Corn Starch on Keto: Debunking Myths and Unleashing Facts + 10 Low-Carb Alternatives
Is Corn Starch Keto?
❎ NO! Corn starch should be avoided on the keto diet as it is high in carbohydrates. Corn, the source of corn starch, is also rich in carbohydrates. Consuming corn starch can exceed the daily recommended allowance of carbs for ketosis, which goes against the principles of the diet.
If you’re new to following a ketogenic diet, it can be challenging to choose the right foods to eat. This diet focuses on high fat, moderate protein, and low carb intake, but it can be tough to determine which foods fit these guidelines. Many people wonder if corn starch is allowed on a ketogenic diet.
Corn starch is often used in cooking and baking as a thickening ingredient. However, since it is derived from corn, which is a high-starch vegetable, it is not suitable for a keto diet.
This blog post will discuss the hidden carbohydrate trap in corn starch that can affect people following a ketogenic diet. We will examine its nutritional value and the impact it has on the body when consumed. We’ll also suggest low-carb substitutes to corn starch that can be used in recipes.
If you’re unsure whether corn starch is suitable for your keto diet, don’t worry. We’ll provide information to help you decide if you can include this ingredient in your ketogenic lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- What is Corn Starch?
- Is Corn Starch Keto-Friendly?
- Corn Starch Nutrition
- 10 Keto Corn Starch Substitutes
- Almond Flour
- Glucomannan Powder
- Flaxseed Meal
- Chia Seeds
- Psyllium Husk
- Xanthan Gum
- Pureed Veggies
- Guar Gum
- Egg Yolks
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What Starch is Keto-Friendly?
- Is Corn Keto?
- Final Words: Is Corn Starch Keto?
What is Corn Starch?
Corn starch is made from finely ground corn kernels. It is commonly used in cooking and baking to thicken recipes. The corn kernels are soaked in water, then the starch is extracted, drained, and ground into a fine powder.
Corn starch is a great ingredient for thickening liquids and achieving the desired consistency in dishes like sauces, soups, gravies, and desserts. It has a neutral flavor and smooth texture that adds a gel-like structure to the dish when heated, resulting in a thicker and more satisfying texture.
Although corn starch is a popular choice in kitchens worldwide due to its versatility and wide availability, it mainly comprises carbohydrates. This means that it is primarily made up of starch molecules, which are long chains of glucose units, and as a result, it is high in calories. It is crucial to note that when consumed, it can have a severe impact on blood sugar levels.
Is Corn Starch Keto-Friendly?
The high carbohydrate content in corn starch makes it unsuitable for those following a keto diet. Corn starch is made up mostly of complex carbohydrates since it is derived from corn and is typically used to thicken food. In fact, consuming just one tablespoon of corn starch can give you about 7 grams of net carbs, which is more than the suggested daily limit of carbs for a keto diet.
So, is corn starch keto? Unfortunately, no. The aim of following a keto diet is to reach ketosis, where the body uses fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates. However, eating corn starch can interfere with this metabolic state as it adds a large amount of carbs.
If you’re on a keto diet, there are better thickening options available than corn starch. Xanthan gum, psyllium husk, and even coconut flour can be used instead, as they have much lower carbs and won’t affect your ketosis. Using these keto-friendly alternatives will still give your recipes the right texture.
To follow the keto diet and maintain its benefits, choose low-carb cornstarch substitutes. This will help you stay within the diet’s restrictions while still enjoying your food.
Corn Starch Nutrition
Is cornstarch high in carbohydrates? Yes, indeed. Cornstarch consists entirely of carbohydrates. One tablespoon of it contains 7 grams of total carbohydrates. Does cornstarch contain net carbs? Since cornstarch has no fiber, its net carb content remains at 7 grams per tablespoon.
The complete nutritional information for one tablespoon of cornstarch is provided below.
- Calories: 30kcal
- Fat: 0g
- Protein: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 7g
- Fiber: 0g
10 Keto Corn Starch Substitutes
The carb content of cornstarch makes it a less desirable option when compared to other ingredients. However, there are low-carb alternatives that you can use instead of cornstarch as thickeners in keto recipes.
For instance, almond flour, xanthan gum, flaxseeds, glucomannan powder, pureed veggies, and more can work with modifications to amount or technique. It’s important to note that while some alternatives such as wheat flour are not keto-friendly, there are many options to choose from.
Almond flour is a pantry staple for keto dieters. You can use almond flour or almond meal instead of cornstarch to achieve a similar texture and consistency, without consuming high amounts of carbs or experiencing any negative health consequences.
Almond flour is a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamin E, iron, potassium, and calcium. A quarter-cup of almond flour contains:
- 160 calories
- 3g net carbs
- 3g fiber
- 14g fat
- 6g protein
The Konjac plant root contains Glucomannan, a type of dietary fiber that is tasteless and can be easily added to most foods without changing their taste. It is also a common rice substitute.
Glucomannan powder is great for weight loss and appetite management because it contains a lot of fiber and a few calories. It serves as a natural prebiotic that can improve cholesterol, hormone levels, and gut health, and enhance other immune system functions while reducing inflammation.
Adding konjac fiber to your diet may improve digestion and alleviate constipation. Additionally, it has the potential to reduce cholesterol levels and assist in managing diabetes. One cup contains:
- 10 calories
- 0g net carbs
- 5g fiber
- 0g fat
- 0g protein.
Flaxseed meal or ground flax seeds can be used as a binder in many keto-friendly recipes. It is commonly used in smoothies and as a substitute for oatmeal. It is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignan, a plant-based polyphenol.
