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Popcorn is a massively popular snack, especially among Americans. While 6000-year old popcorn fossils were found in Peru, it was only in the 19th century when people started popping corn on stovetops.
Popcorn grew famous as a favorite movie snack, which alarmed theater owners, who felt that the snack distracted moviegoers. Soon, though, popcorn makers appeared in the lobbies of theaters throughout the United States and all over the world.
Before grabbing a tub of popcorn outside the theatre, you need to know – is movie popcorn keto-friendly? Learn all about the carb count of movie popcorn and other keto-friendly snacks you can enjoy while watching a film!
Movie Popcorn Nutrition Facts
The nutrients found in your movie theatre popcorn vary depending on the theatre you frequent, the size, and the flavorings added. On average, butter-free popcorn ranges from 300 calories for a small tub to 1,090 for a refillable tub.
But the calorie count of a meal is not enough to know whether a food is keto-friendly. As far as carbs are concerned, the numbers range from 40 grams for a small butter-free popcorn to 148 grams for a refillable butter-free tub, according to AMC Theatres. Take note that this is only for flavorless popcorn, so if you’re a fan of cheese, caramel, chocolate, and other toppings, expect your popcorn to be higher in carbs.
Fat is a cornerstone nutrient of the ketogenic diet. Fortunately, popcorn adds a significant amount of fat calories. A small butter-free popcorn has about 13 grams of fat and can contain up to 49 grams of fat for the refillable butter-free tub.
While the amount of fat is great to keep you in ketosis, keep in mind that movie popcorn will also add carbs to your diet, so it might just defeat the purpose of keto.
As for flavored movie popcorn, popular picks like caramel corn, cheddar, and spicy cheddar add more calories. A 46-ounce container of caramel, cheddar, and spicy cheddar total 1,340 calories, 2,070 calories, and 1,110 calories, respectively. The carbs in those popcorn types have a total of 304 grams, 127 grams, and 82 grams, respectively. The fats in popcorn varieties range between 18 grams, 161 grams, and 80 grams, respectively.
Movie Popcorn vs. Other Types of Popcorn
Movie theatre popcorn is just one type of popcorn. It is best to divide this snack into five different types: movie popcorn, microwavable, air-popped, oil-popped, and kettle corn. So, is movie popcorn more or less keto-friendly than the others?
As mentioned, a small tub of flavorless movie popcorn, which is about five cups, has 41 grams of carbs. That’s about 8 grams per cup. Meanwhile, microwavable popcorn contains about 5-10 grams of carbs per cup, which is much lower than theatre popcorn. Oil-popped popcorn typically has 5 grams of carbs per cup as well.
Air-popped popcorn only has 6 grams per cup, although the calorie count is lower than microwavable. This means it beats movie popcorn.
Kettle corn, on the other hand, has a higher carb content. One cup of popped kettle corn has 10-21 grams of carbs, which is 2 grams higher than movie popcorn.
We can conclude that movie popcorn is less keto-friendly than other types of popcorns.
Is Movie Popcorn Keto-Friendly?
Movie popcorn is keto-friendly if, and only if, you consume about a cup from a large tub throughout the whole movie. The fiber content will help keep you full and the volume might prevent you from giving in to cravings for cake and cookies.
Munching on a few won’t surely knock you out of ketosis but finishing the whole lot might! Movie popcorn is irresistible, and you might not even notice that you’ve eaten halfway through your tub before the film has started, so unless you have discipline, this snack may not be your best snack choice.
When eating movie popcorn, make sure you won’t consume any other carbs during the day so as not to exceed your daily carb limit.
Movie popcorn may also not be the wisest choice as a snack on keto since it has very little protein, vitamins, and minerals. And just because it is rich in fats doesn’t mean it’s ideal for keto. Movie popcorn also contains very high amounts of unhealthy saturated or trans fats and lots of calories. Limit this style of popcorn to a rare treat or consider sharing a small portion with a friend.
If you are truly craving some popcorn, try popping your own kernels at home. This way you have more control over the calories, added sugars, and unhealthy fats. If you’re popping with oil, use non-vegetable oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil.
A keto-friendly alternative to butter is ghee. When you have popped the kernels, pour a helping of melted ghee on top. Lastly, avoid additives like caramel or chocolate, unless these toppings are keto-friendly.
Healthy Movie Snack Ideas
Going to the movies is a challenge for keto dieters since almost all the snack options in the counter are prohibited. You should not compromise fun movie nights because of your diet, so here are some keto-friendly movie snacks you can pack or buy for a theatre date!
- Keto cookies. Most of these snacks have minimal ingredients and take just minutes to whip up. But you can also buy packed keto cookies at the grocery store!
- Mission Meats Beef Sticks. You can bring this snack with you on a movie night out! Mission Meats beef sticks are made with grass-fed beef without added nitrites or nitrates, as well as MSG and gluten. And best of all they contain no carbs!
- Zucchini chips. These are a great alternative to potato chips or popcorn, and they are easy to make. Simply slice up zucchini and bake it in the oven for a few minutes. They can be seasoned with salt and pepper for a savory option, or cinnamon.
Movie Popcorn: The Verdict
Popcorn by itself won’t kick you out of ketosis, but how it’s made in the movie theatres, the large servings, and the additives, can easily push you over your daily carb limit. If you have enough willpower to consume only a cup during a two-hour movie, then it won’t hurt your diet goals! But for most people, self-discipline around food is not the easiest thing.
To make eating popcorn as healthy as possible, try to cook your own at home with, while also avoiding salt and sugary additives. You can also opt for more keto-friendly snacks like zucchini chips or keto cookies!