When you first hear about the keto diet, it can feel too good to be true. But here’s the catch. Start by asking, “What can’t you eat on a keto diet?” that’s when things get tough.
You have probably heard that Keto is a high-fat, low-carb diet, but that is not enough information to help you plan your meals.
Carbs are said to be the kryptonite of keto, though does that clarify what foods to not eat on the keto diet?
While it’s necessary to know what you can eat on the keto diet before committing to it, it’s even more important to know about the foods you can’t eat.
After all, one forbidden fruit is all it takes to destroy all progress! If you’re willing to embrace the ketogenic lifestyle and feel motivated to make it work, let’s learn about all the foods that are off the keto menu.
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Which Foods Should You Avoid on a Keto Diet?
The keto lifestyle is truly rewarding if you stick to the rules and put some thought into planning your meals. When you know exactly what foods to avoid on keto, life gets easier, and the results are amazing!
Foods With a High Sugar Content
Do you have a sweet tooth? If yes, brace yourself because keto will crush your dessert dreams.
You better eliminate all the cookies, candies, chocolate, and cakes in the house because the ketogenic lifestyle is a sugar-free soiree!
To make keto work, your body has to enter the state of ketosis, which enables it to switch gears from splitting carbs to burning fat reserves. Foods with a high sugar content are like bouncers at the keto club – they don’t let your body enter ketosis.
Carbs only snag 5-10% of your daily calorie allowance on Keto; a measly 25 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet. A single piece of chocolate cake (without frosting) contains about 51 grams of carbohydrates, so you do the math!
Even though traditional sweet treats are the definition of foods can’t eat on the keto diet, you may look up “keto-friendly desserts” to satisfy your cravings.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Starch-heavy foods are in fact, undercover sugar agents! You see, much like their cousins, known as “sugars”, starches can sneakily transform into glucose – our body’s primary energy source.
When you indulge in starch-heavy foods, your body acquires an excess of carbohydrates that can be converted into glucose. As a result, your body doesn’t bother producing ketones or entering the state of ketosis.
So, in terms of starchy foods, what can’t you eat on a keto diet? You can wave goodbye to bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and most grains.
However, fear not, as keto’s creative alternatives shall save the day!
Cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, zucchini noodles instead of standard pasta, and egg wraps instead of tortillas are a few keto-friendly substitutes for traditional carb-rich staples.
Here’s a fruity plot twist! While fruits are usually at the top of the list of healthiest foods to eat, it’s hardly the same with keto.
In the case of keto, certain fruits can mimic carb-loaded party crashers. For example, fructose-rich fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, mangos, and peaches are absolute red flags for ketosis.
These mentioned fruits are full of natural sugars, which are the kind of carbohydrates that rapidly hog your daily allowance, and may easily exceed the limit.
A medium-sized apple or banana packs a whopping 20-25 grams of carbs. Fruits like grapes, pineapples, pears, and dates are even more saturated with carbs.
The safest fruits to eat during ketosis include avocadoes and berries, i.e., blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
If you find it difficult to remember the foods to avoid on keto, particularly vegetables, simply memorize this: If it grows above ground, go for it; if it’s subterranean, let it go.
Vegetables growing above the ground, such as tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, and cucumber, are ideal for keto.
On the contrary, root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, and garlic are not compatible with the ketogenic lifestyle.
Most underground vegetables are starchy; a single cup of potatoes or parsnips contains about 26 grams of carbs.
However, certain veggies like corn and peas growing above land are also carb-heavy; therefore, always check the nutritional value before adding a veggie to your diet.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes may seem teeny-tiny and harmless, but don’t let that fool you. They enclose enough carbs to wreak havoc on the progress you’ve made with keto.
You’ll be surprised how quickly calories from carbs add up when you’re helping yourself to lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, soybeans, and the like.
Despite being excellent sources of plant-based protein, beans and legumes are foods you can’t eat on keto.
Half a cup of chickpeas or kidney beans is all it takes to make up your day’s quota of carb intake.
If you do need to include any beans or lentils in your diet occasionally, keep in mind that the portions have to be increasingly petite.
