Welcome to our guide on the keto diet! This popular low-carb, high-fat diet has gained much attention recently for its potential weight loss benefits. But if you’re considering trying out the keto lifestyle, it’s important to know which foods are off-limits.
In this article, we’ll cover 12 foods that you cannot eat on a keto diet and explain why they don’t fit into the guidelines of this popular eating plan.
What is Keto?
Before we dive into the foods you can’t eat on keto, let’s first understand what the keto diet actually is. The ketogenic (keto) diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan that aims to put your body in a state of ketosis. In this state, your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
To achieve and maintain ketosis, the keto diet requires limiting your carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams daily while increasing your fat and protein consumption. This drastic reduction in carbs forces your body to use stored fat for energy, resulting in potential weight loss.
The 12 Foods You Cannot Eat on a Keto Diet
In no particular order of importance, here are 12 foods you can’t eat while following a keto diet. There are, however, substitutes for all of them. A quick Google search will give you some great options.
Grains and Starchy Vegetables
This includes wheat, rice, oats, corn, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables like peas and squash. These foods are high in carbohydrates and can quickly kick you out of ketosis.
For example, on a strict keto diet, a single cup of cooked rice has around 45 grams of carbs – almost the entirety of your daily carb allowance. Similarly, a medium-sized potato has around 37 grams of carbs. Even in small quantities, consuming these foods can easily tip your daily carb intake over the ketogenic threshold.
While fruit is considered healthy, most fruits are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates. This includes tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes. In addition to tropical fruits, others like apples, oranges, and grapes are also high in carbs, making them unsuitable for the keto diet.
However, some fruits like avocados and certain berries can be included in moderation as they have fewer carbs. It’s essential to understand the carb content of fruits before consuming them on a keto diet because, despite their health benefits, they can hinder your journey toward achieving ketosis.
Sugar and Sweeteners
Among the most significant culprits that will knock you off your ketogenic course are added sugars and some artificial sweeteners. These substances are prevalent in obvious foodstuffs like candy and fizzy drinks and in less-expected items like certain types of yogurt, sauces, or even salad dressings. Notably, even ‘sugar-free’ products can contain certain sweeteners that could potentially derail your ketosis. Therefore, it’s vital to carefully scrutinize food labels and opt for natural, low-carb sweetening alternatives like stevia when following a keto diet.
Like sugary foods, drinks like juice, energy, and sports drinks are high in carbs and can disrupt your keto diet. These beverages are often overlooked sources of carbs, as they do not satiate hunger but still contribute significantly to your daily carb intake.
Even seemingly healthy drink options like smoothies and fruit-infused water can pose a problem due to most fruits’ high sugar and carb content. It’s advisable to stick to water, coffee, and tea without sugar or opt for low-carb alternatives such as almond milk when on a keto diet.
Processed foods often contain hidden sugars and carbohydrates that can easily throw you off track on a keto diet. These include packaged snacks, frozen meals, and processed meats. When it comes to choosing foods for your keto journey, prioritize whole, unprocessed foods for the best results.
Many sauces, dressings, and condiments can be high in carbohydrates. This includes ketchup, BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, and salad dressings. Even seemingly harmless additions like honey mustard or sweet relish can be loaded with sugars, disrupting ketosis.
Surprisingly, even your favorite pasta sauce may contain added sugars, making it a high-carb option. It is crucial to examine the nutritional labels of these sauces and condiments carefully, or even better, prepare your own low-carb versions at home to ensure they align with your keto diet.
Most alcoholic beverages are high in carbs and can quickly knock you out of ketosis. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are all off-limits on a keto diet. While spirits such as vodka, gin, and whiskey contain zero carbs, they should also be consumed sparingly. This is because alcohol can inhibit fat burning and lead to weight gain, thwarting your keto goals. They can also stimulate your appetite and reduce your self-control over food, leading to overeating.
Beans, lentils, and peas are all high in carbohydrates and should be avoided on a keto diet. This includes popular foods like hummus and chickpeas.
For instance, a single cup of cooked lentils contains around 40 grams of carbs, which is almost the entire carb allotment for a full day on a strict keto diet. Also, remember that peanuts, despite being often thought of as a nut, are a legume and can also be high in carbs.
Aside from grains themselves, foods made with grain-based flour, like bread, pasta, and pizza crust, also contain high amounts of carbohydrates. Even seemingly healthy options like whole grains and brown rice are not compatible with a ketogenic lifestyle. They are packed with carbs, and consuming them can prevent your body from entering ketosis. Even gluten-free breads and pastries are usually high in carbohydrates and should be skipped.
While dairy products can fit into a keto diet, choosing full-fat options over low-fat or fat-free versions is important. Low-fat or fat-free dairy items such as milk, cheese, and yogurt may seem like healthier options, but they usually contain hidden sugars to compensate for the flavor lost when removing the fat. This can lead to a spike in your carb intake, hindering your progress on the keto diet. Instead, opt for full-fat dairy products, which are higher in healthy fats and lower in carbs, supporting your body’s transition into the state of ketosis.
While non-starchy vegetables are encouraged on a keto diet, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas should be avoided due to their high carb content.
Other starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets, and winter squashes also have a high glycemic index, which can rapidly spike your blood sugar levels. It’s crucial to remember that while these veggies are nutritious, their high carb content makes them incompatible with a ketogenic diet.
Snack foods like chips, crackers, and pretzels are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided on a keto diet. High-carb snacks, typically processed foods, not only derail your keto diet, but they also offer little to no nutritional value. Many of these snacks are laden with refined grains and sugars, which can lead to an energy crash after the initial high. Instead of reaching for these quick, carb-heavy bites, consider preparing snacks at home using keto-friendly ingredients to ensure you stay within your daily carb limit and maintain a state of ketosis. Opt for low-carb options like nuts, seeds, and cheese.
These are just some of the foods you should avoid while following a keto diet. It’s important to carefully read ingredient labels and make educated choices to ensure that you stay in ketosis and see the best results. A keto diet is about reducing carbs and focusing on healthy fats and moderate protein intake.
With proper planning and knowledge, you can still enjoy a delicious and satisfying diet while on keto. So, next time you’re at the grocery store or dining out, keep these 13 foods in mind to stay on track with your keto journey. Happy eating!
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