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All The Foods You Can’t Eat Once You Start the Keto Diet

The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. When you start it, you cut out many foods that you used to eat, and your body takes some time to adjust to this new way. However, since the diet is very strict, there are a lot of foods that you can no longer eat. Here’s a rundown of what to avoid.

The keto diet comes with many restrictions. | ThitareeSarmkasat/iStock/Gety Images

Fruit

You’ve always been told fruit is healthy. And while that still holds true, it isn’t healthy for someone on a keto diet. Fruit is very high in sugar, and the keto diet is very strict about sugar intake. Dried fruits and fruit smoothies should also be avoided. But if you’re a fruit lover and need to splurge once in a while, aim for fruits lower in sugar, such as blueberries and blackberries. But don’t indulge too often.

Pasta

Pasta is definitely a food you’ll want to avoid. It’s loaded with carbs, so gone are the days of macaroni and cheese and penne alla vodka. Even whole wheat pasta is still extremely high in carbs, so for keto purposes, it’s no better than refined pasta. Carbs are essentially refined or unrefined sugars, and the keto diet leaves very little room for either one.

Bread

Bread is another food high in carbs. It might be delicious, but it’s a no-go if you’re on a keto diet. In terms of refined sugars, white bread is the worst of the worst — even more so than pasta. Your body needs to adjust to finding energy through other outlets, so indulging in a piece of white bread every once in a while will only confuse it. Stick to the low-carb rules and avoid the bread.

Beer

Alcohol in general tends to be high in carbs, but beer is definitely a drink you’ll want to avoid. Even light beers still pack more carbs than the keto diet allows. Depending on the type of alcohol, you can still drink, but definitely skip over the beer aisle if you’re going keto.

Potatoes

The keto diet also leaves no room for starchy veggies, so sadly, potatoes are out of the question. They’re just about the starchiest vegetable you can find. Mashed, baked, or fried, they’re off the table. Try to incorporate more green vegetables into your diet; those are keto-approved.

Juice

Juice tends to have a ton of sugar in it. And even if it has zero added sugar, it likely still has sugar from fruit. It’s one of those drinks that tastes delicious but definitely isn’t good for anyone on a keto diet (sort of like the beer). Unsweetened tea is a good alternative to juice, since it has antioxidants and is sugar free.

Rice

Rice is another starchy food you’ll want to avoid. This means no sushi, either, since brown rice is no better than white rice for those on a keto diet. Try subbing a quarter-cup of quinoa in for rice. It has a similar texture but a much lower net-carb amount.

Beans/legumes

Beans are good for your heart, but you’ll have to ditch them if you go keto. They have a high carb content, and other legumes fall into the “avoid at all costs” category, too. Lentils, chickpeas, lima beans, and pretty much anything else with “beans” in the name should be avoided.

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10 surprisingly filling, low-carb foods you can eat on the paleo diet

Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/

  • The Paleolithic diet, inspired by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, involves consuming whole vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts.
  • Not only can the paleo diet result in weight loss, but it may also benefit those with blood-sugar issues, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Though criticized for restricting foods that keep people satiated, like grains, legumes, and dairy, the paleo diet includes a variety of options that should keep you full until your next snack or meal.

The Paleolithic diet is a popular whole food-based program that mimics the diet we think our caveman ancestors practiced.

Considering the high rates of lifestyle-induced disease we see today in diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, the paleo diet presumes consuming whole vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts may reduce biological risk factors for these conditions.

A small study published in Cardiovascular Diabetology placed 13 individuals with type 2 diabetes on a paleo diet for three months and tracked weight loss and several cardiovascular risk factors. At the end of the three month period, participants lost 6.6 pounds on average, their blood-sugar levels (HbA1c) dropped by 0.4%, and their HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 3 mg/dL.

“In general, the paleo diet can be a great kick-start for someone to eat a diet rich in whole foods, but it isn’t for everyone,” McKel Hill, registered dietitian and founder of the healthy-living website Nutrition Stripped, told Business Insider over email. “Paleo diets don’t celebrate eating grains or legumes, which some people enjoy and do really well on especially if relying on a plant-based diet.”

While you’re not technically required to limit carbs on the paleo diet, the goal is to limit consumption of processed and refined carbohydrates, since you’re not allowed to eat common carb-heavy foods like bread, pasta, or grains, according to Healthline.

Some carbs you can eat on the diet include sweet potatoes, potatoes, and fruits like apples and bananas. But eating too many carbs or excess sugar can lead to a buildup of glycogen, which your body will convert to fat for the long-term storage of energy.

So if you’re looking to cut carbs in an effort to improve your health or trim down on the paleo diet, you might want to instead turn to some of the following foods that are lower in carbs.

Here are 11 low-carb, yet surprisingly filling, foods that you can eat on the paleo diet.

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Surprisingly Low-Carb Foods

A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week

This is a sample menu for one week on a low-carb diet plan.

