Eating popcorn - is it allowed on a low carb or ketogenic diet

Is popcorn allowed on a ketogenic diet?

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Eating popcorn - is it allowed on a low carb or ketogenic dietPhoto by Mc Jefferson Agloro on Unsplash

If you are just starting the ketogenic diet, you may be looking for a snack and wondering “Is popcorn allowed on a ketogenic diet?”

The answer is: it depends!

The main focus of the ketogenic diet is to reduce carbohydrates to force the body to use fat for energy instead of sugars. Since carbohydrates turn into glucose in the body, eating carbohydrates allows for your body to use glucose as its primary energy source. When you restrict those carbs, your body doesn’t have enough sugars and turns to its back up mechanism, deriving energy from stored fats.

Find out more about the Ketogenic diet, including the history, pros, and cons in this article on the Ketogenic Lifestyle for Beginners.

Using that definition, you can eat popcorn in moderation on the ketogenic diet.


Is it all about the number of carbohydrates?

The ketogenic diet also encourages a grain free diet, and corn is a grain. So this should be treated as a treat, not a staple.

Looking for other foods can you eat on the ketogenic diet? Check out my list of approved and restricted foods here:

What can you eat on the Ketogenic Diet? -> Find the full food list here

What can you eat on the ketogenic diet? And is popcorn allowed?

So if I can eat popcorn, how much can I eat?

There are three parts to this equation:

  1. how many carbs you can eat &
  2. how many carbs are in popcorn
  3. can I stop at that amount and is it worth it?

The Ketogenic diet is a diet that severely restricts carbs. The recommended ratios are:

  • 75% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carb

How many carbs can you eat on the ketogenic diet?

In a typical 2,000 calorie diet, 5% of carbs would be equivalent to 25 grams. Since carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, you can calculate the total number of carbs by dividing the portion of carb calories by 4.

(total daily calories * 0.05) / 4 = Allowed Grams of Carbohydrates

(2,000 * 0.05) / 4 = 25 grams of Carbohydrates


How many carbs are in popcorn?

1 cup of unsweetened popped popcorn contains somewhere between 5-8 grams of carbs. So in a 2,000 calorie diet, you can eat 1 cup of popcorn and still have room for about 20 grams of healthier carbs from things like above ground vegetables and leafy greens.

FatSecret.com researched a number of carbs in each type of popcorn. Take a look and see what options you like the best.

Healthier alternatives to popcorn?

To follow the ketogenic diet, you would have to restrict yourself to just one cup of popped corn. That’s about a handful and much smaller than any bagged microwaved popcorn.

Some better ideas

  • crunchy roasted chick peas
  • kale chips
  • pork rinds (but… ewww)
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • celery and cucumber slices with a healthy chip dip
  • jicama and guacamole

It’s about balance!

Many people following a ketogenic lifestyle don’t plan to maintain these strict ratios. Many move their carbs to a different maintenance level after they’ve reached their goal weight. What’s important is finding a way to reduce processed foods and empty calories that works for you and your lifestyle!

Pro tip: Pop your popcorn at home on the stove using olive oil and salt. It will be healthier and you don’t have to worry about additives in the microwave versions.

Buy organic popcorn kernels, some Olive Oil and pop away!


If you love popcorn, consider getting a Stovetop Popcorn Popper.

Any healthy eating change is about balance. Make sure to eat plenty of healthy vegetables, real food that’s sustainably raised and to consult your physician when making any large changes to your diet.

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If you are just starting a ketogenic diet, you may be wondering "Is popcorn allowed on the ketogenic diet?" Find out what you can and cannot eat on this low carb diet

About Alicia

I love cooking almost as much as I love eating so I try to make sure I feel good about what I'm eating. I believe it's always a good occasion for some bubbly and I also love feeling healthy and being outdoors. I try to buy, cook and eat whole nutritious foods that promote a fun active lifestyle.


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