Are Plantains Keto? Timing Trick To Eat Plantains on Keto Diet

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 17 June 2024

A brown bowl filled with sliced, dehydrated plantains sits on a white plate next to two fresh green plantains, all displayed on a wooden surface.

Plantains are staple foods in some areas of the world, but unfortunately, plantains keto are not suitable as they are not low carb due to their high carbohydrate content.5

However, there are several colors of plantains, preparation methods and levels of ripeness to inspect to truly cover the topic of whether or not they’re keto.

Plus, we’ll reveal timing trick for anyone who wants to include them in their diet without necessarily breaking ketosis.

Carbohydrates in Plantains: How Many Carbs Do Plantains Have?

Although they look like bananas, plantains are starchy and less sweet. Sweet bananas, or dessert bananas, are popular in Europe and the US, but plantains are a staple for those living in tropical countries.

Additionally, like potatoes, plantains must be cooked as they taste awful when raw. So besides looking like bananas, they are really not similar.

A stack of ten green bananas displayed outdoors.

Source: Sandip Kalal via Unsplash6

Plantains have a similar calorie content to potatoes though they contain more minerals and vitamins. This delicacy is suitable for a gluten-free diet, but plantains are not compatible with a keto diet.

One medium size serving (140g) has 58 grams of carbohydrates.

This is one cup of baked plantain’s nutritional profile (139g).

NutritionContent
Magnesium56mg
Vitamin B-60.29mg
Vitamin A63ug
Vitamin C23 mg
Potassium663mg
Fiber3g
Carbohydrates57g
Protein2g
Fat0.22g
Calories215

Are Plantains Keto Friendly?

Plantains, similar to potatoes, are a carbohydrate-based food and therefore are not suitable for a Keto diet.

Therefore, they are not ideal for a standard ketogenic diet though they may be more suitable for other weight loss diets. A typical serving has 58 grams of carbs, and a standard Keto diet has a carb limit of 20 to 50 grams; therefore, it’s easy to see why this fruit is not recommended.2

Of course, if someone is craving plantain, they can reduce the amount they eat to a small 1oz (28g) serving of plantain, which contains a net carb of 9 grams. Additionally, plantains may be good food for those following a cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD).

CKD involves sticking to Keto standards for 5 or 6 days then having a high carb intake for 1-2 days.

Plantains can be part of the strategic carb load implemented every so often in CKD. There is a timing trick to consuming plantain while on CKD.

It involves consuming a normal portion of the normal serving just before working out.

Are Any Color Plantain Keto Approved?

Plantains come in different varieties with varied contents of carbohydrates and sugars. Here is the breakdown:

Around twenty-seven pieces of ripening banana turning from green to yellow.

Source: Scott Webb from Unsplash7

  • Green plantains: These are unripe plantains with high starch content. They have to be cooked first, and they are not Keto friendly.
  • Fried plantains: High in both fat and carbohydrates; therefore, they are not Keto friendly.
  • Sweet plantains: These are ripe plantains that are sweet and edible when raw though they are still cooked in most cases. Similar to bananas, the riper they are, the more sugar they have, which makes them sweet. Due to their high sugar content, they are not Keto friendly.
  • Yellow plantains: These are a ripened version of green plantains but still need cooking. Their proportion of sugar to starch is higher than green plantains, and they are not keto-friendly.
  • Black plantains: These are highly ripened plantain versions and are edible when raw.3 They have a very high sugar content; therefore, they are not Keto-friendly.

Does the Resistant Starch in Plantains Make Them Low Carb if Boiled?

Unripe plantains or green plantains are a great source of resistant starch, which is a sort of fiber. Indigestible resistant starch is great for Keto because the body cannot absorb this type of carbohydrate.

As such, resistant starch should not be counted as part of the daily carb intake. This resistant starch content has created a misconception that plantains are suitable for Keto and here is the breakdown of why it’s not.

What Is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch got its name because it’s an indigestible nutrient similar to dietary fiber. In general, the digestive enzymes in a person’s body break down starch and turn it into glucose.

Starch is made up of two polysaccharides; amylopectin and amylose. Food with high amylopectin content is easy to digest, while those with high amylose content digest much slower.

High amylose-content food is digested slowly; therefore, most of it moves from the stomach to the small intestines to the colon, mainly remaining untouched.4 Once amylose reaches the gut, bacteria feed on it and ferment it.

This feeding process produces butyrate or butyric acid. Therefore, resistant starch is a prebiotic (food for gut bacteria).

