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Is Corn Keto-Friendly?

Corn on a kitchen counter

Can you eat corn on a keto diet? Generally, the answer is no because corn has a higher carb content. However, if you really miss corn, you might manage to squeeze in a tiny amount, think a tablespoon or two, into your daily carb limit. But even this small portion can eat up a significant chunk of your carb allowance, so it has to be truly worth it for you.

Stay tuned; in this article, we're going to explore some of the best corn alternatives on keto and share an amazing recipe for a keto "cornbread," a super tasty copycat staple of keto cooking!


  • Corn isn't keto-friendly due to its high net carb content.
  • Despite the nutritional benefits of fiber, antioxidants, and B-vitamins, corn can disrupt ketosis.
  • There are keto-compatible alternatives like cauliflower, zucchini, and bell peppers that can replace corn in a keto diet.

Is Corn Keto-Friendly?

Corn is a tricky one for the keto diet. It's packed with natural sugars and carbs, which makes it less than ideal for those trying to stay in ketosis. A standard serving of corn (about 100 grams) can contain around 16.7g of net carbs, which is pretty high considering the strict carb limits of the keto diet. This means that even a small portion of corn could take up a big chunk of your daily carb allowance.

On a keto diet, where the goal is to keep carbs low (usually between 20 to 50 grams per day) to maintain a state of fat-burning known as ketosis, foods high in carbs like corn are usually avoided. So, while corn is nutritious and delicious, it's not the best fit for those following a strict keto lifestyle. There are plenty of low-carb veggies out there that can fill your plate without kicking you out of ketosis, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Can you have Corn on a Strict Keto Diet?

Nope, corn isn't really something you can fit into a strict keto diet. Here's why: in every 100g serving of corn, you're getting about 16.7g of net carbs. That's a lot, especially when you're trying to keep your daily carbs really low, like between 20 to 50 grams for the whole day, to stay in ketosis.

So, adding corn into your diet could easily take up most of your carb limit, leaving little room for anything else. For those on a strict keto diet, it's better to skip the corn and go for veggies with fewer carbs, like spinach or broccoli, to keep things on track.

Carbs in Corn

With 16.7g of net carbs per 100g serving, most of these carbs come from these natural sugars, which can quickly use up your daily carb limit on a strict keto diet. This is why, despite its nutritional value and delicious taste, corn is usually not included in a strict keto diet plan.

In a typical 100g serving of corn, you've got about 6.26 grams of total sugars. These sugars break down into different types: sucrose (0.89g), glucose (3.43g), and fructose (1.94g).

Sucrose is what we often think of as table sugar, a common sweetener in many foods. Glucose and fructose are simpler sugars, with glucose being a primary energy source for our bodies and fructose being a bit sweeter, found naturally in fruits. These sugars are the main sources of carbs in corn, contributing to its overall carb content.

Corn in Its Many Forms on a Keto Diet

Some of the most popular ways to enjoy corn include corn on the cob, corn chips, cornmeal, and canned corn. These forms of corn are staples in various cuisines around the world, celebrated for their versatility and flavor. However, when it comes to fitting these corn-based foods into a keto diet, there are important considerations due to their carb content.

Corn on the cob is a beloved summer treat, but on a keto diet, it's unfortunately too high in carbs to be considered keto-friendly. The natural sugars and carbs in a single ear of corn can quickly exceed the daily carb limits of a strict keto diet.

Corn chips, a crunchy snack and a favorite accompaniment to salsa and guacamole, also fall into the not keto-friendly category. Made from corn flour, these chips are typically high in carbs, making them unsuitable for a keto lifestyle.

Cornmeal, used to make foods like cornbread and polenta, is another form of corn that is high in carbohydrates. Its use in baking and cooking often results in dishes that are too carb-heavy for keto guidelines. If you're missing cornbread on keto, we suggest you check out our viral fake keto cornbread recipe!

Lastly, canned corn, while convenient and often used as a side dish or ingredient in soups and salads, shares the same high-carb trait as its fresh and dried counterparts, making it a less-than-ideal choice for those on a keto diet.

In summary, while corn in its many forms brings flavor and texture to a variety of dishes, its carbohydrate content places it outside the realm of keto-friendly foods. For more information, check out our in-depth guides for the following:

Nutritional Snapshot of Corn

Those who are following a relaxed, low-carb diet can include corn in their diets (although in moderation!). You'll be happy to learn some of the best nutritional facts about corn.

  • Corn isn't just about carbs; it's also packed with a variety of nutrients that can be beneficial for your health. Beyond its sugar content, corn is a good source of dietary fiber, which can help with digestion and keep you feeling full longer.
  • It also offers a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, which supports the immune system, and vitamin B, particularly folate, which is crucial for cell function and tissue growth.
  • Corn is also rich in antioxidants, including beta-carotene and lutein.
  • Plus, it provides a decent amount of protein for a vegetable and is a source of essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100g
Net Carbs16.7g
Carbohydrate, by difference18.7g
Fiber, total dietary2g
Total Sugars6.26g
Nutritional data is sourced from the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system. Please see Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards for more information.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Corn

  • One popular substitute for corn in dishes is cauliflower. It's incredibly versatile and can be used in many dishes where corn is typically found. For instance, cauliflower can be processed into 'rice', roasted as 'steaks', or mashed as a replacement for polenta. A 100g serving of cauliflower contains only about 5 grams of net carbs, making it a much more keto-friendly option compared to corn.
  • Another great substitute is zucchini. It's also low in carbs, with only approximately 3.11 grams of net carbs per 100g serving. Zucchini can be spiralized into 'noodles', stuffed, or used in a stir-fry, making it an excellent stand-in for corn in many recipes.
  • Bell peppers, with about 6 grams of net carbs per 100g, can serve as another colorful and nutritious alternative. They can be stuffed, grilled, or added to salads for a satisfying crunch.

Concluding Thoughts on Corn and Keto

To wrap it up, corn is a no-go on a strict keto diet because of its high carb content, especially from sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. With 16.7g of net carbs per 100g, it can quickly fill up your daily carb limit.

But, it's not all bad news about corn. It's full of good stuff like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are great for your health. So, even though you might have to skip corn on a strict keto diet, it's still a nutritious food to consider if your diet allows for more carbs later on. Remember, finding the right balance in your diet is key to getting the nutrients you need while staying on track with your keto goals.

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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

No, corn is not keto-friendly due to its high net carb content, which can disrupt ketosis.

Yes, corn is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and B-vitamins; however, these benefits must be balanced with its high carb content if you're following a ketogenic diet.

All varieties of corn, including sweet corn, popcorn, and cornmeal, have a high carb content, making them unsuitable for a strict keto diet. However, you may want to try babycorn, as it's lower in carbs!