Carbs in Popcorn: Is Popcorn Keto-Friendly?

by Eric Gordon on February 11, 2020

What You’ll Learn...

  1. What To Classify Popcorn As…
  2. Popcorn Nutrition Facts
  3. Carbs in Popcorn
  4. Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?
  5. When to Stay Away From Popcorn
  6. Popular Brands of Packaged Popcorn
  7. What Are Keto-Friendly Popcorn Alternatives?
  8. The Final Verdict: Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?

If you are on the keto diet, you may be wondering whether popcorn is keto-friendly or not. Popcorn has always been a popular snack, dating back to ancient times. It is made when dried kernels of corn are heated and popped into a nutritious snack with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbs.

When you are on the keto diet, you eat a diet that is low in carbs and high in quality fats. The purpose is to transition your body from getting its energy from glucose to getting it from fat. You should limit your carb intake to around 30 grams per day, so it is important to pay attention to how many carbs are in what you eat.

Popcorn does have carbs, but the question is whether it has enough carbs to kick you out of ketosis. Read on to learn about the nutritional content of popcorn and how it can fit in with the keto diet.

What To Classify Popcorn As…

Popcorn is a whole grain that is formed when dried kernels of corn are heated. They expand and “pop” into the puffy delicious snack that many people enjoy. Popcorn has been around for a long time, and it is thought to have originated in Peru 6,000 years ago.

Today, popcorn is found in a variety of flavors all over the world, and it is one of the most popular snacks. There are different ways to make it, including the microwave, an air popper, or even on your stove. You can also buy popcorn prepackaged, and you might find any of the following flavors added in:

  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Oil
  • Spices
  • Herbs
  • Caramel

Popcorn Nutrition Facts

Although corn is normally categorized as a vegetable, popcorn is a whole grain. In fact, it is technically also a fruit because the kernel is, in essence, a dry fruit where the ovary wall and the seed coat of corn are fused together. A grain is a seed or fruit of a cereal grass, caryopsis, which is why popcorn is considered a whole grain.

Popcorn has many nutritional benefits. It has fiber and is low in calories, and it also contains antioxidants. When you eat it plain, it can fill you up. Take a look at the following nutritional information for a standard serving of three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn without added toppings:

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams

In addition, it contains the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc, which makes it a nutritious snack. It also has antioxidants, including polyphenols, which help to protect your cells from free radicals. A single serving of plain, air-popped popcorn can be a very healthy snack.

Microwaveable popcorn doesn’t have the same nutrition because it often has preservatives and oils, and you should avoid eating it. However, air-popped, stove-popped, and some packaged popcorns are fine.

Carbs in Popcorn

Popcorn does contain carbs, and it also has fiber. To find the net carbs, you will subtract the fiber from the carbs. Here is a summary of the carbs in different popcorn products:

  • Microwaveable popcorn: three to eight grams of net carbs per cup
  • Air-popped popcorn: two to five grams of net carbs per cup
  • Oil-popped popcorn: three to eight grams of net carbs per cup
  • Kettle corn: eight to eleven grams of net carbs per cup
  • Popcorn from movie theater: three to six net carbs per cup

A standard serving of popcorn is three cups, but if you limit yourself to one cup, the carb count is low. When you are considering movie theater popcorn, the popcorn itself will be the same as air-popped popcorn, but you need to limit the additives, especially the butter, to keep it there.

Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?

Popcorn is nutritious and has fiber. If you stick to the recommended serving size of three cups of popcorn, your net carb intake is around 15 grams, which is a big part of your daily carbs. You should limit yourself to one cup to be safe. If you eat one cup of popcorn, you will be able to enjoy this snack on keto.

Another benefit of popcorn as a snack is that it has fiber in it and tends to make you feel fuller than other snacks. If you are trying to lose weight, it only has 30 calories in one cup, and it will fit in with most diets. You just need to make sure that you limit other foods with carbs so that you don’t kick your body out of ketosis.

