Plantains are the less-sweet cousins from the Banana family. But are Plantains Keto?
If I were to explain their taste, it would be something like a mix of banana and potato. While similar in carbs, plantains have a much higher starch content.
They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
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We all know that bananas are strictly prohibited on a keto diet. But what about their much greener relative, the Plantains?
In this article, we’ll find out whether you can have plantains on a keto diet. Let’s demolish all the MYTHS floating about resistant starch!
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Are Plantains Keto?
Plantains are in no way keto-friendly because even a medium-sized one contains 53 grams of net carbs. (Source: USDA)
On a diet where your max limit is 25g of carbs per day, 53 is more than your two day’s worth of quota!
Plantains are completely identical to bananas but there is one major difference between the two.
Most of the carbs in bananas come from sugar, whereas the majority of carbs in plantains are comprised of starch.
That’s why it’s so hard to eat a raw plantain, even when it’s fully ripened! Cooked plantain is a staple in countries like India, Africa, and Egypt, where it’s grown abundantly.
Young and unripe plantains start out green in color, then they turn yellow, and finally, the most riped ones can even be black.
As the plantains mature, they become sweeter and sweeter in taste. That’s the reason why ripened ones are often used in desserts while the green ones are limited to a vegetable’s role.
Similarly, Plantains also go through a change in their macro profile as they mature.
While the number of carbs remains the same, as the plantains ripen, their sugar content increases and starch decreases.
If you REALLY want to have plantains on keto, you will do fine with 1/4th of a medium-sized one. Just make sure you factor in the carbs in your daily limit!
But I still don’t find it worthy of keto because it contains a negligible amount of fats.
If you are a performance athlete, plantains could definitely be a part of your Cyclical Keto Diet during the carb-loading phase.
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Keto and Resistant Starch
There are some serious myths in the keto community that Plantains are fine on keto!
As you know, half information is always dangerous and a lot of people get kicked out of ketosis because they believed the advice of a fake “keto guru”!
The sole reason for such rumors is this one element found in Plantains: Resistant Starch
The word “starch” instantly rings alarm bells for any keto-er! It is a synonym for carbs and sugar and hence always feared upon in the low carb community.
But there is a unique type of starch called resistant starch, which essentially means it’s resistant to digestion.
It DOES NOT spike your insulin like the regular starch and hence it’s considered keto-safe! On the contrary, resistant starch can really boost your insulin senstivity.
Just like sugar alcohols and fiber, resistant starch is also excluded from the net carbs.
The prebiotic qualities of resistant starch can significantly improve your gut health!
It passes through your digestive tract intact and reaches the colon, where it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
But wait, before you go all-in with the plantains, let me tell you that it’s a tricky subject altogether!
Here’s the crucial point: Only the RAW plantains have significant resistant starch, which gets broken down as it’s cooked!
The cooked version of plantains used in most recipes do not hold all those benefits!
They are simply a form of carbs similar to those found in a potato. And hence it makes no sense to include cooked plantains in a keto diet.
Having said that, you may experiment with green, raw plantains on keto.
Experts believe that almost two-thirds of the carbs in a raw plantain are comprised of resistant starch.
This means that out of those 53 grams of carbohydrates, you are left with just 18g of net digestible carbs per plantain.
But honestly, who the hell on earth would eat them raw?
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Are Tostones Keto?
Tostones are one of the few things that I learned as a newbie chef!
Luckily, one of my friends from college was an expert in Puerto Rican recipes. She gladly offered to teach me how to make perfect Tostones!
Tostones are the green plantains that have been fried to utter crispness! In fact, most recipes require you to fry them first, then smash them, and then finally fry them again until crisp.
The trickiest part when it comes to making Tostones is peeling those plantains! Trust me, its not even close to the ease of peeling bananas.
When I first began keto, I started looking for a possible replacement for my all-time favorite binge snack: Potato chips!
And then I began to research about plantains and whether I could have Tostones on keto.
So are plantain chips keto?
Sadly, tostones are far from being keto-friendly! According to carb manager, a small tostone (20g) contains 6g of net carbs and just 2g of fats.
That’s a hell lot of carbs for a snack to be considered even minutely keto!
Plantains Alternatives on Keto
While plantains will surely kick you out of ketosis, I’ve got a list of alternatives that you can enjoy guilt-free!
Cauliflower is essentially the “potato” of the keto universe!
It’s tasty, highly versatile, and adapts well to the taste of all your keto recipes. You can fry it, roast it, bake it, or cook it in any other way you like!
In fact, it’s such a common low carb ingredient that restaurants like Chipotle are now offering cauliflower rice as a part of their keto menu.
Each cup of raw, chopped cauliflower (107g) contains:
- Calories: 27
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Sodium: 32 mg
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugars: 2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
You are getting just 3g of net carbs per 100g serving, which is excellent as per the keto standards!
I totally love mashed cauliflower, which tastes quite similar to mashed potatoes.
To prepare this savory low carb delight, chop down your cauliflower. Boil the florets until they become soft, and then mash them using a blender or food processor.
