Arrowroot powder is a popular ingredient in many recipes, especially gluten-free and paleo recipes. But is arrowroot keto-friendly?
This starch extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant is used as a thickener and flour substitute. However, with 84.8 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, it may seem like arrowroot should be avoided on the keto diet.
What is Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot powder is a fine, white powder extracted from the roots of the Maranta arundinacea plant. This tropical tuber is native to South America and has been cultivated for over 7,000 years.
To make arrowroot powder, arrowroot roots are first washed and peeled. Then the roots are ground down to extract a starchy pulp, which is dried and powdered to make the final product.
Arrowroot has been used both medicinally and as a food ingredient throughout history. The indigenous people of South America used arrowroot to draw out toxins from wounds. Arrowroot powder can also be used to make arrowroot cookies and puddings.
These days, arrowroot is popular in gluten-free and paleo cooking. The powder is used as a thickener for sauces, stews, and fruit fillings. When cooked, it turns clear and glossy. Arrowroot is also used in some dairy-free recipes as an egg substitute.
Compared to other starches, arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature. This makes it useful for making fruit pies and other baked goods.
Key Takeaway: Arrowroot powder is a fine, white powder made from the roots of the arrowroot plant. It's used as a thickener and binder in cooking and baking.
Arrowroot Powder Nutrition Facts
To determine if a food fits your keto diet, you need to look at the macronutrient breakdown, especially net carbs.
Here are the nutrition facts for arrowroot flour per 100-gram serving:
- Calories: 357
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbs: 88.2 g
- Fiber: 3.4 g
- Net carbs: 84.8 g
- Protein: 0.3 g
As you can see, arrowroot is very high in net carbs, with almost no fat or protein. Looking at the macros alone, it would seem arrowroot is not keto-friendly.
However, arrowroot does have some redeeming nutritional qualities:
- Rich in potassium, iron, and B vitamins
- High in prebiotic fiber
- Naturally gluten-free
- Low glycemic index of 14
The prebiotic fiber and resistant starch in arrowroot support gut health. And it has a low impact on blood sugar compared to other starchy flours.
Still, to stay in ketosis, net carbs are what matters most. So arrowroot should only be used sparingly on a ketogenic diet.
Is Arrowroot Powder Low Carb?
No, arrowroot powder is definitely not low carb. With nearly 85 grams of net carbs per 100-gram serving, it is one of the highest carb flours out there.
To put this in perspective, here's how arrowroot compares to other flours:
|Flour (100g)||Net Carbs|
|Whole wheat flour||71.5g|
The only flours higher in net carbs than arrowroot are cornstarch and some gluten-containing flours. But traditional flours like whole wheat and all-purpose have over 10 grams less net carbs per serving compared to arrowroot.
Alternatives like almond flour and coconut flour are significantly lower in carbs. They have about one-quarter to one-third the amount of net carbs as arrowroot flour.
So arrowroot is definitely not low carb. But if used properly in small amounts, it can still work for keto diets.
Is Arrowroot Keto-Friendly?
Whether or not arrowroot fits into your keto diet depends on a few factors:
- Your personal carb tolerance
- Serving size used in recipes
- Use as a thickener vs. baking flour
On a standard ketogenic diet, carb intake should be limited to 20-50 net grams per day. Most people need to stay under 20-30g daily to maintain ketosis.
At almost 85g net carbs per 100g, arrowroot powder is far too carby to consume in large amounts on keto.
However, arrowroot can be used sparingly as a thickener to add texture in reduced-carb recipes. You only need about a teaspoon or two to thicken sauces, gravies, puddings, etc. This small amount of arrowroot would only add around 5-10 grams of net carbs.
When used properly in moderation, most keto dieters can fit small amounts of arrowroot powder in their daily macros. But it shouldn't be a staple ingredient.
Trying to make baked goods like breads and muffins with arrowroot is not recommended, as you'd need much more than a couple teaspoons. The high carb load from larger amounts of arrowroot powder could quickly knock you out of ketosis.
Health Benefits of Arrowroot Powder
Despite the high carb content, arrowroot powder does offer some health benefits:
Supports digestion and gut health - The prebiotic fiber and resistant starch in arrowroot acts as food for your healthy gut bacteria. By promoting a balance of good bacteria, arrowroot improves digestion, immunity, and overall health.
Soothes stomach issues - The starchy and bland texture of arrowroot makes it easy to digest. Several studies have found arrowroot powder helpful for relieving diarrhea.
Gluten-free - Arrowroot gives gluten-free, keto, and paleo dieters a starch alternative to regular wheat-based flours. This allows for better inclusion and nutritional variety.
May promote weight loss - The fibers in arrowroot promote satiety and regulate appetite by slowing digestion. By making you feel fuller longer, arrowroot may support weight loss.
Contains antioxidants - Arrowroot provides antioxidant flavonoids like carotenes and lutein. These compounds support eye health and may reduce disease risk.
Low glycemic impact - Despite the high carbs, arrowroot has a low glycemic index of 14. This means it won't spike your blood sugar as dramatically as other starchy foods.
How to Use Arrowroot Powder on Keto Diet
To incorporate arrowroot into your keto diet, there are two simple guidelines to follow:
- Use very small amounts
- Substitute for higher-carb thickeners only
Some specific ways to use arrowroot powder while staying in ketosis include:
- Thickening sauces, gravies, soups
- Glazing poultry, meat, and vegetables
- Preventing coconut milk from separating in recipes
- Substitute for cornstarch in fruit fillings and curds
- Firming up homemade pickled vegetables
- Adding texture to dairy-free puddings and custards
- A small amount in keto-friendly baked goods
This will minimize the carb impact from arrowroot while still taking advantage of its gelling properties for binding ingredients.
