Can You Eat Corn While Following The Keto Diet?

It can be hard to keep up with every trending new diet. In recent years, we've seen the rise of the Mediterranean, plant-based, paleo, and Atkins diet, among others (via Everyday Health). But while the ketogenic, or keto, diet has recently taken over mainstream media, it's actually rooted in fasting, which has been used by doctors to treat epilepsy since at least 500 B.C., according to the Official Journal of the International League Against Epilepsy.

So how exactly does one follow the keto diet today? According to Healthline, you would eat plenty of fats and very little carbs, which would put your body into a fat-burning state called ketosis. Some foods that are acceptable to eat on the keto diet include meat, fish, and eggs, while carbs should be restricted to limited amounts of non-starchy veggies like broccoli, and high-carb foods like bread should be avoided altogether (via WebMD).

While this seems clear enough, those categories can become murky when it comes to some foods. Take corn — it seems like an innocent vegetable that is high in fiber and vitamin C (via WebMD), but is it keto-friendly?

Corn is too starchy to be keto-friendly

For starters, corn isn't actually a vegetable. Joining avocados and tomatoes as commonly miscategorized foods (both of those are fruits), corn is in fact a grain, according to Ketogenic. Fully mature corn is often made into cornmeal and used to make corn tortillas, cornbread, and more, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture

But corn's misclassifications don't affect its status in the keto diet. What really kicks corn out of the keto category is its starch content — just one cup of corn contains 110 grams of starch, according to WebMD. As you may recall, starchy vegetables are a big no-no on the keto diet. Starch is essentially just a complex carbohydrate, Medical News Today shares, and the keto diet is all about staying away from carbs as much as possible.

So are keto enthusiasts doomed to give up corn altogether? Yes and no. Ketogenic recommends avoiding fresh corn as well as corn-based products like corn starch, corn syrup, and processed corn, which are found in a plethora of foods in America. However, there is still some hope for corn-loving ketos — one cup of popcorn only has 6.5 grams of carbs, making it the least offensive option. And if you're sad to part with corn tortillas, there are a variety of excellent keto alternatives.