Is Popcorn Keto-Friendly? What You Need to Know About The Carbs in Popcorn

minute read | Last update: Nov 29th2022

This article is backed by studies and reviewed by a certified dietician.

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With the relatively few keto-friendly snacking options out there, you often find it challenging to plan your diet. Popcorn is an ideal snack for munching with its light yet fulfilling crunch, but is popcorn keto-friendly?

Popcorn is keto-friendly if you consume minimum quantities so that you stay in ketosis. The amount of net carbs you consume through popcorn must not increase your total carb intake over 50 grams per day.

Popcorn is a light snack rich in several nutrients. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, and even carbs. Plus, popcorn is a perfect low-calorie snack.

Read on to find out the daily limit and types of popcorn you can eat on keto.

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What is popcorn – A brief history

Popcorn is basically a corn kernel that gets puffed up when heated. Though it is primarily healthy, it may not remain so after adding various flavors, salt, butter, etc.

Did you know that your favorite corn snack originated 10,000 years ago?

Sounds interesting, right!

Well, archaeologists found remnants of corn in what is the current day Mexico. It was followed by a series of popcorn-making transitions throughout the 19th century.

What is now Americas' go-to snack was first heated on stovetops, followed by a steam-powered popcorn maker. The microwave popcorn bag only came in the 1980s when its consumption dramatically rose.

In the present day, popcorn is one of the most common snacks in entire America. In fact, Americans eat almost 17 billion quarts of popcorn each year. Well, your movie also stands incomplete without a bag of popcorn to munch on, doesn’t it?

But does this irresistible snack fit in your keto diet without ruining the ketosis process?

Nutritional content of popcorn

Popcorn falls under the category of whole grain, considered healthful for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and weight loss. It contains a host of plant compounds, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Still, does this particular whole grain has all these nutrients?

Varying types of popcorn differ in their exact nutritional content. Here is a nutrient list for one cup (8 g) of the common types of popcorn.

Microwave-safe Popcorn

It is a bag of microwave-safe popcorn that you prepare without any additional oil or butter.

  • Calories: 30 kcal
  • Fat: 3g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Total Carbs: 6g
  • Net Carbs: 7g

Stovetop popcorn popped in oil

You will have to add a dash of oil to prepare popcorn on the stovetop. Here is the nutritional content of stovetop popcorn popped in minimal oil.

  • Calories: 45 kcal
  • Fat: 1g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Total Carbs: 6g
  • Net Carbs: 5g

Kettle corn

Kettle corn popcorn is different from basic popcorn as it has a sweet flavor with negligible amounts of salt sprinkled over it.

  • Calories: 35 kcal
  • Fat: 2g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Total Carbs: 5g
  • Net Carbs: 3g

So, which of these types of popcorn is suitable for a keto diet? To determine this, you need to keep track of the number of daily net carbs you consume through other foods. Let us find out if popcorn falls under the keto diet and how much of it you can eat while still maintaining ketosis.

Does popcorn fall under the category of keto-friendly snacks?

The ketogenic diet requires you to limit your carb intake to 20-50 g per day. Due to the lack of carbs, your body converts the stored fat into ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. As a result, your body enters the process of ketosis.

When followed correctly, the keto diet has proven to be useful for type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and weight loss. However, you must ensure to incorporate low-carb food items in your diet like avocadoes, olive oil, fish, and non-starchy fruits and vegetables.

So, is popcorn a keto-friendly snack? Yes, it is a suitable snack for keto if taken in limited amounts. You need to count your carb intake of the day and add the carb content of a cup of popcorn to it.

According to experts, you need to consider the net carbs of popcorn while counting the carb limit.

If you opt for a cup of the microwaved or stovetop popcorn, you are only consuming 4.7-5 g of net carbs. Still, you must limit the other high-carb foods to ensure you do not cross the daily limit of 20-50 g of carbs.

The best way to consume popcorn is to use healthy oils like olive, coconut, or butter.

Additionally, try to prepare popcorn at home to keep added preservatives at bay and minimize the salt content.

When is popcorn a bad idea for keto?

So, popcorn is a keto-friendly snack, given your daily carb intake does not cross the specified limit.

