While fruits are the most nutritionally dense food, the Keto diet isn’t very fond of them! But are dates keto-friendly?
Dates make an excellent natural sweetener for your favorite recipes and smoothies. And it’s also a very common snack in the United States.
They are the sweet and soft fruits from the date palm tree.
So where does all that sweetness come from? Does it mean they are anti-keto? Let’s find out!
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Fruits are known to be a superfood! They are rich in plenty of nutrients and contain no chemical additives.
They are a blessing from Mother Earth that is packed with minerals and vitamins, especially potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber!
Sadly, fruits are also a major source of carbohydrates in the human diet. And dried fruits (like dates) have the maximum amount of carbs!
In this article, we’ll see how dates fit into a keto diet plan, and what’s the best way to go about them!
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Are Dates Keto Approved?
Dates are not at all keto-friendly because a single dried date contains 14 grams of net carbs. It also has a very high glycemic index value of 44! (Source: WebMD)
You see, just having a single dried date will give you more than half the carbs from your daily quota!
Most people on keto have a daily carb limit of fewer than 25 grams. So there’s no place for a sugar-laden dry fruit like the dates!
Dates are a well-known natural sweetener that is loaded with fructose (the type of sugar found in most fruits!)
They have a very high glycemic index which is almost similar to a cup of apple juice. Hence you will be at risk of being thrown out of ketosis!
High G.I. foods release a lot of energy quickly in your bloodstream. This, in turn, raises your insulin levels and slows down ketone production (essential for ketosis!)
While a G.I. of 44 isn’t really bad on keto, you should still aim for foods under 30. For example, berries are very keto-friendly and have a glycemic index value of 25.
So now we know that dates don’t really fit into the keto diet. They have a shit ton of carbs and you are better off without them!
But if you are simply following a “low-carb” diet where your daily quota is 50 grams of carbs or more, dates are an excellent choice.
They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dates are also rich in polyphenols, which provide various health benefits like improved digestion and diabetes control.
Don’t just leave yet! Check out the complete nutrition profile of dry dates to know why they are so famous in the fitness community!
More: Is Jackfruit Keto?
Dates Nutrition Facts
Dried dates are probably the oldest fruit ever cultivated!
They have been around for thousands of years and play an important role in many religions.
For example, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims end their long streaks of fasting (aka Eid al-Fitr) with this nutritionally-dense food.
The drying process of dates not only makes them sweeter but also blesses them with a lot of minerals and nutrients.
Here is the complete nutrition profile for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) dried dates (Source):
- Calories: 277
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Potassium: 20% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 18% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
(RDI is a short form for Recommended Dietary Intake. It is an intake level of any nutrient which is required every day by 97-98% of healthy people. You should ideally complete 100% RDI of all essential vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.)
Dates Health Benefits
7g of fiber per 100 grams serving is quite an impressive figure! It can help you manage constipation and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
They are also loaded with three types of antioxidants: Flavonoids, Carotenoids, and Phenolic acid. They help you fight off the disease-causing free radicals within your body!
Surprisingly enough, dates can also promote natural labor in pregnant women during the last weeks of pregnancy. They can lower the need for reduced labor and also shorten labor time.
They do this by promoting “cervical dilation” in the woman’s body. Without getting into much detail, it’s safe to say that dates can induce a natural delivery of the child.
What’s more, the tannins present in dates can also help facilitate contractions during childbirth. Dates naturally have plenty of sugar and calories, which are much needed to maintain energy during that time.
Sadly, dates aren’t okay on the keto diet and you are better off with low-carb fruits like strawberries or raspberries!
However, fresh dates are a different topic altogether! They have almost HALF the number of carbs than dry dates. So are fresh dates keto-friendly?
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Can You Eat Fresh Dates on Keto?
Dates have way more varieties than one can keep track of! But two, in particular, are quite distinctive: Fresh Dates & Dried Dates
Here are the macros for a 3.5 oz (100-grams) serving for both varieties:
Fresh Dates: 1.8 g of protein, 1 g of fat, 37 g of carbohydrates, and 3.5 g of fiber (33.5g net carbs)
Dried Dates: 2.8 g of protein, 0.6 g of fat, 76 g of carbohydrates, and 5 g of fiber (71g net carbs)
As you can see, fresh dates have much fewer carbs and they are way more keto-friendly as compared to their dried counterparts.
You can have fresh dates on keto but ONLY in moderation. And don’t forget to factor in those carbs!
Here are my top 4 methods to include fresh dates on a keto diet:
- Stuffed Dates: Stuff them with keto-friendly items like pecans or hard cheeses for a light evening snack!
- Smoothies: Dates add a good amount of natural sweetness to your smoothies.
- Salads: A single fresh date (chopped) is enough to add a fruity touch to your low-carb salads.
- Trail mix: They can pretty much replace raisins in your trail mix with other nuts and seeds.
What Happens if You Eat Too Many Carbs on Keto?
Sometimes those dates can be really tempting and you might cross your carb-boundaries!
Since dates are ridiculously high in carbs, having just a pair of dates can throw you out of ketosis.
Caution: A cheat day on keto isn’t like a regular cheat day. Depending on the number of carbs you have, you can have a setback of up to 1 week in your keto journey! You may also need to go through the keto-flu again.
If you just gave-in and ended up having way too many carbs, don’t sweat it!
