When you are on the keto diet, you need to keep your carb intake low and focus on healthy fats instead. As you get into your diet, you might have a lot of questions about what foods are keto-friendly. It is important to understand why foods are or are not keto-friendly first, as this will help you understand the process.
The keto diet is low in carbs, and you need to keep your carb count below 30 grams of carbs per day. By limiting your carb intake, your body will transition from using carbs to make glucose for energy to using ketones that are stored in fat. There are many benefits to this transition, including a lower appetite, initial weight loss, increased levels of good cholesterol, and reduced blood sugar levels, to name a few.
It is important to keep your carb intake low because increasing it for one day can kick your body out of ketosis, and lead to further cravings for sugar and other foods that you are trying to avoid. However, you might be craving certain favorite dishes, and you may wonder if they can be eaten while you are on the keto diet.
Mexican food is a favorite for many people, and it is known to be higher in carbs. The main reason for this is the tortillas. Having your favorite burrito or taco dinner with tortillas can add up to more carbs than you are allowed on this diet. That being said, if you need to satisfy your Mexican dish craving, it may be possible.
All About Tortillas
Generally speaking, tortillas can either be made of wheat or corn. Both are popular, even though corn tortillas are made from ground maize and wheat tortillas are made from ground wheat flour. They can be used in any number of ways, from quesadillas to burritos to tacos and more, and people eat them hot or cold, soft or hard, and they complement most Mexican meals.
Nutrition and Carbs in Tortillas
Normally, corn tortillas are more nutritious than flour. They usually have fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber. For example, one 24-gram corn tortilla has 52 calories and 11 grams of carbs. In contrast, one 24-gram flour tortilla has 75 calories and 12.32 grams of carbs. Although the caloric intake is higher, the carbs are only a little higher.
However, corn tortillas have higher nutritional value because the corn that they are made from, Mexican maize, has vitamin A, folate, and lutein. Flour tortillas are processed to the point that they have very little nutritional content. From this perspective, corn tortillas have an advantage in that they do provide some beneficial nutrients when eaten in small servings. Make sure that you check the label to avoid buying tortillas that are genetically modified or made with hydrogenated oils or trans fats.
Are Corn Tortillas Keto-Friendly?
The bottom line is that they can be, but in such small servings that they may not satisfy your craving. One small 24-gram corn tortilla has 11 grams of carbs, so you can see how having a larger tortilla or having two tacos, enchiladas, or burritos will bring you close to your carb limit, and that’s before you count the carbs inside. Take it to three tortillas, and you will be over your carb limit for the day.
Since your goal is to get your body into ketosis and keep it there, you want to make sure that you aren’t making a choice that will kick your body out of ketosis. However, if you can’t do without your favorite Mexican dish, you can use a low-carb tortilla substitute. If you are on a variation of the keto diet, such as the targeted keto diet or the cyclical keto diet, you may be able to eat your tortillas.
Variations on the Keto Diet and Tortillas
The variations of the keto diet allow for periods of time where you can increase your carb intake, and this might be a time to add in that favorite Mexican dish. The targeted keto diet, also called TKD, is a diet for people who are more active and work out or exercise regularly. This diet has two windows of time where people can increase their carbs to an extra 25 to 50 grams, namely one hour before or one hour after they exercise.
The other variation is called the cyclical keto diet, and it is a diet for serious athletes whose bodies need more carbs to replace the glycogen in their muscles. Normally, people on this variation of the keto diet use a five / two method, where they follow the normal keto diet five days of each week, and they do the reverse on the other two. Those days, they will eat foods that are high in carbs and low in fat to load the carbs.
In both of these cases, corn tortillas eaten at the appropriate times are keto-friendly. As long as you are using your body actively to exercise or workout, either of these diets can work and provide you with times when you can enjoy your favorite Mexican dish.
Corn Tortillas on the Standard Keto Diet
When you are on the standard keto diet, you should probably avoid any store-bought or restaurant made corn tortillas because it is important to make sure that you do not kick your body out of ketosis. It may be tempting to say you will just have one 24-gram tortilla, but that is not going to be enough to fill you up, and there may be other carbs lurking in your meal.
If you want to have tortillas while staying true to the keto diet, you can follow a few recipes to make them yourself. You can make tortillas using substitutes for corn or flour, and you will find them to be just as delicious. This is the best way to make sure that you stay in ketosis and satisfy your craving at the same time.
Homemade Corn Tortilla Alternatives
Just as with many favorite high carb foods, you can make substitutes for corn tortillas that will satisfy any cravings you may have. Before you get started, make sure that you have a food processor, rolling pin, parchment paper, and a baking sheet to make them.
- Cauliflower Keto Tortillas
Cauliflower tortillas are a wonderful substitute for corn tortillas. They have a similar texture, and they will hold whatever food you put inside without breaking. Cauliflower has a mild flavor and works really well because it won’t change the flavor of your tacos or burritos. It also happens to be low carb.
You will need the following ingredients:
- Cauliflower florets
- Garlic powder
Once you have gathered your ingredients, you are ready to start baking. You need to use the food processor to make sure that the cauliflower is grated with no large pieces left, and then you will add the rest of the ingredients to combine them. Once they are mixed, you can place the mixture on the baking sheet, and they will be ready to cook. The process is simple, and it takes around 30 minutes from start to finish.
The end result is a low carb tortilla that you can enjoy without worrying that your carb count will go too high. This recipe has a net carb count of one gram per tortilla, so you can eat your tacos without worrying at all.
- Almond Flour Tortillas
Almond flour tortillas are easy to make, and the carb count is just two grams per tortilla. This will allow you to enjoy your enchiladas or whatever Mexican dish you crave without fearing that your carb count will go up too high. You can find delicious recipes online, and they use the following ingredients:
- Almond flour
- Xanthan gum
- Baking powder
Almond flour tortillas take less than 30 minutes to make, and they are delicious as well. It is important to note that almond flour can be expensive, and you can mix coconut flour with almond flour and still make low carb tortillas. This is a great way to reduce the cost of the recipe.
The final verdict is that you should avoid corn tortillas when you are on the keto diet unless you are on a variation of the diet such as the two listed above. One 24-gram tortilla is not enough food to fill you up, and it will be difficult to keep your carb intake where it needs to be if you choose to have corn tortillas.
However, you can make your own low carb keto-friendly tortillas, and two options use cauliflower and almond flour, respectively. These homemade tortillas will work well to allow you to eat your favorite dish without kicking you out of ketosis.
Cauliflower is an extremely versatile food when you are eating keto, as it has a nice texture that can mimic many favorite dishes that are off-limits. The mild taste means that it won’t alter the final product very much, and it can be quite delicious. Try either of these options and enjoy your Mexican food while on the keto diet.