I remember the first time I had falafels, it was at this Mediterranean restaurant I used to go to as a child growing up. I didn’t even know what was in a falafel until I started eating a ketogenic diet and wondered if I could still eat them while following keto.
Those following a keto diet should not eat falafels or only a couple at most. Falafels are high in carbohydrates due to the added flour, chickpeas, and any additional ingredients used in the cooking process. One average-sized falafel has 5.5 grams of net carbs, which can add up quickly.
Whenever I was in the mood, I always told my parents that I wanted those fried mashed potato things from the restaurant. Granted, falafels aren’t made from potatoes, but as a kid, I didn’t know any better.
In this article, we’ll go over when you CAN eat falafels on keto, why you may or may not want to, how many carbs are in your average falafel, and even some keto-friendly falafels so you can enjoy them without ruining your diet.
Can You Eat A Falafel On Keto?
When following a ketogenic diet, to establish and maintain ketosis, you must drastically cut down on your carbohydrate intake.
Unfortunately, how traditional falafels are made, it simply wouldn’t be worth it due to the number of carbohydrates that are in them. However, there may be certain exceptions, which I will cover below.While some people may be able to fit in one or maybe two very small falafels, the carbohydrate count is too great for me to recommend a falafel as a keto friendly food.
Most people are better off not eating traditionally made falafels while following a ketogenic diet.
How Many Carbs On Keto?
To establish ketosis, we must limit our carbohydrates under a certain amount for your brain and body to sense the need to produce ketones.
On average, you’ll find that most people try to stay within 20 to 50 grams of net carbohydrates per day.While you should make every effort possible to fill those carbohydrates with nutrient-dense whole-foods like vegetables, you could technically fit any food you want.
And that includes falafels.
However, filling them with vegetables and other fibrous sources will lead to better satiety (feeling full and satisfied), and provide vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
While falafels aren’t the most carbohydrate-rich food and do contain a good amount of fiber, it still has enough carbohydrates to make it not worthwhile for most people.
How Many Carbs And Calories In Falafels
While carbs and calories will depend on who and how the falafel is made, here are the general nutrition facts based on a traditional falafel recipe.
One falafel (17g) (patty approx 2–1/4” did) has the following nutrition facts: 1
- Calories: 56.6 calories
- Fat: 3.03g
- Carbs: 5.41g
- Protein: 2.26g
Going back to what I said about carbohydrates previously, depending on what your carbohydrate count for the day was, you could potentially fit in one or two falafels and stay under your goal for the day.
While I wouldn’t do this daily, every once in awhile won’t hurt your long term progress.
Unless eating one causes you to eat ten more… then you may want to skip the falafel.
Using the 80 percent rule, 80 percent of the time, you would stick to fibrous veggies for your carbohydrates, and then 20 percent of the time, you could fit in a few “treats” here and there.
Of course, also staying within your carbohydrate “budget” for the day.I like to look at carbohydrates as your allowed “budget spend” each day, and how you want to spend your budget is entirely up to you.
Say, for instance, you had 30 grams of carbs to spend each day, you could potentially spend it on four or five falafels, which may or may not fill you up.
For demonstration and exaggeration purposes, you could eat 30 cups of spinach, which probably would keep you satiated and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Just like money, how you choose to spend your carbs is entirely up to you.
What Are Falafels
What exactly are falafels? Falafels are said to have originated in Egypt, but most people will associate falafels with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisines.
Falafels are deep-fried balls, but may come flat as well, and typically made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
Depending on the restaurant, a variety of herbs, spices, and other vegetables are commonly added before coating at frying.
Or as I would describe them as a child… those fried potato ball things.Aside from being delicious, falafels are usually vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making them popular among many different crowds.
Are Falafels Healthy?
For vegans and vegetarians, falafels are an excellent source of fiber and plant-based protein, which both works synergistically to keep you fuller longer
In this study, chickpea (the main ingredient in falafels) led to increased satiety and bowel health. 2
Additionally, chickpeas may offer additional benefits for weight management, insulin regulation, and cardiovascular disease. 3
Keto Friendly Falafel Recipes
If you don’t want to subject yourself to eating only one or two falafels, because who can only eat one or two? Then there are a few keto friendly recipes to get your falafel fix.
Keto Falafel #1
This keto falafel recipe uses cauliflower and broccoli “rice” as the base of the recipe, making it even more low-carb and keto-friendly.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Tina Krug
Keto Falafel #2
Instead of broccoli and cauliflower rice, this falafel uses mostly almond and coconut flour with kale as the base and then cooked in the air fryer!
Photo and recipe courtesy of Low Carb Yum
Vegan Keto Falafel
While the above two recipes use eggs in the mix, this recipe is entirely vegan for those who dislike eggs, refrain from eggs, or are vegan.
Photo and recipe courtesy of My Dainty Soul Curry
Falafels don’t have the most carbohydrates, but enough to make it not a keto friendly option for most people unless occasionally just sticking to one or two small pieces.
Instead, trying using one of the more keto friendly recipes I listed above if you want to get your falafel fix.