Embarking on a keto diet journey means cutting out all high-carbohydrate foods, such as white rice, pasta, some fruits and vegetables, and even flour. Before thinking that you can no longer have baked goods — because truth be told, flour is a fundamental baking ingredient — know that low-carb flour exists.
Below, we’ll discuss what these flours are made of and list popular options you can use to create various recipes that align with your keto diet.
Low-carb flours refer to types of flours that have significantly lower carbohydrates per serving than those made from wheat. For example, while a 100-gram serving of all-purpose wheat flour contains 73.6 grams of net carbs, the same amount of almond flour contains only 7 grams of net carbs (*)(*). In this case, choosing almond flour is best for achieving ketosis.
Note that keto flours vary in their texture, flavor, and aroma, which influence the characteristics of your final product.
Besides their carbohydrate content, which is a significant factor, keto-friendly flour options are typically higher in dietary fat, protein, and fiber. Fat and protein keep you satiated, whereas fiber helps regulate appetite, which contributes to weight loss (*). And if you’re trying to avoid foods that contain gluten or you have wheat allergy — fortunately, these keto flours are naturally gluten-free.
Low-carb flours offer many advantages for those who love baking using keto ingredients and consumers in general. Below are reasons to use these keto flours:
- Carbohydrate reduction: On a keto diet, you limit your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day. Since low carb flours like almond flour and coconut flour are high in fiber, this will leave you with lower net carbs.
- Low glycemic index (GI): Another benefit of keto-friendly flours is that they have a low GI, which means that they’re digested more slowly. As a result, they don’t cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, making these flours healthy for individuals with diabetes.
- Satiating: The fiber content in low carb flours promotes a feeling of fullness for hours. Whether you’re on keto or simply looking to reduce your total carb intake, satiety is an important factor for appetite control and weight management.
- Nutrient density: Foods that are nutrient-dense offer high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds. Low-carb flours help meet your nutritional needs, although keep in mind that their nutritional values vary depending on the type of flour.
- Versatile: Just because you eliminate wheat flour from your diet, doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy bread, muffins, pancakes, and pizza anymore. Low-carb flours are suitable for any recipe that would normally require wheat flour, plus these flours may be used to thicken soups and sauces, and make tortilla wraps!
Here’s an overview of the calories and macros for each type of low-carb flour substitute (using a 2-tablespoon or 14-gram serving size). Use this guide to carefully plan your keto recipes and meals, making sure that you stay in ketosis:
|Pork Rind Dust
|Chia Seed Flour
|Sunflower Seed Flour
|Psyllium Husk Powder
Similar to the table above, we ranked these keto-friendly flour options from lowest to highest carbs per serving. Learn what makes each flour unique and its common uses.
1. Pork Rind Dust
Pork rind dust is made from ground-up pork rinds, which are deep-fried pig skin or chicharrones. With its zero-carb content, this keto flour substitute is an excellent choice if you’re following a carb-free diet or trying to keep carbs as low as possible. Two tablespoons provide 0g carbs, 1.2g fat, and 2.4g protein (*).
When it comes to flavor, pork rind dust has a savory and salty taste. Use it to coat pork, chicken, fish, and other animal-based fried recipes.
2. Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is another suitable low-carb option that’s made from dried and ground lupin beans. Lupin is a legume closely related to peanuts and is common in Mediterranean cuisines. Note that you may develop an allergic reaction to lupin if you’re also allergic to peanuts (*). Two tablespoons provide 0g net carbs, 1g fat, and 6g protein (*).
For cooking and baking, use lupin flour to make noodles, chocolate chip cookies, bread, and tortilla chips. Also, feel free to use it as a thickening ingredient (instead of cornstarch) in soups and gravies.
3. Chia Seed Flour
Chia seed flour is made from chia seeds, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3s reduce triglycerides and lower inflammation in the body, protecting you from disease (*). Two tablespoons provide 1g net carbs, 1.5g fat, and 5g protein (*).
If you enjoy baked or fried meats and fish, chia seed flour adds a crispy texture to your meals. Another interesting way to use this is by blending it with other low-carb flours for cakes and muffins. Incorporate it into homemade snack balls too!
4. Almond Flour
Almond flour is a widely used alternative to wheat flour for cooking and baking. This is especially true for individuals who follow not just a keto diet, but also a paleo diet. Made from ground almonds, it’s rich in vitamin E. Two tablespoons provide 1g net carbs, 7g fat, and 3g protein (*).
If you prefer a slightly nutty flavor in your recipes, almond flour is a good choice. Recipes that can be made using almond flour include bread, pancakes, pie crusts, cookies, crepes, and waffles.
5. Flaxseed Meal
Flaxseed meal is another highly nutritious low-carb flour that’s also high in fat as well as potassium. Due to its high ability to absorb moisture, flaxseed meal requires more water. Two tablespoons provide 1g net carbs, 5g fat, and 3g protein (*).
Delicious recipes to make with this flour include seed bread, breakfast pancakes, crackers, and pudding.
6. Sunflower Seed Flour
Sunflower seed flour refers to raw sunflower seeds that have been blended to achieve a flour-like consistency. Given that sunflower seeds are high in substances with antioxidant properties (like vitamin E and selenium), it’s a great way to give your recipes a health boost. Two tablespoons provide 2g net carbs, 8g fat, and 2.45g protein (*).
Some claim that sunflower seed flour is a bit pricier than other gluten-free keto flours, although this might depend on where you’re buying it. In that case, you may opt for almond flour instead.
7. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is made from ground coconut meat. Once it’s dried, it becomes a suitable ingredient for baking. Most of the fats in coconut flour are medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, which help increase your ketone levels so you can enter or maintain ketosis. Two tablespoons provide 4g net carbs, 1.5g fat, and 3g protein (*).
Since coconut flour tastes mildly nutty, you can expect your recipes to have this quality. It will also require more liquid considering its highly absorbent nature. Use it to bake brownies, bread, and cakes.
8. Psyllium Husk Powder
Psyllium husk powder may be a popular supplement for maintaining regular bowel movements, but it can also be used in low-carb recipes to improve their texture. One study found that consuming psyllium helps in overcoming obesity (*). Two tablespoons provide 7g net carbs, 1.4g fat, and 5g protein (*).
There are many ways to incorporate this flour into your keto diet. You can make pasta, bread, baguettes, tortillas, and chocolate cake bars. To boost the fiber content in your favorite smoothie, add just 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk.
Below are common questions and answers on the topic of low-carb flour:
Can low-carb flour be used as a 1:1 substitute for regular flour in recipes?
This is unlikely with most low-carb flour options. Usually, you will have to use a smaller amount of low-carb flour due to its high absorbency. An exception would be sunflower seed flour, which means you can follow a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour.
How does low-carb flour affect baking and cooking?
One thing you’ll notice is that low-carb flours tend to require more liquid to achieve the right consistency in a recipe. Most likely, you’ll be adding more water, eggs, or oil. Another noticeable difference is the flavor they impart, which is nutty.
Is low-carb flour gluten-free?
If you’re avoiding gluten for health reasons, many low-carb flour options (like almond flour, coconut flour, sunflower seed flour, and chia seed flour) are naturally gluten-free.
Do you miss your favorite baked goods? Now that you have a list of keto-friendly types of flours, you’ll be able to enjoy most recipes, especially the sweet ones.
As a final tip, always read product labels to confirm whether the type of flour you buy is gluten-free. Remember to store these flours in an airtight container as well if you don’t bake or cook often.
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