We all love pesto on pastas and chicken sandwiches! It tastes extremely well with veggies too! But is pesto keto?
Pesto is extremely keto-friendly because a single serving of 2 tbsp has less than 1g of net carbs. It is made using very low-carb ingredients such as basil, garlic, cheese, and olive oil.
Keto is a highly carb-restricted diet with a daily carb limit of 20-30 grams. But you can definitely enjoy a serving of fresh pesto without a doubt!
In this article, we’ll find out how pesto fits in a keto lifestyle. I’ll also answer your most frequently asked questions about eating pesto on keto!
This post may contain affiliate links, which help keep this content free. (Full disclosure)
Pesto is a cheesy bright-green sauce that has its roots in Genoa, Italy.
You’ll be shocked to know that pesto dates back to 25 CE where it was mentioned in an ancient poem!
Today the recipe has branched out into a ton of different varieties and all green sauces are now known as pesto!
Since pine nuts are expensive, a more economical version of pesto contains almonds or walnuts. Fresh basil can be replaced with your choice of green-leafy vegetable (spinach, kale, etc.) The Parmesan cheese can be substituted with other hard and salty cheeses.
The term “pesto” literally means pounded in Italian. Our ancestors used to pound the ingredients with a mortar and pestle to make this flavorsome green sauce!
Majority of people have only ever tried pesto as a pasta sauce, but it is equally charming with salads, sandwiches, and bruschetta.
So how does this aromatic green sauce fit into the keto macros?
A keto diet (or lchf diet) has carb restriction at its extreme core! It challenges the traditional carb-dominated diets and promises a healthier body by eating fats!
Who thought we could lose fat by eating more fat?
When in keto, you force your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs. And hence most of your carb intake is replaced with good fats.
According to Harvard, in the absence of carbs, your body starts breaking down stored fat into tiny fuel particles called “ketones”.
But all of these benefits come at a sacrifice (just like anything worthy in life!)
You can’t have more than 20-25g of carbs per day!
Luckily for you, Pesto is made using very low carb ingredients and hence it is super keto-friendly! What’s more, it has a fat content much higher than any other condiment.
So how many carbs are in pesto?
A single serving (2 tbsp) of traditional pesto has anywhere between 0-2g of net carbs. You can easily accommodate it in a 20g daily carb budget!
Having said that, pesto is one of the most healthiest keto condiments on the planet!
It’s really easy to make at home and there are no added preservatives or emulsifiers required! Just gather some fresh ingredients and grind them up in a smooth paste.
Pesto provides a healthy dose of various macro and micronutrients!
Here’s a complete nutrition profile of pesto sauce with a 2 tbsp serving size:
Pesto contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and powerful anti-oxidants. These antioxidants protect your body from damage-causing free radicals.
Pesto goes really well with keto-friendly dishes such as zoodles, zucchini pasta, salads, etc. I’m a huge fan of baked pesto chicken oozing with aroma!
Thanks to the trend of convenience foods, many brands are offering pre-packaged pesto both online and offline.
Every brand has their own recipe, which means they all differ in terms of fat, protein, and carbs.
On average, most pesto brands have 0-3g of net carbs per serving of 2 tbsp. It means you can have store-bought pesto on the keto diet.
For example, consider these nutrition facts from Classico Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce:
The serving sized mentioned in their data is half-cup, which is equivalent to 4 tbsp. of pesto.
Reducing it to 2 tbsp. serving, we get just 2 grams of net carbs, which is fairly okay for the keto diet.
When buying packaged pesto, stay away from the ones with any sorts of binding agents or emulsifiers. As a rule of thumb, the higher the ingredients on its nutrition label, the more processed that product is!
Sodium is another reason why you should limit your intake of processed meats and other foods.
Salt acts as a preservative and also enhances the flavor of your food. But excessive sodium intake is linked with blood pressure issues and increased risk of heart disease.
Keep in mind that pesto is very easy to overeat! Be very careful in terms of portion control or else you risk being kicked out of ketosis.
If you ever consume too many carbs at once, compensate with strictly high-fat low-carb foods throughout the rest of your day!
Bonus: I have a sneaky little secret tip that’ll significantly bring down the carbs in your pesto!
You see, most shop bought pesto is really thick with a very strong flavor.
Diluting your sauce with chicken or veggies is an extremely smart move!
Not only will it dilute the carbs, but it’ll also bring down your cost per serving!
Costco sells Kirkland Signature Imported Basil Pesto which is also available on Amazon.
Wondering whether it is okay on keto?
Costco pesto contains 2.5g net carbs per serving of 2 tbsp. Honestly, you can make your own pesto at home with even fewer carbs.
But if you really like this one, go for it without a doubt! I have tried many brands out there but this one feels the freshest.
Is pesto keto-friendly?
Pesto is definitely keto-approved with less than 1g net carbs per serving of 2 tbsp. It is made using oil and cheese which means you get a good amount of fat.
Pesto is one of the healthiest keto condiment out there because it contains the goodness of green leafy veggies. Diluting it with chicken or broth can significantly bring down carbs!
In recent years, 63% of Americans have preferred low-calorie options while dining out. It seems like a sweeping change. But here we are, evolving and taking steps towards healthier living. … Continue reading Low-Calorie Options at Jack in the Box
Over 3 million Americans are diagnosed with celiac disease, where gluten consumption can lead to severe health implications. In this vast crowd, dining out becomes a game of culinary detective… Continue reading Is Hibachi Gluten-Free? A Simple Guide
If you are a newcomer to the keto diet, then you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. There are so many yummy recipes to choose from, and it can be… Continue reading 5 Easy Keto Recipes for Beginners