Key Takeaway: Arrowroot powder can work for keto diets in very small amounts as an occasional substitute for higher-carb thickeners like cornstarch or flour.
Low-Carb Substitutes for Arrowroot Powder
To keep carbs low on keto, there are several alternatives that can be used instead of arrowroot:
Xanthan gum - This fiber from fermented corn carbohydrates acts as a thickener just like arrowroot. Xanthan gum is also keto-friendly, with 5g net carbs per tablespoon.
Guar gum - This soluble fiber from guar beans also thickens recipes. Guar gum contains 8g net carbs per tablespoon.
Psyllium husk powder - In addition to adding thickness, psyllium provides gut-healthy soluble fiber. Psyllium has just 1g net carb per tablespoon.
Chia seeds - When mixed with liquid, chia seeds become gelatinous, making them great for thickening smoothies, puddings, jams etc. Chia seeds have 0.9g net carbs per tablespoon.
Flaxseed meal - Similar to chia seeds, flax meal acts as a thickening agent when wet. It also contains 0.6g net carbs per tablespoon.
Gelatin - This collagen protein thickens liquids as it dissolves just like arrowroot powder. Gelatin has 0g net carbs.
Glucomannan - Made from konjac root, this soluble fiber adds thickness to recipes. Glucomannan is a good match with just 1g net carb per tablespoon.
Coconut flour - With 5g net carbs per tablespoon, coconut flour has significantly fewer carbs than arrowroot. It works well in baked goods.
Using these alternatives provides the thickness-enhancing benefits of arrowroot without all the excess carbs.
Tips for Using Arrowroot on Keto
If you do want to use arrowroot occasionally in a keto diet, here are some tips:
- Start with just 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder for thickening sauces, gravies, etc. and adjust if needed.
- Be extra careful when following baking recipes with arrowroot flour. Reduce the arrowroot powder to just 1-2 tablespoons per cup of almond or coconut flour.
- Thicken liquids with arrowroot at the end of cooking. Extended high heat can break down arrowroot's gelling properties.
- Mix arrowroot with cold water first before adding to hot liquids to prevent clumping.
- Store arrowroot in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to extend shelf life.
Is Arrowroot Powder Bad for Keto?
Arrowroot is not necessarily "bad" for keto diets. In reasonable amounts, most people can still maintain ketosis with minimal carbohydrate impact.
However, arrowroot powder is far from the best choice for keto. There are many lower-carb, higher-fat options that fit better with the macros of a ketogenic diet.
Using arrowroot sparingly once in awhile is unlikely to kick you out of ketosis. But relying on it heavily could make maintaining very low carb intake challenging.
The Bottom Line: Occasional Use Only
Arrowroot powder is not inherently keto-friendly due to the high carbohydrate content. However, used properly in small amounts, arrowroot can work for ketogenic diets in certain recipes.
Try using just 1-2 teaspoons arrowroot to thicken sauces or gravies. And limit arrowroot to just 1-2 tablespoons in baked goods, combining it with low-carb flours.
For the best results on keto, arrowroot flour should be used only occasionally as a substitute for higher-carb ingredients. Avoid making it a dietary staple.
There are healthier, lower net carb options like xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder, and coconut flour that make better alternatives to regularly using arrowroot powder.
Key Takeaway: Arrowroot powder can work in small amounts for keto diets but is best limited to occasional use only, not as a staple ingredient.
Frequently Asked Questions About Arrowroot Powder on Keto
Is arrowroot powder keto?
Arrowroot powder is relatively high in carbohydrates, so it is not inherently a keto-friendly food. However, used sparingly in small amounts, arrowroot can be incorporated into a keto diet.
Can you use arrowroot powder on keto?
Yes, arrowroot can work for keto diets but only in small amounts as a thickener or binder. It should be used in moderation, not as a primary ingredient.
What can be used instead of arrowroot powder in keto cooking?
Some good low-carb substitutes for arrowroot powder are xanthan gum, psyllium husk, chia seeds, flax meal, gelatin, guar gum, glucomannan, and coconut flour.
Is arrowroot better than cornstarch for keto?
Arrowroot is slightly better than cornstarch for keto as it has a little less net carbs (about 84 grams net carbs per 100 grams versus 90 net carbs for cornstarch). But both should only be used sparingly.
Can arrowroot kick you out of ketosis?
Consuming large amounts of arrowroot powder could potentially kick you out of ketosis by spiking carb intake. But using just a teaspoon or two as a thickener won't have a big impact.
Is arrowroot a nutritious ingredient?
Yes, arrowroot is high in nutrients like potassium, iron, and B vitamins. It also provides prebiotic fiber to support gut health and has a low glycemic index which helps control blood sugar response.
While not a low-carb food, arrowroot powder can be carefully incorporated into keto diets in modest amounts. Just 1-2 tsp can thicken sauces without too many extra carbs.
Try using arrowroot sparingly to add texture and variety in cooking. Combining it with almond or coconut flour in baking recipes helps minimize the carb load.
For the best keto options, rely on healthier substitutes like xanthan gum and psyllium husk more often instead of arrowroot. But the occasional use of small amounts of arrowroot powder will not disrupt ketosis.
By being mindful of serving sizes, arrowroot can be a beneficial gluten-free and gut-healthy additive on a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.