Flaxseed has various benefits, such as reducing cholesterol levels, providing antioxidants, and aiding weight loss. Two tablespoons contain:
- 70 calories
- 0g net carbs
- 3.5g fiber
- 5.5g fat
- 2.4g protein.
Chia seeds have health benefits and are suitable for low-carb diets like keto. You can add one teaspoon of chia seeds to thicken your recipe. They can be used to make homemade jelly, pudding, and sauces by adding them to water or any other liquid. When mixed with liquid, they expand and form a thick gel.
One ounce of chia seeds contains:
- 137 calories
- 2g net carbs
- 11g fiber
- 9g fat
- 4g protein.
Psyllium husk is commonly used to make dietary fiber supplements, which can act as laxatives. However, it’s also a great keto alternative to cornstarch because it has no net carbs due to its high dietary fiber content. One drawback is that it doesn’t contain any fats or proteins.
Psyllium husk is a type of soluble fiber that thickens by absorbing moisture from its environment. This makes it useful as a binding agent in food. You can replace cornstarch with psyllium husk to thicken or bind ingredients in baking and sauces, just like in non-keto diets. One tablespoon of psyllium contains:
- 35 calories
- 3g net carbs
- 7g fiber
- 0.7g fat
- 2.5g protein.
Xanthan gum is a widely used gluten-free thickener that helps bread, muffins, and other baked items rise without yeast or other thickeners. It contains only one gram of carbs and requires just a small amount, around half a teaspoon.
For those following a keto diet, xanthan gum is a useful thickening agent for sauces and soups while avoiding additional carbs. Additionally, vegans who follow a keto diet can use xanthan gum as a substitute for eggs. One tablespoon contains:
- 30 calories
- 2g net carbs
- 0g fiber
- 0g fat
- 0g protein.
Vegetables are a great source of nutrients and can also be used as a substitute for cornstarch, thanks to the pectin present in their cell walls. Additionally, vegetables are more readily available than other options mentioned.
Using veggie puree instead of cornstarch is most suitable for soups, although it may also be used for sauces and baking, depending on your preferred taste. Cauliflower is an excellent vegetable option for this purpose. Additionally, keto-friendly vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, and zucchini are good choices for pureeing.
Guar gum is a natural and keto-friendly substitute for cornstarch that can be used in various recipes. Guar gum is made from guar bean and its powder form has virtually no carbs. However, you should be cautious when using it as you only need ⅛ of the quantity of cornstarch required in the recipe. If you use too much, the dish will become gummy.
Although consuming too much guar gum can be risky, it is still a versatile ingredient that can be used with both hot and cold liquids. This is because guar gum expands in liquid and is not affected by temperature when it comes to its viscosity, as research has shown. So, adding guar gum to a recipe is an easy way to change its texture.
Eggs are a great choice for keto diets and can be a good substitute for cornstarch. They are very low in net carbs and high in fat and protein. However, be cautious when using eggs for thickening. You should not add egg yolks directly to hot liquids, as they may scramble. Before using egg yolks as a thickener, you need to temper them.
To prevent your eggs from curdling, follow these steps. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Then, slowly mix part of the hot liquid with the yolks, while whisking continuously. This will warm up the mixture. Once it’s well mixed, add the tempered eggs to the main sauce while slowly mixing. Avoid boiling the liquid because it will turn the mixture into scrambled eggs.
Adding a pat of butter to your sauce or soup can help create a creamy texture without making it too thick. Butter contains natural emulsifiers and has a high-fat content, which helps to stabilize and bind the ingredients together while cooking. The result is a thicker sauce or soup without compromising its consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Starch is Keto-Friendly?
For those following a keto diet, there are a few starch options that are suitable. Coconut flour, almond flour, and flaxseed meal are amongst the best choices because they are lower in carbs and higher in fiber than traditional starches like corn starch.
To adhere to a keto diet, it is recommended to steer clear of carbohydrates found in cornstarch and other thickening agents. Remember to avoid the following corn starch alternatives:
- Arrowroot flour
- Potato starch
- Rice flour
- Tapioca starch
- Wheat flour
- White flour
Is Corn Keto?
If you are on a strict ketogenic diet, it is best to avoid or limit corn consumption as it is not considered keto-friendly. This is because corn has a high carbohydrate content, containing around 21 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, which can have a significant impact on ketosis.
Final Words: Is Cornstarch Keto?
If you’re following a keto diet, be careful with cornstarch. It’s not keto-friendly and can sneakily increase your carbohydrate intake. Although commonly used to thicken foods, corn starch comes from a carb-heavy vegetable, corn. Since the main aim of keto is to enter ketosis by minimizing carb consumption, consuming corn starch can setback your progress.
It is important for those following a keto diet to carefully read ingredient labels and nutritional information. Corn starch may be present in unsuspecting foods such as sauces, soups, baked goods, and processed foods, which can increase carb intake and hinder ketosis.
For those following a low-carb diet, there are ways to thicken food without using cornstarch. Almond flour, flaxseed meal, psyllium husk powder, and xanthan gum are all good alternatives that can achieve similar results and are low in carbohydrates.
To avoid the carbohydrates in corn starch, it is important to stay informed and make conscious choices. Prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods and using nutrient-dense, keto-friendly ingredients in meals and recipes can help. With dedication and knowledge, it is possible to continue enjoying the benefits of a ketogenic diet while avoiding the negative effects of corn starch.