Are Sweet Potatoes Keto-Friendly?

Medically Reviewed on 7/6/2022
Are Sweet Potatoes Keto-Friendly?
On a standard keto diet, sweet potatoes are considered too high in carbohydrates.

Although many vegetables are acceptable on the keto diet, ideally sweet potatoes are not one of them because of their high carbohydrate content.

A medium-sized sweet potato (150 grams) contains about 26 grams of carbs, is naturally sweet, and is filled with nutrients, such as:

Sweet potatoes are often seen as a healthy alternative to traditional potatoes. However, due to their carbohydrate content, they may not be the best option for a keto-friendly diet.

The nutritional content of sweet potatoes

100 grams of cooked sweet potatoes contains:

Table. The nutritional content of sweet potatoes (100 grams)
Nutrient Amount
Calories 76
Fat 0.1 grams (g)
Carbohydrates 18 g
Fiber 2.5 g
Protein 1.4 g

Both the high carbohydrate and low protein content of sweet potatoes are enough to kick you out of ketosis (with just one potato).

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic or keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and fat-rich diet plan that has been used for centuries to treat specific medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Typically, a keto diet calls for your daily calories to come from the following:

  • 70 to 80 percent of fat
  • 10 to 20 percent of protein
  • 5 to 10 percent of carbohydrates

The goal of eating few carbs is to get the body into ketosis—the state in which it burns fat, instead of carbs, as a primary fuel.

The human body prefers burning carbs as an energy source over fat because they are an easier source for the body to process and use rather than fats.

Because the body takes a few days before depleting the carbohydrate reserves and entering the metabolic state of burning fat for fuel, consuming a really low amount of carbohydrates is crucial in a ketogenic diet.

How does the keto diet work?

The ketogenic diet aims to deprive the body of glucose (the main source of energy for all cells in the body) that is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods and producing and using an alternative fuel called ketones (produced from stored fat).

Because the brain cannot store glucose, it demands glucose in a steady supply (about 120 grams daily). However, during fasting, or when you eat very little carbohydrate, the body pulls stored glucose from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release glucose.

If this continues for three to four days and stored glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of a hormone called insulin decrease, and the body begins to use fat as its primary fuel. The liver produces ketone bodies from fat, which can be used in the absence of glucose.

When these ketone bodies accumulate in the blood, this is called ketosis. Healthy individuals naturally experience mild ketosis during periods of fasting such as sleeping overnight and very strenuous exercise.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Can sweet potatoes be included in a keto diet?

On a standard keto diet, sweet potatoes are considered too high in carbohydrates and are excluded because they make it difficult to remain in the state of ketosis.

However, there are different keto diets, and some of them may allow more carbs than others.

  • Cyclic keto diet: Allows for one to two days a week of higher carb days (about 140 to 160 grams per day) to keep out of ketosis temporarily but is typically followed by athletes who need a higher-carb day after intense activity to properly replenish their energy stores
  • Targeted keto diet: Another carb-friendly version of the keto diet, where dieters can consume 20 to 50 grams of carbs about 30 minutes before working out, with the assumption that although this may put them out of ketosis temporarily, the additional carbs are burned off immediately and would not get stored as body fat

Hence, if you are trying one of the more carb-friendly keto diets, you can easily incorporate starch such as sweet potatoes into your daily routine. If not, it will be a little trickier to enjoy sweet potatoes while remaining in your ketosis state.

How can I eat sweet potatoes on a standard keto diet?

Other than overall carb consumption, another concept in the keto diet is tracking the number of net carbs.

This concept of net carbs was popularized by the Atkins diet. Net carbs are the amount of carbohydrates leftover in a food once you subtract the fiber and sugar alcohol from the total carb count.

Tracking net carbs instead of total carbs make it a bit easier to fit sweet potatoes into your 40 grams of allotted daily carbs on the keto diet. 

For a basic medium-sized sweet potato, the fiber content is removed (3.8 grams) to get an average of 24 net carbs.

It is essential to note that if you want to keep your carb count low, you should avoid eating the entire sweet potato. Remember that cutting portions is the key.

Consider adding in sweet potatoes according to the net carbs appropriate for your activity levels, for instance, if you are working out a ton or at a super high intensity, you can easily have more carbs and burn them off without totally throwing off your keto diet.

7 potential risks associated with the keto diet

If the diet is not followed carefully, blood levels of ketones may reach a harmful level known as “ketoacidosis.” Other risks involved include:

  1. Arrhythmia
  2. Kidney stones
  3. Electrolyte imbalance
  4. Increased urination
  5. Nutrient deficiencies
  6. Osteoporosis
  7. Increased blood levels of uric acid

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