and unhealthy additives.
You’re probably aware by now that popcorn is in fact keto-friendly, as long as the popcorn has been air-popped, or popped with healthier fat sources. But some people might not want to dedicate their entire day’s worth of calories to a small bowl of popcorn, which is why there are delicious crunchy keto-friendly, movie night worthy alternatives for you to try. Here are some delicious keto popcorn alternatives that’ll have you crunching with fervour:
- Keto Popcorn Cheese Puffs
- Low Carb Caramel Popcorn
- Keto Popcorn
- Popcorn Cauliflower
- Low-carb Popcorn
- Chilli Lime Cauliflower Popcorn
Keto Popcorn Cheese Puffs
This keto-friendly popcorn requires only one ingredient – cheese – and you will not believe how scrumptious it is until you’ve tried it! After drying out the cheese you just pop it in the oven for a few minutes and watch the magic unfold before your eyes. Puffs of cheese exploding into existence, ready to be devoured. So next time you’re on the lookout for some tasty low-carb snacks to munch on, while you’re watching a particularly interesting series, you can make this zero carb treat an eat as much as you like!
Low Carb Caramel Popcorn
Another low-carb snack that will effectively satisfy your aching sweet tooth without the need for actual sugar. You’ll have crispy popcorn drenched in caramel sauce, and baked until the caramel provides an exceptionally crisp coating, much like regular caramel popcorn. With only one gram of carbs, I think its safe to say that these are a definite addition to the list of keto-friendly popcorn. It’s also great to give to kids, to help wean them off sugary snacks. These delectable popcorn contain:
- Vanilla egg white, or whey protein
- Vanilla extract or almond, coconut, maple extract
- Heavy whipping cream
Popcorn is normally associated with taking a trip to the cinema, or propping yourself on the couch for a movie marathon, with plenty of sugary snacks – starting with a large bowl of sweet, buttery popcorn. Inevitably these sugary snacks, popcorn included have a very high carb level which is not helpful for those on a keto diet. That’s where tasty snacks like these come in. Made with great spicy, crunchable ingredients like pork belly, sea salt, five spice, and coconut oil, these are pretty addicting!
Place the coconut oil in a large pan set to medium-high, toss the pork belly pieces in salt and five spice. Once the coconut oil melts completely, add the pork belly pieces. Cover with a splashguard and cook for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Once complete, strain and reserve the fat for another day of tasty low-carb snacks. Meanwhile, combine all of the sticky sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Set it on medium-low, and once it starts to boil keep whisking every 2 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl, and serve alongside your scrumptious popcorn.
Cauliflower is amazing, especially through its versatility. You can even turn it into your favourite crispy snack while watching a film, or absentmindedly scrolling through social media, because we all like an hour of nonsense to ourselves! If you are on a keto diet then this would be a great snack as it is very low in carbs and calories so there’s no guilt while you eat!
This is exceptionally tasty because of the garlic and chilli, with a smidge of cheesy flavours from the nutritional yeast, but feel free to play around with flavours, to suit your personal palate. You’ll need to cut your cauliflower into small florets placing them in a bowl, so that they’re ready to be tossed in the great flavourings that will make up for the loss of high calorie popcorn. Add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, chilli powder and salt, then shake until the cauliflower is evenly coated.
Transfer the florets to a baking tray, and lightly spray them with olive oil cooking spray, which will help crisp up the cauliflower without adding extra fat. Bake this in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, or until the cauliflower is beautifully golden and crispy.
Low Carb Popcorn
This popcorn uses cauliflower as the main element as well, which stands out from the regular stuff, but with much less carbs and a fantastic flavour this could easily become your favourite snack. The popcorn only takes minutes to make, and is such an easy recipe that you’ll find yourself making this with your kids hanging about to help. Taco seasoning is used in this recipe, but you can experiment with different flavours. Microwave the cauliflower florets until they’re hot enough, but not cooked through. Pour the melted butter over the cauliflower, add a dash of taco seasoning, mix gently and dig in!
Chilli Lime Cauliflower Popcorn
If you like your low-carb, keto-friendly snacks to have a bit of a spicy punch to them, then this is the perfect recipe for you! It has a good heat and the citrus, lime flavours wrapping themselves around the cauliflower beautifully. This is gluten and grain free which is suitable for vegans and can be stored in an air tight jar for up to a month. This tastes excellent once it cools as it’ll continue to crisp up during this time.
Other Keto Friendly Snacks
Aside from the popcorn alternatives, there are some delicious alternatives to regular, high calorie snacks to satisfy that niggling craving. Try these snacks:
- Low Carb Chile Limon Chips
- Keto Tandoori Coconut Chips
- Almond Butter Cabbage Chips
- Garlic Dill Baked Cucumber Chips
Low Carb Chile Limon Chips
Chile and lime are a great combination of flavours and give these low carb chips a bit of a kick, so they would be great to serve with keto guacamole or as a side for your next Mexican meal. They are crispy, but strong enough to pick up any dip without breaking. To avoid the dough sticking your best bet is to oil the parchment paper then roll the dough between two sheets with a rolling pin.
Keto Tandoori Coconut Chips
Coconut is a fantastic ingredient to use for keto snacks, mainly because of its low carb content and can help with regulating blood sugar, but the added seasonings will make it a great tasty treat. It’s best to allow these chips to cool completely as this will allow them to become extra crispy, then stored in the container for up to a week.
Almond Butter Cabbage Chips
These impeccable cabbage chips are flavoured with garlic and have a lovely Asian flavour bursting from the fish sauce and aminos, and these would be great when served as an appetiser alongside a low carb dip.
Garlic Dill Baked Cucumber Chips
It is becoming more and more apparent that chips cannot only be made from potatoes. But you can also make these little crispy chips from baked cucumbers! These lovely crunchy snacks are flavoured with herbs and can be served with any dip you like.
So Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?
Popcorn has enough carbs to complete the daily carbohydrates intake for your keto diet. You can choose to snack on air-popped popcorn, or get creative and make your own keto-friendly popcorn, that you can enjoy whenever you like!
What Kind of Popcorn Can You Eat on Keto?
Air-popped popcorn is the best choice, as it is low in carbs as well as calories. Since grams of fat are not a cause for concern on a keto diet, adding some oil or butter to the popcorn is completely fine.
Can I Eat a Whole Bag of Popcorn on Keto?
Popcorn is a nutritious whole-grain snack loaded with fiber, its filling but low in calories and contains lots of nutrients, with enough carbohydrates to fit in to your keto diet.
Is Popcorn High in Carbs?
Popcorn contains carbs, with one-fifth being in the form of dietary fiber which is great for your health. Popcorn is a great example of a high-volume, low-calorie whole grain, if cooked correctly can make a stupendous snack.