Dieting is very challenging; you can't indulge in your favorite foods and must get used to food that is, honestly, often unappetizing.
Finding delicious, fulfilling, and keto friendly dishes is a struggle for ketoers. While there are many keto unfriendly dishes, one can always count on making their own.
However, one problem in making food at home is that not all basic staples are keto-friendly. Any staple rich in carbohydrates is unsuitable for a keto diet, even if you're using it as an ingredient.
If you're starting keto and love cooking, you're probably asking:
Is corn starch keto friendly?
Unfortunately, corn starch isn't keto friendly because it is rich in carbohydrates.
But don't worry; you can always use keto friendly substitutes to make your favorite soups and dishes. But before we talk about them, let's dig a little deeper into corn starch and keto.
What is Corn Starch?
You get cornstarch by finely grinding maize into a smooth, thin powder. Corn Starch comes from a corn kernel's white endosperm (tissue inside the seed).
People typically use Corn Starch as a thickening agent in recipes. Most dishes that require thickening, like soups, particular desserts, and savory dishes, use cornstarch.
But you can also use Corn Starch as a cleaner, grease remover, blister, bug bite relief, and more. We'll be talking about Corn Starch in cooking because, of course, that is the primary concern of a ketoer.
Is Corn Starch Keto?
Corn Starch isn't keto friendly because it's rich in carbs, so you must avoid it as much as possible.
We'll need to have a deeper understanding of a keto diet to grasp why Corn Starch is not keto-friendly.
A keto diet aims to force our bodies into converting fats instead of carbohydrates for energy.
Let's explain this.
Our body converts carbohydrates from any food that we eat into glucose. The body then transports and absorbs this glucose as its primary energy source.
The problem is that while our body utilizes carbs to produce energy, it allows fats to collect. It becomes difficult to regulate our weight when these fats are in excess.
The idea behind keto is to fool our bodies into using fats instead of carbs for energy. However, our bodies won't recognize fats as a potential energy source until we have little to no carbohydrates. Hence, a keto diet focuses on increasing fats while decreasing carbs.
Our body converts fats into chemicals called ketones, which our bloodstream then absorbs to use as a source of energy.
Our body begins ketosis the minute it begins to rely on fats instead of carbohydrates for energy. We want to keep our body in ketosis during keto, but it will immediately revert to its original energy source if it takes in carbs.
Hence, we must avoid most forms of carbs when on a keto diet.
Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet encourages a low-carb diet comprising poultry, meat, and particular low-carb vegetables and fruits.
Keeping your carbohydrate intake less than 5% of your daily intake on a keto diet is best. You must avoid high-carb foods like grains, starchy veggies, high-carb, high-sugar fruits, and certain gluten-free products.
Why Dieticians Don't Recommend Corn Starch on Keto Diets
Some dietitians will recommend lowering your carb count but not completely eliminating them in certain cases. This is because you don't have to completely get rid of carbohydrates but manage a diet that focuses on adding more to it.
However, a better-managed diet is one where the rest of your nutritional intake is far greater than your carbohydrates. Your body will use fat as an energy source as long they heavily outweigh the carbs.
Yet, most keto diets focus on reducing carbs, so your body begins to consistently rely on fat.
This is because your body will revert to converting carbohydrates when you eat a particular ingredient with an unexceptionally high carb count, which reverses your ketosis. Hence, you can't risk eating something with an unnatural carb count.
Eating a high-carb food like cornstarch not only reverses a ketoer's ketosis but might also make them sick because the body is not used to digesting carbohydrates. Although it is quite normal for the body to react this way, a dietician who approves of you doing keto won't advise taking the risk.
Corn Starch: Nutritional Profile
Let's peek into what 100 grams of cornstarch hold:
|Nutritional Components||Nutritional Value||Daily Value %|
|Total Fat Saturated Fat Polyunsaturated Fat Monounsaturated Fat||0.1 gram 0 gram 0 gram 0 gram||0% – – –|
|Carbohydrates Dietary Fiber Sugar||91 grams 0.9 gram 0 gram||30% 4% –|
|Minerals Sodium Potassium Iron Calcium||9 milligram 3 milligram||– – – 2.6% 0.2%|
|Vitamins Vitamin A Vitamin C||0% – –|
The nutritional value of cornstarch tells us it mainly consists of carbohydrates and dietary fiber with very little fat.
Are There Any Nutritional Benefits to Eating Corn Starch?
Corn Starch is primarily carbohydrates, so it doesn't hold up much regarding nutrition. There are some benefits to eating cornstarch for some people, but for the most part, cornstarch is just a simple thickener with little nutritional value.
Let's take a look at what cornstarch has to offer:
Corn Starch contains little to no protein, making it a great gluten-free cooking ingredient.
● Great Energy Source
The abundance of carbohydrates in Corn Starch makes it a great energy source for the body. However, since keto focuses on denying this very specific energy source, the benefits of Corn Starch don't translate for a ketoer.
Are There No More Benefits?
Corn Starch does consist of trace amounts of other nutrients like fiber and minerals, but we'll have to collect a lot of Corn Starch to get to these.
Typically, we only use 2-3 tablespoons of Corn Starch at a time, which is not enough to gain the nutritional value it has in greater quantities.
Can We Use Corn Starch on Keto?
In particular cases, a dietician will recommend eating foods with carbs on a keto diet. While this only happens particularly and with proper consultation, adding carbs to a diet in controlled quantities won't reverse the effect of your keto diet.
