Is Quinoa a Carb or a Protein When Dieting?

Quinoa, quinoa nutrition, dieting, carbs, protein

Quinoa Salad

When cooking with quinoa would I consider this as a carb or a protein when dieting?

Quinoa appears to be extremely high in carbs but is said to be 100% protein.

I am summer-sizing and must eliminate and combine foods properly.

Please help. Thanks. – D.S.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Hi D.S,

With plant foods, there isn’t a natural division between protein and carbs.They all have some of both in various quantities.

So you should look at your overall carb intake per day, if that’s your concern. Same with protein.

You can do that by looking at nutrition data for all the different foods you eat.

Quinoa Nutrition:

Quinoa isn’t 100% protein. But cooked quinoa has about 6 g complete protein per 1 cup, and you’re right – like most grains it’s high in carbs – and lots of other good stuff.

It’s better to get more of your carbs from nutrient dense foods like quinoa, and less from empty sources like white flour. All carbs are not created equal, is what I’m saying :-)

By the way, it’s not so much the carbs as the fats that make you gain weight.

Consider This:

1 tsp oil has 40 calories and not much in the way of nutrients.


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1 serving (1/2 cup) cooked quinoa has 78 calories, 15 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fat, 1.5g dietary fiber and 3g protein.

To summer-size effectively: My advice is eat a small serving of quinoa, with lots of veggies and some low-fat high protein beans or lentils, and skip the oil, to summer-size effectively.

For more about cooking with quinoa, and quinoa nutrition, check out Savvy Vegetarian’s Basic Quinoa Recipe.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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5 Responses to “Is Quinoa a Carb or a Protein When Dieting?”

  1. Kita says:

    Thanks! I was wondering about that, thinking about if I could make something with Quinoa for my dad who is diabetic.

  2. David says:

    Good article. Thanks for the information.

  3. Rob says:

    Good info about qunioa but the last part.. woah..

    Its totaly the other way around. Carbs cause an increase in blood sugar which cause an insulin spike. Its not so much the sugar, but rather the insulins effect on fat cells that cause you gain weight. Insulin moderates both blood sugar AND fat cell growth, expansion, etc.

    Fat does NOT directly make you fat!

  4. Laura Marie says:

    Do not follow the last bit of advice. Fat does not make you fat. When carbs hit your bloodstream, your blood sugar rises and your body stores it as fat to balance your sugar. Google “sugar: the bitter truth”, this cardiologist explains it better than I can.
    Fat takes longer to digest; your body has more time to burn it off when eaten in moderation.

  5. BeanSi says:

    Quinoa is high in protein however it is not a grain. It’s a member of the goosefoot plant and is actually a seed. It’s cooked and used as a grain.

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