There are some basic rules when it comes to following the keto diet. Fat and protein are good, while carbs and sugars are enemy No.1. And while fruit is generally considered a healthy food, it’s severely limited on keto thanks to its typical carb and sugar content.
That raises a huge question: What’s the deal with tomatoes? Technically, they’re a fruit, but pretty much everyone treats them like a vegetable. So, are tomatoes keto-friendly or not?
First, a quick primer on the keto diet…
Keto is short for ketogenic diet, which focuses on eating plenty of fats and minimal carbs. This gets your body into a state known as ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy, explains Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Everyone’s needs on keto are a little different but, in general, you want to aim to have 60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat, 15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein, and five to 10 percent of your calories from carbs. For keto fans, that usually means limiting your carb intake to less than 50 grams a day, although some people who are on the more hardcore end of keto try to have less than 20 grams of carbs a day.
So, are tomatoes keto?
Yup. “Tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, are keto-friendly,” Keatley says. Your standard tomatoes have four grams of carbs and two grams of sugar per half cup serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, the counts vary a little depending on the type of tomato you go for. Grape tomatoes contain three grams of carbs per half cup serving, while cherry tomatoes have six grams of carbs and four grams of sugar. Still, it shouldn’t be a biggie if this fits into your overall carb counts.
“If you're on keto, you should not be on a zero carbohydrate diet,” Keatley points out. “Tomatoes, which have carbohydrates, are low in sugar, have fiber, and, more importantly, have phytonutrients that you may be lacking on a strict keto diet.”
When it comes to eating tomatoes on the keto diet, Keatley recommends opting for whole tomatoes and skipping store-bought sauce (they can be loaded with added sugar, which is definitely not keto-friendly).
For the record, you don’t need to worry that you’ll completely screw up your ketosis if you have a tomato (or two) on any given day. “You'd likely need to eat five to six medium tomatoes to upset the balance of carbohydrates,” Keatley says.
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