Keto Diet What Not To Eat ? The keto diet has become one of the most popular diets for weight loss and overall health. By drastically reducing carbs and increasing fat intake, the keto diet puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. However, in order to achieve the benefits of ketosis, you need to be careful about which foods you eat on the keto diet. There are certain foods that can quickly take you out of ketosis or negatively impact your progress.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover:
- An overview of the keto diet
- Foods to avoid on keto
- Why these foods should be limited or avoided altogether
- Tips for sticking to keto when dining out or attending social events
- Keto-friendly food substitutions
- A keto grocery list of approved foods
- Common mistakes to avoid on the keto diet
Let’s get started!
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It shares similarities with the Atkins diet, although keto emphasizes higher fat and lower protein intake. The goal of keto is to put your body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
Here’s how it works:
Normally, your body primarily burns glucose (sugar) for energy. Glucose comes from the carbs you eat. On a keto diet, because carb intake is so low, your body doesn’t have glucose readily available to burn for energy. Instead, your body begins burning fat for energy, producing compounds called ketones. Ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide fuel for your brain in the absence of glucose.
On keto, your macronutrient breakdown looks like this:
- 75% of calories from fat
- 20% of calories from protein
- 5% of calories from carbs
For most people, this equates to:
- Limiting carb intake to less than 50 grams per day
- Consuming adequate protein for your body weight/activity level
- Making fat the dominant calorie source
By sticking to these macronutrient targets, you can put your body into the metabolic state of ketosis within a few days. In ketosis, you will experience consistent fat-burning, reduced hunger, and other health benefits. However, certain foods will quickly kick you out of ketosis, while other foods may negatively impact your health on keto.
Now let’s look at the main categories of foods to avoid on keto.
Keto Diet What Not To Eat
When it comes to the keto diet, you want to avoid foods that are high in carbs, highly processed, or contain unhealthy fats. Here are the main foods that should be eliminated or severely restricted on keto:
Sugars and Sweeteners
Sugar is a carb and provides no nutritional value. Consuming sugar will quickly take you out of ketosis by spiking blood glucose and insulin levels. Here are some forms of sugar to avoid:
- Table sugar
- Brown sugar
- Fruit juice
- Baked goods
- Ice cream
Also avoid alternative sweeteners like:
- Acesulfame potassium
These artificial sweeteners may be low in carbs but can still trigger cravings and hunger. The natural sweeteners of monk fruit or stevia in moderation are okay.
Grains contain a high amount of carbohydrates, anywhere from 25-70% of their total calories. Avoid grains like:
- Baked goods
Also steer clear of pseudograins like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and chia seeds. Opt for low-carb alternatives instead.
Most vegetables are low in carbs and are encouraged on keto. However, starchy veggies are an exception and are best limited to small portions. Avoid going overboard on starch vegetables including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Beans and lentils
Unfortunately, most fruits contain too many carbs and sugar to include regularly on keto. Only consume low glycemic index fruits occasionally in small portions, like:
Avoid high-sugar fruits such as:
- Dried fruit
Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits should be avoided on keto, especially at the beginning. Alcohol is high in empty carbs and inhibits ketosis. An occasional low-carb option like a dry wine or spirits with a zero-carb mixer is possible once you’re adapted to keto.
Cut out sugary drinks like:
- Fruit juice
- Sports drinks
- Sweetened tea/coffee beverages
Drink water, unsweetened coffee/tea, and other zero-carb beverages instead. Moderating intake of diet soda may be okay for some people.
Highly Processed Foods
Avoid convenience and junk foods that are often loaded with carbs, unhealthy fats, and sodium like:
- Snack bars
- Fast food
- Microwave meals
Stick to keto-friendly whole foods as much as possible.
Not all fats are created equal. Prioritize healthy fats on keto from avocado, coconut, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Avoid fats that are highly processed or unstable under high heat like:
- Vegetable/seed oils
- Partially hydrogenated oils
- Fried foods
- Fast food
Relying too heavily on these unhealthy fats can negatively impact health on keto.
Now that you know what foods to avoid on keto, let’s cover why limiting these foods is so important for ketosis and your overall health:
Why You Should Avoid These Foods on Keto
Here are some of the top reasons to avoid the foods mentioned above on a ketogenic diet:
Knock You Out of Ketosis
The main goal of keto is achieving and maintaining ketosis. Consuming too many carbs from sugars, grains, starch veggies, fruits or alcohol will quickly bring you out of ketosis, stopping fat burning in its tracks.
Blood Sugar and Insulin Spikes
Foods high in sugar and refined carbs cause blood glucose and insulin to spike. This triggers fat storage and makes it difficult to utilize stored body fat for energy, which can stall weight loss.
Cravings and Hunger
Sugary and starchy foods stimulate the appetite. You’re likely to feel hungrier and experience cravings for more carbohydrates. Keto works best when you control hunger by eating fat and protein.
Many foods to avoid on keto lack beneficial nutrients. You want to maximize nutrient density on keto to support optimal health.
Highly refined carbs and oils promote inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases.
Food sensitivities like gluten and lactose are common triggers for bloating, gas, and other GI issues.
Fatigue and Low Energy
Eating carbs and sugar triggers an energy rollercoaster. You want sustained energy from ketones and healthy fats on keto, not spikes and crashes.
Poor Athletic Performance
Keto provides steady energy for athletic performance. High-carb foods can lead to hitting “the wall” during endurance activities.
Clearly, most foods on the “do not eat” keto list deserve to be avoided to achieve the benefits of ketosis, lasting weight loss, and optimal health. Now let’s look at some tips for navigating social eating situations on keto.
Dining Out and Social Eating Tips
The keto diet requires diligence to stick to when eating meals prepared outside of your home kitchen. Here are some tips for eating keto at restaurants or social gatherings:
Review Menus in Advance
Scope out restaurant menus online and pick a low-carb option in advance. Avoid temptation from menus full of off-limit items.
Ask for Substitutions
Request a salad or veggies instead of bread/potatoes. Ask for olive oil instead of vegetable oil for cooking.
Choose Grilled, Roasted, or Broiled
These are healthier cooking methods. Avoid breaded, fried, or sauce-drenched dishes.
Skip Sugary Appetizers and Desserts
Fill up on a keto-friendly appetizer like wings or mozzarella sticks instead. Pass on the bread basket.
Choose Lower Carb Alcohol
Opt for a glass of dry white wine or spirits with zero-carb mixers instead of beer or sweet cocktails.
Eat Before Attending Parties
Have a keto snack beforehand so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy party foods.
Bring Your Own Food
Offer to bring a keto-friendly side dish or dessert to share. This ensures you’ll have something you can eat.
Politely Say No Thanks
Don’t feel pressured into eating high-carb foods. Graciously explain your dietary needs when declining.
With a little preparation and carbohydrate diligence, you can stick to keto when dining or celebrating with others. Next, let’s go over some keto-approved food substitutions.
Keto-Friendly Food Substitutions
One of the keys to success on keto is finding low-carb and healthy substitutes for the foods you can no longer enjoy in the same quantities. Here are some great keto substitutes to try:
Grains → Cauliflower
Cauliflower makes a great substitute for rice, pizza crust, oatmeal, and mashed potatoes thanks to its versatility and mild flavor.
Bread → Lettuce Wraps
Use large lettuce leaves like romaine as bread-free wraps and burrito shells.
Pasta → Zucchini Noodles
Spiralizing zucchini into noodles is an easy sub for pasta. Shirataki noodles made from konjac yam are another option.
Tortillas → Cheese Shells
Make taco shells from cheese slices or shreds baked into the perfect shape.
Sugary Sauce → Avocado
Skip the sugary ketchup or BBQ sauce. Opt for healthier fats like avocado slices or guacamole on burgers and meat.
Milk → Nut Milk
Dairy milk contains carbs while nut milks like almond and coconut milk are lower-carb options.
Ice Cream → Keto Ice Cream
Make ice cream at home using healthy fats and zero-carb sweeteners. Purchase keto-friendly brands.
Chips → Cucumber Slices
Dip crunchy cucumber, bell pepper strips, or celery into guacamole or nut butter for a keto-approved snack.
Beans → Low-Carb Veggies
Swap high-carb beans, peas, and lentils for more keto-friendly veggies like cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, and broccoli.
Soda → Sparkling Water
Fizzy seltzer or mineral waters offer refreshing carbonation without all the sugar of soda. Add lemon or lime for flavor.
Juice → Low Carb Smoothies
Make smoothies with keto superfoods like greens, avocado, collagen, nut butter, and unsweetened nut or coconut milk. Ditch the fruit.
With a little creativity, you can find a keto substitute for most high-carb foods which makes the diet easier to stick to long-term. Now let’s look at building the perfect keto-friendly shopping cart.
