No matter your reasons for going keto, there are certain foods you should avoid, or risk a full-blown cheat day! Thinking about which foods to avoid and what’s suitable and unsuitable on keto can be taxing for your brain. Here are some of the foods you should avoid on keto.
Bread is a staple in many countries, and it comes in several different forms, from flatbreads and bagels to loaves and rolls. Carb counts vary based on portion sizes and ingredients, but you’d be surprised by the high average carb counts for popular breads. For example, just one slice of traditional white bread can have around 14 grams of carbs, only 1 of which is fiber. A single slice of whole-wheat bread has around 17 grams of carbs, only 2 of which are fiber [1,2].
Most grains, such as wheat, oats, and rice, are high in carbs and need to be limited or avoided on a ketogenic diet. Carb-heavy, refined, grain-based bread is off the keto menu, but you can enjoy one of the many alternatives, such as nut-based bread.
Keto bread can be more filling and nutritious and just as tasty! Choose from one of these delicious options:
Traditional pasta is made from grains and especially high in carbohydrates. Just one cup of cooked pasta (around 250 grams) gives you 43 grams of carbohydrates, only 3 of which are fiber. Whole-wheat pasta isn’t much better, with the same amount providing 37 grams of carbs, including 6 grams of fiber. Unless you consume a minor amount, traditional grain-based pasta isn’t a good keto choice [3,4].
Added sugar is definitely off the keto menu, but you’d be surprised by how many sneaky sugars are added into everything from salad dressings to snack bars. Unless it’s a keto recipe, most goodies like candy, cake, and cookies are off-limits. You might not realize that natural forms of sugar can have just as many carbs as white sugar.
One tablespoon of white sugar has 12.6 grams of carbs, but one tablespoon of maple syrup has 13 grams of carbs! Honey takes the lead with 17 grams of carbs. If you’re keto, avoid these artificial and natural sugars and go for keto-friendly sweeteners like stevia instead [5,6,7].
4. Cured and Processed Meats
Cured meats typically contain sugar, nitrates, and other ingredients that aren’t keto-friendly, and they might not be the best options for your health. Go for uncured meats that rely on natural flavorings and salts to preserve the meat, and they don’t contain sugar or nitrates. When you can, try to choose healthier, quality meats, such as grass-fed and pasture-raised.
5. Some Fruits
When you’re keto, some fruits are suitable, and some fruits like pineapple are a little too high in carbs and might kick you out of ketosis. On a low-carb diet, it’s best to avoid or limit especially sweet, starchy, or dried fruits with higher carb counts, such as:
Banana (1 medium): 27 grams of carbs, including 3 grams of fiber
Raisins (28 grams): 22 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber
Mango, sliced (165 grams or 1 cup): 28 grams of carbs, including 3 grams of fiber
Dates (2 large): 36 grams of carbs, including 4 grams of fiber [8,9,10,11]
Berries are a top keto-friendly choice because they’re lower in sugar and higher in fiber compared to other fruits. Small amounts of berries, maybe ½ cup or a whole cup, can be enjoyed by most keto dieters.
6. Starchy Vegetables
Veggies are a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, and more. Some starchier veggies contain more digestible carbohydrates and should be limited or avoided on a ketogenic diet. Examples of starchy veggies include:
Potato (1 medium): 37 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber
Sweet Potato/yam (1 medium): 24 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber
Beets, cooked (1 cup or 150 grams): 16 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber [12,13,14]
Corn is considered a vegetable by some and grain by others, and it’s also high in carbs, with 1 cup of corn providing 41 grams of carbs, only 5 of which are fiber. 
Choose more keto-approved, low-starch veggies, such as bok choy, cabbage, and cauliflower.
You might think you have to say goodbye to cereal altogether, but the good news is you can find plenty of keto-approved cereal options or make your own keto cereal. A bowl of nuts and coconut flakes with some berries and almond milk and a pinch of cinnamon and vanilla might just do the trick.
Even cereals marketed as a healthier choice might still be too high in carbs. For example, 1 cup or 90 grams of cooked regular or instant oatmeal has 32 grams of carbs, only 4 of which are fiber. Steel-cut oats are less processed, but they aren’t much different when it comes to carbohydrates .
Whole-grain cereals tend to be even higher in carbs. ½ cup or 61 grams of granola gives you around 37 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fiber .
8. Sweetened Yogurt
Plain yogurt is fairly low in carbs, but sweetened and heavily processed yogurts can have as many carbs like sugary desserts. Avoid low-fat yogurts because when food manufacturers remove the fat, foods often taste bad and lose much of the flavor, so sugar is often added back in.
245 grams or one cup of nonfat sweetened fruit yogurt can have as much as 47 grams of carbs, which is higher than a comparable serving of most ice creams! [18,19]
Greek yogurt is a concentrated fermented milk product with a low lactose content, making it a better option for those with dairy or lactose sensitivities and those on keto since it’s lower in carbs. 5 ounces (150 grams) of plain Greek yogurt is around 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs .
Most Greek yogurts have lots of added sugar, but there are some trusted brands of keto yogurt you can choose from, such as YQ®, Peak®, and Two Good®. Chobani® full fat plain Greek yogurt.
Make your yogurt more keto-friendly by adding coconut oil, nuts, and seeds, coconut flakes, MCT oil, or keto granola. Check out Dr. Ryan Lowery’s favorite protein-packed keto greek yogurt recipe that he makes almost every day! If you can’t have dairy or you’re doing an elimination diet due to autoimmune disease, you could try a coconut yogurt alternative!
9. Low-Fat and Fat-Free Salad Dressings
Many commercial dressings, particularly the low-fat and fat-free varieties, are higher in carbs than you might expect. 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of fat-free French dressing provides 10 grams of carbs. The same portion size of fat-free ranch dressing has 11 grams of carbs! [21,22]
Go for a creamy, full-fat, keto-approved dressing instead. Keep it simple and healthy and use olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, your choice of herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Balsamic vinegar is another option, or you can try this low-carb ranch dressing or this zesty keto salad dressing.
10. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are popular in countries worldwide, but they aren’t typically the best choice for the ketogenic diet. While they’re a good source of fiber, they’re also usually higher in carbohydrates. Depending on your personal tolerance, you might include small amounts of beans on your low carb diet.
For example, one cup (160-200 grams) of cooked peas has 25 grams of carbs, 9 of which are fiber, and one cup of cooked black beans has 41 grams of carbs, 15 of which are fiber [23,24].
11. Crackers and Chips
Chips and crackers are certainly popular snack foods, but they aren’t a low-carb choice for keto dieters. Most crackers and chips are heavily processed and made from starchy grains or potatoes. Even 1 ounce serving of whole-wheat crackers contains around 19 grams of carbs, including 3 grams of fiber .
Choose keto-compliant alternatives, such as seed-based, low-carb crackers, cucumber slices, or veggie sticks. If you’re looking for a crunch, go for pork rinds or roasted, salted nuts or seeds in lieu of chips.
Nut milk is typically a keto-compliant choice, but regular cow’s milk can be high in carbs, depending on processing. Surprisingly, 8 ounces or 240 ml of whole milk offers the same 12-13 grams of carbs as the low-fat and fat-free varieties.
Some keto dieters might be able to include small amounts of milk in a low-carb diet. Full-fat cream, half-and-half, or coconut milk are better options [26,27,28].
What Foods Do You Avoid on Keto?
How do you satisfy your cravings and avoid carb-heavy foods on keto? What are your favorite comfort-food replacements?
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