Are Sweet Potatoes Keto?

Are Sweet Potatoes Keto?

November 30, 2023 5 min read

Sweet potatoes stand out as an alternative to regular potatoes when it comes to healthy substitutes for common food items. According to nutritionists, sweet potatoes are a better option because of their high vitamin content and low glycemic index. They’re great for people trying to keep their blood sugar down, with some even using them as a substitute for regular white rice.

Still, there’s a lot of confusion about the weight loss benefits of switching to sweet potato, particularly among those observing the ketogenic diet regime. In this article, we take a look at the research and advice from nutritionists and keto practitioners to determine if sweet potato is keto-friendly.

Are Sweet Potatoes Keto Friendly?

The primary principle of the ketogenic diet is to consume more fat and protein and less carbs. Sweet potatoes, being a naturally high-carb food, are unfortunately not keto-friendly. Nutritionists believe that the high carb content in sweet potatoes cannot easily fit into keto macros, the common ratio for which is 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.

Some proponents, however, say they are able to add sweet potatoes to their ketogenic diet in very small portions, limiting consumption to 42% of their daily carb intake. Overall, it depends on your personal carb goals. But generally, sweet potatoes are avoided on keto to maintain ketosis and achieve weight loss.

How Many Carbs in Sweet Potato?

A medium-sized sweet potato weighing about 100 grams contains 17.3 grams of total carbs. Subtract that with its 4.44 grams of fiber content and you’re left with 12.86 grams of net carbs in one medium sweet potato serving.

Most keto dieters limit their carb intake to 50 grams per day, allowing them to consume a small serving of sweet potatoes while still staying within their required macros.

Are Sweet Potatoes a Good Carb Source?

Sweet potatoes are classified as whole foods with a naturally high carbohydrate content. Nutritionists believe that they’re better and healthier sources of carbs than processed foods with refined carbohydrates, i.e. those that get their carb content from added sugar and flour.

While sweet potatoes are a preferred carb source for a regular diet regime, the same cannot be said for the keto diet. Nutritionists do not consider sweet potatoes as a “good” carb source for keto because a small serving can easily take up your daily carb allowance. Still, some proponents are able to work sweet potatoes into their meal plans in small servings.

Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts

To better understand why sweet potatoes are not recommended by nutritionists for the ketogenic diet, it’s worth looking at their nutritional information. 100 grams of raw sweet potatoes contains:

  • Calories: 79 kcal
  • Protein: 1.58 grams
  • Fat: 0.38 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 17.3 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.44 grams
  • Sugars: 6.06 grams

Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamins and nutrients, including:

  • Calcium: 22 mg
  • Iron: 0.4 mg
  • Magnesium: 19.1 mg
  • Phosphorus: 37 mg
  • Potassium: 486 mg
  • Zinc: 0.34 mg
  • Copper: 0.187 mg
  • Manganese: 0.417 mg
  • Selenium: <2.5 µg
  • Vitamin C: 14.8 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.124 mg
  • Vitamin K: 0.2 µg

Alternatives to Sweet Potato for Your Keto Diet

When watching your carb intake in keto, nutritionists believe it’s best to avoid consuming sweet potatoes altogether. Instead, they recommend the following low-carb alternatives:

  • Butternut Squash: Similar to sweet potatoes in flavor and texture, butternut squash is a good low-carb alternative. It contains less than 12 grams of carbs and is high in nutrients such as vitamins A and C, magnesium, and potassium. 
  • Cauliflower: A healthy alternative not only to sweet potato but also rice and other veggies, cauliflower, with a low carb content of 4.97 grams, is a staple in a keto diet.
  • Jicama: A Mexican turnip, this sweet potato alternative only contains less than 9 grams of total carbs and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fiber.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin has a similar flavor profile as sweet potatoes but with fewer carbs. Only containing 6.5 grams of carbs per 100-gram serving, pumpkin can be a healthy alternative that’s good for the heart and immune system.
  • Radish: Like sweet potatoes, radishes are best enjoyed oven-roasted. They’re keto-friendly, with a carb content of only 3.4 grams, and are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
  • Rutabaga: A Swedish variation of a turnip, the Rutabaga is a healthy root vegetable containing less than 9 grams of carbs. It can be mashed to create a mashed potato substitute or fried.
  • Turnip: Turnip has a natural sweetness similar to sweet potatoes but with a satisfying crunch and a lower carb content (6 grams). It’s also low in calories and rich in nutrients.

Conclusion: Should You Eat Sweet Potatoes on Keto?

Sweet potatoes, with their naturally high carbohydrate content, are not recommended by nutritionists and proponents of the ketogenic diet. Consuming it can easily skew your macros.

However, if your cravings for sweet potatoes are strong while on keto, you can consume it in small amounts, but be careful not to exceed your daily carb allowance.

A tasty and healthy alternative to sweet potatoes that is high in good fats and collagen protein, making it an ideal option during keto, are pork rinds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat sweet potato on keto diet?

Nutritionists and keto practitioners advise against eating sweet potatoes on a keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content. But you may be able to consume it in very small servings. If you limit your carb intake to 50 grams per day, you can only consume a little over one medium-sized sweet potato.

Is it OK to eat sweet potatoes on a low carb diet?

You may be able to eat sweet potatoes on a low-carb diet, as long as you consume them in moderation. Be careful not to go above your daily carb allowance. Generally, however, nutritionists would not recommend sweet potatoes to form part of a low-carb diet regime because of their high carb content.

Will sweet potatoes break ketosis?

According to keto practitioners, eating sweet potatoes while observing keto can temporarily disrupt ketosis, especially if you eat more than your macros allow. The high carb content of sweet potatoes can set you back on your weight loss goals.

However, this can differ from individual to individual. Active keto dieters are able to eat small servings of sweet potatoes on keto without breaking ketosis.

How many carbs in sweet potato fries?

The carbohydrate content in sweet potato fries will depend on how it's prepared. On average, a cup of plain fried sweet potato fries (60 grams) contains 20.4 grams of total carbs and 17.1 grams of net carbs. If you add sweeteners and other seasonings, you can expect a higher amount of carbohydrates compared to preparing it plain.

How many carbs in baked sweet potato?

Even if you opt for a healthier preparation method like baking, sweet potatoes will unfortunately still have a high carb content. A medium-sized sweet potato weighing about 100 grams and baked without salt contains 20.7 grams of total carbs. Subtract that with its fiber content of 3.3 grams, and you’re still left with 17.4 grams of net carbs.