Is Barley Keto Friendly? (+Nutrition FACTS)

Barley is a healthy cereal grain that most people use in making bread, stews, soups, salads, side dishes, beverages, and many other dishes. This ancient grain has a mildly chewy texture and nutty flavor. Barley as a whole grain is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers and provides many health benefits. Its folate, potassium, iron, and vitamin B6 content help reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart diseases, and other health concerns.

However, is barley keto friendly? Though barley is a nutrient-rich grain, it is not keto-friendly due to its high carbs content. Its 100 grams of serving contains 73.5 grams of net carbs, which is way too much for a daily carbs limit of 20 grams to 50 grams to stay in ketosis. 

Barley helps lose weight because of its properties to reduce the body’s ghrelin (a hunger hormone) production. But this grain has no place on the keto diet menu as its small servings are enough to kick you out of ketosis. So if you are following a keto diet, you need to swap out this grain with other low-carb grains such as oatmeal which contains only 12 grams of net carbs per 100 grams of serving.

Nutrition Facts

The ketogenic diet requires you to include high-fat foods into your daily meals. While barley contains less than 3 grams of total fat which is quite the opposite of the recommended macronutrient ratio of the keto diet (5-10% carbs, 20-25% protein, and 70% fat). Whole grains, like barley, are packed with nutrients and offer various health benefits. 

Just one cup of cooked barley provides over a third of the recommended fiber intake (not for keto dieters). Barley is also a good source of selenium, manganese, and copper. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, reproductive health, and bone health. As per Healthline, the following are the nutrition values per 100 grams serving of barley.

Calories 354
Fiber17.3 grams
Carbs73.5 grams
Fat2.3 grams
Protein12.5 grams
Thiamine43% of RDI (Reference Daily Intake)
Niacin23% of the RDI
Riboflavin17% of the RDI
Folate5% of the RDI
Vitamin B616% of the RDI
Magnesium33% of the RDI
Iron20% of the RDI
Potassium13% of the RDI
Phosphorus26% of the RDI
Zinc18% of the RDI
Manganese97% of the RDI
Copper25% of the RDI
Selenium54% of the RDI

Is Barley Low Carb?

If you are looking for a low-carbohydrate grain, barley may not be the best choice. While it is lower in carbohydrates than some other grains, such as rice and wheat, it is still a relatively high-carb food. One cup of cooked barley contains about 73 grams of carbohydrates, about 20% more than the daily recommended intake for people on a low-carb diet. 

Most of the barley carbs are starch, a type of carbohydrate quickly broken down and absorbed by the body. Eating barley can cause your blood sugar to rise and may kick you out of ketosis. In addition, eating barley can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating and gas. If you’re looking to follow a keto diet, it’s best to avoid eating barley completely.

Keto Substitute for Barley

Quinoa is the best keto substitute for barley as its 100 grams of serving contains only 21.3 grams of carbs. It is also a nutrient-rich grain that is high in protein and fiber. It’s also a good source of iron, folate, zinc, and magnesium. Plus, it’s gluten-free, making it an excellent option for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It comes in various colors, like black, white, and red.

So why is quinoa the best keto alternative for barley? First, it has a similar nutrient profile to barley. It’s also low in carbs and calories, making it an excellent choice for those on a ketogenic diet. Plus, quinoa is easy to cook and can be used in various recipes. You can use it to garnish salad, make a great side for dinner, or just as alternative rice. It also works well in baked foods, like muffins. Sometimes quinoa also functions when incorporated into muffins.

Keto Grains Allowed

According to CDC, a low-carb and high-fat diet has been gaining more popularity in the last decade due to its excellent weight loss and other health benefits. Many different low-carb grains can help if you’re looking for low-carb keto grains to help with your diet plan. While you may have to get a little creative with how you use them, here are a few keto grains that you should try:


Is Quinoa Keto Friendly

This nutritious gluten-free grain (technically a pseudo-grain) is becoming more popular with vegans and vegetarians because of the exceptional protein content it offers. Half a cup of quinoa contains about:

  • 21g of carbs
  • 17g of net carbs
  • 3g of fiber
  • 4g of protein

Quinoa makes an excellent substitute for overnight oats and adds fiber, protein, and texture to salads. It’s also an excellent alternative for high-carbs grains such as barley.


Rye flour is one of the most nutrient-rich grains in the marketplace, but it’s perhaps not the most famous. Rye bread is the most prevalent way to eat rye (an excellent choice, we shall say). One slice of rye bread provides

  • 15 grams of carbs
  • 13 grams of net carbs
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of protein

That makes it an amazing option for people who want to start the keto diet. It’s also ideal for all sorts of sandwiches and avocado toast.


Bulgur is a whole wheat grain that’s been parboiled, dried, and ground into a coarse flour. It’s a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes and can be used in everything from pilafs to salads to stuffed vegetables. Best of all, it’s relatively low in carbs, with just 8 grams per cup. Nutrients in a cup of cooked bulgur are

  • 17 grams of carbs
  • 13 grams of net carbs
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of protein

Bulgur’s net carbohydrate content turns out to be one of the lower-carb grain options out there, making it a favorite option for keto watchers trying to increase their grains.


Is Couscous Keto Friendly

Couscous is the least nutrient-dense of the grain options, but it’s towards the lower end of the carb count scale. Half a cup of cooked couscous contains

  • 18 grams of carbs
  • 17 grams of net carbs
  • 1.1 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of protein

If you’ve looked up brown rice for a while now and still don’t know if you should add couscous to the mix, look at it as a clean slate. Decide how you’ll like it and use it! Couscous has a low per calorie ratio; the medical community calls it twice.

Barley Foods QueriesNutrition FactsKeto Friendliness
Is barley flour keto friendlyYes (18.1g net carbs, 3g protein, 0.5g fat)It can be used during keto diet. Because of its high fiber and protein, It also has a lower glycemic index than wheat flour
Is barley soup keto friendlyNo (42.5 grams of net carbs)Barley soup has Barley healthy grain as the main grain, so it is not keto friendly because of its high-carbohydrate food.
Is barley grass keto friendlyYes (2 Grams of carbs in 3 Tablespoons)Barley Grass is a great source of fiber and nutrients, Additionally, barley grass has a low glycemic index, and it doesn’t have any sugar or starch. Also, it’s a great way to get a daily dose of greens.
Is barley tea keto friendlyYes (22 grams of net carbs)It contains a small amount of carbohydrates and calories. and if you are following a strict ketogenic diet, you may be able to include a cup or two of barley tea per day. 
Is barely bread keto friendlyYes (19g net carbs per slice)Barely bread is made from a blend of almond flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed meal. With low carbs per slice, make it a good option during keto diet.
Is barely coffee keto friendlyYes (0.1g total carbs per 1 fl oz)Decaf barley coffee is keto-friendly. It’s low in carbs and calories, and it can even help boost your metabolism. A cup of it has only 2 grams of carbs.
Is pot barley keto friendlyNo (57.58g net carbs per 100g of serving)Pot barley is a type of whole grain & often used in soups and stews. It is high in fiber and protein, and has a nutty flavor.
Is barley malt keto friendlyNo (66.67g net carbs per 100g of serving)Barley malt does contain carbohydrates, it is a complex carbohydrate that is slowly absorbed by the body. This makes it a good option for people on the keto diet.


Is Barley High in Carb?

Barley is high in carbs as 100g serving contains 73.5 grams of total carb. That’s more than double the amount of carbs in quinoa and four times the amount in brown rice.

Barley is not a good choice for people following a low-carb or ketogenic diet. This is a significant carb and should be considered when planning meals. Barley can be a part of a healthy diet, but it’s essential to be aware of the carb content. Moreover, the lower fat content of 2.3 grams is another big reason you should not eat barley while on keto.

How Many Carbs Are in Pearl Barley?

As per Medicalnewstoday, in one hundred grams of serving, there are 77.5 grams of carbohydrates in pearl barley. This is a lot of carbs but also a lot of fiber. Most of the carbs in pearl barley are in the form of starch. Due to its very high carbs content, pearl barley is not recommended to be included in the keto diet or any other low-carb diet.

However, this grain is a good source of fiber and protein and is low in fat. Pearl barley is a versatile grain used in soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. It’s also a popular ingredient in gluten-free baking.

What Grains Are Allowed on Keto?

Oats, quinoa, bulgur, millet, couscous, wild rice, and spelt are all allowed on keto. However, while on keto, you should aim for less than 50 grams of carbs per day from all sources.

All these several types of grains are lower in carbs and high in fiber, and you can have them in moderation as part of a  carb-controlled and healthy diet. The carbs content in each of these grains varies from each other. The table below shows the exact amount of carbs in each respective grain in one serving cup:

GrainCarbs Content
Wild rice32g
Spelt 44g

Is Barley Keto Friendly Conclusion

Barley is not a keto-friendly grain but can be eaten in moderation or in very small quantities on a ketogenic diet. While it is high in carbs, and lower in fat, it is also high in fiber, making it a nice option for those on a keto diet. It is important to remember that, like all things, moderation is key in barley and other grains.

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About Joy

Hi, I'm Martin and my friends call me Joy. From an early age, I was interested in food, vegetables, and fruits. I even have a nutritionist certificate. While searching for some information, I didn't find the answer, so I start a page

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