It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day. However, if you’re healthy and active you can eat slightly more carbs.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
  • Dinner: Bunless cheeseburger, served with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch: Leftover burgers and veggies from the previous night.
  • Dinner: Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken with vegetables.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
  • Dinner: Steak and veggies.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch: Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
  • Dinner: Meatballs with vegetables.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch: Smoothie with coconut milk, a dash of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach on the side.

Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.

Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthy grains like oats.

Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks

There is no health reason to eat more than three meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals, here are some healthy, easy-to-prepare, low-carb snacks that can fill you up:

  • A piece of fruit
  • Full-fat yogurt
  • One or two hard-boiled eggs
  • Baby carrots
  • Leftovers from the previous night
  • A handful of nuts
  • Some cheese and meat

Eating at Restaurants

In case you’ve somehow missed it, the keto diet is the latest fad taking over the weight loss world. Followers (including Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry) claim the high-fat, low-carb eating plan has helped them shed pounds almost immediately — all while chowing down on bacon and cheese.

Keto For Carb Lovers: 100+ Amazing Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes amazon.com $24.95

Nutritionists, including the Good Housekeeping Institute’s own Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, remain more skeptical. The diet’s aim of inducing ketosis — a metabolic process where the body uses fat instead of carbs for energy — can backfire because this plan takes a lot of willpower. Plus, any weight you may lose while on it can return when you stop. RDs and other experts like U.S. News and World Report agree that Mediterranean-style eating plans have more research behind them and produce better, more long-lasting results.

But if your friends have gone #keto and you’re curious about what that exactly entails, the basic premise is fairly simple. The diet focuses on eating mostly fat, limited amounts of protein, and almost no carbs at all. The “do” list includes: meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground, nuts and seeds, fats and oils, and some dairy products. In terms of drinks, most keto diet guides advise people to stick to water and skip diet soda, even though it’s artificially sweetened. (No Diet Coke — sorry!)

Get more specifics on what you can and can’t eat on keto below:

What You Can Eat on a Keto Diet

Meat

chicken, pork, steak, ground beef, lamb, bacon, ham, turkey, sausage (in limited amounts and fattier cuts)

Most Fats and Oils

butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, lard, avocado oil, mayonnaise

Some Vegetables High-Fat Dairy

heavy cream, cheese (soft and hard), cream cheese, sour cream

Nuts

almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, almond butter, macadamia nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts

Seafood

salmon, snapper, trout, tuna, cod, catfish, halibut, clams, oysters, lobster, crab, scallops, mussels

Berries (Sparingly)

blueberries, blackberries, raspberries

Artificial Sweeteners (Sparingly)

Stevia, sucralose

Alcohol (Sparingly)

hard liquor, dry wine, champagne

Eggs Unsweetened Coffee and Tea Spices

While giving up soda may sound not so hard, the rest of the banned list might. Bread, rice, pasta, fruit, corn, potatoes, beans, baked goods, sweets, juice, and beer all get the axe. Basically, you have to avoid most sugars and starches. Whole grains like oatmeal don’t even make the cut!

What You Can’t Eat on a Keto Diet

Fruit Grains and Starches

wheat, rice, rye, oats, corn, quinoa, barley, millet, bulgur, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains

Root Vegetables

potatoes (both sweet and regular), carrots, yams, parsnips, yuca, beets, turnips

Grain Products

cereal, bread, pasta, rice, corn, oatmeal, crackers, pizza, popcorn, granola, bagels, muesli, flour

Legumes

black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils

Sweeteners

cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, Splenda, aspartame, saccharin, corn syrup

Sweets

candy, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, tarts, pies, ice cream, cookies, pudding, custard

Some Oils

canola oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil

Alcohol

beer, cider, sweet wines, sweetened alcoholic drinks

Sweetened Drinks

juice, smoothies, soda, sweetened tea and coffee

Low-Fat Dairy

skim milk, skim mozzarella, fat-free yogurt, low cheese and cream cheese

Sweetened Sauces and Dips

ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, some salad dressings and hot sauces

If you’re still tempted to try keto, consult with your doctor before embarking on any extreme weight loss plan. While the ketogenic diet can include some healthful foods (we’re all about broccoli), many others get nixed (bye, bananas and sweet potatoes).

Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at GoodHousekeeping.com covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

Complete Keto Diet Food List: What You Can and Cannot Eat If You’re on a Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein and very low-carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, but on a strict ketogenic diet, less than 5 percent of energy intake is from carbohydrates. The reduction of carbohydrates puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is when the body starts breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies to use for energy, in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food. Once the body reaches ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until you start eating carbohydrates again.

Traditionally, the ketogenic diet was only used in clinical settings to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. “Now there is a lot of interest in the diet’s effectiveness in helping with other neurological conditions, cancer, diabetes, PCOS , obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease,” says Emily Stone, M.S., R.D. People also eat keto to lose weight.

Even if you know that you need to eat a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet—it can be confusing to know which foods to eat. Here’s our guide to foods you can eat, foods you should avoid and foods you can sometimes have when you’re following a ketogenic diet.