However, Corn Starch has a considerably high carbohydrate concentration; you'll get roughly 15-18 grams of carbohydrates in 2 tablespoons of Corn Starch, which is too high, even for an occasional intake.
Additionally, Corn Starch may have more downsides than benefits for a ketoer.
It's best to avoid Corn Starch on a keto diet because of the high possibility of disrupting a person's health and the absence of nutritional benefits.
Keto Friendly Corn Starch Alternatives
We typically use Corn Starch as a thickening agent in soups and gravies and a structural ingredient in baked goods. We also use Corn Starch to lighten and add crispiness to frying batters.
Finding keto-friendly ingredients is difficult for ketoers who cook their food. You're probably scrambling to find a keto-friendly substitute for cornstarch if you're beginning keto and love soups and gravies.
Let's take a look at what you can use instead of Corn Starch:
Keto Friendly Corn Starch Substitutes for Thickening
Here are a couple of keto-friendly substitutes you can use as thickening agents in place of cornstarch for soups and chowders:
● Pureed Vegetables
Pureed keto-friendly vegetables will thicken the soup or chowder they are cooking in.
Blend keto-friendly vegetables like zucchini or broccoli, and then add them to your chowder or soup.
Simmer your soup over low heat so the pureed vegetables can do the trick.
● Chia Seeds
Many keto-friendly recipes call for chia seeds, so it isn't surprising to see them on this list. Chia seeds expand after sitting in a liquid; their gel-like consistency after expansion creates the perfect natural thickener for recipes.
You can use chia seeds as a thickener in savory chowders and soups, although it might take some time to get used to the seeds' flavor and consistency.
Cauliflower absorbs liquids as it boils, so when we use it in soup or gravy recipes, it naturally thickens the soup.
Add 1-2 heads of uncooked cauliflower florets per 2 cups of soup/broth. Let the broth and the cauliflower cook together.
Remove the cooked cauliflower and transfer it into a food processor, blending until smooth. You can use this cooked cauliflower paste as a creamy thickener by adding back into the soup.
Flax seeds contain carbs but have a higher fat count, so you can eat them on a keto diet.
Flax seeds also expand in a gel-like consistency like chia seeds, but they act like glue for other ingredients, so flaxseeds are the best choice if you want a strong thickener.
● Glucomannan Powder
Glucomannan is a high-fiber, low-carb plant fiber extracted from the konjac plant's root. Glucomannan quickly dissolves in water but spreads in a thick, chewy texture.
Glucomannan powder is an excellent keto-friendly substitute for cornstarch because it contains 0 carbs and 0 protein (so it's also gluten-free) and is cholesterol and blood pressure regulator.
You can use glucomannan powder to thicken gravies, soups, chowders, sauces, and more.
● Egg Yolks
Egg yolks make a good substitute for Corn Starch if you're making sauces with a hollandaise-like consistency.
● Guar Gum
A low-calorie, high-fiber food additive, guar gum is a common substitute for Corn Starch in dairy recipes.
You can use guar gum instead of thickening agents in recipes for keto-friendly ice cream and other dairy desserts.
Keto Friendly Corn Starch Substitutes for Batters
While keto recipes rarely call for frying, you can occasionally dabble in a few keto-friendly recipes by using an air-fryer or keto-friendly cooking oils.
You can use these Corn Starch and regular flour substitutes to make a delicious, crispy fried batter:
● Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum works better as a thickener but can add a little crispiness when mixed with a keto-friendly flour batter.
Xanthan gum is a great Corn Starch substitute because it is a great thickener and has no particular flavor of its own, so that it won't interfere with the flavor of your batter.
● Almond Flour
Almond flour has a high fat count that outweighs its carb count, making it a great substitute for Corn Starch.
Almond flour also adds a delicious nutty flavor to your dishes.
Almond flour is the best keto-friendly substitute for Corn Starch because it enhances flavor, gives a great crisp, and you can use it heartily.
● Baking Powder
Baking powder is keto friendly, but some people don't like its extremely fine texture, so it's primarily suitable in recipes that call for small quantities.
Keto-friendly Corn Starch Substitutes for Baked Goods
Here are some keto friendly Corn Starch substitutes you can use to give your baked goods more structure:
● Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum binds ingredients together and gives baked goods a strong structure.
● Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is an excellent substitute for regular flour and cornstarch. It contains carbs but has lots of protein and fats that balance the carbohydrates.
You can use coconut flour for keto friendly baked desserts or even coconut shrimp.
Is Corn Starch keto friendly?
Unfortunately for soup and chowder lovers, Corn Starch is not keto friendly, so you must avoid it as much as possible on a keto diet.
Cornstarch primarily consists of carbohydrates, which comprise more than half the weight of Corn Starch. Many advise against using Corn Starch on a keto diet because its high carb count can reverse the effects of keto you desire, setting you back on your diet.
Corn Starch is not keto-friendly, but you can rely on multiple keto friendly substitutes. Since we mainly use Corn Starch as a thickening or structuring agent, you'll find many substitutes that aren't only keto friendly but are also nutritious.
Almond flour and xanthan gum are excellent substitutes for Corn Starch in baking. You can use glucomannan powder, chia seeds, flaxseeds, cauliflower, and other vegetables if you're making keto-friendly soups and chowders.
Glucomannan powder is the best keto friendly cornstarch substitute for ketoers with gluten allergies.
If you'd like to learn more about the keto diet, please click on one of the links below: