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Are Bell Peppers Low-Carb and Keto-Friendly?

Written by Nathan Phelps on November 12, 2019

If you're wondering if you can eat bell peppers on keto, rest assured you're not alone.

The first few weeks you spend initiating ketosis you have to be extra careful about your carb intake, and double-checking everything you eat is par for the course. It's almost like you develop an irrational fear of carbs and begin to distrust every food you've known and loved.

Carbs could be hiding anywhere, right!?

It's sort of a keto right of passage, so don't worry if you feel a bit silly.

Anyway! On to the matter at hand.

Are bell peppers keto?

Yes — at just 2 – 3 net carbs (depending on the color) per 100g serving, bell peppers are easy to fit into a ketogenic meal plan.

All peppers on keto are not created equal

Not all bell peppers are as keto-friendly as the others. While they're similar from a caloric perspective, their carbs change enough to make note of.

Let's take a look at the carb loads for the three essential grocery store bell peppers, green, red, and yellow.

The carb estimates provided are based on 100g of each pepper, which is around 1 cup sliced.

Are green bell peppers keto?

These are the most keto-friendly peppers with only 2.9g of net carbs per 100g. If you're looking to cut carbs, then opting for green peppers is the way to go. This is useful if you're trying to save money as well since green bell peppers are a lot cheaper! They aren't as good in Thai dishes, but hey, we're trying to stay in ketosis — not get a Michelin star, right?

Are red bell peppers keto?

Red peppers are a decent increase in carbs from green peppers, with 3.9g of net carbs per 100g. They are still fairly low, but you need to keep a closer eye on these — especially at the front end for your initial transition into ketosis. The inaugural push into ketosis is always the toughest because your body isn't used to ketosis yet.

Are yellow bell peppers keto?

Yellow is nutritionally similar to red, weighing in at 3.93g net carbs per 100g. You can treat them essentially like red peppers and be okay.

How many peppers can you eat on keto?

The number of carbs you need to restrict to enter ketosis depends on the individual, but the general advice is to keep carb intake to 20g-50g per day. In general, it will take you around 2–4 days if you eat 20–50 grams of carbs per day. However, for some people, it can take a week or longer to get into ketosis[*].

Following that advice, you can't eat more than ~5 cups of sliced peppers. That's a lot of peppers, so you won't have to worry about that, but you do need to be thinking about them in the context of your day. Your best bet is to use them liberally as a side. Don't make a whole plate of peppers and cover them with cheese along with an egg. Instead, make more eggs and use the peppers as an accent.

Great keto bell pepper recipes

Bell peppers are versatile, which is why they're useful for having around the house. They're great just sauteed up with your choice of fat and a bit of seasoning for a quick side. You can also add them to most dishes that use sauteed onions as well, such as a base for a soup or to put into taco meat.

But if you're not eating bell peppers sauteed or roasted, then keto stuffed peppers are the way to go. Here are a few awesome recipes for that route, and remember you can always sub green peppers to drop the carbs by a few grams!

  • Pizza Stuffed Bell Peppers - Who doesn't crave pizza from time to time. These have 9 grams of net carbs per serving, so you need to be careful about your carb intake, but if you can make room in your carb schedule for these guys they are well worth it.
  • Keto Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers - Essentially taco bowls with bell peppers instead of shells. These are a bit lower carb than the pizza bowls with 4g of net carbs per serving, and they include cauliflower — arguably the keto staple of all keto staples.
  • Keto Stuffed Peppers (Italian Style) - If you're feeling Italian food but not quite pizza, then these Italian style keto stuffed peppers are the way to go. I'm a sucker for Italian sausage, so even if you just cooked that up and threw them on top of roasted peppers with mozzarella it would be delicious, this is just the next step up from that. Weighs in at 9g of net carbs.

Easy tricks for remembering the best keto vegetables

Go green!

When in doubt, the greener the better usually means fewer carbs across the board. You see that in green peppers, green cabbage vs. red cabbage, etc. So go green and don't look back!

Above ground vs. below ground

Think about the highest carb vegetables for a second. Potatoes... Carrots... Beets... They're all below-ground vegetables! Stick to the above-ground, closer friends to the sun and you'll be off to a good start.

The best vegetables to eat on the keto diet

Best is subjective, but we're defining best by the lowest number of carbs. Spinach and cauliflower are keto royalty but opt for recipes using any of these as the primary ingredient and you'll be off to a good start. It also narrows down your grocery list — grab some of these greens and a lot of poultry, beef, or fish and you'll have a kitchen ready for keto-living.

The shortlist of low-carb, keto-friendly vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Brussel Sprouts

Notice how almost all of these are green and above ground? That's what we mean! Stick to those two characteristics, and you'll be in the right ballpark.

Keto can feel overwhelming when you first start, but we promise it gets easier! The more foods and recipes you identify as keto-friendly, the less thinking you'll have to do. After a few weeks, life will feel pretty normal — except you'll have the confidence that you're making positive steps toward better health.

Good luck!

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