Related: Ketogenic Diet 101

Foods You Can Eat on the Ketogenic Diet

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Pictured Recipe: Wedge Salad Skewers

Here is a list of all the low-carb foods that are appropriate to eat when you’re following keto.

  • Fish and seafood
  • Low-carb veggies
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • poultry
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, seeds and healthful oils
  • Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Berries
  • Unsweetened coffee and tea
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Fish and Seafood

Fish is rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium; it’s also protein-rich and carb-free. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna and other fatty fish boast high levels of omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Frequent fish intake has been linked to a decreased risk of chronic disease as well as improved mental health. Aim to consume at least two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish weekly.

Low-Carb Veggies

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Pictured Recipe: Cheesy Zucchini Breadsticks

Nonstarchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals. They also contain antioxidants that help protect against cell-damaging free radicals. Aim for nonstarchy vegetables with less than 8 g of net carbs per cup. Net carbs are total carbohydrates minus fiber. Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini and spinach fit the bill.

Cheese

Cheese has zero carbohydrates and is high in fat, making it a great fit for the ketogenic diet. It’s also rich in protein and calcium. But, a 1-ounce slice of cheese delivers about 30 percent of the daily value for saturated fat, so if you’re worried about heart disease consider portions when noshing on cheese.

Read more: 5 Reasons Cheese Is Actually Good for Your Health

Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

Yogurt and cottage cheese are high in protein and calcium-rich. Five ounces of plain Greek yogurt provides just 5 g of carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein. The same amount of cottage cheese also has 5 grams of carbohydrates with 18 grams of protein. Studies have shown that both calcium and protein can reduce appetite and promote fullness. Higher-fat yogurts and cottage cheese help keep you full for longer, and full-fat products would be part of the ketogenic diet.

Avocados

Choose heart-healthy fats like avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, a mineral many Americans are lacking. Half of a medium avocado contains 9 grams of total carbohydrates, 7 grams of which are fiber. Swapping animal fats for plant fats like avocados can help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Meat and Poultry

Meat is a source of lean protein and is considered a staple on the ketogenic diet. Fresh meat and poultry contain no carbohydrates and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals, including potassium, selenium and zinc. While processed meats, like bacon and sausage, are allowed on keto, they aren’t the best for your heart and may raise your risk of certain types of cancer if you eat too much. Choose chicken, fish and beef more often and limit processed meats.

Eggs are high in protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Two eggs contain zero carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein. Eggs have been shown to trigger hormones that increase feelings of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable, and they also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect eye health.

Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Oils

Nuts and seeds are full of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, fiber and protein. They also are very low in net carbs. Olive oil and coconut oil are the two oils recommended on the keto diet. Olive oil is high in oleic acid and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat but contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can increase ketone production. MCTs may increase metabolic rate and promote the loss of weight and belly fat too. Measure portion sizes when consuming any type of healthy fat.

Carb counts for 1 oz. (28 g) of nuts and seeds (net carbohydrate equals total carbs minus fiber):

  • Almonds: 3 g net carbs (6 g total carbs)
  • Brazil nuts: 1 g net carbs (3 g total carbs)
  • Cashews: 8 g net carbs (9 g total carbs)
  • Macadamia nuts: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Pecans: 1 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Pistachios: 5 g net carbs (8 g total carbs)
  • Walnuts: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Chia seeds: 2 g net carbs (12 g total carbs)
  • Flaxseeds: 0 g net carbs (8 g total carbs)
  • Pumpkin seeds: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Sesame seeds: 4 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)

Berries

Berries are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect against disease. They are low in carbs and high in fiber.

Carb counts for 1/2 cup of some berries:

  • Blackberries: 3 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)
  • Blueberries: 9 g net carbs (11 g total carbs)
  • Raspberries: 3 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)
  • Strawberries: 3 g net carbs (6 g total carbs)

Unsweetened Coffee and Tea

Plain coffee and tea contain zero grams of carbohydrates, fat or protein, so they are A-OK on the keto diet. Studies show coffee lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Tea is rich in antioxidants and has less caffeine than coffee; drinking tea may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, help with weight loss and boost your immune system.

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Check the label on these, as the amount of carbs depends on the type and how much you consume. Cocoa has been called a “superfruit” because it is rich in antioxidants, and dark chocolate contains flavanols, which may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and keeping arteries healthy.

List of Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet:

  • Grains
  • Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Juices
  • Honey, syrup or sugar in any form
  • Chips and crackers
  • Baked goods including gluten-free baked goods

Don’t get too discouraged. Dietitians Stone and Laura Dority, M.S., R.D., L.D., with Keto Knowledge LLC, say that no foods are really off-limits on the keto diet. It’s about total carbohydrate intake and how you choose to “spend” your carbs. Generally, you should stay under 20-40 grams of carbohydrates per day. “The exact amount needed to achieve ketosis can vary on the individual, though, with carb prescriptions ranging from 10 to 60 grams per day. This total is for net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber),” says Stone.

