Which Carbs Can You Consume on Keto?
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.
7. 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!
How low carb is keto?
On a keto diet, how many carbs do you need to cut? How many carbs can you eat? The answer varies a bit depending on you as an individual and your goals.
In general: the fewer the carbs the bigger the impact might be on weight loss and reduction of cravings and hunger.
If you have type 2 diabetes, the fewer carbs you eat, the faster your blood glucose and insulin resistance might improve.Some, however, find a very low carb diet too restrictive and challenging.
Here are three examples of how a low-carb dinner can look, depending on how many carbs you eat per day.
The plate on the left would be ketogenic for most people. The other two, while very healthy, would not likely be ketogenic, but could still contribute to gradual weight loss and improved blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.
We define low carb as anything under 100 grams per day. Note that a Western diet often has 250 grams of carbs per day, or even more.
How we define low carb and keto
At Diet Doctor, we define the different levels of carbs this way:
- Keto low carb: less than 20 grams of carbs per day. This level will be ketogenic for most people.In our keto recipes, less than 4 percent of total energy comes from carbs, and the rest will come from protein and fat.In keto recipes we also keep the protein level moderate. Some may find that protein above this range is converted into glucose enough to raise blood sugar levels. However, there appears to be a disconnect between potential mechanism and clinical effect seen in published research.
- Moderate low carb: between 20 and 50 grams per day. In our moderate low carb recipes, energy derived from carbs will be between 4 to 10 percent. The rest will come from protein and fat.
- Liberal low carb: between 50 and 100 grams per day. In our liberal low carb recipes, energy derived from carbs will be 10 to 20 energy percent. The rest will come from protein and fat.
Note: Although our recipes are arranged by percent calories of carbs, protein and fat, we do not feel you need to calculate these on your own. We provide them as a reference, but practically we recommend you limit your carbs, ensure adequate protein, and adjust fat as needed for satiety and taste. that eliminates the need to constantly calculate “percent macros.”
Fiber and net carbs
Our listed carb counts are the amount of digestible carbs, also called net carbs. This simply means we do not count the fiber.For example, you can eat nearly all the fiber you want from keto vegetables without seeing a significant sugar or insulin impact.
However, be very careful of of the term “net carbs” on labels of low-carb products, processed foods, protein bars and energy/chocolate bars. Manufacturers often use “net carbs” as a way to disguise sugar alcohols that may slow weight loss and impact blood sugar.In fact, try to avoid any processed product that list “net carbs” on a label. Learn more about keto sweeteners
The most effective keto diet — and the healthiest — is likely based on natural, whole foods.
What carb level to choose?
People with a lot of weight to lose, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome or sugar and/or food addiction, may find that they get their best results on a keto diet, keeping carbs very low. When starting out, however, they may experience keto side effects, like the keto flu, until they are adapted to burning more fat.
People who want to lose pounds but still have good insulin sensitivity, have less weight to lose, or still have good blood sugar levels can often do very well on a moderate or even liberal low carb diet.They are less likely to experience significant side effects. Lean, active, and healthy individuals can also do very well on liberal low carb.
We believe many people may do best starting out on a strict keto diet.This will give you the best idea of whether you like how you feel, how it impacts you and what sort of results you get.Then, as you hopefully achieve your health and weight goals, you can decide whether to add more carbs back into your diet to a level where you feel your best and can maintain your health goals.
However, if you feel that avoiding most carbs is too hard, it’s also possible to get some health benefits by just avoiding the worst carbs.Perhaps this can be the right start for you? In that case, feel free to use the guide below: