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Are Jack Beans Keto-Friendly?

Jack Beans on a kitchen counter

In the diverse world of nutrition, understanding the role of various foods in our diets can be fascinating.

One such topic that deserves to be spotlighted is the compatibility of Jack Beans with the much coveted ketogenic diet.

Unfortunately, at first glance, Jack Beans seem to be more of a foe than a friend to those on a strict keto regimen.

This enlightening article sets out to take a deep dive into the carbohydrate content of Jack Beans, its impact on the state of ketosis, and alternatives that allow keto-dieters to relish similar flavors without disrupting their dietary goals.

Let's step into this intriguing discussion about Jack Beans and their place (or lack thereof) in a ketogenic meal plan.


  • Jack Beans pose a challenge to a ketogenic diet due to their considerable carbohydrate content, potentially jeopardizing the state of ketosis.
  • Despite being nutritionally rich, Jack Beans' 26.8g of net carbs per 100g serving surpasses the typical daily carb allotment for a standard keto diet.
  • The article explores keto-friendly alternatives to Jack Beans, like mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant, to satisfy similar cravings without busting carb limits.

Are Jack Beans Keto-Friendly?

In one word, no. Jack Beans, despite their numerous health benefits, don't pass the keto-friendliness test, primarily due to their significant carbohydrate content.

For those of us immersed in the keto lifestyle, it's common knowledge that we aim to maintain a low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat diet. This balance assists in keeping our bodies in a state of ketosis, an energy-burning mode where fat is the primary fuel instead of carbohydrates.

So here comes the nutritional fact that explains why Jack Beans falter on the keto compatibility scale – these beans, per 100 grams, contain a substantial 26.8 grams of net carbs. To give you a bit of context, those following a strict keto diet often aim to keep their daily net carb consumption under 20 grams.

When you compare the carbohydrate content of Jack Beans against this daily limit, it becomes quite clear why these beans do not seamlessly fit into a keto diet. Adding a serving of Jack Beans would not only exhaust your daily carb allotment but exceed it, potentially knocking your body out of the cherished state of ketosis.

Although the macro-nutrient composition of Jack Beans – falling under the legume family – does include beneficial nutrients, like a good source of plant-based protein and fibre, the high carbohydrate content regrettably sidelines Jack Beans in the keto context.

Interestingly enough, it's crucial to note that the nutritional profile of a food item is not the sole determinant of its keto friendliness. Rather, it's how these nutrients - specifically carbohydrates - align with the goals of a keto diet. In the case of Jack Beans, the substantial carb content, unfortunately, overrides its other nutritional benefits, making it less than ideal for keto followers.

Can Jack Beans be Incorporated into a Strict Keto Diet?

Given their high carbohydrate content, incorporating Jack Beans into a strict keto diet becomes a rather tricky affair. As we've established, those following a ketogenic diet aim to keep their daily net carb intake typically below 20g. Eating just a 100g serving of Jack Beans would consume and surmount this daily allotment, with its 26.8g of net carbs.

One could hypothesize that consuming a smaller serving of Jack Beans could somehow fit into the narrow carb allowance of the diet. However, this would hardly leave room for any other sources of carbohydrates in your meals for the rest of the day. It quickly becomes apparent that including Jack Beans, even in small quantities, in a strict keto diet can be a nutritional juggling act that may more likely disrupt than enhance your dietary goals.

It's worth mentioning that the definition of a "strict" keto diet can vary among individuals and health professionals. However, the principle of keeping the carb intake significantly low remains central. In this case, it makes sense to steer clear of Jack Beans and other high-carb foods to maintain ketosis.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to track your daily net carb consumption. Countless smartphone apps and online platforms can help calculate, monitor, and adjust your diet based on your specific dietary goals. By using such tools, it becomes more straightforward to make informed food choices, avoid foods like Jack Beans, and keep your daily carb intake in check to sustain your state of ketosis.

Delving into the Carbohydrate Content of Jack Beans

It's no secret that the carbohydrate content of Jack Beans is considerable. For every 100 grams of these beans, there is a whopping 26.8 grams of net carbs. But what are net carbs, and why are they so important for people on a keto diet?

Net carbs are essentially the amount of carbohydrates that your body can digest and turn into energy. This is calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber (a type of carbohydrate that your body can't digest) from the total grams of carbohydrates in a food item. The reason this is important in the context of a keto diet is because these digestible carbs can raise your blood sugar levels. Overconsumption of such carbs could potentially knock your body out of ketosis, the metabolic state central to the ketogenic diet.

