Is Popcorn Keto? Nutrition Info & Facts

Is Popcorn Keto

Now that you’ve started a ketogenic diet, your carb intake is going to be severely limited, while your fat intake will increase. This puts your body in a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy.

Popcorn is a favorite of many, so you may be wondering, is popcorn keto? Plain, air-popped popcorn is packed with health benefits, including minerals, vitamins, fiber, and some carbs.

Here we’ll provide an overview of popcorn and whether or not it fits into a ketogenic diet.

The History of Popcorn

Popcorn is part of the history of the New World. It was a cultural part of 16th century Aztec Indian traditions, and it was used as necklaces, ornaments for statues, and ceremonial headdresses. 

In the United States, popcorn used to be a breakfast food. When colonists moved to North America, they adopted the culinary traditions of popular Native American food, including eating popcorn with milk and sugar like cereal

Some colonists also cooked popcorn with molasses, creating the original version of kettle corn.

In 1885, the first commercial popcorn machine was invented, and by 1981, microwave popcorn was invented. It was with the invention of the commercial machine in 1885 that popcorn became a popular movie snack.

During World War II, popcorn was one of few snacks that everyone could afford. When microwavable popcorn was invented, consumption of popcorn skyrocketed.

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Carbs in Popcorn

While many people think corn is a vegetable, it’s actually a whole grain. Eating whole grains provides various health benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Whole grains are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that provide these benefits.

Let’s look at a popcorn nutrition breakdown of 3 cups of air-popped popcorn:

  • Calories: 90
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Zinc: 6% RDI
  • Manganese: 12% reference daily intake (RDI)
  • Phosphorous: 9% RDI
  • Magnesium: 9% RDI

From this labeling, you can see that while 3 cups of popcorn is voluminous, it’s relatively low in calories. Your net carbs from 3 cups of popcorn will be 18 grams of carbs – 4 grams of fiber = 14 grams of net carbs.

Is Popcorn Keto?

So long as you don’t eat enough popcorn to exceed the limit of 20 grams of net carbs per day, then, yes, popcorn is keto.

Adding in a cup or two of popcorn as a snack has other added health benefits while keeping your body in a state of ketosis. Popcorn consumption promotes a healthy gut as well as energy production and digestion.

Popcorn is your healthy keto snack, but what about a healthy keto drink? Our MCM Ketone Sticks are an instant keto mix that helps you control carbs and fight fat. Just add this lemon-flavored mix into water, shake it, and enjoy. Try it today!

Bowl of keto popcorn

Carbs in Movie Popcorn (And Another “Junkie” Popcorn)

Plain, air-popped popcorn nutrition will keep you on track with keto. However, that’s very different from the popcorn you’ll find at the movies and alongside plain popcorn in the snack aisle. 

According to AMC theaters, butter-free popcorn ranges from 300 calories and 41 grams of carbs for a small to 1,090 calories and 148 grams of carbs for a refillable butter-free tub. Thus, even if you get the smallest size, you’ve well exceeded your carb limit for the day.

Caramel corn, a popular popcorn variety, contains 25 grams of total carbohydrates and just 1 gram of fiber per ¾ cup. Each ¾ cup contains 120 calories and 13 grams of sugar. Needless to say, you can eat very little caramel corn while on keto, so it’s advised that you avoid it.

Related: Sugar: The Sweet Seduction

Your best bet when heading out to the movies or browsing the grocery aisles is to stick with plain, air-popped popcorn with nothing added to it.

Keto Popcorn Recipes

Since movie and store-bought popcorn can come packed with a lot of other junk, you may be looking for some keto-friendly popcorn recipes. Here they are!

Keto Popcorn

This alternative recipe is low in carbs while also being high in healthy fats. It is grain-, corn-, and dairy-free and even includes a dipping sauce.

Low-Carb Popcorn Cauliflower

Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Cauliflower popcorn is a delicious alternative. This recipe takes just a few ingredients and can be ready in an hour.

Cheese Pops

You’ll need to wait for the cheese to dehydrate, typically over a few days, but once that’s done, this recipe takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Check out this low-carb keto popcorn alternative.

Keto Popcorn Alternatives

While popcorn can fit into a keto diet, it does contain a higher amount of carbohydrates. If you find yourself running low on remaining carbs for the day but still want a delicious snack, you’ve got options.

When deciding on snacks, consider your macros. You’ll want to prioritize snacks that are high in fat so you feel fuller, and you’ll also want snacks with moderate protein levels. Of course, your snacks should be zero-carb or very low carb and should stay within your daily carb limit.

Here are some excellent keto-friendly snacks:

  1. Jerky
  2. Zucchini chips
  3. Olives
  4. Pork rinds
  5. Salami chips


Final Word

Is popcorn keto? Yes, it can certainly fit into a keto diet, but you’ll need to be strategic. Purchasing plain, air-popped popcorn or making your keto popcorn is the best way to enjoy this snack and stay within your daily carb intake.

Avoid popcorn loaded with other ingredients, and steer clear of movie popcorn. You can also opt for other keto-friendly snacks, such as olives or pork rinds.

Ultimately, as long as you’re diligent, popcorn can fit into your ketogenic diet.

MCM Nutrition carries a variety of products that help you achieve your goals and maintain ketosis. Learn more today! 

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