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The Best Low-Carb Flour Substitutes

<article> <section> <p>When you make the switch to a low-carb lifestyle, you may think you have to give up old favorites like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">chocolate cake</a> and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">waffles</a> completely. Ouch! For most of us, giving up baked goods is the ultimate sacrifice. Sure, you want to take care of your health—but do you really have to say no to all the tasty treats and comfort food that help make mealtime so enjoyable?</p> <p>No! Highly processed, non-nutritious wheat flour isn’t the only option out there. Whether you’re going low-carb or gluten-free, opting for a keto lifestyle, or just looking to step back a bit from processed grains, there are tons of low-carb flour substitutes you can try.</p> <p>We’ll walk you through all the different options to help you build a better pantry. After you’ve stocked up on your favorites, you can get to making <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">all the sweet treats you crave</a>—only keto-friendly and much healthier!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Kind of Flour Can You Use on the Keto Diet?</header> <p><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Going keto</a> is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being. By encouraging your body to enter and stay in ketosis, you not only burn fat, you can <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">improve your energy</a>, mental clarity, immune response, and more! <sup>2, 3, 4</sup> </p> <p>In general, going keto means eating 20 grams of net carbs or less per day, preferably from non-starchy sources like leafy veggies; eating a moderate amount of protein; and eating enough healthy fat to make you feel full.</p> <p>With this in mind, we can get an idea of what kinds of foods might substitute for flour when going keto—something with a good amount of protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Most often, you’ll see swaps using ground nuts or seeds.</p> <p>There are tons of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">great cookbooks out there with foolproof recipes for keto baked goods and treats</a>. Once you get used to keto cooking, you may also want to start experimenting on your own. Just remember that keto flours often act differently than standard wheat flour when baking. For instance, coconut flour absorbs way more water than normal all-purpose flour, so you’ll want to increase the liquid in your recipe by up to a half or add an extra egg.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="almond-flour-and-almonds"> </picture> <header>Common Low-Carb Flour Options</header> <div class="sub-head">Almond Flour</div> <p>Almond flour is the most common low-carb flour alternative. It’s made by blanching almonds to remove their brown skins, then grinding them to a very fine powder.</p> <p>Loaded with calcium, vitamin E, copper, and magnesium, almonds are great for you! They’re also a source of protein and healthy unsaturated fats.</p> <p>A two-tablespoon (14 gram) serving of almond flour has about 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 6 total carbs (3 net carbs).</p> <p>Almond meal is another option on keto. Here, the skins aren’t removed before grinding, so almond meal tends to be a bit darker in color and coarser than almond flour. The nutrition is pretty much the same. However, choosing almond meal instead of almond flour may make the texture of your final baked goods a little coarser or more grainy.</p> <p>Don’t want to shell out for pricey almond flour? Try making your own by grinding blanched almonds in a high-powered blender! Just don’t go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter—tasty and keto-approved, but not ideal for baking!</p> <div class="sub-head">Coconut Flour</div> <p>Coconut flour is another classic on the keto diet. Made from the leftover pulp after young coconuts are pressed to make coconut milk, coconut flour is very high in <i>medium-chain triglyceride</i> (MCT) fats. These have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and may boost your heart health, among many other benefits <sup>5</sup>.</p> <p>This is a super low-carb option, as a two-tablespoon (15 gram) serving of coconut flour has only 60 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 9 total carbs (1.5 net carbs).</p> <p>As noted above, coconut flour loves liquid, so it’s not often used alone in baking. More often, you’ll see mixtures of about 2/3rds almond flour to 1/3rd coconut flour. This gives a pleasant bouncy texture to the final treat without calling for tons of extra liquid.</p> <div class="sub-head">Flax Meal</div> <p>Another common keto flour alternative is golden flax meal. Made from finely ground flax seeds, this light golden powder is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and crucial nutrients like vitamin B. Better still, the grinding process unlocks more of those nutrients for your body to use <sup>6</sup>!</p> <p>A two-tablespoon (14 gram) serving contains about 70 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and just 5 grams of total carbs (1 net carb). Wow!</p> <p>Flax meal can add a slightly nutty flavor and thicker, crumblier texture to baked goods, so it’s usually found in a blend with other flours like almond or coconut.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="flour-eggs-rolling-pin"> </picture> <header>Specialty Low-Carb Flour Options</header> <p>You may be wondering if some of the specialty flours you’ve seen in fancy baking sections are okay on keto. What about seed meal? Is einkorn flour keto friendly?</p> <div class="sub-head">Einkorn Flour</div> <p><i>Einkorn</i> is an ancient form of wheat that contains less gluten and starch and more protein than our modern variety. It may be better tolerated by people with gluten sensitivities, though it can still trigger reactions.</p> <p>As a grain, it’s also not suitable for paleo diets. But what about keto?</p> <p>A two-tablespoon (15 gram) serving of einkorn flour contains about 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 5 grams of total carbs (4 net carbs). So it’s still higher in carbs than your other options and has less ketosis-boosting fat—but might be okay in moderation or on a cheat day.