Couscous is a Popular Food, but is it Low-Carb and Keto-Friendly?

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If you’re looking to follow a ketogenic lifestyle, you’re probably interested in learning more about various food grains and how high or low they are on carbs. 

Couscous is a staple food grain in Moroccan, Middle-Eastern, and North African cuisine. But is couscous a healthy carb and keto-approved?

A quintessential ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps people improve their general health and even lose weight at times. 

To explain further, this diet aims at a mindful approach while consuming carbs, especially the ones that hinder the process of ketosis in your body.

is couscous keto?

Couscous

Serving Size: 100g cooked

keto approved

Net Carbs

23.22g

Protein

3.79g

Fat

0.16g

Calories

112

Is Couscous Keto?

The short answer is no. Unfortunately, couscous is not suitable for a ketogenic diet. It is not the most nutrient-dense grain option and is high on the average carb count.

To understand why couscous is not a suitable keto-friendly option, we first need to understand what couscous is. Couscous is basically a processed grain that is typically made of durum wheat or semolina flour. The small granules are then often steamed until they turn soft. They are then served with chopped veggies as a salad or with a rich stew or sauce. 

What are the carbohydrate and net carbohydrate quantities in raw couscous?

According to the USDA, one cup of raw couscous (182 grams approx) has about 7.39 grams of fiber and 122 grams of carbs. This means that the net carbs in one cup of raw couscous are about 125 grams. 

Over here, net carbs refers to the amount of total carbs minus the fiber, since the body does not digest fiber and does not contribute to the net carb consumption. 

What are the carbohydrate and net carbohydrate quantities in cooked couscous?

As per the USDA, one cup (157 grams approx) of cooked couscous has around 36.4 net carbs, out of which about 2.2 grams is dietary fiber.

This means that eating even a small serving of couscous can kick you out of the ketosis process. However, it is very important to limit your net carb consumption to 20-30 grams per day to stay in ketosis.

But it isn’t all that bad since couscous is loaded with selenium, a mineral that plays a huge role in good heart health, immune health, and thyroid function, among other things. Consuming couscous can also increase your intake of other healthy micronutrients like manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and thiamine.

Alternatives of Keto Couscous

For a ketogenic diet, consuming low-carb couscous can be considered a better option than quite a few grains like millet, oats, barley, teff, and spelt. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Here are a few options you can try instead:

  1. Rye. This is one of the most nutrient-rich grains, but it is also the most underrated one. We’ve all seen or tried a rye bread loaf from our local bakers. It is also the easiest way to add rye to your regular ketogenic diet. It is low in carbs and high in protein.  
  2. Buckwheat. A low-carb, gluten-free grain, buckwheat is a great option for baking while maintaining your keto lifestyle. It is also used a lot in Asian cuisine. A good example is soba noodles in Japanese cuisine. This means you can enjoy a variety of cuisines while following a keto diet.  
  3. Quinoa. A naturally gluten-free grain (actually not even a real grain), quinoa is a popular choice among the celiac community and plant-based eating community because of its richness in protein. It is a great keto-friendly replacement for oats in overnight breakfast oats and a pleasant addition to salads, soups, and stuffings.
  4. Bulgur. It is a very versatile grain as it can be consumed as a keto-friendly replacement for a lot of grains like oats, quinoa, and even rice. Bulgur is low in carbs and high in protein, making it an excellent keto-friendly option. 

But if you’re still interested in consuming couscous, there is a solution. You can make it at home with ingredients like egg yolk powder, nutritional yeast, sodium alginate, and calcium lactate. This homemade couscous is delicious and low in carbs. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, couscous is not a good grain option if you want to follow a ketogenic lifestyle. But despite its high carb content, it is still an excellent source of protein, fiber, and a variety of micronutrients, and it is also low in fat content.