Mushrooms have been around for centuries dating as far back as ancient Egypt. According to legend, the pharaohs were so taken with them that they declared them royal food. Commoners were not allowed to so much as touch them.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and these tasty fungi are now freely available to everyone.
More than 900 million pounds of mushrooms are grown commercially every year in the US, making the country the second-largest mushroom producer in the world after China.
The nutritional benefits of mushrooms vary depending on the variety. But, the fact remains that they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
They are low in carbs and calories, which makes them ideal for anyone on a weight loss program, or if you simply want to keep your waistline in check.
If you’re on the Ketogenic diet, you might be wondering – Are mushrooms Keto-friendly? The answer to this might surprise you. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is the Keto Diet?
To understand whether or not you should incorporate mushrooms into your Keto diet, you’ll first need to understand what the Keto diet is in the first place, and how it works to help you lose weight.
“Keto,” which is short for the Ketogenic diet, is a moderate-protein, high-fat, and low-carb diet that turns your body into an efficient fat-burner. You’re probably wondering – How’s it any different from every other low-carb diet out there?
Unlike the other diets you’ll come across, Keto doesn’t work against your body, it works with it. It centers on keeping your body in a state of Ketosis. Here’s what that means.
Your body needs fuel to burn for energy – sort of like how a car works. Without gas, the engine doesn’t run since the gas is what powers the car.
Carbohydrates are your body’s fuel. And, the number one consumer of this fuel is your brain, which is essentially what runs every single process in your body.
You also need carb-derived energy to do everyday activities like running, walking, talking, sitting, sleeping, breathing, etc. In short, if you’re alive, you’re using energy, even when you are resting.
As long as there are carbs available for your body to burn, your body will break down the carbohydrates into glucose, at which point it is absorbed into the bloodstream. It is then transported to all the cells in the body, where it is used to generate energy.
The Keto Difference
So, what happens when the body doesn’t get carbs? Well, all the different body functions still need to run, so it looks for an alternative energy source to keep things going.
As a result, your body starts breaking down fat reserves, converting them into compounds known as Ketones. These compounds are then used to power the body in the same way that carbs would. It’s a no-brainer, right? Starve the body of carbs and force it to burn fat instead.
That’s precisely the concept that the Keto diet is based on. The idea is to limit the number of carbs you eat to force the body to go into and maintain a state of Ketosis. So, you would essentially be burning fat all the time.
The Keto diet keeps carbs at an absolute minimum, limiting their intake to a measly 20 to 50 grams per day. So, you need to pick and choose your meals carefully to ensure that you don’t surpass your daily carb limit if you want to remain in Ketosis.
Are Mushrooms Keto Friendly?
For any kind of food to be considered Keto-friendly, it needs to be low in carbs. Mushrooms fit that bill perfectly. They have no cholesterol and are low in carbohydrates and calories. According to the USDA, one cup (75 grams) of mushrooms contains:
- 2.3 grams carbohydrates
- 16 calories
- 2.2 grams of protein
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 0.7 grams of fiber
- 223 mg Potassium
- 5 mg Sodium
- 2.5 mg Niacin
- 8.9 mcg Selenium
The fact that one serving of mushrooms only has 2.2 grams of carbohydrates and only 16 calories makes them an excellent addition to any Ketogenic diet. Keep in mind that although you can eat mushrooms raw, you can also stir-fry them in a little olive oil, grill them, or bake them, and still reap their amazing Keto benefits.
Their low-carb and low-calorie nature isn’t the only thing that makes mushrooms the perfect complement to Ketogenic diets. They are also an excellent source of:
- Dietary fiber – Keeps you feeling full for longer and promotes healthy digestive system function
- Niacin – Minimizes the risk for heart attacks
- Potassium – Manages blood pressure and reduces the risk for kidney stones
- Selenium – Protects against chronic diseases
- Vitamin B1 – Promotes healthy heart, muscle, and nerve function
- Vitamin B2 – Promotes the use of oxygen by the body
- Vitamin D – Promotes healthy immune system function
Benefits of Incorporating Mushrooms Into Your Keto Diet
The benefits of adding mushrooms to your Keto diet go beyond just losing weight. They play an instrumental role in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. So, if you or someone you know suffers from any of the following diseases, consider making mushrooms part of the daily Keto meals.
- Bipolar Disorder – Keto works as an excellent mood stabilizer
- Cancer – Works well when used in combination with radiation and chemotherapy
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – Improves memory function
- Metabolic Syndrome – Promotes weight loss among individuals with this condition
- Obesity – Promotes weight loss while preserving lean body mass
- Parkinson’s Disease – Preserves cognitive brain function
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Women with this condition are at a higher risk for obesity and diabetes. Keto reduces this risk tremendously
- Type 2 Diabetes – Improves HbA1c levels
The Perfect Addition to Any Keto Meal
Are mushrooms Keto-friendly? Absolutely! They are low in carbs and calories, and rich in other nutrients that your body needs to function at its best.
So, if you’re on the Keto diet, you can safely add mushrooms to your daily meals without worrying about exceeding the carb limit that’s required to keep your body in a state of Ketosis.
Learn more about the protein content of different mushrooms. Read our article Protein in Mushrooms – The Surprising Protein Composition of Mushrooms.
Also, be sure to check out our blog for everything you need to know about white mushroom nutrition, benefits, and uses.
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