All our lives we’ve been told that vegetables are good for us and that we should eat as many as possible. But what if you’re on a low carb diet? Are there any vegetables to avoid on keto? Do you even need to eat vegetables at all? We’ve got the scoop on what vegetables to avoid on keto so you can stay in ketosis!
Do You Need Vegetables on Keto?
If you’re new to keto or just kind of scoping it out, you might have heard that all you need to do is eat lots of fat and avoid carbs. Cheese and bacon all day!!
While you can totally enjoy plenty of cheese and bacon on the keto diet, your body NEEDS vegetables too.
Here are a few reasons why vegetables are crucial on keto (or any diet):
1. Vegetables are the best source of many vitamins and minerals
Multivitamins can help fill nutritional gaps, but they are not a substitute for nutritious foods.
Dr. Clifford Lo, an associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, explains that nutrients are most potent when they come from food.
Plus, “They are accompanied by […] beneficial nutrients, such as hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren’t in most supplements,” says Dr. Lo.
2. Vegetables provide fiber
Fiber is essential for healthy digestion and makes it easier to pass waste through your colon. Too little fiber can lead to constipation and stomach pain.
Fiber may also help lower the risk of certain ailments, such as heart disease.
3. Vegetables may help prevent disease
In addition to fiber, many vegetables also contain disease-preventing phytochemicals. Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer — you may potentially be able to lower your risk of developing some or all of these conditions by eating a diet high in vegetables.
Can I Eat Too Many Vegetables on Keto?
The question is not if you can eat vegetables, but rather which vegetables to choose. Many vegetables have a low carb count and are perfect for adding vital nutrients and fiber to your daily intake.
However, there are some vegetables that contain a relatively large amount of carbs (especially compared to other vegetables) and should probably be avoided if you’re on a strict keto diet.
Vegetables to Avoid on Keto
The following vegetables are not “bad” necessarily, but they are high in carbohydrates. If you are on a low carb diet, it may be best to avoid them and stick to lower carb options.
While it does provide fiber, corn is high in starch/carbohydrates and can spike blood sugar. If your goal is weight loss, this is one veggie to skip.
Peas are technically legumes, a family of foods that includes beans and lentils. On a keto diet, you generally want to avoid legumes, as they are relatively high in carbs.
One exception is peanuts/peanut butter, which is a good source of fat and protein, and lower in carbs than many other legumes. Peanut butter is a popular snack with keto dieters and ingredient in keto recipes.
Acorn & Butternut Squash
One cup of acorn squash contains 15g carbs; butternut squash is about the same. Unless you’re on a maintenance phase of your low carb diet, you’ll want to avoid these winter squash varieties.
By contrast, one cup of spaghetti squash only has about 7-8g carbs.
Potatoes do contain more nutritional value than one might think, but they are also high in carbs and extremely starchy. They’re almost impossible to fit into a traditional ketogenic diet.
One potato can set you back over 30 grams of carbs, which is a total no-go if you’re doing a strict 20 grams of carbs per day. Even on a moderate or maintenance diet, a potato takes up a big chunk of your daily carb allowance.
While sweet potatoes contain fewer carbs than regular potatoes, they’re still too starchy to work for most low carb eating plans. One medium sweet potato may contain as much as 25 grams carbohydrates.
Other Root Vegetables to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Like potatoes, most root vegetables are too starchy to be useful on the keto diet. If you’re on a moderate or maintenance eating plan, you may be able to enjoy a small amount, perhaps a few pieces of beet in a salad.
However, if you’re just starting keto or are on a strict carb limit, these root veggies should be off the menu:
The good news is that there are a few root vegetables that you CAN enjoy on a keto or low carb diet!
Turnips make an excellent substitute for potatoes, with about 1/4th of the carb count. Radishes, kohlrabi, and ginger root are also low enough in carbs to incorporate into a keto eating plan.
Remember, No Vegetable is “Bad”
I want to emphasize again that no vegetables are “bad.” Even the ones on the list above.
If you eat some corn or a potato, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re going to splurge, a bit of baked potato is probably a better choice than a pint of ice cream!
The vegetables listed here are high in carbs — 15 grams or higher per cup. They could possibly kick you out of ketosis, slowing your weight loss goals.
But again, they are not bad for you. In fact, all of these vegetables contain vital nutrients!
However, if staying in ketosis is the plan, you’ll have an easier time by sticking to vegetables that are lower in carbs.
Learn More: The Best Foods You Can Eat on the Keto Diet