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Is Quinoa Keto Friendly?


Quinoa, “The Mother of All Grains” also known as the “Super food” is an herbaceous annual plant of the Amaranth family which is generally grown as an edible crop. Its seeds are known to be very nutritious in dietary fiber, vitamin B and phytonutrients and are protein rich.

Quinoa is gluten free and is a great substitute for rice. It is eaten like rice grains but is primarily a seed. It is one grain with around 120 different varieties. Red, white and black quinoa are the most popular ones in terms of nutrition. The demand and supply of Quinoa has risen sharply in recent years.

Quinoa, even though centuries old, is a new discovery, found around three to four decades ago. It has been a part of the regular South American diet for many years now. It is a vegetation of the Andes Mountains and is known to grow gracefully in the worst of conditions.


Although it is too rich in nutrients and proteins, it is very high in carbs which is absolutely against the thumb rule of Keto Diet. As per the nutritional value of 100 grams serving of cooked quinoa is concerned, it contains:

  • 4.4 grams of Protein
  • 1.9 grams of Fats and
  • 20.0 grams of Carbohydrates

One medium size cup of Quinoa contains,

  • 8 gram of protein,
  • 4 grams of fats, and
  • 34 grams of carbs 

Apart from these, it is very rich in proteins since it is one of those rare food items which includes all the nine essential amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins in the body,

  • Threonine Amino Acid
  • Phenylalanine Amino Acid
  • Valine Amino Acid
  • Leucine Amino Acid
  • IIsoleucine Amino Acid
  • Histidine Amino Acid
  • Methionine Amino Acid
  • Tryptophan Amino Acid
  • Leucine Amino Acid


An ideal Ketogenic diet contains 70% fats, 25% proteins and as small as 5% of carbs which is less than 50 gram of carb diets and ideally not more than 20 grams, Quinoa would prove to be a big NO on a Keto diet.

However Quinoa is a great alternative for those following the vegan and the gluten free diet. 

The Ketogenic diet aims on using the fats and proteins of the body for the production of energy instead of carbohydrates. When the body falls short of carbohydrates for energy, it breaks down fatty acids and amino acids to produce ketones which help the body to attain the state of ketosis. Any carb high diet can hinder the process of ketosis.

Quinoa, even though too healthy, has a lot of carb content which makes it difficult for the body to digest it easily which can lead to a slow rise in blood sugar levels and insulin levels. 


  • It can cause inflammation in the skin, lungs, and digestive tracts of the body. 
  • Quinoa allergic people are prone to have asthma symptoms which include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, or tightness of chest
  • It can lead to skin itchiness causing red burns etc
  • It can lead to skin eczema, pruritus etc. 
  • It can lead to skin hives
  • Nausea and fatigue could also be a major symptom.
  • Excessive Vomiting can also happen.
  • It can cause Diarrhea in the long run or if taken in big quantities.
  • It can result in to severe heavy stomach pain
  • It can be harmful for menstruating women.
  • It can result in elevated heart rates
  • Results in excessive weight loss/helps to lose weight. 
  • It can turn the skin to pale/dull yellowish tint.
  • It can lead to low blood pressure problems.

These are some common symptoms and risk factors related to Quinoa allergy and it's heavy consumption. Apart from these, there could be other symptoms too and it is highly advisable that the dieter undergoes a routine allergy checkup before including Quinoa in his diet since a lot of people have known to have allergies related to it. 


Quinoa is low in Na and high in Ca, K and iron, making it a healthy and nutritious diet.However many people are allergic to Quinoa as well which may cause stomach aches, itchy skin, hives, and other common symptoms of food allergies.The seed and its coating contain saponin, which could cause these symptoms.


According to Keto expert, there are quite a few cases where you can be on a Ketogenic diet and still consume recipes made of Quinoa

  • If the person is following a TKD or Targeted Keto Diet
  • If the person is following a CKD or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
  • If the person’s total daily intake of quinoa is less than the prescribed 50 gram carbs diet.
  • If the person works out regularly and burns all the extra calories gained. 

Therefore for people who are following a strict Keto diet, quinoa is not at all Keto friendly for the human body since it is very high in carbs but there are many substitutes for Quinoa which won’t make you miss it.  Here are some of them:

Shredded Broccoli Rice – 
  • It is low in carbs,
  • Helps in lowering high cholesterol levels,
  • Controls blood pressure levels,
  • Improves the calcium content in the body by nourishing the nails, teeth and hairs.
  • Prevents diseases related to calcium deficiency.
Cauliflower Rice -  
  • It is low in carbs
  • Rich in fats
  • Has adequate amount of proteins
  • Helps in fighting inflammation
  • Balances hormonal imbalances
  • Prevents the formation of cancerous cells
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Nourishes the skin.
Freekeh -
  • Excellent source of fiber
  • Rich in proteins
  • Low carb content
  • Freekeh is high in fat content
  • Can be eaten in roasted form
Wheat Berry
  • Adequate amount of protein (same as that of Quinoa)
  • Rich in fiber.
  • Can be eaten in olive oil
  • Low in carbs
  • Rich in proteins
  • Low in carbs
  • Rich in fiber 
  • Rich in potassium 
  • Rich in antioxidants 
  • Contains less fats than Quinoa
  • Is a diabetes superfood due to its nutritious value.

So, even though Quinoa has so many nutritional properties to offer, it's carb properties are not suitable for a Keto dieter since it will definitely be a hindrance in the process  of Ketosis.

Thus Quinoa is a big NO for the Keto dieters' eating plans. However people on a vegan diet or a gluten free diet should definitely try it out for the nutritional value it offers.

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