Dority adds, “Individuals who are really active can eat more carbs (maybe more at the 40-gram level) than someone who is sedentary.”

High-Carb Foods That Most People Avoid on the Keto Diet

Cereal, crackers, rice, pasta, bread and beer are high in carbohydrates. Even whole-wheat pasta and the new bean-based pastas are high in carbs. Consider alternatives like spiralized vegetables or shirataki noodles, which are healthier low-carb options. Sugary breakfast cereals and healthy whole-grain cereals are high in carbohydrates too and should be avoided or minimized. “A slice of bread is 11 grams of carbs on average so technically you could have one slice a day maybe but that’s spending all your carbs on pretty poor nutrition so I wouldn’t recommend it when for the same carbs you could have A LOT of veggies,” says Dority.

Beer can be enjoyed in moderation on a low-carb diet. Dry wine and spirits are better options but all alcohol should be very limited.

Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits

Starchy vegetables contain more digestible carbohydrates than fiber and should be limited on the ketogenic diet. These include corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets. Limit high-sugar fruits too, which spike your blood sugar more quickly than berries and have more carbohydrates (get a full list of low-carb fruits ranked from lowest to highest).

Carb counts for high-sugar fruits:

Carb counts for starchy vegetables:

Sweetened yogurts

Stick to plain yogurt to limit added sugars (aka carbohydrates). Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates compared to regular yogurt.

Juices

Fruit juice-natural or not-is high in fast-digesting carbs that spike your blood sugar. Stick to water.

Honey, syrup and sugar in any form

Avoid sugar, honey, maple syrup and other forms of sugar, which are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients.

Chips and crackers

Avoid chips, crackers and other processed, grain-based snack foods, which are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.

Gluten-free baked goods

Gluten-free does not equal carb-free. In fact, many gluten-free breads and muffins are as high in carbohydrates as traditional baked goods. They usually lack fiber too.

Foods and Drinks You Can Sometimes Have on the Keto Diet

You can technically have any food on the keto diet if it falls within your daily carbohydrate goal, but these foods fall in the middle between high-carb and low-carb.

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Pictured Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk

Milk

Milk is an excellent source of calcium, potassium and several B vitamins. But, 1 cup has 12 grams of sugar (lactose). Choose almond, coconut or another low-carb milk instead.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are high in fiber and protein and are part of a heart-healthy diet but are also high in carbohydrates. They may be included in small amounts on a ketogenic diet. However, it’s often recommended to avoid them altogether.

Pros of the Ketogenic Diet

“There is solid evidence to support use of the ketogenic diet in individuals with epilepsy who have seizures that are drug resistant,” says Dority. In the short term, people who follow the diet report weight loss. Dority says, “There is certainly some good recent research showing promise in disorders such as autism, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, migraines and Alzheimer’s (to name a few but the list could go on), as well as some great research on ketogenic diets and type 2 diabetes reversal including dramatically reducing insulin needs, fasting blood sugar levels, lowering A1C and obtaining significant weight loss.”

Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

“Like most highly restrictive diets, it is difficult to meet nutritional needs while doing keto,” says Stone. “It often comes with uncomfortable side effects like constipation and the ‘keto flu.’ Also, the long-term health consequences are not well understood.”

The Bottom Line

It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription, and it’s crucial to work with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting essential nutrients while maintaining ketosis. There’s promising research on the benefits of the ketogenic diet for many conditions, but some people can’t keep it up for the long haul, plus the long-term effects are poorly understood. If you decide to go keto, work with a dietitian to help you create a plan.

There are more than 100 foods to avoid on the keto diet that will slow down (or shut down) your body’s fat-burning capabilities. Replace these with ketogenic foods to get yourself on track for success.

The list of foods is crucial for the ketogenic diet if you want to reap the greatest health benefits.

Remember that carbs must be kept very low to remain in ketosis. Most people need to stay within 20-30 grams of net carbs per day, depending on your current body composition and activity level.

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Calculate Your Macros With the Keto Calculator

Too many carbohydrate-rich foods can bring you out of ketosis and slow down your body’s fat-burning capabilities. To ensure you stay on track, use the free Perfect Keto macro calculator.

You’ll also want to bookmark this page so you get familiar with non-ketogenic foods to avoid when you’re trying to get into or stay in ketosis.

Carbs to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

There are five types of carbs to avoid on keto:

  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Most fruits
  • Starchy vegetables (including sweet potatoes, potatoes, and most winter squash)
  • Sugar (natural, calorie-free sweeteners like stevia and erythritol are OK)

If you’re going to get into ketosis quickly, you need to limit your carb intake. All grains are mostly made of carbohydrates, so the easiest and best way to stay low-carb is to avoid grains completely.

Some carbs, like rice and corn, contain enough carbs in one serving to hit your entire day’s carb allotment.

Beans provide some fiber and other nutrients, but they’re not a great fit for the keto diet due to their high starch (carb) content. An exception is green beans, as they’re younger and less starchy than dried beans. Avoid legumes including*:

Most Fruits

Fruit is healthy, right?

Sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re keto-compliant. Fruit is high in sugar and carbs, so they’re usually a no-go on the keto diet. That includes tropical fruits, fruit juices, dried fruits, and fruit smoothies (for the most part).

If you do have fruit, choose lower-sugar options like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and eat them sparingly.

Your smoothies should be mostly veggies, healthy fats, protein like collagen powder or nut butter, and sugar-free liquids like almond milk or hemp milk. For an additional omega-3 boost, add flaxseed or chia seed to your smoothies.

Starchy Vegetables

Avoid any vegetables that grow beneath the ground (like carrots, turnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes) and focus more on non-starchy vegetables. This includes brassicas like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and collards. Other veggie options include leafy greens, like chard, spinach, and lettuce, and non-starchy veggies including bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini.

The high starch content of some vegetables (like those in the list below) is problematic because — like with beans — high-starch means high-carb*.

Sugars

Sugar has 56 different names on nutritional labels. There are hidden sugars everywhere.

While there might be better options for overall health like raw honey, sugar is sugar, and it will still kick you out of ketosis. Sugars to avoid*:

Try these Perfect Keto dessert recipes without sugars:

  • Low-Carb Lemon Cashew Cookies
  • Superfood Nice Cream
  • Perfect Keto Chocolate Mousse

Other great options are coconut butter, cocoa-dusted almonds, and dark chocolate. Look for 75-90% dark chocolate for the lowest carb counts.

What About Carbs During Exercise?

You might wonder if you need more carbs to support your workouts. The truth is that the importance of carbs for exercise is often way overblown.

For competitive athletes and bodybuilders looking to build a large amount of muscle, there might be a need for strategic carb re-feeds. In this case, a targeted ketogenic diet might be appropriate, where carb intake is increased slightly around workouts.

Otherwise, you probably don’t need those extra carbs.

Proteins to Avoid on Keto

Protein is important on a ketogenic diet, but you should always opt for high-quality proteins.

There are two main types of protein to avoid on a ketogenic diet:

  • Milk and low-fat dairy
  • Factory-raised meat and animal byproducts and processed meats

Milk and Low-Fat Dairy

Full-fat versions of certain dairy products like Greek yogurt, butter, heavy cream, cottage cheese, and sour cream are fine on the ketogenic diet. However, you should avoid all other milk and low- and reduced-fat dairy products that contain more carbs and sugar.

Other considerations include how much lactose is in the cheese you eat. Younger cheeses like mozzarella have more lactose than aged cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, romano, and asiago.

Not only is low-fat and non-fat dairy higher in carbs, but pasteurized milk is hard to digest for most people. It also lacks beneficial bacteria, and usually contains harmful hormones. Raw milk is OK in small amounts (start with no more than a serving per day). Just don’t forget to account for the carbs.

Dairy products to avoid:

Factory Farmed Animal Products

Choose organic, pastured, grass-fed meat and eggs and wild-caught seafood on this diet. If you’re drinking bone broth on your keto meal plan, the bones you use should follow these rules too.

Perfect Keto’s founder Dr. Anthony Gustin has an information-packed series on why source matters and guides on how to buy good food.

  • Avoid grain-fed meats and dairy — they are lower in precious nutrients, especially omega-3s.
  • Stay away from factory-farmed fish and pork products, which are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, factory-farmed fish is usually higher in mercury.
  • Avoid processed meat like hot dogs and packaged sausages, since they usually contain nitrates and other additives you don’t need.

Try these recipes made with healthy keto proteins:

  • Portobello Bun Cheeseburgers
  • Cheesy Broccoli Meatza
  • Lemon Balsamic Chicken
  • Crispy Skin Salmon With Pesto Cauliflower

Fat Foods to Avoid on Keto

Fat is an excellent food source that helps your body make important hormones and neurotransmitters. Plus, without all those carbs, your body will use more fatty acids to fuel your body and brain.

However, the source and quality of your fats are crucial. Healthy fats are the most keto-friendly food you can imagine.

Not all fats are created equal, and processed vegetable oils are by far the worst for you.

Inflammatory Vegetable Oils

Your keto meals should focus on using high-quality, healthy fats. Unprocessed and nutritious oils, such as coconut oil, virgin olive oil, pasture-raised ghee, butter, and macadamia nut oils are great sources of healthy fats. If you choose healthy sourcing for your animal proteins, lard and tallow can also provide you with healthy fat.

Other great sources of healthy fats are small fatty fish (like mackerel and sardines), avocado oil, pasture-raised egg yolks, and avocado-based mayonnaise. Avoid harmful processed vegetable oils like these four offenders:

See this full guide on good fats vs. bad fats for more information.