Let's put this in perspective with an example. Assume you decided to enjoy a single serving of Jack Beans, say about 100g, in your salad or as a side dish. This 'seemingly' small addition alone would supply your body with around 26.8g of net carbs. Considering the daily net carb limit for a standard keto diet is typically around 20g, a single serving of Jack Beans would already put you well over the daily allowance.

It's worth noting that while carbohydrates are often discussed in a negative light in the context of a keto diet, they are not inherently bad. Carbohydrates are a vital nutrient providing energy for the body, with different types offering various health benefits. The issue in the case of Jack Beans comes down to the quantity present and how that fits into the framework of a strict keto diet.

Nutritional Snapshot of Jack Beans

Jack Beans, a nutrient-dense food, offer a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients. With a respective 26.8g and 32.5g per 100g serving, net carbs and total carbohydrates make up a significant portion of their nutritional profile. There is also 5.7g of dietary fiber, contributing to digestive health.

Despite being low-fat, with just 0.5g per serving, Jack Beans are rich in protein, providing 9.8g per 100g, which constitutes a valuable plant-based protein source. They are quite low in calories as well, rating in at 170kcal per serving.

The nutritional snapshot extends beyond macros. From the standpoint of micronutrients, Jack Beans possess a potent blend. The beans contain 756.0mg of potassium, aiding electrolyte balance. Additionally, 60.0mg of magnesium and 58.0mg of calcium suggest a role in bone health.

The legume is also packed with vitamins. Vitamin B-6 stands at 0.22mg, and there is a presence of Vitamin C, albeit slight at 1.0mg. It's also rich in essential minerals like iron (3.0mg), phosphorus (117.0mg), and contains trace elements like copper, selenium, and zinc.

The beans' nutritional profile also consists of thirst-inducing components: 92.0mg of sodium and a water content of 55.8g. These beans provide good amounts of various B vitamins, such as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Pantothenic acid, along with Folate.

Looking at the fatty acids, the beans offer a blend of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. The presence of diverse fatty acids underscores its intricacy as a food source. Still, each offers particular benefits and reflects the inherent complexity of natural foods like Jack Beans.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100g
Net Carbs 26.8g
Carbohydrate, by difference 32.5g
Fiber, total dietary 5.7g
Total fats 0.5g
Protein 9.8g
Sodium, Na 92.0mg
Potassium, K 756.0mg
Magnesium, Mg 60.0mg
Calcium, Ca 58.0mg
Vitamin B-6 0.22mg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 1.0mg
Copper, Cu 0.1mg
Iron, Fe 3.0mg
Phosphorus, P 117.0mg
Selenium, Se 1.5ug
Zinc, Zn 0.77mg
Manganese, Mn 0.55mg
Thiamin 0.34mg
Riboflavin 0.12mg
Niacin 0.7mg
Pantothenic acid 0.3mg
Folate, total 50.0ug
Calories 170.0kcal
Water 55.8g
Fatty acids, total saturated 0.06g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.04g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.29g
This data was provided by the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system.
'Jack Beans' was not found in FoodData Central, so nutritional data for 'Beans, pinto, immature seeds, frozen, unprepared' was used instead under Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards.

Health Implications of Jack Beans on a Keto Diet

While the nutritional composition of Jack Beans brings certain health benefits, from a ketogenic diet perspective, maintaining a state of ketosis can be quite challenging when Jack Beans come into play.

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body efficiently burns fat for fuel instead of relying primarily on carbohydrates. The goal for those of us on a keto diet is to maintain this ketosis state to reap potential health benefits, such as improved energy levels and enhanced cognitive function.

The carbohydrate content of Jack Beans, however, can be a hurdle to this. With its 26.8g of net carbs per 100g serving, even a modest serving size of Jack Beans could put your daily carb intake over the typical threshold, which is generally set at 20g for those on a strict keto diet.

But it's important to remember that the criticism of Jack Beans in a keto diet context is primarily due to its carbohydrate content, and not an implication that these beans are not nutritious. Jack Beans are indeed packed with nutritional goodness. They are a rich source of protein, offering a plant-based protein alternative for vegetarians and vegans. Furthermore, they have a substantial amount of fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness.

Additionally, Jack Beans also contain various vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall health and well-being. For instance, they're a good source of iron, which plays a crucial role in energy production and oxygen transportation in our bodies, potassium, which is beneficial for heart health, and zinc, which supports the immune system.

Avoiding Jack Beans in Your Keto Meal Plan

Crafting a keto meal plan involves careful selection of foods that align with low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat dietary goals. The key is to steer clear of foods like Jack Beans, which can potentially threaten your state of ketosis due to their significant carbohydrate content.