You can develop a clear strategy to work your way back into ketosis in no time! Here’s what happens when you have a carb-overload meal on keto:
- The sudden spike in blood sugar will change your “fuel source” from fats to carbs.
- Your ketone production will come to halt.
- Extra carbs in your body will be used to replenish the glycogen reserves (it may cause temporary water-weight gain.)
But the key point is to resume your low-carb diet as soon as possible!
This will help you transition back into ketosis and start burning fat for fuel again.
Here are some tips for a speedy recovery:
- Do some form of light exercise like walking or jogging.
- Consider supplementing with Exogenous Ketones
- Replenish electrolytes to avoid unpleasant symptoms of keto-flu like headaches, cramps, etc.
- Have very high-fat meals (aka fat bombs) to get faster into ketosis
Are Dates Paleo?
A Paleo diet (aka Caveman diet) focuses on foods that were eaten in the Paleolithic age i.e. 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
It consists of foods that were easily obtained by hunter-gatherers and hence include lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Dates are paleo-friendly because it is simply a fruit that requires no further cooking or processing.
But you should still limit their quantity as they have a lot of sugars. Too much sugar can lead to further cravings and might lower your energy levels.
Fruits are always neglected on the keto diet. And the reason is pretty simple: They are filthy rich in carbs!
But here’s what you might not know: Fruits are also loaded with fiber! And that is the major difference between the sugar from fruits and sugar from junk food.
The fiber is not digested by our bodies and hence it lowers the glycemic index value of the fruits.
There are plenty of low-carb fruits that you can enjoy even while you keep burning “fat for fuel.”
These keto date substitutes will satisfy your sweet cravings and also provide you with a rich dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Starfruit or Carambola is one of the less-known sweet and sour fruits. And as you might have guessed, starfruit is actually shaped like a star!
If you promised the “stars” to your girlfriend, a starfruit isn’t bad to start with! (please don’t kill me for this!)
Starfruits come in various sizes and they could be sweet or sour depending on their size.
The smaller ones are sour and they get sweeter as the size increases. While it can’t really replace your desserts, starfruit is packing a lot of Vitamin C and fiber under its hood!
A single medium sized starfruit contains 30 calories and 3.5 grams of net carbs.
Along with being a low-carb fruit, starfruit also contains healthy plant compounds, such as quercetin, gallic acid, and epicatechin.
Research on animals has found that they may reduce cholesterol, inflammation, and also lower the risk of a fatty liver.
MORE: Is Edamame Keto?
Lemon and Lime
Lemons and other limes are more of a flavoring agent than a fruit. You’ll hardly ever consume a lemon as-is. But they can really boost the flavors of your dishes, salads, and dressings.
They are super low-calorie and contain very few carbs. Since it’s a citrus fruit, you get a ton of the essential vitamin c as well.
In fact, a single lemon can satisfy more than 50% of your daily requirements for Vitamin C!
Each tbsp (15g) of lime juice has under 1g net carbs. (Source)
Lime juice is an excellent keto-friendly addition to your low-carb recipes. You can save a ton of carbs by replacing carb-heavy dressings (such as the traditional honey-mustard!) with lime juice in your salads.
Blackberries are a summer staple, and luckily we can have them even on a low carb diet like keto!
If you are craving some dates on the keto diet, blackberries can be an excellent replacement.
A 100g serving of blackberries contains just 5 grams of net carbs and 43 calories.
But wait, blackberries aren’t just about low-carb and delicious taste! They are also a powerhouse of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
A single serving of blackberries can fulfill 35% of your daily recommended Vitamin C intake. It is responsible for maintaining a healthy immune function and keep you safe from various diseases!
Plum is a low-carb and nutritionally-dense fruit!
A single plum is loaded with the following micro and macronutrients (source):
- Calories: 30
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugars: 7 grams
- Vitamin A: 5% of RDI
- Vitamin C: 10% of RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of RDI
- Potassium: 3% of RDI
- Copper: 2% of RDI
- Manganese: 2% of RDI
(As explained previously, RDI simply means the daily recommended intake of any nutrient for most healthy people.)
Plums are rich in a specific type of antioxidants: Polyphenols. They can greatly lower inflammation and also lower risk of some chronic diseases.
Its high fiber content can also regulate blood sugar control. Studies have found that eating plums doesn’t cause a significant rise in blood sugar.
The fiber present in fruits slows down the absorption of carbs within your body. And that is the reason why sugar from fruits is way different than those coming from pure junk food!
Raspberries are similar to blackberries but have a much tangier taste. They are also loaded with fiber and vitamins.
You can easily replace dried dates with Raspberries on the keto diet!
Here’s some trivia: While you may have only seen red Raspberries, they are also found in black, purple, and golden colors.
A one-cup serving (123 grams) of raspberries has 15 grams of carbs and a whopping 8 grams of fiber! It means there are 7 grams of net carbs per cup.
Raspberries provide half of the RDI for Vitamin C and more than one-fourth of RDI for fiber.
What’s more, Raspberries have a very low glycemic value and they’re unlikely to trigger a blood sugar spike. (Great news for keto folks!)
Are dates keto-friendly?
Dried dates are not keto-approved because a single dried date has 14 grams of net carbs!
But you can have fresh dates on keto in moderation as they have half the number of carbs.
Starfruit, plum, raspberries, and blackberries are some of the fruits worth considering on the keto diet. They are rich in micronutrients and low on carbs.