Processed foods, which include our beloved burgers, potato chips, and breakfast cereals, have the worst nutritional value.
Truth be told, all packaged and preserved foods are super unhealthy; these are foods to avoid on keto and any other day.
Processed foods brim with added sugars and unhealthy fats that are no good for your body. They’re called junk food for a reason, and the temporary sugar high they provide is pretty much illegal for the keto lifestyle.
Frozen dinners, crackers, cheese spreads, and processed meats like hot dogs and sausages are all members of the high-carb processed food crew. You’ll have to keep them out of your life if you want your body to enter ketosis.
Let’s be frank, keto or not, stay away from alcohol because you’re better off without it.
Perhaps it was never a big deal when you allowed yourself some indulgence in the past, but everything changes once you step into your keto era.
Your favorite beers, wines, and cocktails come bearing heaps of carbs and sugars, which have no place in the keto club.
This can understandably be a dilemma for anyone who hasn’t spent one day without a glass or two of their favored alcoholic beverage for years. Fortunately, all is not lost!
Dry keto wine and a range of keto-friendly spirits/tonics can be enjoyed in moderation. They are an acquired taste, but they serve the purpose and allow some guilt-free pleasure.
If you use cow’s milk in your cups of coffee or tea throughout the day, you will be disappointed to know that you can not drink it while in Keto.
For starters, cow’s milk contains lactose, a naturally occurring sugar, so one cup contains around 12 grams of carbohydrates. When you’re supposed to reduce your carb intake to about 25 grams per day, you might want to save it for foods with higher nutritional value.
Adding cow’s milk to your meals can potentially raise blood sugar and insulin levels, which may hinder or terminate ketosis.
Luckily, several non-dairy alternatives to cow milk are available, and they are significantly low in carbs. People who are lactose intolerant consume plant-based milk, such as almond milk, coconut milk, and soymilk.
These plant-based milk options are ideal for the keto diet as well, but only in their unsweetened form. Almond milk is closest to cow’s milk in taste and texture; you can always add stevia if you need some sweetness.
Soda Isn’t Allowed on Keto
One glass (200-250ml) of soda contains around 26 grams of carbohydrates, which will make up or exceed your daily carb intake on the keto diet.
You know it’s unlikely to stop at one glass if you’re addicted to soda, so it’s definitely one of the keto foods to avoid completely. If you’re thinking that you can always go for diet soda, think again!
Even diet sodas, which use artificial sweeteners, tend to stimulate insulin production and interfere with ketosis. In addition, diet sodas are known to heighten carb cravings, which is not at all helpful on keto.
Soda contains a high sugar content and caffeine, and together, they contribute to a diuretic effect. During ketosis, this can lead to dehydration, as the body needs more water to sustain digestive functions.
Any food item with the word “sweet” in its name is easily on the list of foods you can’t eat on keto.
Sweet potatoes, being starchy root vegetables, are relatively high in carbohydrates, making them one of the primary foods to avoid on keto; a 100-gram serving contains around 20-23 grams of carbs.
Sweet potatoes can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and insulin production, which kicks the body out of ketosis.
Despite being healthier and lighter than regular potatoes, they are still calorie-dense and rich in natural sugars.
If you’re looking to include more vegetables in your keto diet plan, go for leafy green and cruciferous vegetables.
Try mashed cauliflower or roasted radishes if you crave something with a taste and texture similar to sweet potatoes.
What Foods Should You Not Eat on Keto Diet: Summing Up
Now that we’ve established the main foods to not eat on the keto diet, it’s time to sum up what to ditch and what to devour. Consider it a foodie’s game of “Keep or Toss.”
Most fruits, root veggies, beans, legumes, alcohol, cow’s milk, and your processed frenemies need to go – out of your pantry, refrigerator, kitchen, rest of your home, and your life. Anything containing high sugar and/or starch content gets a big “no” from keto.
Even though the “no” list might seem lengthy and somewhat devastating initially, expect to discover many delicious and wholesome keto-approved delights along the way. For a sneak peek, check out our comprehensive guide titled “What Can You Eat on the Keto Diet?”