One of the core, fundamental principles of the ketogenic diet is keeping carbohydrate intake extremely low.
The purpose of keeping carbs low is so your body can start using fats for energy instead of relying on glucose from carbohydrates. This is also known as being in a state of ketosis.
But that doesn’t mean you have to completely remove all carb sources from your diet.
In this Keto Beginners Series, we’re going to talk about the carb sources you are allowed to eat on the low carb, high fat ketogenic diet.
How Many Carbs Can You Have on Keto?
Everyone has slightly different levels of carbohydrate restriction on the ketogenic diet. While some people can get away with eating more while staying in ketosis, others may need to be more restrictive.
Most ketogenic diet guidelines recommend you stay between 15 – 30g of net carbohydrates per day, or 5-10% of total calories.
Net carbohydrates = Total Carbohydrates – fiber – sugar alcohols
In general, if you’re a very active person who exercises 4 to 5 times a week, you can consume more carbohydrates without any repercussions.
But if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight, we encourage you to keep carb intake as low as possible.
Carbohydrates to Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet
There are certain foods that contain extremely high amounts of carbohydrates that should be avoided at all costs.
During your ketogenic journey, avoid high-carbohydrate foods including: fruits, pasta, potatoes, candy bars, pastries, donuts, candy, soda, juice, rice, and bread.
List of Carbs You Can Consume on Keto
Now that you understand which foods should be avoided entirely, let’s talk about the best ketogenic-friendly carb sources you can still incorporate into your diet plan.
Some of the foods listed below still contain some carbohydrates, so it’s best not to overdo it, especially if you’re a beginner.
#1. Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are great alternatives to eating sugary chocolate bars. They’re a great source of antioxidants. Chocolate is even considered a “superfood,” because it contains essential nutrients to help you stay healthy.
Dark chocolate also has flavanols, which has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure.
It’s important to only consume dark chocolate that contains 85% cocoa or more. Anything less usually contains other higher carbohydrate ingredients that could potentially interrupt ketosis.
Tip: A great low-carb snack you can make with cocoa powder or dark chocolate is a keto fat bomb. Simply add cocoa powder into a bowl with almond butter and coconut oil and put it in the microwave until it becomes a consistent liquid. Then place it in the freezer for half an hour and you’ll have a tasty, sweet low-carb snack!
#2. Low-Carb Vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables are low in both calories and carbohydrates and have a high nutrient value, making them the perfect keto-friendly carb source.
Many veggies contain mostly fiber, which doesn’t count towards your daily net carbohydrate goal.
You can consume large amounts of the following low-carb veggies on keto:
- Brussels sprouts
Avocados should be a staple in everyone’s ketogenic diet. They are high in essential vitamins and minerals including potassium and magnesium, and are a great source of monounsaturated fat.
Avocados make the keto-adaptation phase much easier, because you’re replenish your body with the essential minerals it excretes during the initial fat-adaptation stage.
One avocado only contains 2g of net carbs per serving, making it the perfect ketogenic-approved fruit!
Most other fruits are too high in carbohydrates, so they should be removed. Berries are the one exception.
Berries are both low in carbs and high in fiber.
These fruits are packed with antioxidants and have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects and protect against disease.
Remember, they still have some carbs, so try to keep your berry consumption in moderation.
#5. Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles are great for keto-ers who miss eating pasta. These noodles contain less than 1g of carbs, because they’re mostly water and fiber.
You can get them at your local health food store, often in a fettuccine, linguine, or rice shape.
If you want to make a pasta dish, substitute normal pasta for shirataki noodles for a delicious low-carb meal!
Research has found that olives can help prevent bone loss, reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage, and even decrease blood pressure [*].
Half of the carbs from olives are fiber, so they make for a great carb source on keto.
A 14g serving of olives only contains 1g of total carbohydrates. This means around seven olives come out to 1g of carbs!
If you’re looking for a keto-friendly food to take the place of starches like rice and potatoes in your diet, look no further than the friendly cauliflower.
Cauliflower contains only 2g of net carbs per cup, so you can fill up on it and hardly move the carb needle.
Run some raw cauliflower through your food processor until it’s a rice-y consistency, then microwave or pan fry the bits in coconut oil, and you’ll have delicious cauliflower rice to accompany your main course. Or boil and mash cauliflower with cream and butter, and you’ll have a tasty substitute for mashed potatoes.
A Little Preparation Will Guarantee You Stay Low-Carb on Your Ketogenic Journey
While your carb cravings may feel very intense as a beginner on keto, keep in mind that this is only temporary while your body gets used to becoming an efficient fat-burner.
By replacing high-carb sources with the low-carb foods listed above, you’ll provide your body with the fuel and essential nutrients it needs to thrive.
Consuming these low-carb foods will also help you stay full so your cravings are greatly reduced!