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When we think of legumes, we know right away that they are highly nutritious and should be part of a healthy diet.
The legume family includes chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and lentils. They can make a good meat replacement if you are following a vegan diet too.
But are chickpeas keto-friendly?
Many diets eliminate chickpeas, and keto is one of them. That’s because not all healthy foods are keto-compatible.
We share with you the health benefits and risks of this legume, and how many carbs are in chickpeas.
If chickpeas are a staple in your kitchen, we’ll also help you make keto versions of chickpea recipes!
What are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a type of legume that are in the same group as kidney beans and peanuts. They offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a multitude of health benefits.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are known to be used since 3500 BC in Turkey.
These beans have a buttery, nutty taste with a few varieties like Kabuli. This type of chickpea is often seen in the US. They are round, tan, and a little larger than a pea.
Chickpeas are grown in over fifty countries. In the Middle East and India, Desi is the most popular form of chickpeas. They are darker, smaller, and less round.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Like any other legumes, chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, along with numerous vitamins and minerals. Here are some of this food’s health benefits.
So, it turns out that chickpeas can suppress your appetite because of the protein and fiber it contains.
Protein and fiber work together to slow digestion and keep you full. Protein also increases the level of appetite-reducing hormones in your body.
In one study, 12 women consumed two separate meals so researchers could compare their appetites. Before one of the meals, they ate a cup of chickpeas. And before the other, they ate two slices of bread.
The participants experienced a reduction in hunger and calorie intake after eating the chickpeas compared to the white bread.
This means chickpeas can help to promote weight management. They have fewer calories relative to the number of nutrients they have.
A study shows that those who eat chickpeas regularly are 53% less likely to experience obesity. They also have a lower body mass index and weight circumference.
Regulates Blood Sugar
A cup of chickpeas provides a high amount of fiber, which benefits many people with diabetes.
In a 2014 study, it was found that eating at least 30g of fiber daily can help reduce inflammation in people who have type 1 diabetes.
This is supported by a review of literature that revealed a high-fiber diet that helps in lowering blood glucose levels.
That’s because fiber slows down carb absorption and promotes a steady rise in blood sugar levels rather than a spike.
Aids in Digestion
As mentioned, chickpeas are high in fiber, and this nutrient is known to provide advantages to digestive health.
The fiber in chickpeas is soluble, so it blends with water to form a gel in the stomach.
Soluble fiber increases the healthy bacteria in your gut to balance it out with the unhealthy bacteria. This helps in preventing colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome caused by the overgrowth of bad bacteria.
A study of 42 people who ate 104 grams of chickpeas every day for 12 weeks showed that they have improved bowel function and more frequent bowel movements compared to when they did not include chickpeas in their diet.
Rich in Plant-Based Protein
If you’re on the vegan keto diet, chickpeas might be one of your options. They are an appropriate choice for those who do not eat animal products.
Some studies show that the protein in chickpeas is much better than that of other legumes because it contains all the essential amino acids except methionine.
This means that chickpeas are a healthy source of plant-based protein, but they are still not complete.
Several studies also associate chickpea consumption with a reduced risk of heart disease, which is due to the blood-sugar-lowering effects.
Risks of Eating Chickpeas
Chickpeas have more health benefits than risks. The only concern with chickpeas is saponins, which are chemical compounds found in all legumes.
Even though saponins are not toxic and even have anti-cancer properties and obesity management, they can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea in some.
However, more studies are needed to confirm the effects of saponins.
Chickpeas, which are usually packaged in cans, may also contain BPA. This is an industrial chemical that stays on the coating on the inside of food cans and leaks into your food.
Chickpeas are also high in phytic acid, which can hinder minerals from being absorbed.
Lastly, chickpeas contain high levels of lectins, which are natural pesticides that protect chickpeas from dangerous organisms.
Lectins may cause an upset stomach and leaky gut syndrome.
Still, chickpeas are safe to consume at low levels.
But what about when you’re on the keto diet?
How Many Carbs are in Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are known for being high in carbs. A half a cup (125 grams) serving of chickpeas contains 22g of carbs.
Around 67% of chickpeas’ calories are from carbs, while the rest comes from protein and some fat.
Chickpeas also contain the following nutrients per half cup serve:
- 120 calories
- 6g fiber
- 6g protein
- 1g fats
They also contain trace amounts of calcium, folate, iron, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
This high carb count means that you should only eat chickpeas sparingly if you want to enter and stay in the state of ketosis.
Some low-carb dieters reduce their serving size of legumes to ¼ cup to still be able to eat other nutritious carb sources and stay within their limit.
Chickpeas can also be ground into flour and used to make falafels, a vegan alternative to meatballs. However, chickpea flour is also high-carb, with 47g of net carbs per 100g.
Are Chickpeas Keto-Friendly?
Chickpeas may be considered a nutritional powerhouse because of their protein and fiber content, but they also have a high amount of carbs.
