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Is Popcorn Keto Friendly? What to Know About the Carbs in Popcorn

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Carine Claudepierre - October 25, 2020
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Everyone has memories of popcorn from movies that they visited in their childhood. But do you remember the last time you had popcorn guilt-free? Probably been a while, right?

When you are on a keto diet, popcorn becomes even more of a question mark. “Is popcorn keto-friendly?” This might be a question that’s bubbling around in your head.

Well, the answer is, it depends. Like everything else, the answer isn’t straightforward. Is it ever, though?

There are many different kinds of popcorns on the market right now and that’s where the complication arises.

If you are interested in learning more about popcorn and if it is keto-friendly, read on!

Is Popcorn Keto

Popcorn and Its Origins

Have you ever wondered where popcorn began its journey? Wonder no more. Apparently, popcorn is at least 5,600 years old!!! In 1948, a couple of researchers found small heads of corn and individually popped kernels in a cave in New Mexico known as the ‘Bat Cave’.

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Not only is there a history of Mexicans popping kernels, but also Native Americans. The history of popcorn goes a long way in North America. No wonder popcorn has become a ubiquitous snack among Americans. You can’t imagine watching a movie nowadays, without a tub of buttered popcorn beside you.

A crazy stat for you. According to the Popcorn Board, Americans eat 13 billion quarts of popped corn every year, or 42 quarts per person. Astounding!

Some Nutrition Facts for Popcorn

There are many kinds and flavors of popcorn out there, and all of them have different nutritional facts, as you might imagine. You can see a few examples below. Note: all these are values for one cup equal approximately to 18-22 grams.

  • Normal popcorn (microwaved) – 2.4 grams of fat, 0.7 grams of protein, 0.8 grams of fiber, 4.5 grams of total carbs, 3.7 grams of net carbs.
  • Normal popcorn (popped in oil) – 3.6 grams of fat, 0.8 grams of protein, 0.8 grams of fiber, 4.5 grams of total carbs, 3.7 grams of net carbs.
  • Kettle corn – 5.8 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 1.2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of total carbs, 9.8 grams of net carbs.
  • Store-bought caramel popcorn – 2.5 grams of fat, 0.8 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, 15.4 grams of total carbs, 14.4 grams of net carbs.
  • Store-bought buttered popcorn – 6.5 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of fiber, 12.5 grams of total carbs, 10.3 grams of net carbs.
  • Movie popcorn – 6.2 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of fiber, 12.6 grams of total carbs, 10.4 grams of net carbs.

As you can see, the net carbs vary depending on what kind of popcorn you are consuming. Now that your question of how many carbs in popcorn has been answered, let’s see how many cups of popcorn you could actually have on a keto diet.

Is Popcorn Keto?

How Many Cups of Popcorn Can you Have on Keto?

To refresh your memory, to stay in ketosis, you would have to stick to less than 15-30 net carbs consumed per day. As you can imagine, that doesn’t give you a whole lot of room to wiggle. Especially if you end up eating more than one cup of popcorn, and to be honest, who can eat just one cup?

Need to calculate your macro? Head to my macro calculator to find out how many carbs are recommended for you.

A keto diet is primarily a high-fat and low-carb diet. Thus, you reduce your net carb intake to such a low amount so that your body becomes efficient at burning fat to sustain you, and producing ketones from fat in the liver so that you can supply energy to your brain.

If you are starting your keto journey, you might be having a hard time maintaining yourself on a diet that’s high fat, and low carbs. That’s because most people are used to sustaining themselves primarily on sugars, and carbs. Bread, pasta, pizza, cereals, and grains, are usually are the staple of an American diet. Without it, you might be feeling lost and confused.

Eating Popcorn on Keto

But don’t fear it. Once you get over the initial hump of confusion and contradiction, you will realize soon enough that the glorious benefits of a keto diet far outweigh any inconvenience or giving up those pesky carbs.

Keto-Friendly Snack Alternatives to Keep You Going Through the Day

One of the main problems with a keto diet is that it gets kind of boring after a while. But not only that. It’s also a problem to eat enough throughout the day to sustain yourself and keep yourself engaged.

Bored people eat more, and you don’t want to end up snacking on something that’s not meant for a keto diet.

Is popcorn keto-friendly?

Yes, it is, but it depends on the kind you eat.

If you are going for a cup of normal popcorn microwaved, but without oil, you should be good to go. But store-bought caramel popcorn would take up almost half of your daily net carbs allowance. That’s quite a problem.

Some other options for you to consider besides popcorn would be:

These are all high in fat, and protein, and low in carbs, making it so you can eat tonnes of them, without going over your 15-30 grams of net carb intake daily.

Also, because of their high protein content, they keep you full for longer, ensuring that you don’t keep reaching for snacks, or other things to munch on, in the middle of your meals.

The answer to the question is movie popcorn keto, unfortunately, is no.

Similar to caramel popcorn, it leaves very little room for you to add any other carbs during the day.

Is Popcorn Keto Friendly? – Yes, but Depends on Which Kind You Choose

In conclusion, a reminder that you only have 15-30 net carbs to play with, and thus, you need to be careful with the snacking items you choose. If you are wondering ‘is popcorn keto-friendly,’ then the answer is it depends on the rest of your day’s intake.

Even though you might be tempted by the bucket of popcorn while watching a thriller in the theatres, try to stay away or eat only a cup or so.

The keto diet has a lot of benefits, but it does need a dose of motivation and discipline. Once you see the effects on your body though, you will be able to go for a long while to come. You just need that initial push.

If you liked this article and would like to see some keto-friendly recipes, check out our blog.

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