27 Low Carb Foods To AVOID On Keto
If you’re new to Keto, then you might think that all low-carb foods are created equal.
However, many low-carb foods, in fact, should be avoided completely.
Whether you’re harnessing Keto for weight loss or you’re taking a longer view and pursuing lasting health benefits, eating a healthy Keto diet is essential.
Today, we’ll show you how to achieve that the easy way.
Stop Doing Keto The Unhealthy Way!
It’s all too easy to imagine that simply slashing your carbs is enough to ensure that everything will fall into place with Keto.
It’s not your fault that many foods are heavily marketed as healthy options when they are sorely lacking nutritionally while also being directly harmful in some instances.
The core mistake is believing that just because a particular food is low in carbs, that makes it a perfect match for Keto. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s often those foods you’d least expect that you should sidestep.
27 Low-Carb Foods to Avoid on Keto
We’ll group these low-carb foods into several broad categories rather than aiming for an exhaustive A-Z.
Avoid these groups of low carb foods on the Keto diet:
Avoid Processed Vegetable and Seed Oils
The first thing you should strike off your list when following Keto are processed seed and vegetable oils.
Eliminate anything cooked with the following oils if at all possible:
- Vegetable Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Corn Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Canola Oil
Processed vegetable and seed oils are unhealthy because:
The unstable fats in these oils go rancid easily.
These cooking oils are often rancid before you even use them. They’re often stored for years on shelves in clear plastic bottles. And then you heat them during the cooking process, oxidizing them further. Your body cannot readily make use of these rancid fats, and they can lead to toxicity to certain cells and inflammation. (1, 2)
Way too high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
Not only is there too much omega-6 in vegetable and seed oils, it’s also improperly balanced with omega-3s. And over the past century, we have been consuming higher and higher ratios of omega-6s to omega-3s. (3) And high levels of omega-6s, as well as high ratios, have been linked to obesity, metabolic disease, DNA damage, risk of cancer, and cardiovascular disease. (4, 5, 6)
Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. says, “Omega 6 fats not only fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways, but also reduce availability of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats in your tissues, resulting in more inflammation.”
He adds, “Consuming too many omega 6 fats also increases the likelihood of inflammatory diseases and links to mental illness, suicide, and homicide. In fact, studies have shown a connection of mental health with inflammation in the brain.”
Use coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil instead on Keto
There are some great Keto-friendly fats and oils like coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), olive oil, avocado oil, lard, duck fat, and bacon grease. So use those instead.
Given that refined sugar is entirely composed of carbs, you’ll need to avoid it if you’re following Keto.
Avoiding natural sugars leaves you with a range of artificial sweeteners but these pose various other potential health issues.
So, make sure to avoid these artificial sweeteners on Keto:
- aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet),
- sucralose (Splenda),
- acesulfame (ACE K),
- saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low))
These are often found in diet drinks and sugar-free candy and gum. You can also find packets of these in stores posing as zero-calorie sweeteners.
Many health practitioners recommend eating fewer sweetened items altogether. Health Coach Nathan Marsala notes, “Artificial sweeteners alter our cravings and the reward centers in the brain and gut that results in cravings for more sugary foods and simple carbohydrates.”
Use stevia to sweeten desserts on Keto:
Instead of using artificial sweeteners, go with stevia if you need a sweet kick. Stevia is extracted from a leafy green plant, and you’ll find it as a white powder or mixed in liquids. Stevia is considered very safe and may even help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients and lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. (7, 8)
Many Keto-diets avoid the artificial sweeteners but instead turn to low-calorie sugar alcohols instead because they are often considered to be more natural.
However, sugar alcohols can cause a lot of digestive problems since they pass into your large intestines without being properly absorbed. (9)
There’s a more direct problem for you if you overload on artificial sweeteners, though…
Going overboard on these sugar alcohols could lower your ketone levels.
Here are the main culprits you should consider cutting out of your diet:
Use erythritol on Keto if you want to use a sugar alcohol:
Erythritol has almost no calories, causes minimal digestive disruption, and is ideal in baked goods. Just make sure to not eat too much of erythritol as many people still find it causes a slight laxative effect.
Since it’s laden with carbs and sugar, regular soda is a no-no if you’re following the Keto diet. Since a single can of soda can contain almost 40g of carbohydrate, this alone will kick you out of ketosis. (10)
How about diet soda, though? Can you drink diet coke on keto?
The good news is that diet soda is carb-free.
The downside is that diet soda is laced with artificial sweeteners which, as you know, can be bad news if you’re following Keto. Diet soda can also, surprisingly, lead to weight gain (11) since they play havoc with your metabolism.
Plus you might end up actually eating more than you would have if you had just skipped the soda. Registered Nurse Juli Romero, RN says, “Consuming artificial sweeteners and no calorie drinks can lead to eating more food and calories due to feeling ‘ok’ with larger portions because of the calories ‘saved’ by having a diet drink.”
Instead of these questionable diet drinks, think about using this as a positive encouragement to drink more water. If you miss that carbonated fizz, go for sparkling water instead or try one of these keto drink recipes.
Processed Foods (Energy Bars and Low-Carb Desserts)
If food is in a bag or a box, chances are it won’t align with your Keto goals.
Many processed foods, from bread through to ice cream, are carb-dense and should be avoided for that reason.
How about processed foods that might seem healthy but don’t work well with Keto, though?
Not all low-carb protein bars are the Keto-friendly, healthy option you might believe them to be. Undesirable ingredients include vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, and additives that can all run counter to your Keto goals.
The main issue is you don’t know how these low carb bars would affect your ketone levels or your long term health. These bars are also easy to overeat.
So, to be on the safe side, completely avoid manufactured energy bars. Consider making your own keto bars if you can’t go without them. You’ll then be able to control the ingredients and it’s less likely you’ll overeat them since you have to make them from scratch.
Many low-carb desserts might be fine in moderation but carb-creep can easily set in if you start nibbling away at them too frequently.
They’re also really easy to overeat.
Although you might see dairy in some Keto-friendly recipes, it pays to moderate your intake or even totally eliminate dairy products.
So avoid these dairy products on keto:
- Milk (from cow, goat)
While there are many general reasons to slash your consumption of dairy products, 2 of these are particularly pertinent when you’re following Keto.
- It’s Easy To Overeat Dairy: If you’re on Keto with the aim of losing weight, the moreish nature of dairy products can end up sabotaging your efforts. It’s so easy to nibble away at a slice of cheese one thin sliver at a time. So, while cheese has few carbs and plenty of fat, the net result of overindulgence is weight gain so think about giving it a miss.
- Casein and Lactose in Dairy Products Can Pose Issues: Many people may have hidden casein or lactose intolerances. This could keep you bloated, inflamed, give you acne, joint issues, and more. We view keto as a way to eat better, not only to lose weight, but also to regain health. That’s why it’s best to give up dairy products at first to get the full benefits of keto. (12)
Use these Keto Dairy-Substitutes:
- Use coconut oil or lard instead of butter
- Use coconut milk or almond milk instead of regular milk
- Use cashew cheese instead of regular cheese
Soy products may seem like a good low carb alternative, but there are 3 problems with soy:
- Soy products are high in phyto-estrogens, which could affect your hormone levels. (13)
- Most soy products are highly processed, which means you get a concentrated amount of phyto-estrogen, phytates while getting fewer nutrients. (14)
- Soy products are high in phytates, which bind to some of the minerals and prevent their absorption in your body. (15)
So avoid these soy products on Keto:
- Soy milk
- Soy-based dairy and meat substitutes
However, some fermented soy may be ok like gluten-free tamari sauce, which is a good soy-sauce alternative. (The fermentation process soy degrades some of the phytic acid.)
Commit To A Healthy Keto Diet
It’s a common belief that Keto is solely focused on eating low carb foods.
While cutting right back on carbs is one of the central Keto tenets, you need to eat a healthy Keto diet if you’re looking for long-lasting weight-loss benefits and improved health.
What is a healthy Keto diet, though?
- Laser in on natural foods high in nutrients.
- Eat real, whole foods as much as possible.
- Avoid gluten even if it’s a small amount.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners.
Those toxic low carb foods might put you into ketosis but they won’t help you achieve long-term success with either your weight or health goals.
Today, you’ve seen what not to eat so we’ll finish up with some positive suggestions if you want to eat a healthy Keto diet without feeling restricted.
Instead, focus on real foods like low carb vegetables, fish, meats, organ meats. These will not only keep your body in ketosis but will also supply your body with essential vitamins and minerals to support long-term whole health!
We’ll touch upon the benefits of some of these foods ideal for Keto before rounding out.
Make Sure To Add In These Foods Into Your Keto Diet
Add these nutritious, low carb foods on your keto diet:
From arugula through zucchini, vegetables should form a substantial part of your Keto diet.
To keep your carb macros in check, eat plenty of leafy greens while avoiding root vegetables.
Although they seem to be declining in popularity, certainly in the US, organ meats are a great Keto-friendly option.
Nutrient-rich and high in fat, organ meats are perfect for helping you hit your macros and ketosis.
Think about adding some heart, kidney, liver, and tongue to your diet.
Bone broth is a healing superfood dense in minerals and amino acids.
Since you’ll be cutting out processed foods on Keto, you can easily end up with your electrolyte balance out of kilter. Bone broth can help to restore that equilibrium.
Bone broth also generally detoxifies the body and can help mitigate Keto flu.
Fatty Cuts of Meat
Since you need to eat a significant amount of healthy fats on Keto, choosing fatty cuts of meat is a great way to treat your taste buds while also hitting your macros with ease.
Whether you prefer a nice rare ribeye steak, a well-done skirt steak or some succulent pork ribs, try to eat less lean cuts and double down on those with more fat.
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein.
I know a lot of people in the US dislike fish and seafood (in fact, we often get asked if we can do seafood-free meal plans!), but they’re so nutritious that I highly suggest you give them another try. Take a look at these Keto fish recipes for inspiration on how to make them more tasty.
Like this low carb, Keto salmon fish cakes recipe…
Keto Supplements (Optional)
While not essential, you could perhaps think about incorporating some supplements into your Keto diet.
- Greens Powder: Most greens powders are gluten-free and dairy-free. And good ones also contain no fillers, no whey, and no soy. If you want to take on board plenty of vitamins and minerals without all the carbs, this supplement is well worth considering. Since you won’t be getting the nutrients afforded by high-carb starchy fruits and veg, greens powder steps in to fill that gap.
- Prebiotic Fiber Supplement: Since you won’t be getting the fiber from carb-rich fruits, vegetables and grains, taking a prebiotic fiber supplement can improve your digestive health while still allowing you to stay true to your macros.
Eating a Healthy Keto Diet Is Easy and Rewarding
We hope you’ve now got a clear idea of which low-carb foods can act as a surprise sucker-punch if you’re looking to faithfully follow the Keto diet.
If you eliminate all the unhealthy low-carb foods listed above and take some inspiration from the alternatives provided here today, you’ll experience a shower of health benefits while much more easily staying within your macros.
And if you’re still wondering what foods are keto and what foods aren’t, check out our Keto Diet Food List here.
Or try our Keto Meal Plans for effortless Keto meals without all the carb counting and wondering what’s keto at the supermarket.
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