Besides feeding intestinal bacteria, resistant starch has several beneficial health effects. It helps the body to:

Reduce insulin resistance: Since amylose is hard to digest and absorb, consuming resistant starch does not result in a rise in insulin which causes blood sugar spikes. This creates insulin sensitivity which is good for the body.

Burn Fat and Curbs Hunger: Resistant starch is excellent for any weight loss diet, including Keto. Since the starch is indigestible, the body will have to burn fat to produce energy.

Additionally, since digestion is slow, anyone who eats resistant starch will remain full longer, causing them to consume fewer calories. Resistant starch is great for anyone who wants to know how to lose weight fast in 2 weeks or those on a 30-day weight loss challenge.

Prevent Constipation: Resistant starch has the same function as dietary fiber. It facilitates movement in the digestive system and adds bulk to prevent constipation.

Is Resistant Starch in Plantain Good for Keto?

Since resistant starch bypasses digestion, they are not broken down like typical carbs and, therefore, not absorbed by the body. As such, they will not affect ketosis.

Consequently, they are very keto-friendly. However, plantains are not suitable for a keto diet.

Green plantains contain resistant starch, which does not count towards Keto net carbohydrates. However, there is a problem, green plantains cannot be consumed raw, and when you cook them (boiled or fried), the resistant starches are converted to digestible starch.

Even so, the resistant starch can be recaptured if the food cools down. Nevertheless, there’s not enough research out there to reveal the amount of resistant carbs that get restored once the food cools down.

Based on these facts, cooked green plantain may or may not contain resistant starch, and because of this uncertainty, they are unsuitable for Keto.

Now, for the tough people out there who can stomach raw plantain, they have a minuscule chance of consuming them while on Keto. About two-thirds of the starch in plantains is amylose.

Consequently, the net carbs content of one serving (140g) went from 58g to 16g. Therefore, eating one serving of plantain will mean consuming 16 grams of digestible carbs, which is much below the threshold.

That’s not all. Eating raw plantain does not have to be a battle of taste.

A few recipes out there allow you to make plantain smoothies, mixing them with other sweet Keto-friendly ingredients, canceling out the taste altogether.

Keto Plantain Substitutes

Since plantains will kick someone out of ketosis, it’s important to substitute them for other ingredients that have nutrition, such as:

Cauliflower

This is essentially Keto’s potato. It has a similar taste to plantain, is highly versatile, and can substitute high starch food like plantains, rice, and potatoes in many Keto recipes.

Each cup of cauliflower (107g) has the following nutritional profile:

  • Protein: 2g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Carbs: 5g
  • Sodium: 32g
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Calories: 26 cal.

Based on the profile above, cauliflowers contain net carbs of 3g per 100g, which is excellent according to Keto standards.

Celery Root

Celeriac or celery root is a great plantain substitute because of the similar taste but low carb content. Celery root has a net carb content of 7g per 100 grams.

Besides plantain, it’s an excellent substitute for potatoes in mashed potatoes and French fries recipes. Some cooks also use celeriac to make tostones (plantain chips) as a keto alternative.

This is the nutritional profile for celery root per 100g or 3.5 ounces:

  • Carbs: 7.1 g
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Calcium: 43mg
  • Iron: 0.7 mg
  • Potassium: 300mg
  • Vitamin C: 8mg

Daikon

Daikon is an excellent alternative to plantain while on Keto. This tuber looks like radish and is generally found in East Asia.

It looks like a white carrot and contains high amounts of Vitamin C. It’s usually bigger than a radish but tastes like potatoes and plantains.

This is the nutritional profile per 100g

  • Calories: 17 cal.
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 21mg
  • Potassium: 227mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Dietary fiber: 1.6g
  • Sugar: 2.5g
  • Protein:0.6g
  • Vitamin C: 75mg

Zucchini

Besides cauliflower, zucchini is also an excellent carb substitute in the Keto world. They are low-carb veggies rich in vitamins A and C and can substitute rice, pasta, potatoes, and plantains.

They are the best alternatives for tostones on Keto.

One cup of zucchini, which weighs approximately 223 g, has the following nutritional profile:

  • Calories: 17cal
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Vitamin A: 75mg
  • Manganese: 22mg

Rutabaga

Rutabaga tastes almost the same as plantains but does not have a high carb content. They also contain vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and many more nutrients.