Here are a few essential strategies to help you avoid Jack Beans in your keto meal plan:

1. Read food labels thoroughly: Many pre-made and processed meals may contain beans or legumes, including Jack Beans. Food labels are your allies here. Make sure you go through the ingredients list as well as the nutritional information to check for hidden carbs. 2. Plan your meals: A great way to keep your diet keto-friendly is to plan your meals. This way, you can verify that each ingredient fits into your dietary goals. Meal planning will give you control over what goes into your food and help you sidestep carb-laden foods like Jack Beans. 3. Flex your cooking skills: Opt for home-cooked meals instead of processed foods. It is the best way to ensure you know exactly what you're eating. Experiment with keto-friendly recipes that satisfy your taste buds without including high-carb items. 4. Manage cravings: If you find yourself craving Jack Beans, try finding a keto-friendly alternative that provides a similar culinary experience without the high carbs. For instance, certain types of mushrooms can simulate the texture and heartiness of beans when cooked and might be a suitable substitute.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Jack Beans

Navigating a keto diet while craving Jack Beans can be challenging, but don't despair. There are several keto-friendly alternatives that bring similar textural and taste elements you might miss from excluding Jack Beans. Let's explore a few of them:

1. Mushrooms: A favorite among keto dieters, mushrooms are a great source of vitamins and minerals and provide a meaty texture that can be similar to beans in certain dishes. For instance, portobello and shiitake mushrooms, stuffed with seasoned ground meat or cheese, can make a delicious keto-friendly meal. They contain approximately 3g of net carbs per 100g, a stark contrast to Jack Beans' 26.8g. 2. Zucchini: Zucchini is another low-carb vegetable with a versatile nature and numerous uses in a ketogenic meal plan. It can be spiralized for 'zoodles', roasted, or stuffed, ensuring a variety of delicious meals without high carbs. For every 100g, zucchini has approximately 2.6g of net carbs, making it a much more keto-friendly option compared to Jack Beans. 3. Eggplant: Eggplant, when well-cooked, can provide a substantial texture reminiscent of certain legumes. You can stuff them, grill them, or make them into keto-friendly lasagna layers, giving versatility and richness to your diet. With about 2.4g of net carbs per 100g, eggplant offers a significantly lower carb load than Jack Beans. 4. Cauliflower: This superb vegetable takes on the flavors it's cooked with and can mimic a variety of higher carb foods, from pizza crust to mashed potatoes, making it a keto staple. Add in that 100g of cauliflower comprises roughly 3g of net carbs, and you've found another fantastic keto alternative to Jack Beans.

Concluding Thoughts on Jack Beans and Keto

Through our journey into the intricacies of Jack Beans and the ketogenic diet, it's clear to see that while these beans hold remarkable nutritional benefits, they pose challenges for those adhering to a strict keto diet.

The key issue with incorporating Jack Beans into a keto diet lies with its substantial 26.8g of net carbs per 100g serving. This carb level exceeds the daily allotment in a typical keto diet, targeting 20g of net carbs per day. The primary task for keto dieters is to stay in the metabolic state of ketosis, where the body efficiently burns fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. High carb foods like Jack Beans can jeopardize this state, proving it to be unsuitable for a standard ketogenic diet.

However, the high carbohydrate content does not negate the nutritional value of Jack Beans. These legumes are a generous source of dietary fiber, vital vitamins, and minerals that aid overall health. They provide plant-based protein that is particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans.

Despite the undeniable health benefits, for those on a ketogenic diet, the challenge lies in finding keto-compatible substitutes that deliver similar nutritional benefits without jeopardizing ketosis. Options such as mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and cauliflower provide low-carb alternatives with their unique taste profiles and textures. These alternatives open up a world of culinary potential without disrupting the strict keto regimen.

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Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


The information on this website is only intended to be general summary information for public use, designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. This information does not replace written law or regulations, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition or are seeking to evaluate the health merits of certain food items for the treatment of any medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professionals.

The views expressed at, or through, Cast Iron Keto are for informational purposes only. Cast Iron Keto cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. While we use reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information, we make no warranties as to the accuracy of the content and assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jack Beans contain a high amount of carbohydrates, with approximately 26.8g of net carbs per 100g serving. This high carb content exceeds the daily carb limit of a typical ketogenic diet that usually targets 20g of net carbs per day, which can throw the body out of the desired state of ketosis.

Given their high carbohydrate content, consuming Jack Beans, even in small quantities, can potentially exceed the strict carb limit of a traditional ketogenic diet. Therefore, it's best to avoid them in the meal plan.