What Not To Eat on Keto: 7 Foods To Avoid
Are you considering starting a ketogenic diet but feeling overwhelmed by the list of foods to avoid? It can be discouraging to think about all the foods that are off-limits, especially when they might be some of your favorites.
Understandably, some people may want to quit before they even start. But don't give up just yet! With a bit of creativity, you can make keto versions of many of your favorite dishes.
In this guide, we'll discuss some foods to avoid and provide keto-friendly food alternatives. We'll also give you some ideas for delicious and satisfying meals to help you stay on track, stay satisfied, and achieve your weight loss goals.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as the keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carb diet with numerous health benefits. When following this diet, your body switches from using glucose as its primary energy source to using ketones, which are produced when your body breaks down fat. This metabolic state, called ketosis, gives the ketogenic diet its name.
This diet is not a new concept; it has been used for over 100 years to address certain health conditions. However, in recent years, it has gained popularity as a weight loss tool.
This way of eating requires consuming high amounts of healthy fats, moderate protein, and very few carbohydrates. The typical macronutrient ratio for the keto diet is 70 to 80 percent fat, 15 to 20 percent protein, and five to 10 percent carbohydrates.
By drastically reducing your carb intake, your body enters a state of ketosis, which can support weight loss, encourage healthy blood sugar levels, and soothe irritation.
Some individuals may experience side effects like the "keto flu" when transitioning to a ketogenic diet.Consult with a healthcare provider and a registered dietitian before starting any new diet to ensure it's right for you.
Why Are Fats Important?
Since the goal of the ketogenic diet is to enter a state of ketosis, fats play an even more critical role. A diet high in healthy fats can help achieve ketosis and provide sustained energy throughout the day.
When combined with protein, fats can help you feel full and satisfied after a meal, reducing the temptation to snack or indulge in high-carbohydrate foods.
Fats are a vital macronutrient that our bodies need for various functions. They serve as an energy source and help absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Good fats can support healthy cholesterol levels, which aid in producing hormones like testosterone and estrogen and contribute to healthy cell growth and development.
Focus on consuming healthy fats while limiting or avoiding unhealthy trans fats. Good sources of healthy fats include:
- Olive Oil
- Fatty Fish
Why Does the Keto Diet Limit Carbs?
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body, which breaks carbs down into glucose to use for energy. If we consume more carbohydrates than we need, the excess is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When those stores are full, the excess glucose is converted into fat and stored in adipose tissue.
The keto diet limits net carbs and total carbs to a very low level, typically 20 to 50 grams per day. This forces the body to use an alternative source of fuel: fat. When the body doesn't have enough glucose for energy, the liver breaks down fat into molecules called ketones, which can be used for energy instead of glucose.
What Foods Are Not Keto-Friendly?
Now that we better understand the ketogenic diet and why it emphasizes fats and limits carbs, it's time to discuss what foods are not friendly for those eating keto. We'll review the high-carb foods you should avoid and provide some keto-friendly food alternatives.
This may seem daunting for beginners at first, but once you have a good grasp of what to avoid, you'll find that there are still plenty of delicious options to choose from in this comprehensive food list of keto diet foods to satisfy your cravings.
Grains are high in carbohydrates, which can kick you out of ketosis and prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals. Even whole grains, often touted as a healthier option, can contain too many carbs to fit into a keto diet. For example, a slice of whole wheat bread contains around 12 grams of carbs, more than half of the daily carb allowance on keto.
Most grains often contain gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is known to cause digestive issues for some people and can even trigger an autoimmune response in individuals with certain health conditions.
Many alternatives are available, such as low-carb flour and nut-based flour, which can be used to make delicious keto-friendly bread, muffins, and other baked goods.
Sugary Fruits and Fruit Juice
While fruits and juices may seem healthy, they are often high in sugar and carbohydrates. Fructose, the sugar found in fruits, can quickly raise blood sugar levels and take you out of ketosis.
If you're looking for low-sugar fruit options, some good choices include berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. These fruits are lower in sugar and carbs than bananas, oranges, or mangoes.
Juices can contain just as much sugar as soda. Avoid fruit juices and opt for water or unsweetened beverages instead. If you crave something sweet, try making a keto-friendly smoothie with low-sugar fruits and a sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol.
While they may be a staple in many diets, starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates. Some examples of starchy veggies include:
- Sweet potatoes
Some starchy vegetables, such as winter squash, can be consumed in moderation.
Instead, opt for low-carb alternatives. These include:
- Brussels sprouts
These vegetables are low in carbs, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed.
You can replace mashed potatoes with cauliflower mash or use zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. These substitutions are not only keto-friendly but also delicious and satisfying.
Sugar, Honey, and Maple Syrup
One of the biggest challenges when starting a keto diet is avoiding sugar and other sweeteners. This can be especially difficult when you have a sweet tooth or when sugar is a staple in your daily routine.
Sugar, honey, and maple syrup are all added sugars commonly used in many foods and beverages. These sweeteners can significantly raise blood sugar levels and kick you out of ketosis.
Sugar can also be found in unexpected places like sauces, salad dressings, and condiments like ketchup. Be sure to read labels carefully to avoid consuming hidden sugars.
