Are Lentils Keto-Friendly?


Lentils are relatively high in carbs; therefore they don’t make the best option for low carb diets like Keto.  However, on more liberal low-carb diets, you may be able to incorporate a moderate amount of lentils.

low carb lentils

Do you want to lose weight? YES / NO

Any kind of lentils are high starch nutrients, therefore these legumes are not typically eaten on a Ketogenic diet.  Granted, they may be a healthy food, but the high carb counts won’t help your body stay in ketosis.  Avoid these legumes on the keto diet or strictly limit them to a ¼ cup serving if following a more liberal low carb diet.

How Many Carbs Are In Lentils?

A 100 gram serving of lentils contains 20 grams of carbs.  A 1 cup serving of lentils contains 40 grams of carbs, 16 of which are fiber, totalling 24 grams of net carbs.

Similar to lentils, legumes like peas and beans, as well as grains like corn and quinoa are all fairly high in carbs – so these foods should be limited on a ketogenic diet.

How Many Calories Are In Lentils?

There are 116 calories in a 100 gram serving of lentils.  A 1 cup serving of lentils contains 230 calories. 

Because lentils are low in calories, they make a great food choice if you are embarking on a weight-loss journey and following a diet other than Keto. Because lentils are virtually fat-free and high in fiber, they tend to keep you feeling satiated for longer periods of time.

Lentils can be added to almost any dish to bulk up the plant-based protein and fiber; such as, stews, soups, and salads. Adding lentils to your meals may even help reduce cravings and prevent overeating.

What are Lentils?

Lentils are an edible legume. They come from a bushy annual plant known for its small round seeds. The crop reaches heights of around 40 centimetres and grows pods that typically contain two seeds in each. 

Origin of Lentils

Lentils are thought to have originated in the East and Mediterranean areas.  They have been a popular food source of our ancestors since ancient times. In fact, they’re one of the earliest domesticated crop known to man!

Health Benefits of Lentils      

Lentils are low in fat, high in protein, folate, phosphorus and iron.  They are high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They’re also an excellent source of plant-based protein.

Lentils are high in fiber to support a healthy digestive tract and the growth of good gut bacteria. Eating lentils can help ease constipation and improve gut function.  The soluble fiber in lentils also regulates your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Additionally, lentils contain a variety of important plant compounds known as phytochemicals.  These compounds help the body fight off chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Nutritional Facts

Values are based on a 1 Cup serving of lentils.
Calories 230
Carbs 40 grams
Protein 18 grams
Fat 0.8 grams
Fiber 15.6 grams
Thiamine 22% of Recommended
Daily Intake (RDI)
Niacin 10% of the RDI
Vitamin B6 18% of the RDI
Folate  90% of the RDI
Pantothenic acid 13% of the RDI
Copper 25% of the RDI
Manganese 49% of the RDI
Iron 37% of the RDI
Magnesium 18% of the RDI
Phosphorous 36% of the RDI
Potassium  21% of the RDI
Zinc  17% of the RDI

Types of Lentils          

lentils dal keto approved

Brown: These are the most popular type and are earthy in flavour and retain their firmness while cooking.  Brown lentils make a great addition to stews and soups.

Green: These can vary in size and are usually a more cost efficient alternative to using Puy lentils in recipes.

Yellow and Red: These lentils are split and cook quickly. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.

Puy: These lentils hail from the French region of Le Puy.  Puy lentils have a peppery taste.  They look similar to green lentils, except they’re considerably smaller in size.  Puy lentils are also known as French lentils.  These small lentils hold their shape better after cooking.

Beluga: These lentils are so tiny and black, they almost resemble caviar. They make a great addition to salads.

How to Prepare Lentils

Lentils are simple to prepare and can be used in a variety of dishes.  When using dry lentils, pour the beans into a strainer and run cold water over them for about a minute, tossing them to ensure they are rinsed well throughout. Add a half cup of dry lentils to 1 cup of boiling water. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about a half hour, until tender.

If you are going to use lentils in a salad, you may only want to cook them for only 15 minutes to give them a firmer texture and make sure they aren’t too mushy.

Interesting Facts About Lentils

  • Lentils are legumes that originated in Asia.
  • In 2400 BC, lentils were found in the burial tombs of Ancient Egyptians.
  • Lentils are used around the world, but they’re especially popular in Middle Eastern, Greek, French and Indian cuisines.
  • In the Middle East, lentils are typically prepared with onions and garlic, while in France, they’re often served with roasted meat. 
  • In Indian cooking, lentils are made into a popular soup called dal.
  • Lentils are an easy to cook legume that don’t require soaking, unlike dried beans.
  • In Washington, there is a National Lentil Festival celebrating this popular legume!

Keto Lentil Chili Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ Pound Ground beef or ground turkey
  • ½ Cup Lentils
  • 1 Teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ Small onion, diced
  • 1 Can diced tomatoes
  • Splash of hot sauce
  • ½ red pepper, diced

Instructions:

  1. Brown ground beef or turkey with garlic, onions and spices until meat is cooked through and onions are softened.
  2. Add in tomatoes and lentils and simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium low.
  3. Add dash of hot sauce (to taste).
  4. Serve along with a green salad or with a low carb tortilla.  Read my article on Low Carb Tortillas for some great Keto options.
lentils is keto

Keto Vegetable Soup with Lentils Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups celery, diced (about 3 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried lentils, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water

Instructions:

  • Heat olive oil in large soup pot and add all vegetables and seasonings/spices. Sauté for approximately 10 minutes over medium heat until tender.
  • Add stock, water, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and heat to a boil.
  • Add lentils and lower heat to simmer. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove cheese rind & bay leaf and serve.

Related Questions:   

Are Lentils Carbs or Protein?

Lentils are both high in complex carbohydrates and in protein.  They’re good for those looking to increase their protein consumption.  However, those following a low carb diet should consume them in moderation. 

Can I Eat Lentils During Pregnancy?          

Women who are nursing or who are expecting a baby should add lentils to a balanced diet. Because lentils are high in fiber, they can also help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, two ailments that are common during pregnancy. Lentils are also rich in iron, a mineral that helps prevent anemia.

Are Lentils Gluten-free?

Lentils are naturally gluten-free.  Always rinse lentils before use.  Using dried or fresh lentils over canned or processed products lowers the risk of gluten contamination.

Are Lentils Safe for Diabetics?

A diet rich in legumes, like lentils, can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control, both important factors in managing type 2 diabetes. For these reasons, health care professionals often encourage diabetics to consume more whole grains and legumes in their diet.

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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