This is everything you need to know about all the different types of low carb flours - what they are and how to use them!
When you first start a low-carb diet, you may feel confused with which low-carb flours to use. You may never have used any of them before and how to use them properly can be daunting.
Low-carb flours don’t behave like wheat flour, so you can't exactly swap them out 1:1 all of the time. One of the most common questions I get is how to use low carb flour in regular high-carb recipes.
That's why I created this guide - to explain the different types and how to use each.
LOW CARB FLOURS - YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
In this guide you will learn:
- How to start using low-carb flours
- Why you should avoid regular wheat flour
- Is gluten-free flour keto-friendly?
- Why you should avoid pre-made low-carb products
- The best types of low carb flour – almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed flour, and psyllium husk
HOW TO START USING LOW-CARB FLOURS
Knowing where to start with low carb flour can be confusing. My advice is to begin by baking recipes that have already been developed using low carb flours.
Most low carb flours cannot be directly substituted in your old recipes. For example, coconut flour absorbs more liquid than any other low carb flour so generally, it is used in small amounts (1/3 – 1/4 of wheat flour) and many more eggs are required.
Once you have been low-carb for a while and really understand how to use low carb flours, you may wish to start experimenting with your old recipes using low carb flours instead.
I personally instinctively know which recipes can be converted into a low carb one, and which ones cannot. These are 3 recipes I started out with:
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID REGULAR WHEAT FLOUR
Wheat is high starch and rapidly turns into blood glucose once digested. Just one piece of bread – no matter if it is whole grain, white, brown, organic, or made by some artisan baker, will all raise your blood sugars.
If you are new here, you may wish to look at these 7 charts – how everyday foods affect our blood sugars. Just look at all these handy charts!
IS GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR KETO-FRIENDLY?
No, gluten-free flour is not usually keto-friendly, and you should avoid using it.
Gluten-free flours are generally ultra-processed and use rapidly absorbed starches such as tapioca starch, rice flour, or corn flours. We are gluten-free here because we are grain-free, which makes us gluten-free by default.
Even if the products claim to be full of vitamins, give the nutrient panel a quick read and you are more than likely to find it has been fortified.
Remember, gluten-free junk is still junk. You can read the full article comparing gluten-free vs grain-free!
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID LOW-CARB PRODUCTS
So why would you want to bake low-carb food when you can just buy them instead? Because many low-carb products have been found to contain ingredients that are actually high-carb in disguise. These foods tend to be highly processed and may contain wheat, gluten, and corn.
Those types of low-carb Franken foods will still spike your insulin typically higher than a snickers bar, despite the fact the products are sold as being low carb. By making your own low-carb baked goods, you can control exactly what goes in (and what doesn’t).
THE BEST TYPES OF LOW CARB FLOURS
These are my favourite low-carb flour options you can buy to help you create your own bread and low-carb baked goods. You don’t need to be deprived of your favourite high carb foods while eating low carb.
There are actually quite a few really healthy low carb flours that you can choose from. Read all about them right here - I'll even explain the differences between them and how to use them!
Low-Carb Almond Flour
Almond flour is probably one of the most popular low carb flours on the list. The almonds are finely ground and blanched to remove the skins. The flour is rich in vitamins and minerals and provides the most calcium compared to any other nut.
A serving (1/4 cup or 28 grams) of almond flour has around 160 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fibre. Making this only 6 total carbs or 3 net carbs per serving!
Almond flour is available in supermarkets and grocery stores or can be ordered online. It can be cheaper to buy online especially when you order in bulk.
The most popular brands of almond flour:
- Honeyville Almond Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour
- NOW Foods Almond Flour
- Anthony’s Almond Flour
- Sincerely Nuts Almond Flour
Since almond flour can go bad fast when the weather is hot, I like to put my almond flour in the fridge or freezer after opening. Most almond flour comes in an airtight sealed bag, but you can also use an airtight container.
LOW-CARB ALMOND MEAL/GROUND ALMONDS
Almond Meal is made slightly different than almond flour. Instead of blanching the almonds to remove the skins, the skins on the almonds are kept on. It’s a little bit coarser than almond flour and still bakes the same.
For baked goods, I like to use a super fine ground almond flour but I will equally use almond meal as it seems to perform just as well in most recipes and at a reduced cost.
Almond meal may also be known as ground almonds. I have been known to grind almonds using my blender to make my own almond meal, the power of your blender will dictate how fine your almond meal will become.
A serving (1/4 cup or 28 grams) of the almond meal has the same nutrition of almond flour of nearly 160 calories, 6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fibre. Only 6 total carbs or 3 net carbs per serving!
