When it comes to a ketogenic diet, most people focus on consuming high amounts of protein and fats from meat and dairy sources. As the diet focuses on getting most of your calories from these macronutrients, it’s understandable that these are often the first options people turn to. However, recent research suggests that mushrooms might be a better alternative for those looking to optimize their keto diet.
Not only are mushrooms low in carbs and calories, but they also contain a unique blend of nutrients that are essential for a healthy body and come in a more environmentally conscious and ethical form. Some types of mushrooms are so nutritionally dense that they rival the protein content of meat while providing even more nutritional value for your body.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the nutritional benefits of mushrooms and how they can be a great addition to your keto diet. We’ll explore some of the reasons why mushrooms might be a better choice than meat and share some delicious ideas to incorporate these powerful fungi into your keto diet plan.
Whether you’re a seasoned keto dieter or just starting out, this post will show you how to harness the power of mushrooms to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Many people mistakenly consider mushrooms as vegetables, which are not usually recommended for a keto diet, as many of them are high in carbohydrates. However, mushrooms are actually fungi, not plants, and are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with around two grams of carbs per one cup of mushrooms.
And while they may not have the same amount of protein as meats based on weight (100 grams of mushrooms has around 3 grams of protein, while 100 grams of ground beef has around 20), they are much lower in calories and may be more filling while staying within your calorie goals. In fact, 100 calories worth of mushrooms have about 14g of protein, while 100 calories of beef only has 11g.
Whether you want to lead a more plant-based lifestyle for environmental or ethical reasons or are just looking to switch up your protein sources to keep things interesting, mushrooms are definitely a food to consider.
Besides being high in protein, mushrooms can also support a healthy keto diet by providing vital nutrients that your body may miss out on from not consuming many fruits and vegetables. Some of these essential nutrients include:
Antioxidants can help combat a build-up of harmful chemicals called free radicals in your body. In simpler terms, this means they help support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and can even help defend against cancers. Many types of meat, red meat specifically, can actually increase the amount of these harmful chemicals in your body. Therefore, pairing antioxidant-rich mushrooms with these meat-heavy meals can reduce some of those negative effects (1).
Potassium helps support muscle and blood health by regulating the amount of fluids present in our cells. One cup of mushrooms can have 8-10% of your daily potassium needs.
As a keto diet typically restricts the amount of fruits and vegetables you consume, you may find that you’re not getting the fiber you need. While the amount of fiber varies greatly depending on the mushroom variety, chanterelles and enoki mushrooms have relatively high amounts of fiber (a little over 2 grams per cup). While this may not be as high as grains and many vegetables, it’s a great alternative to help support a keto diet.
Mushrooms contain high amounts of vitamin D and B, which help regulate energy levels and cell metabolism. Many meats, fish, and seafood also have a good amount of some types of B vitamins, but mushrooms can help complement this. Mushrooms also have a high amount of a vitamin called selenium, which supports your thyroid, DNA production, and help fight infections.
Of course, these nutritional benefits range from mushroom to mushroom. As there are so many types of mushrooms out there, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start. Here are a few options to get you going:
The variety of ways to cook mushrooms is almost limitless. For simple options, you can start and simply sautee them and add them as a side dish to any meal or as an addition to stir fry or soup. Mushrooms can also be made into powders and used as seasoning for meat-based meals you’re already making. Mushroom powders can be made up of a single variety or blend of mushrooms and are perfect for adding flavor and nutritional benefits to meals. Mushroom powder has a long shelf life, making it easy to store and have on hand.
Another option is using fresh or dried mushrooms and incorporating them into your daily meals. Dried mushrooms have the same nutritional benefits as fresh ones, yet they have a far longer shelf life. On the other hand, fresh mushrooms are a delicious keto-friendly food to always have around the kitchen and are incredibly versatile and simple to add to any of your recipes. Some mushrooms can be consumed raw, but many must be cooked before consumption. Always ensure you are preparing your mushrooms correctly to avoid food-borne illnesses. And remember, you cannot overcook mushrooms because of the presence of a natural polymer called chitin, which is present in their cell walls. This compound is resistant to heat, so cooking mushrooms for too long is almost impossible. Even with prolonged cooking, mushrooms will retain their tenderness and texture.
Here are some of our favorite keto mushroom recipes and methods to incorporate into your keto meal plan:
These mushrooms are sauteed in olive oil and onions and pack in all of the flavor while staying low carb
These quick and easy stuffed mushrooms pair cream cheese and parmesan cheese for a decadent meal and come together in just 30 minutes
This is a great low-carb option for anyone who still wants to get a good dose of veggies
This recipe pairs mushrooms with traditional stuffing ingredients to make a delicious Thanksgiving-inspired meal
These super simple diced mushrooms are made using the air fryer and come out crispy and full of flavor
While often overlooked, mushrooms are a great option for anyone on a keto diet or simply wanting to watch their carb intake. With a relatively low carb count and a high amount of protein per calorie ratio, mushrooms can help you achieve the weight loss of a ketogenic diet and get the proper nutrients your body needs.
With such a variety of mushrooms to try, each with their own unique flavor, the opportunities to incorporate them into recipes are truly endless. Plus, for people looking for plant-based meat alternatives, mushrooms can offer the satisfying, rich, umami flavor and protein you may be missing. Low-carb foods don’t have to make you feel empty, that’s one of the reasons why we love mushrooms so much. Varieties like shiitake mushrooms go with most dishes, while lion’s mane tastes like your favorite seafood. Oyster mushrooms taste deliciously like fried chicken when prepared properly.
Whether you’re looking to manage your blood sugar and glucose levels, hoping to monitor your carb content efficiently, or achieve ketosis, mushrooms can help you reach your keto goals on a low-carb diet. Overall, it’s easy to see why mushrooms are a great addition to a keto diet, adding to the never-ending list of reasons why we love these fungi friends.