Repeat after me: Not all low-carb foods are created equal!
If you have fallen into the trap of “it is keto because it is low carb, so I can eat it” then read on… you may be eating foods that actually end up kicking you out of ketosis (in addition to just being plain unhealthy).
It is like the problem with only counting calories when trying to lose weight. You could eat 1500 calories of grass-fed beef and leafy greens a day, and your best friend could eat 1500 calories of donuts a day.
Who is going to be healthier?
The calories may be the same, but the difference in nutrients – and the effect on the body – is huge.
(And in case you’re wondering – at Dunkin Donuts, 5 Strawberry Frosted Donuts with Sprinkles takes you to 1450 calories.)
When it comes to the ketogenic diet, just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean it automatically should be part of your diet. Some low-carb foods can be harmful to the body, and some (like artificial sweeteners) can disrupt your blood sugar and lower your ketones.
To get an idea of what you should be eating on a ketogenic diet, have a look at our easy guide to the ketogenic diet. Then, have a look at the foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet. And then, read on below to find out what low-carb foods you should be avoiding if you are following the ketogenic diet.
Avoid These Low-Carb Foods on a Keto Diet
Stick to whole, unprocessed ingredients and give these low-carb foods a skip.
Processed Oils to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Oils and fats are naturally low-carb, but choose oils that are minimally processed, rather ones that require chemically processing.
Processed vegetable and seed oils are inflammatory for the body. When the oils are processed, artificial trans fats are formed, and it is these trans fats that cause inflammation.
Additional risks of eating trans fats include higher risk of heart disease, increased risk of cancer, reduced HDL cholesterol and increased LDL cholesterol, and it is also bad for gut health.
Processed oils to avoid include:
- Spreadable Butter Alternatives
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Peanut Oil
Rather use these low-carb oils and fats that are keto-friendly:
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Duck Fat
- Bacon Grease
What about coconut oil?
There has been some controversy as of late around coconut oil, and if it is actually as healthy as has been proclaimed in the last few years. A Harvard professor even called coconut oil “pure poison” in a lecture earlier this year. (Have a look at the Youtube video here.) For this reason, I am holding off suggesting it as a keto-friendly fat option until we know a bit more.
Processed Low-Carb Foods and Snacks to Avoid on a Keto Diet
If you are following the ketogenic diet, there is a good chance that – aside from losing weight – you are also wanting to get healthier.
Processed foods – even if they are low-carb – can contain all sorts of unhealthy ingredients, such as processed oils, preservatives, trans fat, artificial sweeteners, and more. They are also quite easy to overeat these types of foods without realising it.
While some of these foods are fine in moderation, it is just easier to avoid them altogether. Rather make your own keto-friendly baked goods and desserts.
Low-carb processed keto diet foods to avoid:
- Commercially manufactured low-carb energy bars
- Commercially baked low-carb goods, like cakes, cookies, muffins, pastries
- Commercially made low-carb puddings and custards
- Commercially made low-carb ice creams
Ideas for low-carb snacks to make:
Dairy Products to Avoid on a Keto Diet
This is a bit of a contentious issue. Some followers of the ketogenic diet advocate for no dairy at all, some suggest to avoid dairy in the beginning, and others say as long as it is full-fat, then it is ok.
For many people, dairy is difficult for many people to digest, and could be causing you health issues you may not have even been aware of – such as acne, joint pain, bloating, sinus issues, and stomach upsets.
If you think you may be sensitive to dairy, cut it out for a week, then slowly add it back in. If you experience any negative side effects, then you know your body has difficulty with digesting dairy.
Low-carb dairy products to avoid:
What keto-friendly dairy substitutes can you have instead?
- Lard or bacon grease instead of butter
- Coconut milk or almond milk instead of regular milk. (If you are buying pre-made Almond and other nut milks, check the ingredients list for any added sugars or sweeteners. If possible – make your own.)
- Cashew cheese instead of cream cheese
- Nutritional Yeast instead of Parmesan
Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Alcohols to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols can disrupt your blood sugar levels and ketosis, and they have even been shown to increase hunger. Sugar alcohols can also potentially cause digestive problems.
Low-carb artificial sweeteners to avoid include:
Low-carb sugar alcohols to avoid include:
Low-carb sweeteners to use instead:
- Monk Fruit
These are naturally occurring, and don’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes. Just be careful to not have too much Erythritol, as it has a laxative effect for some.
Bonus Tip: Erythritol and Stevia each have their own, slightly odd, aftertaste that a lot of people can’t stand. Combine them rather – it seems to cancel out the aftertaste of each.
Diet Sodas to Avoid on a Keto Diet
You may think you’re being safe by reaching for the Diet Coke, but unfortunately it still is not a healthy drink to have on the ketogenic diet (or any diet – for that matter.)
Apart from the artificial sweeteners used (usually aspartame) – which we have already discovered disrupt your blood sugar levels and lower your ketones – it is also filled with all sorts of artificial ingredients, which don’t support the health goals of a ketogenic diet.
Additionally – diet sodas have been shown to contribute to conditions such as depression, kidney damage, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cavities, and obesity.
Low-carb drinks to have instead:
- Sparkling water
- Iced tea (unsweetened)
- Flavored water (water with added sliced cucumber, fresh raspberries, or fresh mint)
Soy Products to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Soy products may seem like a good low-carb meat alternative – especially for vegetarians and vegans trying to follow the ketogenic diet. Unfortunately, there are three potential problems with soy –
- the products are high in phyto-estrogens, which could affect your hormone levels;
- they are high in phytates, which bind to some of the minerals and prevent their absorption in your body; and
- they are highly processed, which means fewer nutrients.
The actual research is not 100% conclusive, but there is enough cause for concern, and I recommend skipping the processed soy products and go for whole food ingredients instead.
Low-carb Soy products to avoid include:
- Soy milk
- Soy-based meat substitutes such as soy mince, soy sausages, soy burgers etc.
Gluten-free tamari (an alternative to soy sauce) is ok though, as the fermentation process degrades some of the phytic acid.
Do Keto The Right Way
A keto diet is something that may be difficult to get the hang of at first. Most people don’t understand that their body is a sugar burner. They may lose some weight but they aren’t losing the fat that’ll help keep the weight off their body.
The hardest part of the diet may be cutting out carbs. Sugar is probably easier to cut out because your body may not crave them. People struggle to realize how many carbs they consume in a day. You won’t truly recognize this until you actually cut out carbs from your diet.
For those that are looking to drop weight and keep it off, a keto diet is the way to go.
If you are looking to drop fat and keep it off right now, we have a 28-day weight loss challenge that will do this for you. You’ll drop the fat, become healthier, and have a better overall lifestyle.