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17 Foods To Avoid On The Keto Diet

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The diet known as keto is characterized by its highly restricted carb intake and high fat consumption.

The aim is to enter a state of ketosis, where your body primarily utilizes fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates. Despite being debatable and not suitable for everyone, the ketogenic diet has been associated with weight loss and potential short-term advantages such as enhanced blood pressure.

If you want to start or sustain ketosis, there are certain foods that you should steer clear of, particularly those that have excessive amounts of carbs. Carbohydrate molecules have a straightforward structure, which allows your body to easily break them down. Consequently, carbs are a highly effective energy source. When your body receives a high quantity of carbs, particularly in one go, it will prioritize using carbs instead of fat for energy due to its efficiency.

The keto diet usually limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day. This amount does not include dietary fiber, as it is not digested by the body. If consuming a 2,000-calorie diet, the composition of a keto diet will typically be around 55–60% fat, 30–35% protein, and 5–10% carbs.

These are foods that you should avoid or limit on the keto diet, and some of them might surprise you.

1. Legumes

Legumes, such as various types of beans, lentils, sugar snap peas, and peas, are commonly found in many healthy diets. Individuals following a vegan or plant-based diet often rely on legumes as a substitute for protein.

In terms of the keto diet, legumes are not particularly suitable due to their high carbohydrate content, despite their health benefits. Even though they offer a good source of fiber, this does not compensate for the significant carb intake. Consequently, peanut butter is also restricted on this diet since peanuts fall under the legume category.

2. Bananas

Although bananas have benefits such as promoting muscle recovery, reducing bloating, and soothing an upset stomach, they are not allowed on the keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content. Bananas contain 25g of carbs per 100g serving, making them unsuitable for individuals aiming to achieve ketosis, despite being a complex carbohydrate rich in potassium.

3. Cashews

On the keto diet, it is recommended to consume most nuts due to their high content of natural fats and proteins. Nevertheless, certain nuts contain excessive carbohydrates which hinder ketogenesis. Cashews, chestnuts, and pistachios are deemed unsuitable for the keto diet because they have a high carb content.

4. Butternut squash

In general, the sweeter a vegetable is, the more natural sugar it has. This means your favorite vegetables might not be the best options on the keto diet. While some forms of squash are keto-approved, butternut squash is too high in glucose and carbs to make it a good fit.

5. Potatoes

Potatoes, along with other starchy vegetables such as corn, yams, and sweet potatoes, should be strictly avoided on the keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content.

6. Grapes

Grapes are prohibited on the keto diet due to their significant sugar content and primarily consisting of carbohydrates. Therefore, even a small cluster of grapes has the potential to impede or halt the process of ketogenesis.

Regrettably, adhering to the no-grape rule implies that consuming excessive amounts of wine (or raisins) is not possible on the keto diet.

7. Energy bars

Not all energy bars are equal, especially when it comes to protein bars suitable for the keto diet. Some energy bars contain vegetable oil, artificial sweeteners, and additives that can interfere with the ketogenic state due to being highly processed.

Typically, it is advisable to steer clear of packaged snacks unless they are explicitly marked as keto. It is also recommended to double-check the ingredients list as a precautionary measure.

8. Red apples

Due to their sugar and carb content, there are numerous fruits that are not suitable for the keto diet. Red apples are particularly noteworthy due to their high sugar content. If you have a preference for apples, it is recommended to opt for yellow or green ones as they contain less sugar. Additionally, if you are following the keto diet, it is advisable to restrict your intake of berries and citrus fruits.

9. Bread, pasta, rice, and other refined carbs

If you consume more than your daily carb allowance, eating refined high carb foods such as white bread, pasta, rice, and pastries may hinder achieving a ketogenic state. While it is acceptable to eat them in moderation for those not following a low carb diet, individuals aiming to achieve or sustain ketosis must restrict their intake.

To maintain the same meaning, the text can be rephrased as follows: You can try using mashed or riced cauliflower instead, or you could experiment with low carb bread options that are made from eggs, nuts, and seeds.

10. Beer and mixed drinks

Beer, liqueurs, and mixed liquor-based drinks should be avoided on a keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content and low nutrient count. Here’s an overview of the carb content in various popular options.

If you want to have a drink but want to consume less carbs, it is important to note that the majority of carbs in mixed drinks such as vodka tonic or rum and coke come from sodas, juices, purees, and liqueurs. To minimize carb intake, it is recommended to choose lower carb options like dry red or white wine or hard liquor, as these typically contain 5 grams of carbs or fewer per standard serving.

It should be noted that alcoholic beverages generally lack micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it is generally more advisable to allocate your limited daily carbohydrate intake toward nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains.