For some good fats, whip up these nutritious fat bombs:

  • Anti-Inflammatory MCT Oil Fat Bomb
  • Peaches & Cream Fat Bomb
  • Macadamia Nut Fat Bomb

Drinks to Avoid on a Keto Diet

It’s better to avoid drinking your calories on any diet and stick to water and no-sugar drinks. Stay clear of these:

  • High-carb alcohol
  • Soft drinks

High-Carb Alcohol

Alcohol can easily slow down fat loss in ketosis. Plus, many alcoholic drinks are carb-heavy, such as:

If you are drinking, reach for hard liquor first. (Is that the first time you’ve ever heard that suggestion?)

Even though it’s also made from carb sources, those sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol during the distillation and fermentation process.

Alcohol is ethanol, which your body (mostly your liver) will prioritize into breaking down and detoxing. That means, if you’re trying to lose weight, your body takes a break on fat-burning to take care of those tequila shots first.

And that slows fat loss.

Check out this guide on what you need to know about drinking on keto to learn what’s best to imbibe.

Sweetened and Sugary Beverages

It’s wise to stay clear of most caloric and sweetened drinks, as they are often full of carbs. That includes:

Try these Perfect Keto drinks instead:

  • Chocolate Sea Salt Smoothie
  • Micronutrient Greens Matcha Smoothie
  • Acai Almond Butter Smoothie
  • Perfect Keto Frappuccino

Packaged and Processed Foods to Avoid

Not only are the oils mentioned above found in unhealthy processed products, but manufacturers stuff packaged products with extra sugar, trans fats, preservatives, and other junk — even if they’re marketed as “low-carb” or keto.”

If you’re in need of an easy, portable snack, choose nuts and seeds instead: Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. Avoid packaged and processed non-ketogenic foods like:

Again, beware of packaged foods labeled as “low-carb” or “zero-carb” (like diet drinks, sugar-free gums or candy, and other diet products). They might be low in carb content per serving, but there are several serving sizes per package.

Most packaged foods are also high in gluten or artificial additives and flavors, which can add to your inflammatory load. Focus on whole food ketogenic foods instead.

Sweeteners to Avoid

Avoid artificial sweeteners. They’re unhealthy and some can spike blood sugar. Again, natural options like stevia and erythritol are OK. These are the worst offenders:

Condiments to Avoid on Keto

It’s best to make salad dressings and condiments like ketchup yourself so you know what’s in them. Some exceptions are avocado-based mayo and other sugar-free mustard products. In general, ketchup has a ton of sugar, so definitely avoid it or make it using natural sugar alternatives. If the DIY route isn’t an option, avoid condiments that are:

What If You Have a Cheat Day?

Cheat days (or even cheat meals) are not recommended on the ketogenic diet.

They can easily kick you out of ketosis and make it tough for you to get back into ketosis. That means less fat-burning and fewer benefits from all your hard work. It could also mean a repeat of the keto flu every time you get back into ketosis.

Over time, you’ll get used to knowing which foods you can eat a little of and which ones you should avoid completely.

Bottom line: Whether your goal with the keto diet is weight loss or preventing a disease, the stricter you are in avoiding these foods, the better your chances are of seeing results.

If you do slip, here’s a handy guide that will help you get back into keto: Cheating on Keto: Here’s What Happens & How to Get Back In.

Avoid These Non-Ketogenic Foods to Remain in Ketosis and Burn Fat

Ketosis is a measurable state of metabolism, not just an idea or methodology, so foods can’t definitively be labeled “keto” or “not keto.”

The only way to truly know if a food is keto-friendly or not is to eat it and test your ketone levels over time. After a while on the keto diet, you’ll also likely be able to tell if certain foods kicked you out of ketosis.

Use this list as your reference when you need a refresher on non-keto foods, but don’t let it discourage you. There are plenty of delicious ketogenic foods you can turn to.

Check out this comprehensive keto diet food list and bookmark the extensive Perfect Keto archive of recipes.

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Here is a list of 43 zero carb foods, including meat, seafood, dairy, vegetables, drinks, oils and condiments.

The following post contains affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you I can make a tiny bit of money to help support this blog. Thank you!

Did you know that there is such a thing as a no carb diet. Although this way of eating a little too extreme for me, I still find it useful to know what can be considered “free” food in terms of carbohydrates.

Note: Some of items listed here aren’t 100% carb free – but they ARE all either zero or under 1 gram of net carbs per serving. If this idea or any of the individual items don’t fit with your way of eating, please disregard this list or the item in question. Always check nutritional data labels on food before purchasing.

These foods do not naturally contain carbohydrates, apart from those in the vegetable list which contain between 0 and 1g net carb per serving, and heavy cream which is also exceedingly low. For meats and seafood, the key is to go for unprocessed food. As soon as someone processes the meat or fish (think ham, bacon, jerky, burgers) there is a an increased chance that they will be high in carbs – especially once manufacturers start adding sugar! If you want to see my new and revised list of actually zero carb foods, check out my new Guide to Carb Free Foods!

Want to grab this list of zero carb foods in a handy FREE printable? Scroll down for a link!

So which food have no carbs?

I’ve divided the list into the following sections: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, oils, veggies, drinks, condiments, and other assorted zero carb foods and products!

Zero Carb Meat:

    • Chicken – try these Italian Baked Chicken Thighs or my Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings!
    • Beef (check out Omaha Steaks for amazing deals!)

Omaha Steaks Premier Package

  • Turkey – try my roasted paprika turkey wings!
  • Duck – have you ever roasted a whole duck?
  • Veal
  • Lamb – try my recipe for rack of lamb with rosemary!
  • Pork
  • Organ meats – make your own chicken liver pâté!
  • Goose
  • Pork rinds (these are an exception to the processed rule – and see below for lots of ways to use them!)

Zero Carb Seafood:

  • Fish – sooo many varieties to choose from!
  • Seafood – shrimp, clams, mussels, crab – but make sure you stay away from manufactured “crab” fish sticks!

Zero Carb Dairy:

  • Butter – learn how to make your own!
  • Margarine
  • Most types of cheese – try my Parmesan Crisps or my Baked Brie recipe!
  • Heavy cream (very low carbohydrates)

Eggs

Try my zero carb Spicy Buffalo Deviled Eggs or my Egg Wraps!

Oils:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil – check out my review of the Fresh Pressed Olive Oil Club and get yourself a bottle of EVOO for just $1 (if you’re in the US!)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Peanut oil

Almost Zero Carb Vegetables (most contain between 0 and 1g net carb per serving):

  • Leafy greens (lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy etc)
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh herbs
  • Chicory family (endive, escarole, radicchio) – a great source of vitamins and minerals!

(You might also like to check out my guide to low carb veggies!)

Zero Carb Condiments:

  • Vinegar (NOT balsamic)
  • Mustard (avoid honey varieties)
  • Salt
  • Many types of hot sauce
  • Regular (full fat) mayonnaise

Zero Carb Drinks:

  • Water
  • Tea (no milk or sugar)
  • Coffee (no milk or sugar)
  • Diet soda
  • Herbal tea
  • Drink mix powders (eg Crystal Light)

Check out Amazon’s selection of zero carb products:

  • Thin Slim Zero Carb Bread
  • Utz Pork Rinds
  • Rockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink
  • Beef Jerky
  • Crunchy Bites Cheese Snacks
  • Zero Carb Smart Burger Buns

ThinSlim Foods 45 Calorie, 0g Net Carb, Love-The-Taste Low Carb Bread PlainUtz Pork Rinds, Original Flavor – Keto Friendly Snack with Zero Carbs per Serving, Light and Airy Chicharrones with the Perfect Amount of Salt, 8 oz. BarrelGluten Free, ZERO CARB of sugar of starch, sesame, Hamburger Buns- 24 packRockstar Zero Carb Energy Drink, 16-Ounce Cans (Pack of 24)Crunchy Bites Cheese Snacks 3 Pack – Cheddar, Gouda and Pepper Jack – 100% Cheese – High Protein and Calcium, Gluten Free, No-Low Carb, Kosher – 1.5oz – by Yalla NaturalsPeople’s Choice Beef Jerky – Old Fashioned – Original – Sugar-Free, Carb-Free, Keto-Friendly – 1 Pound, 1 Bag

And don’t forget about zero carb Shirataki Noodles!! Get 10% off when you order from Miracle Noodles direct! Use coupon code “AFF10” on checkout to get your discount!

And as an extra bonus, here are some zero carb recipes:

  • Pepperoni Chips
  • Homemade Chipotle Beef Jerky
  • Zero Carb Gummy Candies
  • Lettuce Steak Wraps
  • Pork Rind Crusted Bacon
  • No Carb Ice Cream
  • BBQ Pork Rinds

Check out my new guide to No Carb Meals!

Do you eat a zero carb diet? Or do you just eat as low as possible? Read what happened when I tried having a Zero Carb Day! It’s actually much harder than you think – well it was for me! Although I’m should mention that I’m not advocating eating a zero carb diet long term – especially without consulting a health professional – but it was a really interesting experiment. I’d love to hear about your reasons for looking for zero carb food!

Want to grab this list of zero carb foods in a handy printable? It’s FREE in my store!

(Photos for the main image courtesy of Free Range Stock and Clker. Coffee photo by Ozgu Ozden, Water photo by rawpixel – both on Unsplash)

Check out my Low Carb Starter Pack Ebook!

Are you just beginning your low carb journey? Check out my starter pack of printables!

The low-carb trend may seem as old school as fax machines, but eating naturally low-carb foods (I’m looking at you veggies and lean protein) will always be good for your health. Everyone needs some healthy utility players in the fridge that can make snacks and meals a little better.

Here’s a list of my of some of my favorite low-carb, nutrient-dense, tasty foods.

1. Avocado

A third of an avocado has only 5 grams of carbs and, aside from being Instagram famous, it’s also known for being high in monounsaturated healthy fats, which helps lower bad cholesterol and is linked with burning belly fat.

Mash an avocado into hummus for the perfect hybrid dip for crudité, top an apple slice (yes this is delish!) or of course, there’s that whole toast thing.

Andrea Lynn

Avocado Toast With Grapefruit and Pomegranate Seeds

Andrea Lynn

2. Broccoli

A whole cup will cost you only 30 calories and contains just 6 grams of carbs, but has an impressive 3 grams of fiber and, like other cruciferous vegetables, is rich in cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates.

For an easy dinner side dish, lay broccoli out on a baking sheet and drizzle with avocado oil before roasting at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

3. Coconut oil

This jam packed with MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) cooking oil has zero grams of carbs. MCTs are a type of saturated fat that can help you increase your good cholesterol, reduce the bad and even help you burn fat. Because of its high cooking temp, you can use it for everything from baking to broiling to sautéing.

4. Eggplant

A full cup of aubergine (yes, that is the other name of this pretty purple veggie) contains less than 5 grams of carbs and contains nasunin, a compound that protects your brain cells from oxidation.

TODAY

Fast and Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

Mark Bittman

For eggplant newbies, here’s a healthy way to get your feet wet: sprinkle with salt, let stand for 10 minutes, blot with a paper towel to remove excess water, then, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 375°F for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

5. Eggs

Quite possibly the most convenient form of protein, a single egg has 0.6 grams of carbs and 6 grams of protein. And, don’t go tossing that yolk, it’s packed with choline an important nutrient for brain health.

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Keep hard-boiled eggs on hand and mash onto a slice of Ezekiel toast for an on-the-go breakfast or sprinkle with sea salt and cayenne for a simple snack.

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6. Grapefruit

At 13 grams of carbs per half, a grapefruit is also lower in sugar compared to other citrus fruits. One study showed there was a positive relationship between eating a half of a grapefruit before a meal and weight loss. Section half a grapefruit, sprinkle with cinnamon and a drop of honey and place under the broiler for three to four minutes for a perfect jam-packed nutrient dessert.

7. Greek yogurt

Each 6-ounce container has about 6 grams of carbs and a whole lot of protein, approximately 17 grams! Go for one that has no added sugar and add your fave nuts or seeds and berries for a calcium-packed breakfast.

Sara Bir

Basic Savory Yogurt Parfait

Sara Bir

8. Green beans

Green beans provide you with 7 grams of carbs per cup and are rich in vitamin K, which contributes to your bone health, healthy blood clotting and can help prevent heart disease. Mix 1 cup steamed beans with a teaspoon of pesto and top with a soft-boiled egg or grilled chicken for a super fast, nutrient-dense lunch.

9. Olives

Snacking on two tablespoons of olives will still have you consuming just under 1 gram of carbs and the antioxidant oleuropein, which is specific to olives and has been shown to lower cholesterol and prevent oxidative stress.

Add olives to Ezekiel toast and goat cheese for a savory breakfast, couple with veggies for a snack or toss onto your go-to romaine salad at dinner.

10. Peanuts

One ounce provides you with less than 5 grams of carbs and high amounts of biotin, an important vitamin B when it comes to metabolism, nerve and digestive health. Crumble them up before tossing them in a salad, couple a handful with a piece of fruit for a snack or add to your next veggie or tofu stir fry.

11. Pumpkin seeds

These super seeds have 15 grams of carbs per ounce and are loaded with magnesium, a mineral crucial to maintaining healthy blood pressure and to overall better digestive health. Add to your oatmeal or mix into guacamole to give it a crunch.

12. Raspberries

A handful of ten of these pretty berries have less than 2.5 grams of carbs. High in manganese, these fiber-filled gems also provide some serious benefits when it comes your bone health. Buy them frozen to always have on hand for smoothies, to top yogurt or drizzle a little dark chocolate over a cup for an extra sweet treat.

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13. Salmon

Salmon is a filling fish that provides you with zero carbs. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help you burn fat, make your skin glow and fight inflammation. Add salmon to eggs, top a high fiber cracker and a squeeze of lemon or grill with a pomegranate glaze.

14. Shellfish

A ½ cup of shrimp provides you with less than 1 gram of carbs. It’s also low in calories and high protein for all of you watching your waistline. Shellfish also contains zinc, an important mineral for helping your immune system fight off viruses. Stir fry shrimp with broccoli, snap peas, onion and shredded carrots for a fast, simple, healthy weeknight meal.

15. Sunflower seeds

Six grams of carbs per quarter cup, this seed is known for being high in selenium, a cancer-fighting mineral. Who needs trail mix to get these seeds in? Add them to your main course by sprinkling on roasted Brussels sprouts or sauteéd butternut squash.

16. Tomatoes

One medium tomato has less than 5 grams of carbs. This perfect sandwich topper has 1.5 grams of fiber and is also rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which contributes to glowing skin and boosting your immune system.

Chop tomato, onion and mushrooms and add to an egg scramble or hollow out and fill with an almond farro salad for a vegan meal.

17. Zucchini

Get over 50 percent of your vitamin C needs in one medium-sized zucchini. These veggies have a high water content to help you stay hydrated and to keep you fuller longer. Slice thinly and layer with red sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese for a low carb way to get in your lasagna fix.

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