Some of the most nostalgic memories we have are ones including some home cooking in our childhood kitchen, baking up our favorite sweet treats.
Baking has a special way of bringing people together, whether it be creating your own recipes or sharing a tasty dessert while you’re out on the town. However, for individuals just starting a low carb or ketogenic diet, they may feel as though their options for sweet treats are minimal — or even worse — completely off limits.
Baked goods are considered a no no on many diets for several reasons, the key reasons being their abundance of sugar and all-purpose, white flour.
While flour traditionally comes from the grinding of grains, most commercial flour you see today is even worse. Most white flour you see sold in stores today is stripped of parts of the kernel of the grain that naturally slows digestion. Unfortunately, this has a drastic increase on your blood sugar.
Luckily, there are a few healthier alternatives to this harmful ingredient out there today. In fact, some substitutes to flour provide an abundant amount of health benefits. One of these flour alternatives being coconut flour.
What is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour comes from, you guessed it, coconuts. This means that it provides many of the same health benefits.
Which, by the way, is a lot.
But before we get into all the benefits it provides, what exactly is coconut flour?
Coconut flour is made from ground up, dry coconut meat. The coconut meat is the white, thick layer of the coconuts found just below the outer green husk. In order to make it the dry substance in which you’ll obtain the flour from requires you to drain it of any coconut milk and then bake it at a low temperature.
Coconut has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its highly researched health benefits. But what does coconut flour do to our bodies, exactly?
Coconut flour has the ability to balance blood sugar levels, help maintain a healthy metabolism, provides an abundant amount of fiber and helps maintain a healthy gut and digestive system.
Coconut flour is rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) that the body is able to convert to energy without much help from other enzymes. There are four different types of MCTs found in food including caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. The most abundant acid found in coconut products is lauric acid, making up 77 percent of the MCTs found in coconut oil to be exact.
Coconut flour is also rich in key vitamins and minerals. Some of which include manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.
How and When Does Coconut Flour Fit Into a Ketogenic Diet
Unlike its fellow low carb flour alternatives, coconut flour may be a bit higher in carb intake due to the abundant amount of fiber it provides. With a quarter cup of coconut flour coming out to about six grams of net carbs, you can imagine those carbs add up quickly. Let’s do some math.
If you’re using a recipe that calls for one whole cup of coconut flour, that comes out to 24 grams of net carbs. This amount of carbs may be too high. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be consuming all 24 grams of net carbs. If you’re using one cup of coconut flour (and nothing else in your recipe contains any carbs) and you’re making a batch of a dozen cookies, each cookie would technically come out to only two grams of net carbs each, right? However, this is if you were to go to the extreme. Most recipes you see will never ask you for more than a half a cup of coconut flour.
So when it comes to the ketogenic diet, does six to twelve grams of net carbs per serving keep you in ketosis?
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) has guidelines of the average daily carb limit to be no more than 50 grams, and often times much less. This is especially important for beginners just starting out on this low carb diet. Why? This is to make sure your glycogen stores are adequately depleted. Once your glycogen stores are completely empty, your body will search for fuel from it’s second favorite energy source, fat. More specifically, ketones.
This leads your body to enter into a ketogenic state. This means that instead of your body converting glucose for fuel, your liver will instead convert fatty acids in your body into ketones (or ketone bodies). However, it is only when you go above your carb intake that you get “kicked out” of ketosis, resorting back to carbs for energy. However, with only one to two servings of this low carb coconut flour, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry.
When Should Coconut Flour Be Avoided on a Keto Diet?
Unless you’ve reached your carb limit for the day, there isn’t typically any other reason to avoid coconut flour (unless you’re allergic or simply don’t like the taste). However, if you are extremely worried about the amount of carbs found in coconut flour, there are still times you can bake with this low carb flour without any cause for alarm. For example, if you’re following the SKD but you’re already close to your daily carb limit, you have plenty of different options.
Besides the SKD, there are a couple other types of keto diets you can choose from. One is called the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD). The TKD is meant particularly for people who have been following the ketogenic diet for a while and know their bodies well enough to know what foods kick them out of a ketogenic state or not. The TKD is better for active individuals who need a little extra workout energy (carbs). This includes the consumption of 20 to 50 grams of net carbs up to an hour before or after their training times. This would be an ideal time to coconut flour.
The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) is a bit more intense. The CKD is also meant for people who have been following the SKD for a while and are familiar with how their bodies react to carbs. This diet is meant for athletes, bodybuilders and other individuals that train at such high intensities that they need a certain amount of carbs to maintain high performance.
The CKD follows a traditional SKD for around five or six days a week, with a day or two of carb backloading. This means that their daily macronutrients will still be high fat, moderate protein and low carb for the majority of the week with a day or two of a high carb, low fat intake. Their carb intake could be anywhere from 400 to 600 grams of carbohydrates in order to completely replenish their glycogen stores.
So Is Coconut Flour Keto Friendly?
When it comes to coconut flour, you can ingest it in moderate amounts without any worry. For this low carb flour, you can consume a serving or two of this baking necessity all while maintaining ketosis and improving your health at the same time. You can consume coconut flour in moderate intake when following the SKD or in larger amounts if:
- You are following the TKD and consume it before or after exercise.
- You are following the CKD and you’re consuming it on a carb backloading day.
- Your carb intake for the day including the almond milk does not exceed 20 to 50 grams of carbs.
Coconut flour is keto friendly.
Steph is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods.