Carbs and Calories In Couscous: Is Couscous Keto Friendly?

Couscous is high in carbs, at 36 grams per cup.  Foods made from grains like couscous, bread, rice, and pasta do not make the list of approved Keto foods.  Couscous should be avoided while following the Keto diet or strictly limit your serving size to 1/4 cup serving to be eaten as part of a larger meal. 

couscous carbs

If you add a small amount of couscous to your meal plan, top it with a serving of meat or protein and veggies.  It is best to consume couscous with other sources of protein or foods rich in fiber to balance out blood sugar levels. 

In this article, I have included a low carb Moroccan stew recipe with cauliflower couscous, a great low carb alternative to traditional couscous.  So keep reading…

How Many Carbs are in Couscous?

  • A 100 gram serving of cooked couscous contains 23 grams of carbs.
  • A full cup of cooked couscous contains 36 grams of carbs.

How Many Calories are in Couscous?

  • There are 112 calories in a 100 gram serving of cooked couscous.
  • There are 176 calories in a full cup of cooked couscous.

What is Couscous?

Couscous (كُسْكُس‎) is originally a dish from the Maghrebi regions made up of small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina (about 3 millimeters in diameter).  Although it can be eaten on its own, couscous is traditionally topped with a stew made of meat and veggies.

Pearl millet, sorghum, and other cereals can be cooked using a similar method are also sometimes called “couscous”. 

In North American supermarkets, couscous is often sold in instant form with a flavor packet. 


The origin of couscous originates from the eastern and northern regions of Africa, where it was consumed by Berbers as early as the 7th century.  In traditional North African cuisine, it is a popular delicacy among Maghreb countries.  Couscous is a staple food throughout the North African regions of Algeria, Mauritania, Libya, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 grams of Cooked Couscous
Calories 112
Total Fat 0.2 grams 0%
Saturated fat 0 grams 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 grams
Monounsaturated fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 milligrams 0%
Sodium 5 milligrams 0%
Potassium 58 milligrams 1%
Total Carbohydrates 23 grams 7%
Dietary fiber 1.4 grams 5%
Sugar 0.1 grams
Protein 3.8 grams 7%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% Iron 2%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 2%

Health Benefits

couscous calories

Rich in Selenium

Couscous is rich in the vital nutrient, selenium.   Just one cup of cooked couscous contains more than 60% of the recommended intake of selenium.  Selenium is an important mineral with many nutritional benefits.   It is a powerful antioxidant that decreases inflammation in the body and repairs cells damaged by free radicals.

Selenium plays a role in thyroid health as well, protecting it against damage and assisting in hormone production.

The selenium that is abundant in couscous helps lower your risk of heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol from arteries.

Strengthens the Immune System

The selenium in couscous can boost your immune system as it plays a role in the regeneration of vitamins C and E.  Not only does this antioxidant reduce inflammation in the body, it strengthens your body’s immunity by reducing oxidative stress.  A deficiency in selenium may harm immune cells and their function.

Good Source of Plant-Based Protein

calories couscous

It is vital to consume plant proteins as they contain amino acids that are involved in almost every metabolic process in your body.  Couscous is a great source, providing 6 grams of plant based protein per cup.  Individuals who consume plant-based protein regularly are known to have a reduced risk of stroke, cancer and heart disease.

Helps Lower the Risk of Cancer

The selenium in couscous may also help lower your risk of cancer.  Studies show that high selenium blood levels from eating selenium-rich foods like couscous may protect against certain types of cancer.

Increased risk of prostate cancer has been linked to selenium deficiency.  Consuming selenium-rich foods like couscous regularly, along with vitamins C and E, has been shown to decrease the risk of lung cancer.

High in Fiber to Aid Digestion

Did you know 80% of your immune system resides in the gut?  The fiber in couscous supports gastrointestinal health by aiding in digestion and assisting gut health.  Couscous is often considered a healthy alternative to pasta since it’s made from whole-wheat flour. Other types of pasta are typically more refined.  The fiber in whole grains like couscous functions as a prebiotic, which enhances immunity.

Keto Moroccan Couscous Recipe
(Made with Cauliflower Couscous)

Stew Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pound of beef steak 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 cup beef broth or bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons harissa seasoning
  • 5 cloves of garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (400 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh or dried mint leaves (for garnish)

Cauliflower Couscous Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, crumbled in food processor
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 cup beef broth 
  • 4 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 3 stalks spring onions sliced
  • ½ celery stalk diced.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. Chop all vegetables for the stew and cut the beef into 1 inch squares.  Sautee the chopped onion, eggplant and zucchini on low heat with one of the tablespoons of oil. 
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat another spoonful of oil over medium- high heat and braise the beef evenly while turning.   Combine with vegetables and continue to simmer for 1 hour on medium-low heat, while stirring occasionally, until meat is tender and cooked through.
  3. Add the remaining stew ingredients and pour stock over the meat and vegetables.
  4. In another large frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and fry for 2 minutes until it achieves a golden brown coloring. 
  5. Add the stock and cumin and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the cauliflower is cooked through.
  6. Add in spring onions and combine. 
  7. Serve the cooked stew over couscous and garnish with a few mint leaves on top.  (Makes 6 servings.)

How to Prepare Couscous:

carbs in couscous

Couscous is a very versatile food that accompanies many dishes.  Much like tofu, it tends to take on the flavor of other ingredients. When cooked, couscous is light and fluffy, like rice.   

Couscous is quite simple to cook.  All you need is boiling water.  Much like the process of cooking rice, it is important to use the correct ratio of couscous to water. For most types of couscous, use 1 and a half cups of water to every cup of couscous. 

The instant version sold in North American supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried. You just need to add water or broth and boil for the amount of time listed on the package.  Then simply fluff with a fork and serve.

Couscous can be added to salads or served as a side dish with meats and vegetables to add more nutrients and amino acids to your diet.

Side Effects

Couscous is made of hybridized wheat that is genetically modified. 

Couscous also contains gluten and should be avoided by those with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease. 

This grain is also very high on the glycemic index, ranking a 65 per 100 grams.  Diets that are high on the glycemic index can contribute to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Fiber in Couscous

A 100 gram serving of cooked couscous contains 1.4 grams of dietary fiber, which is about 5% of your daily requirements.

Protein in Couscous

There are 3.8 grams of protein in a 100 gram serving of cooked couscous.

Gluten in Couscous

Those with gluten allergy or celiac disease should be aware that couscous contains gluten.  Individuals who are sensitive to gluten will greatly benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets.  People with celiac disease should not consume couscous.

Is Couscous Good For Weight Loss?

The best thing about couscous is that it is low in calories, which makes it an ideal dietary food.   At less than 200 calories in each cup, a serving of couscous contains less than 10% of the daily calorie intake recommended for adults.  This makes it a good food option for people trying to lose weight through dieting.

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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