You may also wanna add seasonings or other additions like the sour cream. There’s so much to experiment with cauliflower on a low carb diet!
Cauliflower comes from the cruciferous family and it’s a powerhouse of antioxidants! They help you fight off free radicals (unstable elements) that could harm your body.
So if you are trying to replace those carb-laden plantains on keto, cauliflower seems a worthy candidate!
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Celery Root (Celeriac)
If there was an award for the most ugly keto veggie, celeriac is a sure-shot winner!
There is a very high chance that you’ve been ignoring this gem of a vegetable just because it looks “weird”.
It has a taste similar to Plantains but ranks much lower on the carb scale.
A 100 grams serving of celery root has just 7g of net carbs.
Celeriac is a highly versatile vegetable and you can use it as a replacement for mashed potatoes or french fries.
Heck, you could even use them to make the keto version of plantain chips (tostones).
Here’s a simple recipe for keto-friendly celeriac chips:
- Peel off the skin and cut it into thin slices.
- Coat them with oil, salt, and pepper (choose an oil with a high smoke point!) and spread them on a baking sheet.
- Now roast in the oven at 450 degrees F for half an hour, and your keto-friendly chips are ready!
I talked about Daikon radish when discussing various keto alternatives to water chestnuts.
The word Daikon translates to “big root”, and it’s generally found in East Asia.
As a kid, I used to call it the “white carrot” lol! But thankfully, it has much fewer carbs than a real carrot!
Various studies have found Daikon to improve digestive health. It is also rich in various other minerals and micronutrients.
In fact, a single Daikon radish contains up to 25% of your daily recommended requirement of Vitamin C!
Daikon is way bigger in size when compared to regular radish. It tastes similar to potatoes and plantains but has a much lower carb content.
Each daikon radish has 9 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of protein, and zero fats.
Boiled Daikon tossed in some butter, salt, and pepper makes for a terrific low carb evening snack!
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Remember what I said about a reward for the ugliest vegetables? Well, Kohlrabi will definitely be a runner up here!
But one should never judge a vegetable by its looks. Kohlrabi is a bulb-shaped cruciferous vegetable that is loaded with minerals and other nutrients!
And it is a similar-tasting alternative to plantains on the keto diet.
A 100 grams serving of Kohlrabi has just 2.5 grams of net carbs.
Most people on keto don’t give a damn about calories. But if you do, I have some good news!
Kohlrabi has even less than 25 calories per serving, making it an instant hit even among the non-keto people!
The whole Kohlrabi plant is edible but I personally discard the leaves for a better taste. There’s no need to peel off the skin while cooking this veggie.
If you were to ask me, I’d say that Kohlrabi tastes somewhat like a broccoli stem.
Here’s a simple yet lip-smacking keto recipe for roasted Kohlrabi:
- Preheat your oven at 450 degrees F.
- Cut the Kohlrabi into slices and toss them with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Spread them evenly on a baking sheet.
- Now roast them in the oven for roughly 20 minutes or until browned, and remove from oven.
- Grate some parmesan cheese on top, and put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
Voila! Enjoy your keto-friendly alternative to the much-loved plantain chips!
Think of Rutaba as an amalgamation of turnip and cabbage! It is also widely known as Swede.
Every 100 grams serving of Rutabaga contains 5g of net carbs and 35 calories.
Raw Rutabaga is a little bit on the bitter side. However, cooking it turns the tables around, making it a savory and slightly sweet vegetable!
Rutabaga is abundantly found in Europe (Scandinavia) and is in season from October to March.
They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, giving you more than 40% of your daily required intake!
Consider this: Think of any low carb recipe that you’d love to pair with Plantains. Now replace them with Rutabaga and I’m sure you won’t even feel a difference! (And you’ll save a shitload of carbs!)
In fact, Rutabaga is a well-known potato substitute for a low carb diet.
It is highly flexible and you can have it mashed, roasted, boiled, sautéed, puréed, steamed, or even baked!
But since it has significant carbs, be careful with the portion size.
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Zucchini ranks very high on the keto-friendly vegetable list.
According to USDA, there are only 2.6 grams of net carbs in a single cup of chopped raw Zucchini.
And how can I forget about Zoodles? They are the star food for the keto community!
As you might have guessed, Zoodles refer to Zucchini noodles, which is a keto-friendly substitute for pasta (taste similar to the real thing!)
Other than being a delicious low carb veggie, Zucchini is also rich in Vitamin A and C.
They make a perfect substitute for the tostones on keto! Follow these steps to make a scrumptious batch of Zucchini crisps:
- Cut down your Zucchini into thin slices, and press them with paper to extract moisture.
- Spread them out in a single layer on parchment paper.
- Now brush some olive oil and bake them for approx. two hours in the oven at 225 degrees F.
Are plantains keto friendly?
Plantains or green bananas are definitely not keto-friendly! Even a medium-sized plantain contains as much as 53 grams of net carbs.
Raw plantains have a lower number of net carbs, thanks to the presence of resistant starch.
But it is destroyed as soon as you cook the plantains.
Cauliflower, Zucchini, and Daikon radish are some of the closest substitutes to plantains on a keto diet!