Is squash keto or not? Squash is a family of plants or vegetables available in different variants – winter and summer variants. Vegetables like squash are recommended on keto because they are low in calories and are packed with nutrients.
There are several subtypes of squash under each of the variants mentioned above. The winter variant consists of Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti while some of the summer variants include Zucchini, Zephyr and Cousa. One important thing to point out is that not all types of squash can be included on keto. In general, the summer variants of squash usually have lower carb content than the winter variants.
This suggests that they can be included on the ketogenic diet. However, the winter variants may also be included on keto even with their high carb content. When they are included on a low-carb diet, it is best to use them in moderation. This article discusses some of the different variants of squash and whether or not they can be used on keto.
Macronutrients in Squash
- Zucchini (1 cup)
Fat: 0.2 grams
Carbs: 3.9 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Protein: 1.5 grams
- Spaghetti Squash (1 cup)
Fat: 0.3 grams
Carbs: 6.5 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams
Protein: 0.7 grams
- Butternut Squash (½ cup)
Carbs: 12.6 grams
Fat: 0.1 grams
Fiber: 3.8 grams
Protein: 1.1 grams
There are also other types of squash with low calorie and few carbohydrates like the Zephyr and Cousa squash. These types of summer squash are rare compared to zucchini. Other winter squash with even lower carbs than the butternut squash include Hubbard, Pumpkin, Kabocha, Sweet dumpling and Turban.
Different Types of Squash That May be Included on Keto
As already mentioned, there are many types of squash. However, because the keto diet requires the consumption of foods that contain few carbs, the type of squash consumed should be one that meets the low-carb requirement.
- Zucchini: This is the most popular summer variant that can be easily purchased. This squash variant is low in carbohydrates and calories. It can be incorporated in several ways into many meals on keto. For example, it may be eaten raw, grilled, lightly cooked and even roasted. The Zucchini vegetable also has a good taste and can be paired with a high-fat meal to remain in ketosis. They may even be used to replace pasta meals that contain an unhealthy amount of carbs that can cause a rise in blood glucose levels. Replacing high carb foods with a low-carb but nutritious and tasty vegetable like zucchini can help to reduce carb cravings.
- Butternut Squash: This is a winter variant but unlike its name, the butternut variant is available to purchase throughout the year. Its availability is not restricted to winter only. The butternut squash has a high amount of carbs, about 12.6 grams total carbohydrates. Apart from its high carb content, the butternut squash is also a good source of vitamins and fibers that are beneficial for the body. The high carb content may still benefit some in ketosis, especially those who are not carb sensitive and can stay in ketosis with high carbs. It may also be used as a source of fuel for those following a targeted keto diet. For those who are carb insensitive, they may choose to use a variant that contains fewer carbs. They may also be able to include butternut squash on keto but in small quantities.
- Spaghetti Squash: This winter squash is another low-carb squash containing only 6.5 grams of total carbohydrates in a cup. Like zucchini, it can also be paired with a high-fat meal to meet the requirements of the keto diet. As its name suggests, it has a spaghetti-like texture when cooked and can be prepared quickly. Although relatively low in carbs, it is still necessary to use spaghetti squash in moderation. If it is used in large quantities, it can increase carb count to a point that it exceeds the daily recommended carb limit for keto dieters. This can ultimately push one out of ketosis. Also, since it resembles spaghetti, this squash variant may also be used to replace spaghetti and other pasta meals. Apart from its low carb content, it also contains healthy nutrients that the body needs during ketosis.
Health Benefits of Squash on Keto
There are numerous health benefits that can be derived from squash while on keto. These health benefits are highlighted below
- Some variants of squash may improve bowel function: The butternut squash is very rich in fiber and this fiber content is necessary for bowel function. When fiber is included in the diet, it adds to the bulk of stool, making it easier to pass out from the body. Consumption of fiber-rich squash may also help to eliminate food cravings since fiber promotes a feeling of fullness. Another squash variant that contains high fiber content is the spaghetti squash. Like the fiber in butternut squash, eating spaghetti squash can help normalize bowel function by promoting the movement of materials in the digestive system.
- Consumption of squash may help provide energy: This is true especially for the variants that have a lot of carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, individuals who are not carb sensitive may be able to add such high-carb squash to meals. Also, athletes or even those who exercise regularly while following a ketogenic diet can make use of these variants before or after a workout session. When squash is consumed in this way, it helps to provide the energy the body needs.
- May help with weight loss: A good way to enhance weight loss is to replace high carb and calorie foods with squash. The different types of summer squash may be used to achieve weight loss because they contain few carbs, calories and have a low glycemic index. This means that they will not have any impact on blood glucose and insulin levels. Thus, those who use the keto diet for weight loss may benefit by including zucchini and any of the other summer variants to their diet. The fiber content can also help reduce appetite which is important when reducing overall calorie intake.
- Squash may be a source of protein: While the main focus of the keto diet is increasing fat intake and lowering carb in diet, it is important not to neglect other nutrients. One important nutrient the body needs to function properly is protein. The pumpkin squash is a rich source of protein. However, since the seeds of the pumpkin are high in calories, it is important to add only little of these seeds to diet.
Final Thoughts– Is Squash Keto
Squash can be regarded as keto, depending on the variant consumed and how much is consumed at once. They also have a lot of other desirable health benefits that make their inclusion on keto worthwhile. The summer variants contain lower carb content than the winter variant hence they can be included on keto. The winter variant, on the other hand, contains twice the carb content in the summer variant and may not be included on keto. If the winter variant must be included, it should be done in moderation to prevent a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Combine with a bit of quinoa and you’ve got a keto powered meal.