Corn tortillas are a staple in Mexican food but do they work for the keto diet? Corn tortillas, while lower in carbs than flour tortillas, are not good for a keto diet. Here are some actual corn tortilla alternatives, store bought tortillas that are low carb as well as some homemade tortilla options.
What Are Corn Tortillas Made Of?
To answer if corn tortillas are keto, we need to first look at what they're made of. Traditional corn tortillas are unleavened flatbreads that are used for tacos, wraps, and as a crispy base for toppings.
To make them, few ingredients are required, if choosing an organic, non-GMO tortilla:
- Stoneground organic yellow corn flour
- organic guar gum
However, if the corn tortilla is not organic and non-GMO, there may be added ingredients that add additional carbs, may be harmful to those with autoimmune conditions, or those who choose to cut out processed foods.
Some ingredients you may find on the label:
- Cellulose Gum: a thickening agent used in food products, made from the cell walls of plants, such as wood pulp and cotton seeds. Consuming can result in increased inflammation, blood sugar dysregulation, obesity, and colitis.
- Xanthan Gum: a common food thickener made from sugar fermented by a specific type of bacteria.
- Benzoic Acid
- Phosphoric Acid
These ingredients are used as thickeners & preservatives, but not all people will tolerate them.
Are Corn Tortillas Keto?
No, corn tortillas are not keto.
An average corn tortilla has 22g net carbohydrates.
This might fit into a low carb diet that allows for 125g of carbohydrates, but a keto diet which allows for 20-60g net carbs would be very difficult to fit corn tortillas into.
Keep reading for some keto-friendly corn tortilla alternatives (and low-carb diet alternatives) that don't have any questionable ingredients!
Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free?
Some manufactured corn tortillas ARE gluten free, but some have added ingredients that have gluten in them.
Corn/Masa Flour is not the same as wheat flour and, if processed correctly has no gluten in it.
An organic tortilla containing only ground organic yellow corn flour, water, guar gum, and lime is usually gluten free – although the ingredients MAY be processed on equpment which also handles gluten. So check for warnings carefully.
Store Bought Tortillas – Which Have Lower Carbs?
The range of carbs in different types of tortillas varies a lot depending upon which type you buy. The types I used are readily available at nearly every local grocery store.
As you can see below, corn tortillas have half the carbohydrates of wheat tortillas, and low carb tortillas have only 4g net carbs.
While you might be able to fit a corn tortilla in your ketogenic diet and keto lifestyle every now and again, they are not ideal, nor are they easy to fit into your carb intake. Just one would take up nearly your entire day's worth of carbs!
For this example I've only pulled date for soft tacos, and average-sized corn tortillas.
12″ Flour Tortillas:
Grams of Carbohydrates: 50g
g Net Carbs: 48g
12″ Corn Tortillas:
Grams of Carbohydrates: 23g
g Net Carbs: 22g
12″ Low-Carb Tortillas (average):
Grams of Carbohydrates: 19g
g Net Carbs: 4g
The Low Carb Tortillas look like they might be a great option just looking at the net carbs, but I promise they're not!
Why Store Bought Low Carb Tortillas Aren't The Smart Choice
Unfortunately, while low carb pre-made tortillas may seem like a great idea that takes no time at all to make, they have some VERY problematic ingredients.
It is up to you to decide which ingredients you will include in your diet, but below I've provided an explanation for each problematic ingredient so you can decide for yourself.
Modified Food Starch: commonly reported to cause allergies, headaches, diarrhea, bloating, other forms of digestive distress, fatigue, and more. (Source)
Enriched Bleached White Flour: contains gluten, as well as a modern version of wheat flour that is harder to digest. Processed white flour has had the inner germ layer and the outer bran removed, which removes much of the vitamins, fiber, essential nutrients, and phytochemicals. can cause inflammation, which leads to weight gain, skin problems, and digestive issues, to name a few. (Source, Source)
Vital Wheat Gluten: pure gluten, so definitely not gluten free for those with celiac or gluten sensitivity. It is also highly processed, and unbalanced source of macronutrients, has been exposed to pesticides and herbicides, and can contribute to digestive issues, inflammation, and weight gain. (Source)
Powdered Cellulose: provides no nutrition, can cause gas, and is actually wood pulp. Highly processed, and companies don't need to disclose what it's been exposed to. (Source)
Vegetable Shortening: made from hydrogenated vegetables oils like soybean, palm, and canola oil. These oils are highly inflammatory because they quickly become oxidized when exposed to heat, and have been associated with heart disease and strokes, increased LDL cholesterol, nervous system dysfunction, and inhibit weight loss. (Source)
Wheat Protein Isolate: can cause gastric distress, constipation, and flatulence, as well as being packed with gluten. (Source)
Corn Starch: highly processed, full of GMO ingredients, and manufacturers aren't required to disclose what processing ingredients it has been exposed to.
Cellulose Gum: another form of cellulose, as the powdered cellulose above, can cause gas and digestive problems.
Natural Flavor: When you see “Natural Flavors” on a label, bear in mind that they are only required to be 80% natural, and can include a laundry list of more than 300 natural flavors that companies are not required to disclosure. There's a reason why many products with natural flavors in them cause headaches, even when the ingredients on the label don't seem problematic. (Source)
Sucralose: beside the fact that there is increasing evidence for sucralose degrading your digestive system, studies have found sucralose increases blood glucose and insulin levels, while decreasing insulin sensitivity. (Source)
Canola Oil: contains trans fats and is highly processed and deodorized because most of it is rancid. The manufacturing process exposes this oil to many types of industrial food cleans and extractors, as well as being associated with memory problems, heart disease, and inflammation.
Low Carb Corn Tortillas
If you're overwhelmed right now after reading all of that, don't worry! I have pre-made alternatives for you as well homemade keto-friendly tortillas!
Your best bet is the Tia Lupita Cactus Corn Masa Tortillas. They can be bought on amazon and the ingredients are the best I've seen, with fewer carbs, and fewer calories than regular corn tortillas.
Ingredients: Water, Nixtamalized White Corn Masa, Nopal (Cactus) Flour, Tapioca Fiber, Sea Salt
Grams of Net Carbs: 4g/1 tortilla
A La Madre Corn Tortillas
Ingredients: White Corn cooked with Lime-Water, Water, Sodium Propionate, Cellulose Gum, Fumaric Acid, Sorbic Acid, Phosphoric Acid (Added to Preserve Freshness)
Grams of Net Carbs: 3g/ 1 tortilla
Homemade Keto Corn Tortillas
If buying Keto Corn Tortillas isn't your thing, can you make pretty dang good keto tortillas at home! Homemade tortillas are the best way to control every single ingredient.
Nice to Have Ingredients:
My favorite keto tortilla recipe is found at FatKitchen.com
What To Make with Keto Corn Tortillas
Keto corn tortillas go with a whole host of Mexican dishes! Here are just a few:
- Huevos Rancheros
- Street Tacos
- Birria Tacos
- Or, serve with grilled veggies + protein, beans, rice, lettuce, pico, sour cream, and guacamole. Let everyone make their own!