Even though tomatoes are commonly considered a vegetable, technically, they are actually a fruit.
When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to consume a varied amount of fruit and vegetables in order to get the required amount of health-boosting vitamins and minerals.
However, you should select the fruit and vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and would allow you to maintain ketosis.
These include cucumber, celery, or asparagus. But what about tomatoes, are tomatoes keto-friendly?
In this article, we will talk about carbs in tomatoes and discuss what types of this popular vegetable, or fruit, can you eat on a keto diet?
How Many Carbs Are In Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are technically considered a fruit but in comparison with apples or oranges, they are much lower in carbs.
Standard tomatoes contain around 2-3 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (*). This amount is similar to some low-carb fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
Are Tomatoes Keto?
Most ketogenic diets recommend limiting the number of carbs per day to around 30 to 50 grams (*). With 2 grams of net carbs per 100-gram serving, tomatoes are suitable for the keto diet.
Because tomatoes are rich in fiber, nutrients and have a high water content, it means they are suitable for the keto diet.
Why Should You Eat Tomatoes?
Even though tomatoes will add some carbs to your daily count, they are nutritious whole foods that contain phytonutrients, plant compounds that a strict keto diet void of vegetables and fruit might be lacking (*).
It is important to include a varied selection of vegetables in your ketogenic diet in order to obtain all the nutrients that your body needs.
Tomatoes belong to the group of other vegetables that have a low carb content, contain little sugar, and are suitable for the ketogenic diet.
These low-carb vegetables include celery, mushrooms, asparagus, lettuce, cucumbers, or zucchini.
In comparison, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, or turnips have a much higher carb content and aren’t recommended to eat on a keto diet.
Health Benefits of Eating Tomatoes
Tomatoes provide many health benefits, are rich in antioxidants, especially lycopene. This is a plant nutrient that gives the red and pink color to tomatoes, watermelons, or pink grapefruits.
This antioxidant has been proven to promote heart health, help to protect against certain types of cancer, and provide protection against sunburns (*).
Tomatoes are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K, and Folate.
These micronutrients can provide you with an immunity boost, promote blood pressure control and prevent heart disease (*).
Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health (*), while Folate benefits cell function and normal tissue growth (*).
What Are the Best Types of Tomatoes for Keto?
Because tomatoes are such a popular vegetable enjoyed by many for their delicious taste and health benefits, there are many varieties available in the supermarkets today.
From all the tomato varieties, cherry tomatoes have the highest carb content, 6 grams of carbs per half-cup serving (*).
In comparison, grape tomatoes contain only three grams of carbs per the same serving (*).
Watch the Portion Sizes
As with any type of fruit and vegetables that contain carbs, we recommend watching the portion sizes so that you can maintain ketosis.
In regards to tomatoes, eating one or two tomatoes per day is not likely to ruin your daily carb intake while eating 5 to 6 pieces could impact it significantly.
If you choose to consume cherry tomatoes, we recommend sticking to smaller servings and calculating the carb content so that you won’t be kicked out of ketosis.
Are All Tomato Products Keto-friendly?
While most tomato varieties are completely safe to consume on a ketogenic diet, this is not true of tomato-based products.
Tomato juice, paste, salsa, sauces, or even tinned tomatoes often contain added sugar, which increases their carb content, calories and makes them unsuitable for keto diets.
However, even if they don’t contain added sugar, these products strip tomatoes away from fiber and water, which concentrates the tomatoes, often resulting in a food that is no longer low carb.
These products vary between brands, so we recommend checking the ingredients list and the label before incorporating them into your keto diet. Alternatively, select keto-versions of these foods that contain sugar-free sweeteners and fewer carbs.
Are Sundried Tomatoes Keto?
Even though sundried tomatoes tend to be fairly high in fats, compared to raw tomatoes, they have been stripped out of all the water and most of the fiber, therefore, contains a higher amount of carbs.
A one-cup serving of sundried tomatoes contains around 23.5 g grams of net carbs. This is much higher than raw tomatoes, and therefore it can be easy to assume that sundried tomatoes are not keto-friendly (*).
However, since sundried tomatoes are rich in flavor and not usually eaten in large quantities, it is unlikely that anybody would consume a cup of sundried tomatoes in a day.
If you monitor your serving size, including a few sundried tomatoes to your salad or other low carb meal wouldn’t ruin your daily carb intake.
With so many ways of eating tomatoes, you might be asking: how many tomatoes are allowed on a keto diet?
In order to maintain ketosis where your body utilizes fats instead of glucose for energy, most approaches recommend consuming no more than 5-10 grams of net carbs per meal (*).
Maintaining ketosis will allow you to enjoy the benefits of the keto diet and promote weight loss.
How Many Tomatoes Are Allowed On a Keto Diet?
When eating raw tomatoes, 1 to 2 normal-size pieces are considered safe to consume on a keto diet.
With sweeter and higher-carb cherry tomatoes, limiting your servings to half a cup or less would maintain ketosis.
When it comes to tomato-based sauces and products, we recommend selecting the products that have no added sugar and only consuming them in small amounts.
When adding sundried tomatoes to your meals, combining them with high-fat foods and cheeses will shift the macronutrient ratio towards fats and ensure you’ll stay in ketosis.
Final thoughts – Are Tomatoes Keto?
While tomatoes are widely considered a vegetable, similarly to avocados, they are actually a fruit.
But the good news is that since they are full of fiber, have high water content, and only 2-3 grams of net carbs per 100g, they are keto-friendly.
This is not true of forms of tomatoes. While cherry or sundried tomatoes are still suitable for those following a ketogenic diet, they contain more carbs and should be only consumed in small servings.
We recommend staying away from tomato-based sauces, purees, juices, and other processed products. They can often contain sugar and additives and would kick you out of ketosis.
If you choose to consume some of these products occasionally, make sure that you search for keto-approved alternatives that have no added sugar, are sweetened with stevia, and contain fewer carbs.
A decent amount of low-carb fruits and vegetables should form a part of your varied keto diet. They are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will provide many health benefits, even though they contain a small number of carbs.