The most popular brands of almond meal:
- Honeyville Almond Meal
- Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
- NOW Foods Almond Meal
- Anthony’s Almond Meal
- Sincerely Nuts Almond Meal
I do the same thing with almond flour and store the almond meal in the fridge or freezer after opening.
Low-Carb Coconut Flour
Coconut Flour has become quite popular these past few years and with good reason. Coconut flour is low in carbs, extremely high in fibre and protein. If you’ve been struggling to find ways to increase your fibre, then this is one low carb flour that can help you out.
The biggest difference between coconut flour and most low carb flours is that it does tend to need a lot more moisture when baking. It’s fairly common to find coconut flour recipes include 2-3 eggs per ¼ cup. If you’re new to baking with coconut flour, then I recommend not foregoing the eggs, butter, or extra moisture you see in recipes.
Top Tip: Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid and recipes tend to thicken over a few minutes. If you are making a recipe such as low carb waffles, allow the batter to stand and thicken while the waffle machine is heating up. It will make for a sturdier waffle.
Coconut flour has nearly 45 calories per serving (a serving is 2 tbsp or 18 grams), 11 grams of total carbs, 8 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. This makes this flour only 2 net carbs per serving!
The most popular brands of coconut flour:
- Nutiva Coconut Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour
- NOW Foods Coconut Flour
- Honeyville Coconut Flour
- Viva Labs Coconut Flour
Since coconut flour can easily absorb moisture, it’s important to keep coconut flour in an airtight sealed bag or container. I store mine in a cool, dark pantry. I don’t normally store it in the fridge.
Low-Carb Ground Flax Meal
Flax meal is also known as ground flax, ground flaxseeds or linseed. Flaxseeds are very nutritious and are a good source of vitamin B1, Copper and Omega 3. What’s great about baking with flax meal is that not only can it replace flour in recipes, but it can also replace eggs in recipes.
To replace 1 egg, mix 1 tbsp ground flax meal with 3 tbsp of water and allow it to swell. This can be used to replace the eggs but it will not give to properties that eggs do. Eggs help bind the ingredients, eggs help the baking become light, fluffy, and rise. Eggs help emulsify the mixture.
This formula is used in many vegan recipes or those who are allergic to eggs. If a recipe is heavily based on eggs, this substitution will not work.
Ground flax has nearly 70 calories per serving (2 tbsp or 14 grams), 5 grams of total carbs, 4 grams of fibre and 3 grams of protein. This makes flax meal flour only 1 net carb per serving, and one of the best low-carb flours in terms of net carbs!
The most popular brands of ground flax meal:
- Flax USA Ground Flaxseed Meal
- Bob’s Red Mill Flax Meal
- Viva Labs Ground Flaxseed
- NOW Foods Organic Flaxseed Meal
- Spectrum Essential Organic Ground Flaxseed
Flax meal and seeds can become rancid very quickly, so it’s always good to store the flax in the fridge before and after opening. Most bags do come in an airtight bag. If not, you can use an airtight mason jar for storage. You can even freeze portions.
Low-Carb Sunflower Seed or Pumpkin Seed Meal
Sunflower seed meal and pumpkin seed meal are good options for those who are allergic to almond or coconut flour- really, any nut flour. They are high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, copper, thiamine, selenium, and phosphorus. They generally can be used 1:1 in place of almond flour/meal.
The downside of these is that they can be a bit more expensive than most low carb flours and hard to find. But, you can make your own sunflower or pumpkin seed meals using a sturdy food processor or coffee grinder.
The most popular brand for sunflower seed meal:
- Gerbs Allergen Friendly Foods – sunflower seed meal
- Gerbs Allergen Friendly Foods – pumpkin seed meal
Sunflower seed meal can be stored in a cool dark pantry and seems to last up to 4 months outside of the fridge.
Although psyllium husk is not flour, but it is a great addition to any low carb pantry. Psyllium husk is all fibre and is used as a colon cleanser. In baking, it can add volume and be used as a thickener to help the recipes bind together. This leaves a recipe with a great crumb-like texture.
The most popular brands for psyllium husk:
Most brands come in a bottle and can be stored in a cool pantry.
Conclusion: Low Carb Flours
Starting a low-carb diet doesn’t have to be hard.
There are ways you can use low-carb flours to enjoy some of your old favourite recipes. It might take some time to get used to low-carb eating and baking with low carb flours, but soon enough you’ll be your own low-carb baking expert.
Take a look at the entire series of Ultimate Guides
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Food 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 lists
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Vegetables
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Fruit
- Ultimate Guide To Healthy Fats
- Ultimate Guide To Low Carb Sweeteners
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Alcohol
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Beige Food
- Ultimate Guide To Coconut Flour vs Almond Flour
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Nuts And Seeds
- Ultimate Guide To Carbs In Sauces
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