Are Bananas Keto-Friendly? The Keto Diet & Bananas.
- No, bananas are not keto-friendly.
- Technically, any food that fits into your daily carb limit is keto. Here at Advantage Meals, we suggest a daily carb limit of 25 net grams. One medium banana has 25 net grams of carbohydrate. So while you could eat one banana a day and stay keto by making sure that all your other food is pure fat or pure protein, that’s not very feasible. Best to leave the bananas off your ketogenic menu.
How much sugar is in modern bananas?
Conventional nutritional wisdom has led us to believe that all fruits are healthy and highly desirable. While there are some wonderful vitamins and minerals to be found in some fruits, you can get all of them from other sources, like vegetables, meat and seafood. What you get in bananas that you won’t find in these other nutritious choices is a boatload of sugar.
One medium banana has 21 grams of sugars!
Sugar is a definite no-no on a ketogenic diet.
Yes, the sugars in bananas are “natural sugars”. They are naturally occurring in the banana in that they don’t come from added refined sugar. First of all, whether the sugar is naturally occurring or added in processing, it will elicit a glucose response in your body and raise your insulin level. Chronically high insulin is at the heart of many of our chronic, debilitating diseases, and it’s what we’re trying to avoid by eating a ketogenic diet.
Bananas haven’t always been this way, though.
Humans started domesticating bananas around 5000 BCE, and at that time there were numerous varieties of bananas of different colors, textures and sizes. They all had lots of large seeds (bananas are actually a berry!) and were not sweet or only slightly sweet.
Farmers gradually selected bananas for smaller seeds and sweeter flavor. By 1836, the modern banana was cultivated. It’s been so changed from its original wild ancestor is can no longer reproduce from its own seeds and bears little physical or taste resemblance to its fore-bearer.
Modern bananas aren’t good for monkeys any more!
Zoos already recognize that modern bananas are too sweet. Monkeys that regularly consumer modern bananas have high rates of obesity, diabetes and arthritis. While the monkeys might like the sweet flavor, the high sugar load they deliver compared to their wild counterparts make the monkeys fat and sick.
Because the sugar in bananas was making the monkey’s fat and sick, some zoos have stopped feeding monkeys bananas!
I applaud the zookeepers who recognize that foods fed to their charges that are not appropriate for their bodies cause harm. Even better that the zookeepers are proactive and remove the offending food from the monkeys’ diet in order to improve their health! What boggles my mind is that we can’t see the exact same phenomenon going on in American human culture.
Yes, we might enjoy the sweet flavor of bananas. But that doesn’t mean that high sugar foods are good for us. In fact, we’re getting fat and sick, too. Keto-friendly foods that are low in sugar and high in nutrients are much more suited for humans and promote health.
So, are bananas keto?
All modern fruit has been selected for size and sweetness.
All fruits that humans have domesticated have undergone the same process. A fruit starts out small and not sweet or only slightly sweet. Over time, they get bred and selected for larger size and higher sugar content. Coincidentally, this usually results in lower micronutrient content!
This is why most fruits are best avoided or consumed in strict moderation when on a ketogenic diet. The most keto-friendly fruits are berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. Even these bear little resemblance to their wild counterparts, but they have managed to avoid the excessive selection for sugar content of other popular fruits.
Make sure to carefully watch your portion size when eating berries. You can enjoy ½ cup of raw raspberries for only 3.5 g net carbs. Or ½ cup of halved strawberries has 4.5 g net carbs; ½ cup blackberries has 3 g net carbs; ½ cup blueberries come in the highest at 8.5 g net carbs.
And it’s not just sugar. Grains, too!
All domesticated plants have been changed by human selection and breeding. Fruits aren’t the only plants to have seen a skyrocket in the amount of sugar and size.
Grains have some of the scariest changes. While we have selected and even genetically modified grains to increase size and production, along with sugar content, where we really get into trouble is in the processing afterwards.
The sugar that can be extracted from grains can then be refined and processed into syrups and other concentrated sweeteners. The sugar from corn is refined and concentrated into corn syrup and then refined again into high fructose corn syrup. How many times can we double down on sugar intake before we recognize the harm we are doing to ourselves?
Founder Advantage Meals
Angela earned her Master's Degree in Holistic Nutrition 14 years ago and began her lifelong journey of nutrition and wellness learning. She began keto meal planning and cooking over a decade ago when she began working with local clients who were under the direct supervision of a medical doctor. Angela is the author of No Cook Keto, the easiest keto meal plan available.
Disclaimer: I am neither a licensed nutritionist nor medical professional. I never prescribe diets. I only share my personal experiences and those of my clients for informational purposes only. Nutrition details are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical nutritional data. You should consult your medical professional before making any major changes in the way you eat.