On the keto diet, your daily carb limit is less than 50g of carbs. Even if you can eat chickpeas or any other food while staying in ketosis, we still don’t recommend it.
The oligosaccharides in chickpeas can increase your blood sugar and insulin levels.
If you are following a keto diet, you know that grains and legumes are a no-go. Especially if you’re still on your way to ketosis, chickpeas should be completely off-limits.
Chickpeas are not a good food choice on keto unless you follow a cyclical keto diet like the cyclical ketogenic diet or a targeted keto diet, which allows for higher-carb days.
They may be high in other nutrients, but you can also get the same number of proteins and vitamins in other low-carb foods.
You can also increase your fiber intake on the keto diet using fiber supplements.
However, if you can’t resist your cravings, try incorporating ¼ cup of chickpeas into your low-carb meal.
You can try reintroducing them to your diet in small amounts. Then, you can increase this amount gradually when you’re finally fat-adapted.
Keto Versions of Chickpea Recipes
Just because you can’t have chickpeas on the keto diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy keto versions of your favorite chickpea recipes.
Here are some recipes to try.
A keto falafel makes a good snack or appetizer without worrying about getting kicked out of ketosis.
But what makes Low-Carb Yum’s Keto Falafel is it’s made with paleo ingredients, with only 2g net carbs per piece.
Falafel is usually high in carbs because of the chickpeas. But this recipe only requires the following:
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ cup almond flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 60g kale.
Usually store-bought and homemade hummus relies on chickpeas as the main ingredient. But you can use roasted cauliflower to make it low-carb!
Ruled.Me’s Keto Hummus only has 5.7g of net carbs per serving. All you need is the following:
- 16 ounces cauliflower florets
- ¼ cup extra virgin oil
- ½ cup tahini
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 2-4 tbsp water.
Keto Alternatives to Chickpeas
Wondering what you can eat as an alternative to chickpeas? Here are some of the closest low-carb foods to try.
You can make your own beans from paleo ingredients like eggplant, bacon, coconut oil, and seasonings.
These will help recreate the texture of those yummy Mexican beans.
Check out Keto-Adapted for a great refried bean recipe made with eggplants or zucchinis.
Peas are lower in carbs compared to chickpeas, but they are still high compared to other veggies.
Half a cup of peas has 13g of total carbs. 5g comes from fiber, so that’s only 8g of net carbs.
That could fit into your daily limit if you watch what else you eat that day.
Mushrooms as a chickpeas alternative may sound weird, but enoki mushrooms kind of resemble the texture of beans when cooked.
They are a great option because they can absorb all that flavorful taste with their own natural flavor.
FAQ Keto Diet and Chickpeas
How Many Chickpeas Can I Eat in A Day?
As mentioned, we don’t recommend chickpeas on the keto diet because they are high in carbs.
If you can’t resist your cravings, or if you can’t remove it from your vegan keto diet, limit your intake to a ¼ cup serving so you can eat other nutrient-dense, low-carb foods.
If you’ve accidentally eaten too many chickpeas, test your ketone levels to know if you’re kicked out of ketosis.
Are Chickpeas Good for Weight Loss?
If you’re not on the keto diet, chickpeas are a great way to lose weight because they are loaded with protein and fiber.
Both nutrients work together to keep you full longer and suppress your appetite. They slow down your digestion and prevent the cravings from coming.
But if you are on the keto diet, chickpeas will potentially kick you out of ketosis. Your body will use it for energy instead of your fat stores.
And besides, too much of any food like chickpeas is not good for weight loss.
Find out how many carbs kick you out of ketosis so you can plan your low-carb meals now!
What Can I Eat on a Keto Vegan Diet Aside from Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a great protein source on a vegan diet. They also provide fiber, carbs, iron, and B vitamins in exchange for meat.
With chickpeas, you can make vegan salads, soups, stews, burgers, hummus, falafels, and more.
It’s pretty easy to meet your macro needs on a vegan keto diet if you can make various vegan keto meal plans with staple ingredients.
How Much Protein Do I Need for Ketosis?
Chickpeas do provide protein for your diet. However, they are also high in carbs.
Ideally, you need around 0.6-1g of protein per pound of lean body mass. This all depends on how active you are and your body composition.
Too much protein may kick you out of ketosis. But too little can hinder muscle repair or maintenance.
Find out how much protein you need on keto so you can work out your macro ratio!
Chickpeas Are Not Approved for Keto
No matter how healthy chickpeas are, they are still too high in carbs to be a regular part of your keto diet.
They can easily kick you out of ketosis, especially if you have just started your diet.
Some people can eat a small amount of chickpeas with very few effects on their ketosis. If you’re afraid to take the risk, just ditch chickpeas on the keto diet.
Instead, try using chickpea alternatives or keto versions of chickpea recipes.
Once you learn how to make keto hummus, pair it with low-carb tortillas and you have yourself a yummy hummus quesadilla!