Is Popcorn Keto?

Can you eat popcorn on keto? Diet & Nutrition
December 20, 2022
6 minutes Read
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Here’s a corny fun fact: January 19th is National Popcorn Day to celebrate what some call “The world’s oldest snack.”

While this tasty treat is enjoyed by many, is popcorn keto-friendly?

Keto’s a popular diet that can boost weight loss and minimize carbohydrates. However, there are carbs in popcorn. So why do some keto dieters munch on it while others avoid it?

We’ll channel our inner Sherlock Holmes and bring you an answer to “Can you eat popcorn on keto.”

What is Popcorn?

Firstly, the basics: The American Heart Association (AHA) explains that popcorn is a whole grain containing a decent amount of fiber.

Popcorn refers to the bite-sized puffs that pop out of the corn kernels. The kernels explode when heated due to water expansion, releasing the puffy white snack.

Zea mays everta is popcorn’s scientific name, and according to, it’s the only corn that pops.

Depending on how it’s prepared, popcorn can be a nutritional snack (minus the addition of heavy oils, butter, or sweet toppings).

But should you eat popcorn on keto? Is popcorn high in carbs?

Popcorn’s nutritional info

Maya Vadiveloo, Ph.D. R.D., a registered dietitian and nutritional epidemiologist, shares some helpful insight.

In an interview with the AHA, she explains that popcorn contains dietary fiber and polyphenols while having a relatively low-calorie count.

Some possible health benefits of increasing nutritional fiber and polyphenols include improved digestion, circulation, and heart health.

According to the USDA, 1 oz of kernels produces roughly  2 ½ cups of popcorn and contains:

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 1.29 g
  • Protein: 3.66 g
  • Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Magnesium: 41 mg, which is about 10% of recommended daily intake (RDI)
  • Phosphorus: 100 mg
  • Manganese: 0.3 mg
  • Zinc: 0.9 mg

So does popcorn have carbs? As we now know, this savory movie snack contains carbohydrates. But the preparation method and amount of popcorn consumed determines the overall health value.

Most notably, the number of carbs in popcorn is mainly significant regarding keto or other low-carb diet plans.

What is the keto diet?

Cleveland Clinic notes that the ketogenic (keto) diet lowers carbs while increasing the fats you consume, so your body slides into a state known as ketosis.

In the metabolic state of ketosis, the body burns fat instead of blood sugar (blood glucose) for energy.

In short, the keto diet encourages low carbs, moderate protein, and high-fat consumption.

Typically, the keto diet consists of the following food ratios:

  • 5 to 10% of carbohydrates
  • 10 to 20% of proteins
  • 70 to 80% of fats

Is popcorn keto-friendly?

If you’re wondering, “Can you eat corn on keto,” you’ll need to know how rigid your diet plan is.

Dr. Eric Berg, the founder of Knowledge Doc, a comprehensive site that supports keto living, sheds light on this subject.

There are about 22 grams of carbs in 2 ½ cups of popcorn. And Berg explains that 4 grams of fiber should be subtracted from the carb total.

In short, and after we’ve done some math, 18 grams of net carbs are in a 2 ½ cup serving of popcorn.

Is popcorn high in carbs?

No, not usually, if consumed in moderation for a regular diet. But to correctly follow a keto eating plan, you should aim for about 20-50 grams of carbs daily.

And Berg notes that indulging in popcorn can quickly fill your daily carb quota while still leaving you hungry. Therefore, he doesn’t suggest popcorn as a keto staple.

Main takeaway

How many carbs are in popcorn? The answer to this question depends on the amount of popcorn you eat, the toppings, and if you minus the fiber for the total net carbs. For air-popped popcorn, refer to the nutrition label on the food’s package.

Does popcorn have carbs? Yes, but when prepared healthily and in moderation, these carbs can be a nutritious and delicious addition to a regular diet.

Is popcorn on keto okay? There are two schools of thought on this.

Generally, popcorn carbs are considered acceptable in a keto lifestyle if they’re consumed in the right amount. You’ll likely need to balance out your other food choices to stay within the ketosis range.

In contrast, Dr. Berg explains that popcorn contains carbs and doesn’t necessarily offer enough volume to leave you feeling full, so he doesn’t suggest this snack for keto.

Speak to a healthcare professional to create a meal plan that’s best for you.

Can you eat corn on keto?

Corn is more likely than popcorn to be misunderstood as keto-friendly.. This is incorrect. Corn in its raw form is not even in the keto category. Corn has a high carbohydrate content and is high in starch.

Popcorn, on the other hand, is low in carbs and can be consumed in moderation while on keto.

Keto-friendly snack options

If you’re concerned about popcorn carbs, plenty of whole-food alternatives exist.

Some easy keto-friendly snack options include the following options:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Cold cuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecan nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Celery
  • Cucumber 
  • Pork rinds

Alternatively, several keto-designed packaged foods, such as avocado chips, seaweed snacks, and cheese bites, exist.

The advent of keto-friendly foods into the health-food market offers more variety and can help bolster the diet’s sustainability.

Important note

The keto diet can raise health concerns due to its high-fat content, especially its saturated fat levels.

Also, it limits nutrient-rich foods, like veggies, fruits, and grains, causing concern for long-term heart health.

Ensure you confer with a healthcare professional before and during your keto transition.

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FAQs related to Popcorn and Keto

Q: Can I eat popcorn on a keto diet?

A: Yes, you can eat popcorn on a keto diet. However, if you eat a lot of popcorn, your body will not be as keto-friendly. Before you start eating popcorn on keto, you should know how many carbs your body can handle on a daily basis.

Naturally, popcorn contains no carbohydrates. But, excessive consumption of popcorn, particularly with add-ons such as caramel and chocolate, is unhealthy on keto.

Furthermore, popcorn cooked in a pressure cooker is much healthier than microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn emits unnecessary oils and chemicals that are bad for your health, especially if you’re on a keto diet.

Q: How much popcorn can I eat on keto?

A: Although popcorn is a low-calorie snack, it cannot be consumed without restraint. As you may have heard, everything has a limit, and when that limit is exceeded, even a healthy snack becomes unhealthy.

Keto is, in fact, a low carb, high fat diet. Therefore, based on your body and conditions, your nutritionist will determine the amount of carbs you should consume. To find out how much popcorn you can eat, consult a nutritionist.

Q: What kind of popcorn is keto-friendly?

A: Air-Popped popcorn is an excellent choice for keto dieters due to its low carbohydrate and calorie content. You can flavor it with a little butter or Parmesan.

Parmesan and butter, in moderation, are allowed in the keto diet. There’s no need to be concerned about that.

Q: Will popcorn kick me out of ketosis?

A: It can. If you are on a keto diet and have more popcorn exceeding your daily carb limit, you will most likely fall out of ketosis.

If you’re watching your diet, limit your popcorn consumption to one bowl or as needed for your body, You’re on the right track.

So, the answer is straightforward. If you let popcorn knock you out of ketosis, it will undoubtedly happen.

Final thoughts

The keto diet is often used to help manage medical conditions like epilepsy.

This eating plan has also been shown that it may reduce weight and minimize negative medical concerns related to being overweight.

That said, a more balanced eating regimen can be just as effective in helping you shape up in the long run. Consult a trusted healthcare provider to monitor your health while on a diet plan.

Lastly, you can enjoy popcorn in moderation on keto. But consuming it also depends on how rigid your dietary restrictions are.

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