Thankfully, there are many keto-friendly alternatives to sugar, honey, and maple syrup that you can use instead. These include natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit, which have minimal impact on blood sugar levels and affect ketosis. Just be sure to use these alternatives in moderation, as excessive consumption can still lead to digestive upset.
Many people assume that gluten-free foods are automatically keto-friendly, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. While gluten-free goods may be suitable for those with gluten sensitivity, gluten-free products often have alternative flours, such as rice flour, potato flour, or tapioca flour, which are high in carbohydrates.
While some gluten-free products may be keto-friendly, always read the label and check the carb count. Gluten-free products may contain added sugars or other non-keto-friendly ingredients.
If you incorporate gluten-free products into your keto diet, look for those made with almond flour, coconut flour, or other low-carb flour. These alternatives can help you enjoy some of your favorite baked goods while staying on track with your keto goals.
Milk is a staple in many households. Unfortunately, full-fat and low-fat milk contain lactose, a type of sugar that can interrupt ketosis if consumed in large amounts. Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are acceptable dairy products as they are generally low in carbs.
Unsweetened almond milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives. It has a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Coconut milk is another popular choice, but it is higher in fat and calories, so you should use it in moderation.
Other dairy-free options include hazelnut milk, cashew milk, and hemp milk. Choose unsweetened varieties with minimal ingredients to avoid added sugars or carbs. Heavy cream is a rich, low-carb option if you prefer dairy milk.
When it comes to milk in your coffee, simply substitute regular milk with keto-friendly alternatives such as unsweetened almond milk or heavy cream. With these options, you can still enjoy your favorite coffee drinks without sacrificing progress.
Legumes, such as green beans, lentils, and chickpeas, as well as soy products, like tofu and tempeh, are often considered healthy sources of protein and fiber. However, they have a high carb content.
A cup of cooked beans can contain up to 45 grams of carbs. Legumes also contain anti-nutrients, such as lectins and phytates, which can impair nutrient absorption and cause digestive issues for some people.
Peanuts are technically legumes but are allowed on the keto diet in moderation because they have a relatively low carb content compared to other legumes. Those who are sensitive to peanuts should avoid them altogether. Opt for natural, unsweetened varieties without added oils or sugars.
If you're used to eating legumes regularly, it may be challenging to eliminate them from your diet at first. Pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts can provide a similar texture and flavor as legumes while offering healthy fats and nutrients.
What Are Some Keto-Friendly Meal Ideas?
Now that we've covered what foods to avoid on the keto diet and provided some alternatives, let's look at some keto-friendly meal ideas. These ideas will give you an idea of what it looks like to incorporate healthy fats, moderate protein, and low-carb vegetables into your daily meal plans.
Dr. Kellyann's keto-friendly products are a great way to add even more nutrients and delicious flavors to any keto recipe. Below are some examples to get you started.
Chicken Soup With Bone Broth
There's nothing quite like a warm bowl of chicken soup on a chilly day, and it's comfort food that can easily be made keto-friendly. One way to enhance the flavor and nutrition of your chicken soup is to use bone broth as the base. Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Liquid or Bone Broth Powder are both excellent options.
To make the soup, start by sautéing some diced onions and celery in a pot with a bit of olive oil. Once the vegetables are softened, add chopped carrots (in moderation, since they are starchy), minced garlic, and diced chicken breast. Add the bone broth and bring the soup to a simmer.
Feel free to add keto-friendly additions such as sliced mushrooms, kale, or zucchini. Season with salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices you like. Let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
Not only is this chicken soup delicious and satisfying, but it's also a great way to add more nutrients and collagen.
Green Protein Smoothie With Almond Milk
A green protein smoothie with almond milk is a delicious and nutritious way to start your day on a keto diet. To make it, blend some spinach, avocado, almond milk, and ice cubes until smooth. Add a scoop of Dr. Kellyann's Collagen Shake in your favorite flavor.
This smoothie is perfect for those who are always on the go, as it's quick and easy to make. Plus, it's packed with fiber, vitamins, and healthy fats, making it a great way to fuel your body for the day ahead.
You can customize your smoothie by adding keto-friendly ingredients like berries or nut butter. Not only does this add more flavor and texture to your smoothie, but it can also add more nutrients to your diet.
Keto Brownies With Collagen Coffee
Looking for a sweet and satisfying dessert on the keto diet? Look no further than keto brownies! You can use your favorite keto brownie recipe as a base and add Dr. Kellyann's Collagen Coffee or Collagen Hot Cocoa for added protein and flavor.
Not only do these collagen powders add a delicious taste, but they also contain vital nutrients that can support hair, skin, nails, and joint health. So indulge in a tasty and nutritious treat without any guilt!
The Bottom Line
The keto diet can be challenging, especially when adjusting to a new way of eating. Don't let that discourage you! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the keto diet. Everyone's journey will look different, and that's okay.
One of the keys to success on the keto diet is finding ways to make it work for you and your lifestyle. Whether experimenting with new recipes or finding keto-friendly substitutions for your favorite foods, staying motivated and open-minded is key.
Remember that the keto diet can be a delicious and sustainable lifestyle with the right mindset and a little creativity in the kitchen. Don't be afraid to try new things and keep experimenting! You've got this.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database
The Ketogenic Diet | National Library of Medicine
A Healthy Approach to Dietary Fats | National Library of Medicine