One medium-sized rutabaga, which weights approximately 386 grams (just under a pound), has the following nutritional profile:

  • Calories: 143 cal
  • Carbohydrates: 33.3 grams
  • Proteins: 4.17 grams
  • Fat: 0.618 grams
  • Calcium: 166 mg
  • Magnesium: 77.2mg
  • Potassium: 1180mg
  • Vitamin C: 96.5mg
  • Vitamin E: 1.16mg

Keto Plantain & Plantain Alternative Recipe

As mentioned, plantains are great for Keto when eaten raw, consumed conservatively using the timing technique, or used during a cyclical ketogenic diet. They can be part of a recipe if you regulate the carb content.

Here are some recipes that include plantain or other alternatives that you can try while on Keto:

Vegan Keto Plantain Recipe

This recipe serves four people. It takes 15 minutes to prep and cook, and it’s very healthy for vegans on a Keto diet. The recipe uses rutabaga, an excellent alternative to plantains, as it has a similar taste and can be cooked the same way.

Ingredients:

  • ½ plantain
  • Cubed rutabaga- 2 cups
  • Pink Himalayan salt- ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper- ½ teaspoon

Instructions:

  1. Peel a rutabaga root and chop it into cubes.
  2. Put the cubes in a cooking pot, then add salt and cold water
  3. Boil until it’s fully cooked. It usually takes 10 minutes.
  4. Add the pepper and other seasonings.
  5. Mash and serve.

Nutritional Profile:

The amount of nutrients per serving is as follows:

  • Calories: 52
  • Total fat: 0.1 g
  • Sodium: 15 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 12.8 g
  • Dietary fiber: 2.3g
  • Sugar: 7.3 g
  • Calcium 34 mg

Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe

Plantain recipes are a common delicacy in the tropics, but those on a low-carb diet can use this baked zucchini fries recipe. These fries are crisp, golden, and easy to dip.

The cooking time is 30 minutes. These are zucchini sticks that are breaded, baked, or fried.

Ingredients and substitutions:

  • Zucchini: one medium or a small one
  • Grated parmesan cheese: This will be used instead of flour or bread crumbs which have a lot of curbs.
  • Egg: One whole large egg.
  • Garlic powder: 2 tablespoons
  • Black pepper
  • Italian seasoning

Instructions:

  1. Chop the zucchini into fries size shapes.
  2. Whisk the egg in a bowl
  3. Mix the cheese and spices in another bowl
  4. Dip each fry in the egg bowl and then coat in the cheese mixture.
  5. Place the fries on a single layer of baking sheet lined with parchment.
  6. Bake until golden brown. Flip the fries, rotate the pan halfway around, and repeat the process.
  7. Let it sit for a few minutes, then serve.

One serving will have less than 4g of carbs, which means you can eat as much as you want.

In conclusion, plantains are a high-starch food that is not suitable for someone on a low-carb diet. Hopefully, this guide has clarified that plantains are not suitable for a keto diet, often referred to as “plantains keto.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Plantain Chips Keto?

Plantain chips have a high starch and calorie content. Therefore they are not Keto.

Are Tostones Keto?

Cooked plantain, including Tostones, have high starch content; therefore, they are not Keto.

How Many Carbs in Tostones?

One cup of Tostones has a net carb of 51.1g.

Are Green Plantains Keto Friendly?

Green plantains have high resistant starch content. Therefore they can be keto-friendly when eaten raw.

However, when cooked, the resistant starch is converted to digestible starch, therefore not suitable for Keto.

Is Ripe Plantain Keto Friendly?

Ripe plantain has high sugar content therefore is not Keto friendly.


References

1Steven, Kate. (2022). Are Plantains Keto Friendly? [Why They May and May Not Be], The Art of Keto. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 From <https://www.theartofketo.com/are-plantains-keto-friendly/>

2Blessing, Kolawole. (2022). Are Plantains Keto Friendly? Jebfoods. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 From <https://www.jebfoods.com/are-plantains-keto-friendly/>

3Anal, Carry. (2022). Are Plantains Keto & Can They Be Low Carb? Carmela Pop. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 From <https://carmelapop.com/are-plantains-keto/>

4Gonzalez, Emily. (2022). Resistant Starch 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide. Bulletproof. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 From <https://www.bulletproof.com/diet/bulletproof-diet/resistant-starch/>

5Rimma_Bondarenko. “Dried bananas plantains.” Canva. Accessed 11 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MADOyW43Nn4-dried-bananas-plantains/>

6Sandip Kalal. “Free Patterns.” Unsplash, 23 October 2021. Accessed 11 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/3n3Yd6-5KEI>

7Scott Webb. “shallow focus photography of bananas photo – Free Fruit Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 2 June 2016. Accessed 11 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/Ar0QYv-qtw4>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.