Quinoa Carbs: Your Guide to Quinoa on the Keto Diet

minute read | Last update: Nov 29th2022

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

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If you were confused when everyone switched to quinoa, then you’re one of many. The pseudo-grain is a seed from the Chenopodium Quinoa plant that became popular back in 2013.

Primarily grown in Bolivia and Peru, the seed became popular for its nutrient content and as a vegan option. Quinoa is also gluten-free, so people with Celiac disease had an option that was both nutritious and delicious.

The pseudo-grain not only contains complete proteins but contains only 220 calories per cup. This is unlike the other grains that are commonly eaten.

However, there’s more to quinoa than a rich history and nutritional content. In this article, we tell you everything you'll ever need to know about quinoa to make the switch today!

Is Quinoa Ideal for a Low-Carb Diet?

Quinoa is a superfood that was rediscovered and popularized all over the world around 2013. So much so that the UN dubbed 2013 the year of quinoa!

The reason quinoa is hailed as a superfood is mainly because of its nutritional content. It’s one of few foods that has all nine essential amino acids. The complete proteins in the pseudo-grain make it one of the best sources of nutrients and minerals.

The seeds also have high fiber and oil content with a lot of healthy fats. They’re hailed as a great source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, copper, and antioxidants.

They don’t look exceptional. Quinoa looks very similar to brown rice in texture and has a slightly nutty taste that can complement other dishes depending on the preparation. Not to mention, it’s extremely versatile.

Nutrition and Carb Values

It may be versatile and nutritious, but exactly how good is quinoa? According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), the single cup of cooked quinoa has the following nutrients:

  • 222 Calories
  • 39g of Carbs
  • 8g of Protein
  • 6g of Fat
  • 5g of fiber
  • 1g of Sugar

It’s got a fairly high carb content, roughly the same as the millet. But can it be consumed on a keto or low carb diet if it’s got such a high carb count?

Quinoa for Keto

Since it does have such a high carb count, eating quinoa on a keto diet (targeted, cyclical, or less rigid) isn’t possible. The seed boasts a high calorie level when cooked.

Especially when it’s mixed or cooked with other ingredients such as dressing and starchy vegetables, the calorie count goes higher. So, eating quinoa on keto is difficult.

However, if you want to eat quinoa while on a keto diet, it takes some changes to how you take it, instead of cooking the seed and preparing it, you can lightly sprinkle your food with it.

Whenever you do eat quinoa, it’ll have to be plain as cooked quinoa will have too many calories. Even if you’re on a lighter keto diet – 50 calories a day and such – a full serving of quinoa isn’t an option.

So, when you’re eating quinoa on a keto diet – it can never be a full serving or too many times a day.

What Are The Types of Quinoas You Can Consume?

Quinoa, much like rice and other grains, has multiple different types. Specifically, there are over 120 types of pseudo-grain. No fear, there are three common types of quinoa that are easy to source and prepare.

The different types of quinoa don’t differ much except in cooking time and chewiness. Apart from these subtle differences, there’s nothing different in terms of flavor or nutritional content.

There are three common types:

  1. White or golden quinoa cooks quickly and turns out fluffy. It’s not as crunchy in texture and doesn’t retain its shape once it’s been cooked.
  2. Black quinoa is the crunchiest of the three and also takes the longest time to cook. You’ll also find it a little sweeter than the other two types.
  3. Red quinoa is usually used in salads since it retains its shape even after it’s cooked.

Nutritional overview of quinoa

It’s mentioned repeatedly that quinoa is one of the most nutritious foods to exist. However, taking a look at what’s exactly in these seeds will help you visualize the nutritional value of the food.

As mentioned earlier, a single cooked cup of quinoa contains:

  • 222 Calories
  • 39g of Carbs
  • 8g of Protein
  • 6g of Fat
  • 5g of fiber
  • 1g of Sugar
  • 72% water

However, there are also essential vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Manganese: great for metabolism, growth, and development.
  • Phosphorous: Essential for bone health and the maintenance of body tissues.
  • Copper: Usually lacking in the Western diet, copper is necessary for heart health.
  • Folate: As a B vitamin, folate works to improve cell function and tissue growth that’s particularly necessary for pregnant women.
  • Iron: There are multiple essential functions, one of which involves transporting oxygen.
  • Magnesium: A Western diet doesn’t often have magnesium which performs essential functions.
  • Zinc: Zinc is necessary for overall health.

Multiple other plant compounds contribute to the flavor and health index.

  • Saponin
  • Kaempferol
  • Squalene
  • Quercetin
  • Phytic Acid


With all these nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in quinoa, there are bound to be multiple health benefits. Here are some of the most visible and notable health benefits of quinoa.

Lower Blood Sugar

Quinoa is proven to reduce blood sugar levels. Refined carbs are usually linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but grains like quinoa reduce the risk for these same issues.

When tested on rats with a high-fructose diet, quinoa was shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood cholesterol.

Helps Weight Loss

If you’re already on keto to lose weight, then you’re probably wondering if the addition of quinoa can do the same for you.

Well, you’re in luck. It’s got a lot of properties that you want in a weight-loss-friendly food. It’s high in proteins and has a lot of fiber.

The Protein in the seed boosts metabolism and promotes the feeling of fullness that prevents overeating.

The fibers promote decreased calorie intake and improve gut health.


Those with celiac disease and other allergies have a hard time finding foods that are suitably nutritious and taste good. Quinoa is a gluten-free pseudocereal that is a great alternative for those that are intolerant or allergic to gluten.

It’s seen to work as a great alternative for wheat when used in products such as bread or pasta.

May Help Fight Inflammation

Antioxidants in large amounts are said to reduce inflammation in the body. Quinoa has large amounts of antioxidants and other plant compounds like Saponins that help reduce inflammation.


So far, there has only been one disadvantage to quinoa. It is generally well-tolerated, but the presence of phytates and oxalates in the seed can reduce the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.

Oxalates especially can contribute to kidney stone formation as well. These effects can be reduced by soaking and rinsing the seeds before cooking.


While quinoa is an amazing superfood, it’s not exactly a keto-friendly food. However, there are multiple other alternatives to quinoa while on keto. If you really want to eat some quinoa – then you can sprinkle it all over your food.

Also, keto sauces, riced cauliflowers and broccoli, asparagus, zucchini noodles, and spaghetti squash are great alternatives.

When you’re off keto, you can give quinoa a try (in small amounts), but until then, lay off the quinoa and appreciate the multiple health benefits. Now, you understand the hype, right?

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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