When to Stay Away From Popcorn

The biggest issue that people have with popcorn is limiting themselves to one cup. If you find that you are unable to limit yourself, you might want to avoid popcorn.

In addition, people who are just starting out on the keto diet restrict their carb intake to around 30 grams per day. If you are just starting out, you might want to avoid popcorn as you are trying to get your body into ketosis.

If you choose to eat popcorn on keto, it is a good idea to make it yourself using the stovetop method. You can use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil, or you can use real butter, which is high in fat. Just avoid adding toppings that will increase the carb count.

As far as movie theater popcorn is concerned, you should avoid it. Not only is it nearly impossible to get a serving that is small enough, but they also use artificial butter and other preservatives, which are bad for you. Make sure that you keep track of all of your carbs, including hidden carbs, to ensure that you don’t go over your carb limit for the day.

Popcorn is a popular snack, and it is available already made and packaged. Here is a list of popular brands and their nutritional content.

Original Popcorn – Herr's

Herr's popcorn (3 cups) 

  • Calories: 150
  • Fats: 8 grams
  • Carbs: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn (17 oz.) A1 (pack of 6)

Smartfood white cheddar popcorn ( 2 1/2 cups) 

  • Calories: 160
  • Fats: 10 grams
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams Cracker Jack The Original Caramel Coated Popcorn and Peanuts,  24 Ounce

Cracker Jack Caramel Coated Popcorn and Peanuts  (1 cup) 

  • Calories: 120
  • Fats: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Fiber: 1 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

And here are a few of the most popular microwavable popcorn options: 

Movie Theater Butter | Orville Redenbacher's

Orville Redenbacher's Classic Butter Popcorn (3 1/2 cups) 

  • Calories: 170
  • Fats: 12 grams
  • Carbs: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

Orville Redenbacher's Cheddar Cheese Microwave Popcorn, 3.29 Oz, 6 Ct -

Orville redenbacher's Chedder Cheese Popcorn (3 1/2 cups) 

  • Calories: 180
  • Fats: 14 grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

Movie Theater Butter Flavor - Pop Secret

Pop-Secret Butter Popcorn ( 3 1/2 cups) 

  • Calories: 160
  • Fats: 5 grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

Skinnygirl Butter & Sea Salt, Microwave Popcorn

Skinnygirl Butter and Sea Salt Popcorn ( 6 cup pack) 

  • Calories: 160
  • Fats: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams Act Ii Xtreme Butter Microwave Popcorn - 12 Bag Box 33.01 Oz

Act II Extreme Butter Popcorn ( 3 1/2 cups)

  • Calories: 160
  • Fats: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 19 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

What Are Keto-Friendly Popcorn Alternatives?

Popcorn can be keto-friendly as long as you are able to limit yourself and stick to plain popcorn. Many people have trouble limiting themselves, which can very easily kick you out of ketosis. If you find that it is more difficult than it’s worth, you can try one of these keto-friendly popcorn alternatives.


  • Macadamia nuts and pecans: Both of these nuts are keto-friendly, and they make great popcorn alternative snacks.
  • Beef jerky: This is a meat-based snack, and it has protein. This snack makes you feel full for a longer time, and it is a great keto-friendly snack.
  • Cauliflower: This is very keto-friendly food. It is incredibly versatile because it has a mild taste and can be substituted for many foods that are not a part of your keto diet. It is a great substitute for popcorn.

The Final Verdict: Can You Eat Popcorn on Keto?

Yes, you can eat popcorn on keto, but you need to pay attention to how much you eat. Popcorn is one of those foods that people love to eat, and sometimes it is hard to stop and limit yourself. If you would like to have popcorn from time to time, just make sure that you limit your other carb intake that day, and you will be fine.

If you are going to have popcorn, try to stay away from toppings and additives. However, popcorn is nutritious, it has fiber, and it fills you up more than other snacks.

You can always choose other snacks to munch on. Use common fats like some type of cheese or real butter drizzled over bite-sized keto snacks. Enjoy your popcorn snack, but keep the serving size low.


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