The keto diet is high in fats, moderate in protein intake and very low in carbohydrates. In general, carbs are what the body prefers as a source of energy, but on a ketogenic diet, carbs are restricted to 5% of total daily calories. This depletion of carbohydrates forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This process is explained by the fact that the body starts to break down stored fat into molecules called ketones, which are later used for energy.
While the keto diet was initially invented as a tool to reduce seizures in epileptic children, it is now reviewed for a range of possible health benefits and improved conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Let’s see how restrictive the keto diet is, in terms of foods you are not allowed to eat.
Foods which you can’t eat on a ketogenic diet
Grains are generally high in carbs, and foods such as pasta and bread, even whole wheat pasta or bean based pastas should be avoided. Try alternatives like vegetable noodles, which are low in carbs. Breakfast cereals are also full of sugar, and even healthy whole-grain cereals are high in carbs and should be avoided or at least limited. Other grains to avoid are rice, oats, rye, quinoa, barley, bulgur, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and millet.
For example, a slice of bread is about 10 grams of carbs, so you can eat it if you really want to. However, for the same amount of carbs you can eat lots of vegetables, which will be so much better for you as vitamins and minerals. You can enjoy beer or wine on a low carb diet, but it should be a very limited treat.
Fruits and starchy vegetables
Even if fruits are generally viewed as a healthy food option in moderation, most of them are very high in sugar and consuming them will spike your blood sugar much faster than berries, and they do have more carbs. Examples of high-sugar fruits you need to avoid on keto:
- Bananas – 1 medium has 27 g total carbs
- Dates – 2 large have 36 g total carbs
- Pears – 1 medium has 27 g total carbs
- Starchy vegetables are not a good keto option since they are full of carbs and low on fiber. Starchy vegetable foods include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn. Carb amount in some starchy vegetables:
- Potato – 1 medium has a total of 37 g carbs
- Sweet potato – 1 medium has a total of 24 g carbs
- Corn – 1 cup has a total of 36 g carbs
Even if they are high in protein and fiber, legumes are still loaded with carbs. It’s best to avoid: black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans.
Yogurts and juices
Greek yogurt is your best option since it’s full of protein and low in carbohydrates, avoid yogurts with added sugars. Fruit juices are best to be avoided altogether, natural or not, they are still very high in fast digestible carbs and they will increase your blood sugar.
Condiments and sauces
Sauces like BBQ sauce, ketchup, salad dressings, tomato sauce and hot sauces contain sugar and should be avoided.
Low-fat dairy products
You want to avoid foods and drinks like skim milk, fat-free yogurt, skim mozzarella, low-fat cheese. Alway choose their higher fat alternatives.
Foods to be totally avoided: candy, cookies, chocolate, pastries, pies, ice cream, custard and pudding. Look-up keto-friendly dessert recipes, which will not have an impact on your blood sugar level as regular desserts do.
Any type of sweetened beverage, soda, should be avoided on the keto diet. These types of drinks are full of sugar and will take you out of ketosis very fast, your body will go back to burning carbohydrates for energy again.
Sugar, honey and syrup
All types of sugar should be avoided, since they are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Honey syrup, agave nectar, aspartame, saccharin, corn syrup should be avoided as well. If you really feel the need to have a sweet drink, try a keto-friendly sweetener such as erythritol or xylitol.
Although foods like sausage and bacon are allowed on the keto diet, you should not make them your main source of protein. Try to choose fresh meat instead of processed as much as possible. Foods like chips, crackers, pretzels, crackers and other grain baked goods should be avoided altogether. Trans fats are to be avoided as well, including margarine and hydrogenated fats.
You might intuitively believe that gluten-free means carb-free. It’s very far from the trough! Most gluten-free foods are just as high in carbohydrates as are traditional foods with gluten. This type of products also lack fiber, so there isn’t really any good reason to include them in your diet.
You can have these sometimes on the Keto Diet
Technically, you can have any food as long as it fits in your daily carbohydrate goal. There are some foods that are somewhere in the middle between low-carb and high-carb. For example, milk can be a great source of calcium, B vitamins and potassium, but just 1 cup has 12 grams of sugar in the form of lactose. There are other low-carb plant based milk alternatives you can try, like almond or coconut milk, which are also full of vitamins. Other controversial foods for the keto dieters are beans and legumes, which are high in protein and fiber, but also in carbs. You could eat a very small portion, or avoid them totally.
When you think about it, restricting foods full of sugar or simple carbs is surely a good thing to do! So many of us have filled our diets with processed foods and sugar that we can’t imagine our life without them, even if we don’t technically need them in order to live a healthy life. The keto diet offers lots of food alternatives which will make you feel full and curb the sugar cravings. Your health can benefit from such a change. What foods to avoid on Keto?