Are Peanuts Low Carb? The Plant-Based Protein

Peanuts have been proven to provide a positive impact when it comes to weight loss, and if that’s one of your goals for the new year, chances are that you’ve heard about some of the top diets for 2019. These include a low-carb diet known as the ketogenic diet.

Are Peanuts Keto?

Often called “keto” for short, the ketogenic diet forces the body to utilize fats instead of carbohydrates as a fuel source by entering a fat-burning mode called ketosis.

While some research shows keto diets may be protective against obesity, diabetes, cognitive decline and cancer, little is still known about their long-term effects.

But if you choose to try one, the good news is that peanuts are a good source of low carb, ketogenic protein. They’re also packed with other benefits—which is why they’ve been a favorite of plant-based and other dieters for years.

Benefits of Low-Carb Peanuts

In 1 oz of raw peanuts there is 4.6g of total carbohydrates. Although peanuts are not the lowest carb nut, they are not the highest. They sit right about in the middle when it comes to the amount of carbs in nuts. They’re also packed with other benefits—which is why they’ve been a favorite of plant-based and other dieters for years.

Low carb foods like peanuts promote weight loss

If weight loss is your overall goal, peanuts can help in a variety of ways:

  • You may be less likely to gain weight: Researchers in Spain found that people who consumed nuts, including peanuts, at least twice a week were 30% less likely to gain weight when compared to those who rarely ate them.1
  • You may be more likely to lose weight and keep it off: In a study that replaced children’s daily unhealthy snacks with peanuts, two-year data showed more than two thirds of children lost or kept weight off in an after-school intervention program.2
  • You may be less hungry: When participants included peanuts or peanut butter with breakfast, they felt a decreased desire to eat 8 to 12 hours later.3

Peanuts are a good source of plant-based protein

Protein is a major part of many low-carb diets. And if exercise is part of your weight loss plan, you’ll also need it to help build and repair muscle after workouts. Peanuts are considered a good source of protein by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providing 7g of high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet in just one ounce (or about 30-40 pieces).4

Plant-based protein vs. Animal-based protein

One important reason to consider plant-based protein for your low-carb diet is that reducing the animal protein you consume lowers your risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

When looking at low-carb diets specifically, a 2018 study published in Lancet Public Health found that replacing carbohydrates with plant-based fats and proteins (including nuts and peanut butter) decreased mortality significantly. When carbohydrates were replaced with animal fats and protein, however, mortality increased.5

A Harvard study published in 2016 found that swapping one serving of animal protein for vegetable protein per week was also associated with a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.6

Nutritional benefits of low carb, plant-based protein

Unlike animal protein, plant-based protein contains additional components with positive health benefits like fiber and unique bioactives. The bioactive compounds in peanuts have been found to promote longevity and disease prevention. (Learn more about the bioactive benefits of peanuts here.)

Increase your nutrient intake without high carb foods

In addition, the superfood peanuts also make getting many hard-to-get nutrients super easy—which can be important when trying to cut certain foods out of your diet. One study of 15,000 people found that people who consumed peanuts and peanut products had levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and dietary fiber higher than those who did not consumer peanuts.7 And since peanuts are not high in carbs, you can increase your nutrients without increasing your carb intake!

So what do we know?

While we can’t know for sure the long-term effects a low-carb diet, we do know that a daily serving of peanuts, peanut butter or peanut powder can have plenty of positive effects to help you toward your health goals!

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  1. Bes-Rastrollo M, Sabaté J, Gómez-Gracia E, Alonso A, Martínez JA, Martínez-González MA. Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):107-16. PubMed PMID: 17228038.
  2. Johnston CA, Tyler C, Fullerton G, McFarlin BK, Poston WS, Haddock CK, Reeves RS, Foreyt JP. Effects of a school-based weight maintenance program for Mexican-American children: results at 2 years. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar;18(3):542-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.241. Epub 2009 Aug 6. Erratum in: Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar;18(3):647. Fullerton, Ginny [added]. PubMed PMID: 19661957.
  3. Reis CE, Ribeiro DN, Costa NM, Bressan J, Alfenas RC, Mattes RD. Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response and appetite in obese women with high type 2 diabetes risk: a randomised cross-over clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun;109(11):2015-23. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512004217. Epub 2012 Nov 5. PubMed PMID: 23122211.
  4. FDA. Protein. Retrieved from
  5. Seidelmann SB, Claggett B, Cheng S, Henglin M, Shah A, Steffen LM, Folsom AR, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Solomon SD. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health. 2018 Sep;3(9):e419-e428. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30135-X. Epub 2018 Aug 17. PubMed PMID: 30122560; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6339822.
  6. Malik VS, Li Y, Tobias DK, Pan A, Hu FB. Dietary Protein Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Apr 15;183(8):715-28. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv268. Epub 2016 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 27022032; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4832052.
  7. Griel AE, Eissenstat B, Juturu V, Hsieh G, Kris-Etherton PM. Improved diet quality with peanut consumption. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):660-8. PubMed PMID: 15637214.