If you are limiting carbohydrates, make sure the carbohydrates you consume are nutritious to prevent long-term nutritional deficiencies associated with keto diets. It is important to mention that there is limited research on the impact of alcohol on the liver when adhering to a ketogenic diet.

11. Honey and syrups

Honey and syrups, such as agave or maple, are sugar that has been concentrated. They do not contain much else and can easily add to your daily carbohydrate intake, without offering much nutritional value.

For example, honey contains 17 grams of carbs in a 1 tablespoon serving size (21 grams), whereas maple syrup has 13 grams in the same portion (20 grams). Despite providing antioxidants and other nutrients, consumption of these sweeteners can lead to a sudden increase in blood sugar levels and disrupt the state of ketosis.

12. Juice

Juice contains a greater amount of vitamins and minerals compared to honey and syrups; however, it is still rich in naturally occurring sugar and does not provide dietary fiber. This poses a challenge for individuals on the keto diet who require adequate fiber for proper digestion.

The importance of fiber lies in its ability to slow down the movement of food through your digestive system, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar levels. To stay in ketosis, it is crucial to refrain from consuming foods with high carbohydrates and low fiber, such as juice, as they can cause spikes in blood sugar.

13. Sugary sodas

Sodas consist primarily of fizzy sugary liquid without any nutritional value and have a significant amount of carbohydrates. For example, a 12-ounce (372-mL) can of Coca-Cola contains a staggering 39 grams of carbs.

If your daily carb allowance is limited, consuming just one drink can easily exceed the limit. If choosing water is not satisfying, you can opt for a sugar-free soda and still stay in ketosis. Although there is disagreement about the long-term health impacts of these beverages, having one occasionally is unlikely to be detrimental.

Alternatively, you can consider trying still or sparkling water that has been infused with refreshing flavors like mint, lemon, or cucumber.

14. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and other condiments

Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and sweet chili sauce are sugar-packed condiments with little nutritional value or fiber. The carbohydrate content varies, with ketchup containing about 3 grams and barbecue sauce containing about 4 grams of carbs per 9-gram packet. Sweet chili sauce has a higher carb content of 15 grams per 35-gram serving.

Although certain foods on this list have lower carb content compared to others, it is still possible to consume them in large amounts. Eating more than recommended portion sizes can promptly render them unsuitable for a keto diet. Instead, choose hot vinegar-based sauces such as Tabasco or spices from a jar if you desire to enhance the taste of your food without increasing your daily carb intake.

Alternatively, good options can include fat-rich mayonnaise or whole grain mustard, but it is important to remember to verify the carbohydrate content indicated on the label.

15. Glazed or honey-baked ham

Honey-baked ham, typically cooked with a mixture of honey and butter, is a ham with bones that has the honey-butter blend spread on top and between the slices. Following the cooking process, a dry mixture of spiced sugar is coated on the outer layer of the ham and then broiled until it creates a crispy glaze.

Glazed ham, similar in nature, is baked using a dense sauce composed of a combination of sweet and pungent ingredients such as maple syrup with mustard or fruit jam mixed with vinegar. Despite being delightful, the sugar present in these sweetened hams can impede your ability to achieve or sustain ketosis.

Instead, choose regular deli ham which contains less than 1 gram of carbs per slice (equivalent to 13.5 grams).

16. Dried fruit or trail mix

When fruit is dehydrated, the sugar present in it becomes more concentrated in smaller portions. For instance, an individual pitted Medjool date (weighing 24 grams) contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, with 2 grams consisting of dietary fiber.

Although dates are nutrient-dense, they contain excessive amounts of sugar, making them unsuitable for a keto diet. Likewise, a 1/4 cup (40 grams) serving of mixed dried fruit contains 31 grams of carbs, which can disrupt ketosis quite easily.

Trail mix is frequently combined with chocolate chips, candies, or sugar-coated nuts, making it a food to be cautious about due to its potential to exceed your daily carbohydrate limit. Rather than consuming trail mix, opt for fresh berries as a healthier option. Fresh berries are relatively low in carbohydrates, containing less than 4 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup (38 grams).

17. Low fat diet foods

When foods are marketed as low fat, they usually contain more sugar to make up for the absence of fat. It is important to be cautious of these products and carefully read their nutrition labels to keep track of the carbohydrate content in your daily intake.

Examples of commonly available reduced fat foods that actually contain high amounts of added sugars include:

  • low fat or fat-free yogurt
  • low fat or fat-free mayonnaise
  • low fat salad dressings
  • reduced-fat peanut butter
  • reduced-fat or skim milk

When considering the keto diet, it is important to remember that the main goal is to consume a high amount of fat in order to fuel the body. As a result, it is advisable to opt for full fat alternatives.

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