When considering cornstarch, a versatile substance used in various applications, you might be wondering about its compatibility with a ketogenic (keto) diet. While cornstarch can serve as a thickening agent or a replacement for baby powder, its impact on your health remains a subject of concern. This comprehensive guide will explore the influence of cornstarch on a keto diet, shedding light on its nutritional value and potential drawbacks.
Cornstarch, a fine white powder derived from corn kernel seeds, boasts a fascinating history. Originally used solely for industrial purposes, it gradually found its way into the world of food production in 1851. However, despite its popularity in recipes for thickening sauces, soups, stews, and custards, cornstarch offers minimal nutritional benefits.
One cup of cornstarch contains a whopping 488 calories, 0 grams of fat and protein, 117 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber[^1^]. Its high carbohydrate content is a crucial factor to consider when following a keto diet, which typically requires a daily carbohydrate intake between 20 and 50 grams.
The Impact of Cornstarch on a Keto Diet
To determine whether cornstarch aligns with your keto goals, it is essential to evaluate the amount used in a typical recipe and consider its carb count. Comparing it with flour, you only need half the amount of cornstarch for a recipe[^2^]. However, even a quarter-cup serving of cornstarch contains over 58 grams of net carbs, which can easily disrupt your state of ketosis.
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) advocates for a low-carb lifestyle, promoting a metabolic shift from burning carbs to utilizing fats for energy. With the aim of staying under 20 grams of carbs per day, it becomes evident that cornstarch’s high carbohydrate content poses a significant challenge to achieving and maintaining ketosis.
Exploring Alternative Keto Diets
While the consumption of cornstarch is not recommended for those following a standard ketogenic diet, there are alternative keto diets that allow for slightly higher carb intakes. The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is designed for individuals with a more active lifestyle, necessitating additional carbohydrates to fuel their workouts. TKD permits an extra 20 to 50 grams of carbs before and after the workout window.
For those engaging in high-intensity training, the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) may be suitable. This diet involves following the SKD for most of the week and incorporating one to two days of carb backloading. During these carb backloading days, you can consume up to 400 to 600 grams of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. This might be the only time when consuming cornstarch, although in limited quantities, could be considered[^3^].
When to Avoid Cornstarch on a Low-Carb or Keto Diet
Despite its origins as a plant-derived product, cornstarch is not recommended for those following a low-carb or standard ketogenic diet. While it may provide a slight advantage for individuals seeking to gain weight, its lack of flavor combined with a high calorie count can be problematic. It’s important to exercise caution when consuming cornstarch, even on the targeted ketogenic diet.
Additionally, other gluten-free flours commonly used as thickening agents, such as arrowroot, tapioca flour, potato starch, cornflour, rice flour, and cassava flour, should be avoided due to their high carbohydrate content[^4^].
Low-Carb Cornstarch Substitutes
Fortunately, there are several low-carb substitutes for cornstarch that can be used in keto-friendly recipes. Almond flour and coconut flour are excellent alternatives, and adding xanthan gum can help bind the ingredients together. It’s advisable to keep xanthan gum on hand, as it is a common ingredient in gluten-free recipes.
The Bottom Line
While consumption of cornstarch won’t necessarily harm you, it can impede weight loss efforts and potentially kick you out of ketosis. Therefore, it is not advisable to incorporate cornstarch into your favorite low-carb dishes. Instead, consider utilizing low-carb alternatives such as almond flour or coconut flour. Remember, adhering to the macronutrient requirements of a keto diet is crucial for achieving your health and weight loss goals[^5^].
To learn more about a low-carb or keto lifestyle and discover helpful resources, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.
[^1^]: Nutritional values sourced from Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.
[^2^]: Adapted from original content.
[^3^]: Adapted from original content.
[^4^]: Adapted from original content.
[^5^]: Adapted from original content.