Is Popcorn Keto? Nutrition Info & Facts

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.

Related: How to Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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! 

Related: Fueling the Brain and Body with Medium-Chain Triglycerides

Keto Rice: Low-Carb Substitutes


You’ve made the choice to switch to a keto diet. While this presents some challenges, you know it will be worth it!

Nonetheless, you’re now unable to eat traditional rice. Don’t fear, there are some low-carb keto rice alternatives that pack a ton of flavor and added health benefits.

How Many Carbs Will Break Ketosis?

When you go on a keto diet, you’re putting your body in a state of ketosis and replacing carbs with fat. When your body is in ketosis, it uses fats instead of carbs for energy.

On a typical ketogenic diet, your intake is 70% fat and just 10% carbohydrates. Compare that to a traditional diet where 50% or more of a person’s intake is made up of carbs.

To maintain ketosis, a person needs to keep their net carb intake under 20 grams per day. Note that net carbs are different than total carbs. 

Net carbs are digestible carbs, and you can calculate their quantity by subtracting the fiber content from the total carb content.

For example, if a serving of keto rice has 25 grams of total carbs and 13 grams of fiber, the net carbs would be 12 grams, meaning you’ll stay in ketosis.

Is White Rice Keto?

Unfortunately, white rice is not keto. 

Per half-cup of white rice, there are 28 grams of net carbs. One-half cup of rice is a typical serving, and considering you need to stay below 20 grams of net carbs to maintain ketosis, white rice won’t cut it.

Other forms of white rice, such as Basmati rice and low glycemic index (GI) rice, won’t work, either. Basmati rice has 32 grams of net carbs per half-cup serving, where low GI rice has 33 grams of net carbs per 125 grams.

Another favorite, Jasmine rice, boasts 19 grams of net carbs per half-cup serving.

White rice of any kind won’t work for a ketogenic diet. Just one serving of these rices puts you at or above your 20-gram net carb limit.

What About Brown Rice?

You may be wondering, “is brown rice keto?” 

A cooked 100 grams of long-grain brown rice has 21 grams of net carbs. 

A half-cup serving of cooked Black rice has 33 grams of net carbs.

Argh! Is there any way to eat rice on keto? Luckily, yes!

Related: How to Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Keto Rice You Can Eat

Shirataki Rice

Shirataki rice comes from konjac root. Referred to as “miracle rice,” this substitute is free of soy, gluten, calories and contains a mere 1-3 grams of carbs per serving.

Shirataki rice is packed with fiber, a crucial staple in any diet. It also contains calcium and a bit of iron.

While miracle rice is flavorless on its own, it does well when mixed into dishes full of flavor. It’s commonly used in Asian dishes, as the konjac root comes from Asia.

On a typical shirataki rice package, the ingredients should be purified water, konnyaku flour, and calcium hydroxide. Shirataki rice is 97% water and 3% fiber. Simple!

Egg stir fry using cauliflower rice

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is a popular low-carb substitute for vegetables on a ketogenic diet, but did you know about cauliflower rice? 

You can purchase pre-made cauliflower rice at the store, but it’s also effortless to make at home. Pulse fresh, uncooked cauliflower in a blender or food processor, and you’re done!

Per one-cup serving, cauliflower rice has 3 grams of net carbs.

Need some help supporting your body’s ketosis? Try MCM Ketones. This delicious keto drink helps you maintain ketosis and accomplish your goals.

Mushroom Rice

Using finely chopped mushrooms, you can recreate the feeling of rice. Mushroom is fairly flavorless on its own, so adding it in as a rice substitute means it takes on the flavor of the dish.

Sauté one or two cups of finely diced mushrooms with some butter to add in fats and make it flavorful. You can also combine diced mushrooms with other low-carb substitutes for some flavor variety.

Per 50 grams cooked, mushroom rice contains 1.5 grams of net carbs.

Alternatives to Keto Rice

It’s possible to find keto-friendly carb substitutes that aren’t rice. Keto rice is a wonderful alternative, but options are limited, and you may be craving a change of pace.


Per 50 grams cooked, lentils contain 6.1 grams of net carbs.

Lentils are perfect as a base for many dishes and do well on the side or sprinkled on top. They’re packed with health benefits, including fiber, folate, iron, potassium, and other nutrients.

Skinny Pasta

Skinny pasta is also made from konjac root, but some people complain about konjac noodles smelling terrible, like fish. 

If that’s the case for you and you’d like to avoid miracle rice, skinny pasta is a great alternative. This pasta and rice alternative is sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, packed with fiber, and cholesterol-free.

To add fats to this pasta, throw in some ghee or coconut aminos.


Per 50 grams cooked, quinoa packs 9.3 grams of carbs.

Quinoa is a bit on the higher side of carbs, so it’s best to use it only once or twice per week to substitute for other kinds of keto rice. Quinoa is high in protein, fiber, and gluten-free.

Wild Rice

This rice comes from grass, but it has fewer calories and 40 percent more protein. Wild rice is packed with antioxidants, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and zinc.

Wild rice contains all nine essential amino acids, meaning it’s a complete protein. This means it substitutes for meat.

Per 50 grams cooked, wild rice has 9.8 grams of carbs. Like quinoa, this is a bit on the higher side, so consider making large batches at a time and using it slowly, a couple of times per week. You can freeze any extra.

Related: Sugar: The Sweet Seduction

Bag of uncooked keto rice

Final Word

Being on keto doesn’t mean sacrificing carbs. Keto rice and other alternatives are an excellent way to add delicious carbs into your diet that don’t put you out of ketosis.

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

Related: Fueling the Brain and Body with Medium-Chain Triglycerides