Is Pico de Gallo Keto-Friendly or Low Carb?

Are you considering pico de gallo for your ketogenic or low-carb diet? This article will let you know if it’s a good choice or not. Pico de gallo is a good option for keto or …

pico de gallo in a bowl

Are you considering pico de gallo for your ketogenic or low-carb diet? This article will let you know if it’s a good choice or not.

Pico de gallo is a good option for keto or low-carb diets. This is because 1/3 of a cup of pico de gallo only has 4 grams of carbohydrates. A standard serving of 2 Tbsp. only has 1–2 grams of carbohydrates, and 5–10 calories.

What about substitutes for some ingredients, or eating chips with pico de gallo? Scroll down if this is allowed or not.

Is Pico de Gallo Keto-Friendly?

To explain why let’s first define and describe what keto means.

Keto comes from the word ketogenic, which also comes from the root word ketones. Ketones are the product of fat or lipid metabolism. 

Lately, many people have been doing the ketogenic diet (a diet originally designed for people with epilepsy), where roughly 55 to 60% of the diet is fat, 30 to 35% is protein, and 5 to 10% is carbohydrates. 

This diet has been researched and seems to have established short-term evidence in managing obesity by promoting weight loss (source: Ketogenic Diet). 

Pico de gallo, or salsa fresca, is a fresh, uncooked relish in Mexican cuisine, made from tomatoes, red onion, chilli, olive oil, lime juice and coriander.

From this definition, only 5 to 10% of the diet is allotted to carbohydrates. For the standard 2000-calorie diet a day, this is 40 g of carbohydrates (source: Harvard T.H. Chan The Nutrition Source). 

In a real meal plan, this is 1 medium banana, 1 medium-sized baked potato, 2 cups of blackberries or blueberries, 2 pieces of 6-oz pears, or 10 cups of plain Greek yogurt per day (source: University of Michigan). 

Pico de gallo is made with vegetables, which means it is low in calories. 3 1/3 cups would equate to around 40 g of carbohydrates (source: Mayo Clinic). This makes pico de gallo a good, if not a great choice for both a ketogenic diet and a low-carb diet.

Compared to fruits, vegetables are lower in calories based on per-gram serving. If you substitute tomatoes with fruits in pico de gallo, this could alter the total calories from carbohydrates, thus making it non-keto-friendly.

For example, half a mango or a slice of a mango already has 15 g of carbohydrates and 60 calories (source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). Avocados are fine because they are considered fat-containing food, particularly plant-based fat.

Pico de gallo is mostly eaten with tacos, nachos, or quesadillas. Some pair it with scrambled eggs or grilled foods.

Tacos, nachos, or quesadillas are quite high in carbohydrates which can make them not friendly for keto because they are made with tortillas. Tortillas are made with starch and the calories from its carbs can easily go beyond the limit for a keto diet  (source: Perfect Keto). 

Eggs are good for a keto diet. Grilled foods, particularly protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, or fish, also work well in a ketogenic diet. They also go well with low-carb diets.

pico de gallo in a bowl

How Many Net Carbs are in Pico de Gallo?

3 1/3 cups of pico de gallo has around 40 g of carbohydrates or 1/3 of a cup containing approximately 4 g of carbohydrates (source: Mayo Clinic).

Here are some pico de gallo brands and their corresponding carbohydrate and calorie content:

BrandServing SizeCarbohydrate (g)Calories 
Freshness Guaranteed Mild Pico De Gallo2 Tbsp.2 g10
Pico De Gallo Chunky Salsa2 Tbsp.1 g5
H‑E‑B Select Ingredients Pico de Gallo (Mild)2 Tbsp.1 g5

sources: (Walmart, Whole Foods, H-E-B)

If you are looking into starting a keto diet or low-carb diet, or already have started, pico de gallo would be a good option. Go ahead and get yourself one!