Are Chickpeas Keto Friendly?


Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are not the best food option to eat while following the ketogenic diet, as they could interfere with ketosis if eaten in excess. Some foods should be restricted or limited while following the Keto diet. Chickpeas are one of those foods.

are chickpeas keto friendly

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Legumes like these may be healthy and high in protein, but they are also high in carbs, which is why keto dieters are discouraged from consuming them. The legume family includes chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and lentils.  These should all be eaten in very limited quantities while on Keto, or avoided altogether.

With that being said, you may choose to enjoy a small amount of them as a pre-workout carb.  Or you may wish to reintroduce them later on down the line after you achieve your desired weight-loss goal and are ready to enter maintenance mode.

How Many Carbs are in Chickpeas?

One tablespoon of chickpeas contains 8 grams of carbs.  There are 61 grams of carbs in a 100 gram serving of chickpeas.  A full 200 gram cup contains an excessive 121 grams of carbs!  So eat chickpeas sparingly, if you choose to eat them at all, while following the Keto diet.

Many low carb dieters reduce their serving size to 1/4 cup by consuming the legume as part of a larger meal. An even smarter idea may be to reduce the serving size to 2 tablespoons, added to your dishes or as a topping to salads.

You can choose from canned chickpeas or dried chickpeas that you soak and cook yourself.  Canned is more convenient, but cooking your own is healthier, as this method avoids the addition of preservatives.

The dried variety is also much more cost-efficient, especially if you prepare meals for a large family.  Once the chickpeas are cooked, you can then freeze them to have them ready to use in recipes.

Facts about Chickpeas

  • A cup of cooked chickpeas contains: 269 calories
  • The chickpea is a staple in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • India produces 64% of the world’s chickpeas.
  • The garbanzo bean was introduced into India in the 18th century.
  • There are two varieties of chickpea: the larger light tan Kabuli and variously colored Desi chickpea. Desi chickpeas maybe green if picked prematurely or range from tan, beige, speckled, brown to black if picked at maturity.
  • 75% of world’s total production of chickpeas is of the smaller Desi type.
  • Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus and chana masala.
  • Chickpeas can be ground into flour or used to make falafel – a delicious vegetarian alternative to the meatball. They can also be used in soups, salads, and stews.

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

can eat chickpeas on keto

Chickpeas are a good source of protein, providing about 12 grams per cup, which is instrumental in maintaining a healthy immune system. Protein is also the building block of hair, skin, and nails, and helps build muscle tissue.

The macronutrients contained in chickpeas are vast.  Chickpeas are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and folate. You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin C as well as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Healthy minerals in chickpeas include manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron, magnesium, and a small amount of potassium, selenium, and calcium. Manganese protects against free radicals that can cause damage to your body’s cells.

Chickpeas are an excellent source of fiber. They contain 16 percent of your daily fiber needs in a 1/2 cup serving. Chickpeas are high in fiber, making it a heart-healthy food. Studies have shown that people who eat fiber-rich diets are at healthier weights and have a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Chickpeas, like other legumes, contain resistant starch that slows the digestion of carbohydrates.

Studies show that consuming legumes instead of other carbohydrates helps improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. It has also been found that foods high in resistant starch, like chickpeas, may also improve colon health and promote healthy bowel flora.

Most of the carbohydrates in chickpeas come from fiber and starch. The glycaemic load of a 1 cup serving of chickpeas is estimated to be 23 because of the small amount of naturally occurring sugar contained in chickpeas.

Chickpeas contain a small amount of fat, although most of it is polyunsaturated fat – a healthy fat.  They are low in saturated and monounsaturated fat.

Keep in mind that canned chickpeas are higher in sodium than the dried variety.  A ½ cup serving of chickpeas contains 280mg of sodium! Be sure to drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly in water.  This reduces the sodium content by up to 40%.

Can I Eat Chickpeas Occasionally?

Legumes, beans, and any kind of lentil are all starchy foods. They may be nutritious, but their high carb count won’t help you reach ketosis. Limit these legumes on the keto diet:

  • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Fava beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas
are chickpeas keto

A safe way to enjoy chickpeas while on a low carb diet, is ground them into hummus.  Although the main ingredient in hummus is predominantly chickpeas, which are high in carbs; after they’re combined with the other ingredients in hummus, (which are all low carb), the carb count is reduced. 

A ¼ cup serving of hummus contains only 12 grams of carbs.  It can be enjoyed with veggies or as a condiment to meals, just be sure to avoid eating it with bread or pita chips. 

Check out my article, Is Hummus Keto Friendly? to learn all about the health benefits of hummus and how to incorporate this delicious dip into your low carb diet.

Is it Possible to Eat a Small Number of Chickpeas and Remain in Ketosis?

Due to their high carb content, chickpeas eaten in access can throw your body out of ketosis. You may be able to enjoy a small amount (roughly 2 tablespoons) of chickpeas added to any dish or salad, but don’t go beyond this amount. 

You may wish to incorporate ¼ cup of chickpeas into your meal plan once you reach the maintenance phase of the program or eat this amount as a pre-workout carb.

You can also roast a small number of chickpeas to create a chip-like snack.  Roasted chickpeas make a great crunchy topping for salads, which is a great way to keep portion sizes in check.

To make these crunchy, roasted chickpeas at home, simply rinse chickpeas and fully dry them with a paper towel. In a bowl, toss chickpeas, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion salt, cayenne pepper and olive oil to evenly coat. Feel free to adjust seasonings to your preference. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer greased with oil or non-stick cooking spray.  Roast for 25-30 minutes in a 425 Degree oven until golden and crunchy. 

If you choose to purchase dehydrated chickpeas, soak them in water for 8 to 10 hours before cooking for the best results.  If you decide to go with canned chickpeas, be sure to rinse them well to remove excess sodium.

Can I Enjoy a Small Serving of Chickpeas on Occasion?

Chickpeas are higher in carbs, so if your goal is to enter into ketosis, they should be avoided or carefully limited. A good limit for keto dieters is 2 tablespoons of chickpeas. However, later on down the line, you may choose to include more of them in your meal plan or enjoy them as a pre-workout carb.

is chickpeas low carb

Depending on your goals, you may wish to reintroduce them into your diet in small amounts after you’ve been keto-adapted for a period of time. You can test your carb tolerance to certain foods with a ketone meter later on in your diet plan.

If you’re first starting the Keto diet, it’s best to avoid all foods that are high in carbs.  Since chickpeas have a high carb count, you should greatly limit them or do without them at the beginning stage of the Keto diet.

Of course, you can always incorporate chickpeas back into your diet once you reach your weight-loss goals and enter maintenance mode.

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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