The Keto Grocery List: What to Buy
Shopping for keto-friendly foods will get easier over time. Make sure to stock up on these staple foods that are nutritious and aligned with the diet:
- Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- Deli meats
- Avocados and oils
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and macadamia
- Nut butter
- Coconut, coconut oil, and coconut butter
- Olives and olive oil
- Full-fat dairy like butter, ghee, heavy cream, and cheese
Low Carb Vegetables
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce
- Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
- Asparagus, green beans, and zucchini
- Peppers, onions, and mushrooms
- Cucumber, celery, and tomato
Herbs, Spices, and Condiments
- Salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder
- Hot sauce, mustard, and keto ketchup without added sugar
- Cilantro, basil, dill, thyme and oregano
- Plain coffee and tea
- Nut milk
- Unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
- Bone broth
- Coconut flour, almond flour, and flax meal
- Chia seeds and psyllium husk
- MCT or coconut oil
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Nuts, nut butter, and nut flour
- Shirataki noodles
- Canned fish like sardines and salmon
- Stevia or monk fruit sweetener
This covers most of your basics for keto recipes and simple meals. Avoid buying high-carb substitutes and processed junk foods. Stick to whole foods as much as possible. Let’s wrap this up with some common keto mistakes to sidestep.
Common Keto Diet Mistakes to Avoid
The keto diet can take some trial and error to get the hang of. Steer clear of these common keto mistakes:
Going Overboard on Protein
Too much protein can inhibit ketosis. Get just enough protein based on your body weight and activity. Fat should make up 70-80% of calories.
Not Eating Enough Fat
Fat keeps you feeling full while fueling ketosis. Don’t skimp on healthy fats from oils, fatty cuts of meat, nuts and seeds.
Overdoing Artificial Sweeteners
While okay in moderation for some people, artificial sweeteners may still spike cravings. Rely more so on naturally keto-friendly foods.
Sodium, magnesium, and potassium are crucial on keto to help reduce fatigue, headaches, cramps, and keto flu symptoms.
Overindulging in Unhealthy Fats
Not all fats are equal. Avoid overdoing vegetable oil, processed oils, fried food, and cheap dairy.
Overeating Nuts and Dairy
High-fat nuts, seeds, and cheese are easy to overeat. Track portions to avoid too many carbs and calories.
Giving Up Too Soon
It can take weeks to become keto-adapted. Be patient, troubleshoot issues, and don’t stop prematurely before seeing results.
With proper preparation and tracking of macros, most common keto mistakes can be easily avoided.
Start Enjoying the Benefits of Keto
The ketogenic diet provides incredible benefits ranging from accelerated fat burning and weight loss to improved mental clarity and reduced inflammation when done correctly. Sustainable keto adherence boils down to:
- Tracking macros and limiting carbs to under 50 grams per day
- Making smart swaps for high-carb foods
- Avoiding common pitfalls and troubleshooting issues
- Customizing keto to fit your lifestyle and preferences
Use this complete guide to understand which foods to avoid on keto, why they don’t fit this low-carb lifestyle, plus tips and tricks to set yourself up for keto success. With the right framework, you can start leveraging ketosis for better health.
What fruits can I eat on keto?
You need to be very careful with fruit on keto. Focus on lower-sugar fruits like berries and limit portions to around 1/2 cup per day. Avoid all other fruits including bananas, apples, grapes, pineapple, mango, etc.
Can I eat beans and lentils on the keto diet?
No, beans and lentils are too high in carbs to include regularly on keto. They contain 20-40 grams of net carbs per cup. Stick to low-carb veggies instead.
What types of nuts are keto-friendly?
Great options include almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts. Measure portions and track carbs, as nuts are calorie dense. Avoid chestnuts, pistachios, and cashews.
Is rice allowed on the keto diet?
No, rice is a grain and too high in carbs for the keto diet. Try making cauliflower rice instead or shirataki rice noodles.
Can I have milk on keto?
You need to choose the right types of milk. Avoid regular milk, which contains 12 g of carbs per cup. Opt for unsweetened nuts, coconut, or almond milk. Heavy cream and hard cheeses are also great keto dairy options.
What sweeteners are compliant with the keto diet?
Good options include stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, and small amounts of xylitol. Avoid all other sweeteners including sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave.
Which oils should I use on keto?
Focus on healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee, and avocado-based oils. Avoid soybean, canola, vegetable, corn, and other inflammatory oils.
What kind of ketchup can I have on keto?
Make sure to check labels and purchase sugar-free keto ketchup, or make your own clean ketchup recipes at home. Conventional ketchup is too high in sugar and carbs.
Can I drink alcohol on the keto diet?
You need to be cautious with alcohol. Dry wines, champagne, and spirits like whiskey or vodka are lower-carb options, but may still delay ketosis. Avoid beer, sweet wines, and sugary cocktails.