I see a ketogenic diet as a lifestyle and I would have liked to say that there are no foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet. In an ideal world I would have told you to eat any food, but just eat all foods in moderation. That is kind of what we are told all the time. Isn't it? 🙁
The reality though is that there are plenty of foods that we should never have eaten in the first place and now to just say eat them all in moderation is therefore not a valid or useful argument.
Whilst on a ketogenic diet the foods to avoid can be summarized as all sugary and starchy food. This is a topic I intend to cover only once, as I prefer to focus on what we should be eating and doing, rather than what we shouldn't be. If you feel the same and want to rather check out what you should be eating, then check out our list for a comprehensive shopping list and our ketogenic diet checklist that summarizes it all.
Now, let's look into the different categories of food we shouldn't be eating and why.
Ketogenic Diet - Foods to Avoid
Sugar and Candy
Avoid all sugar. This may sound easier than what it really is as sugar is added into most sauces, processed foods and even canned vegetables. But let's start somewhere...
- All table sugar no matter the color or type
- Any food with added sugar including all processed food
- Fructose - Sugar found in fruit
- Jams and preserves
- Most sauces - Check labels carefully
- Most salad dressings
- All syrups
- High-fructose corn syrup
- All candy bars
- All cotton and hard candy
Pastries and Baked Goods
You need to cut these all, but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy healthy alternatives.
- Really all traditional cakes
Grains and Starches
I know for most people this is a tough one as we are so used to grabbing a sandwich. It is a big one though.
- All rice - white, brown, basmati
- All pasta
- All breakfast cereals
- Corn Starch
- Flour from any of the ingredients above
- All whole grains
- All foods made from any of the above like:
Legumes and beans are not allowed on a ketogenic diet. This makes it much harder for vegetarians and vegans to follow.
- Chickpeas (No hummus)
- Baked beans
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
These vegetables are not allowed as they all raise blood sugar and insulin.
- Sweet potatoes/yams
- Squashes and butternut
What About Fruit?
Rather than list all the fruits that we shouldn't be eating on a low carb diet. Check out the list of the fruits we can eat here...
Not being able to eat most fruits makes me somewhat sad, but when I focus on how well I feel when my insulin levels are under control, I really am okay with it. I do have the occasional fruit, maybe an apple or a kiwi fruit.
I have cut down completely on my fruit intake, except for berries and lemon, but occasionally I have a strong craving for bananas. When this happens I have them. I know I can also look for a different source of potassium, but I feel strongly that a keto lifestyle requires me to listen to my body and that when my body tells me strongly that I need something I listen.
These cravings are different to the out of control cravings I used to have when I fueled my body with sugar and starchy carbs.
If I had to go on a starch binge tomorrow and have cravings after that, I will know what they are. They are very different to my body's real need for a nutrient that I may have neglected.
One of the big benefits of removing these highly addictive foods from my diet, is that I no longer have out of control cravings.
Dairy is allowed on keto. But it is mostly cream, butter and some cheeses. Always make sure that they are full cream.
- Flavored milks and yogurts
- Low fat or skimmed milk and yogurt
- Milk or yogurt with added sugars or sweeteners
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Full cream milk (Limit because of natural sugar content
Packaged and Processed Snacks
Who doesn't love popcorn? And now that we know we should bee eating butter, it sounds really tempting to have popcorn with lots of butter. But off course butter is only good for us when it is not eaten with carbs. So let's have a look at what snacks to avoid on a ketogenic diet.
- Potato and tortilla chips
- Rice cakes
- Flavored and coated nuts
- Cheesy and flavored crackers
- Granola and breakfast bars
- Protein bars
- Any boxed or packaged snacks
The best drink on a low carb diet is water. Sugar laden drinks have lots of carbs and lots of sugar.
- Diet sodas
- Flavored teas and coffees
- Frozen coffees
- Milk shakes
- Sports and energy drinks
- Root beers
Now that you know what foods to avoid on your ketogenic diet, focus on what you CAN have. There are lots of amazing real foods and snacks that you can enjoy every day. Once you feel how good it feels when you eat healthily, you won't miss these foods. And if you miss any of them, then check out some of these amazing recipes.