</p> <div class="sub-head">Ground Seed Meals</div> <p>Seed meals—made from grinding nutritious seeds like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds—can be another great flour swap on the keto diet. These tend to be more expensive than almond flour or coconut flour, though, and can impart some of the seed’s flavor to your recipe.</p> <p>However, if you have a nut allergy to contend with, these are a great option! Try making your own by using a high-powered blender or spice grinder to whirr up hulled sunflower or pumpkin seeds into a fine powder.</p> <div class="sub-head">Coffee Flour</div> <p>Did you know that our favorite morning drink comes from the seed inside a berry? The <i>coffee cherry</i>, as it’s called, is often thrown away as a by-product of coffee production. In the last few years, however, we’ve started seeing various coffee cherry products like juice and even flour alternatives!</p> <p>A two-tablespoon (20 gram) serving has about 70 calories, virtually no fat, 3 grams of protein, and 12 grams of total carbs—but it’s nearly all fiber, so there’s only 2 grams of net carbs, making it a reasonable option for keto diets in moderation.</p> <p>Coffee flour has a distinctive tangy taste, so it may not be ideal for all recipes, but it can add great depth to brownies or cakes. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you might want to steer clear—coffee flour can give you a buzz!</p> <div class="sub-head">Cricket Flour</div> <p>If you’re on the adventurous side and want a little extra protein, why not give cricket flour a try?</p> <p>That’s right, you can make flour from farmed crickets! The flavor is surprisingly mild—a bit nutty and toasty―not weird at all! Cricket flour also adds a slight chewiness to baked goods.</p> <p>In a two-tablespoon (10 gram) serving of cricket flour, you’ll get 73 calories, 2 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of carbs.</p> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Is There a No-Carb Flour?</header> <p>If you’re going to go to the hassle of going low-carb, why not go NO-carb? </p> <p>Well, your body does still need some carbohydrates here and there to function. The point of keto isn’t to cut out all carbs forever, but rather to get a very limited amount through healthier sources. That means opting for non-starchy vegetables like dark leafy greens or hearty cruciferous veggies like cauliflower instead of nutritionally questionable potatoes, rice, and pasta.</p> <p>There’s no such thing as a truly carb-free flour or flour substitute. You can get pretty dang close, but there’s always going to be a whiff of carbs present—usually 2 to 3 net carbs per serving. What’s a <i>net carb</i>? It’s what’s left over after you subtract the fiber from a food, which isn’t absorbed by our bodies <sup>1</sup>.</p> <div class="sub-head">What Is Psyllium Husk Fiber?</div> <p>If you’re trying to go <i>extremely</i> low-carb in your keto lifestyle, you can consider replacing up to one quarter of the flour substitutes called for in a recipe with psyllium husk. Made from the indigestible outer seed covering of a certain group of plants, psyllium husk is almost pure fiber. It adds bulk to recipes and helps with thickening. But be forewarned: replacing too much of another low-carb flour in your recipe with psyllium may create a crumbly texture. And eating too much fiber may lead to a bit of gas or bloating.</p> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Storing Low-Carb Flours</header></section> <p>Because most low-carb flour alternatives are high in fat, they’re ideal for a keto diet…but can be tricky to store! Try keeping your almond flour, almond meal, coconut flour, flax meal, or other low-carb flours in airtight containers in the fridge. You can even try freezing them—they won’t get rock hard and will still be scoopable, but you’ll prevent them from going rancid from too much exposure to air.</p> <header>Low-Carb Flour Nutrition Facts</header></section> <p>Here’s a handy breakdown of the most popular low-carb flour alternatives on keto. Happy baking!</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="low-carb-flour-subs"> </picture> <p>Thanks to all these great options, it’s totally possible to live a low-carb life and still enjoy cookies, cakes, breads, and more! Make some smart swaps and don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen. Start out by following <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tried-and-tested recipes</a>. Then, as you get the hang of low-carb baking, you can begin to adapt your family favorites in line with a healthier eating style. When you go low-carb, you really can have your cake and eat it too!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li>Dahl W, Stewart M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. J <i>Acad Nutr Diet</i>. 2015;115(11):1861-1870. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.003</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss</a></li> <li>Krikorian R, Shidler M, Dangelo K, Couch S, Benoit S, Clegg D. Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. <i>Neurobiol Aging</i>. 2012;33(2):425.e19-425.e27. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.10.006</li> <li>Wright C, Simone N. Obesity and tumor growth: Inflammation, immunity, and the role of a ketogenic diet. <i>Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care</i>. 2016;19(4):294-299. doi:10.1097/mco.0000000000000286</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">MCT Oil Benefits: How Medium-Chain Triglycerides Bolster Our Health</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Does ground flaxseed have more health benefits than whole flaxseed?</a></li> <li>Arranz-Otaegui A, Gonzalez Carretero L, Ramsey M, Fuller D, Richter T. Archaeobotanical evidence reveals the origins of bread 14,400 years ago in northeastern Jordan. <i>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</i>. 2018;115(31):7925-7930. doi:10.1073/pnas.1801071115</li> </ol> </section> </article>

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