However, there is a catch. 

Some types of popcorn have significantly high levels of calories and carbs. If you consume a lot of carbs, your body will exit the state of ketosis, ruining your keto diet.

Consequently, you will not be able to reach your weight loss goals.

Types of popcorn to avoid on keto

Here are a few types of popcorn and their nutritional content you must watch out for! Note that this information is for one cup (8 g) of popcorn.

Caramel popcorn

These are store-bought caramel popcorn that may contain added preservatives, flavors, and obviously—fat.

  • Calories: 30 kcal
  • Fat: 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Total Carbs: 6g
  • Net Carbs: 6g

Buttered popcorn

These are buttered popcorn that you may purchase in it cooked or uncooked state from the store. You must note that these have added salt and other preservatives.

  • Calories: 38 kcal
  • Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Total Carbs: 4g
  • Net Carbs: 3g

Movie popcorn

The popcorn that you purchase from a movie theatre contains high amounts of salt and saturated fat.

  • Calories: 50 kcal
  • Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Total Carbs: 6g
  • Net Carbs: 5g

Though these popcorns have relatively low amounts of carbs, their calorie content is significantly high. You must try to avoid these popcorns to ensure successful ketosis.

When to avoid popcorns on keto

Apart from a few unhealthy types of popcorn, you must avoid the basic kind in the following conditions.

Excess of popcorn consumption

Popcorn is a light and delicious snack that is pretty easy to overconsume. So, if you cannot limit the amount of popcorn you eat, you must avoid it.

Ineffective weight loss

If you do not see successful weight loss results despite following the keto diet, try to avoid popcorn. Though they are low in carb, you may have other high-carb foods in your diet, preventing your body from entering ketosis.

Keto-friendly snack alternatives

Do you think popcorn is hampering your keto regimen? Well, here is a list of keto-friendly snacks that you can much on instead of popcorn.

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beef jerky
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocado
  • Coconut chips
  • Olives
  • Hard-boiled eggs


Popcorn is a keto-friendly snack but only until you watch your carb and calorie intake. The whole point behind a keto diet is reducing your carbs so that your body enters ketosis resulting in weight loss. So, make sure you maintain the specific nutrient content of 70-80% fats, 5-10% carbs, and 10-20% protein.

Cannot go without popcorns? The best solution is to prepare a small cup of popcorn at home with your favorite keto oils. Stick to the 1 cup of low-calorie popcorn that you prepare and enjoy your movie night!


What kind of popcorn is Keto-friendly?

The best type of popcorn for a keto diet is the air-popped ones. These are regular popcorn without any added flavor that you prepare in a microwave without oil. You can also choose to cook them on the stovetop, given you use the minimum amount of healthy oils like coconut and olive.

Is popcorn high in carbs?

Popcorns have a moderate content of carbohydrates, i.e., about 5-6 g for every 8 g. However, your total carb intake will depend on the total consumed amount of this snack. You must limit your daily popcorn intake to 1-2 cups (8-16 g) to ensure you do not increase your carb content.

Can you eat popcorn while on a low-carb diet?

Yes, you can eat popcorn on a low-carb diet, given you consume limited quantities of popcorn. Make sure your total carbohydrate intake of the day (including a cup of popcorn) falls within 20-50 g. For this, you will have to count the nutrient content of the other carb-rich foods that you eat.

Is popcorn a good idea for low-carb diets?

Yes, popcorn is an excellent idea for a low-carb diet as it contains only moderate levels of carbohydrates. Moreover, popcorns are rich in fiber and low in calories, making you feel fuller.

That said, you must watch the type of popcorn you choose as all these qualities are of the standard, air-popped popcorn. Other varieties such as flavored and preserved popcorn may not be a healthy option for a low-carb diet.

About the author

The Authentic Keto Team is here to bring you health tips that help you with losing weight fast. We focus on a clean keto diet for beginners because we believe that is the easiest and most simple way to healthy eating. Our keto weight loss tips will not only bring you into ketosis fast but will also help you to improve your mental health, sleep problems, and wellness.

- Our goal is to make keto success easy. -

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