VEG ON KETO: GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE BEST LOW-CARB VEGETABLES FOR THE KETOGENIC DIET

Geschrieben von: Suzie Walker

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Lesezeit 8 min

Transitioning to a ketogenic or low-carb diet opens an exciting opportunity to explore a new world of healthy, cruciferous vegetables.

 

Hold on, Veg on Keto?

 

I know what you are thinking… At first glance, keto seems at odds with eating veggies. Especially since veggies are high in carbohydrates! 

 

In this article, I will explain why veggies ARE keto-friendly, and provide actionable guidance on incorporating vegetables into a low-carb lifestyle.

 

You'll also want to know which veggies to avoid! 

Let's get started!

why you need greens on keto

Importance of Vegetables in a Keto Diet

Many people mistakenly believe that the ultra-low-carb keto diet means no vegetables allowed. I cannot overstate how wrong this assumption is. Vegetables play an absolutely vital role in keto diets. Without them, long-term health consequences can be severe. 

 

Truth is, The keto diet opens up an exciting world of nutrient-dense superfoods that taste incredible. With the right strategies, vegetables can be a cornerstone of thriving on keto.

The best keto vegetables generally are leafy green vegetables with a really low number of grams of carbs per serving. Leafy greens provide the vitamins K, A, and C critical for circulation, vision, immunity and more. Cruciferous options like broccoli offer antioxidants to combat inflammation. And the fibre in veggies feeds healthy gut flora.

lettuce

Non-starchy veggies promote weight loss. Their high water and fibre content provides volume and satisfaction without packing in calories. This greater fullness from low-energy-density foods naturally reduces overall calorie intake.

 

Additionally, their minimal effect on blood sugar helps regulate insulin. This optimization of insulin through carb restriction assists in fat burning.

asparagus

Veggies like leafy greens and avocados also supply electrolytes. These minerals - potassium, magnesium and sodium - are essential for energy, muscle function, and managing inflammation.

Finally, the antioxidant power of many vegetables neutralizes free radicals. Limiting this oxidative damage may lower the risk for chronic diseases and other issues such as metabolic syndrome.

brocolli

Simply put, these non-starchy vegetables make keto sustainable. That is why I recommend stacking your plate predominantly with green veggies. Prioritise leafy greens, then round out meals with low-carb cruciferous veggies, and other choices on the keto "yes" list. This ensures maximum nutrition within carb limits.

 

Print off or save these veggie benefits reminders:

benefits of veg on keto 1
benefits of veg on keto 2

If you are new to keto, let go of the idea that it is about eating bacon and butter constantly. 

 

A rainbow of low-carb veggies offers keto dieters a host of benefits - from easier weight management to optimized well-being. Make non-starchy keto veggies the star of your plates. Supplement them with herbs, spices, oils and proteins. 

 

Your body will thank you!

best veg on keto

Best Keto-Friendly Vegetables

The variety of vegetable options can be overwhelming when first transitioning to keto. Here is a list of optimal low-carb vegetables on the Keto Diet. These tend to be cruciferous vegetables over root vegetables. 

 

You really can't go wrong with green leafy vegetables:

 

Vegetable

Net Carbs (per cup or as specified)

Notes

Cauliflower 2 grams of net carbs Incredibly versatile, use it as rice, roast it, puree it, adds bulk without spiking carbs.
Courgette Negligible Neutral flavour, perfect for various savoury dishes, can be spiralized, grilled, or baked into fritters.
Asparagus 2g Tender spears, bright spring flavour.
Spinach 0.4g Leafy green superfood, use generously in dips to casseroles.
Broccoli 2g Ample vitamin C and vitamin k, roast florets or add to stir-fries.
Brussels Sprouts 3g Great roasted flavour, toss with bacon for a tasty side.
Bell Peppers 2g Brighten dishes, use generously.
Green Beans 2g Saute with olive oil and garlic for a delicious side.
Tomatoes 2-3g In moderation, use canned crushed or dry Roma tomatoes.
Avocado Negligible More of a plant-based fat, offers vitamins, minerals, and creaminess perfect for keto.
Cucumber 1g Hydrating, perfect for salads, nibbling, and light snacking.
Kale 1g Curly kale provides vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Mushrooms Under 2g Meaty mushrooms add flavour, numerous ways to cook with them.
Celery 1g Satisfying crunch, fill with nut butter or hummus for an easy snack.
Radish 1g Adds a crisp, peppery flavour to salads or plates.
Aubergine 2g Ideally roasted, baked into casseroles, or grilled into meatless "steaks".
Lettuce Varies Romaine, butter lettuce, and other crisp heads are perfect vessels for building keto salads.
Bok Choy 1g Substitute for leafy greens.
Swiss Chard 1g Bitter flavour balances richness, cook it down for keto-friendly consumption.

Overall, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious low-carb vegetables that are perfect for a keto diet. 

These do tend to be cruciferous vegetables over root vegetables, although there are opportunities to include a small amount of root vegetables in your Keto lifestyle if you are careful. 


I pay close attention to the net carb counts for the vegetables I eat. The key is choosing options low enough in carbs to stay within my daily limits while still providing key nutrients.

cucumber

I focus on above-ground, high-fibre vegetables which typically have lower net carbs. Their higher fibre content offsets some of the total carbs. Leafy greens, zucchini, and cruciferous veggies are prime examples.

veg to avoid on keto

Vegetables to Avoid on Keto

Certain higher-carb vegetables should be minimised or avoided altogether when transitioning to a keto diet. These are mainly grown below the ground and are Root Vegetables, not cruciferous vegetables.

 

Avoid these veggies on Keto:

 

Vegetable

Net Carbs (per specified quantity)

Notes

Potatoes Over 15 grams of net carbs per potato All varieties of white and sweet potatoes are too high in carbs.
Corn 15g per ear Starchy vegetables, avoid corn tortillas.
Carrots 6g (per medium carrot) Too much natural sugar, limit to 1/4 cup max per day.
Parsnips Varies Closely related to carrots, too high in carbs.
Beets 8g (per 1/2 cup) Unsuitable for an ultra low-carb keto diet.
Sweet Peas 10g (per 1/2 cup) Starchy veggie, leave them off the menu.
Artichokes 10g (per medium heart) Not keto-compatible, should be avoided.
Sweet Potatoes Over 20g (per medium sweet potato) Too high in carbs, steer clear of sweet potatoes, yams, and similar tubers.
Pumpkin 5g (per 1/2 cup) Consume very sparingly, if at all, on keto.
Green Peas Almost 8g (per 1/2 cup) High glycemic, say no to peas.

Cutting out Potatoes can be tough, especially in the U.K. where they seem to appear on every plate. But their regular appearance may also help explain why we are going through an obesity crisis. Sadly, if you are to fully commit to Keto, you will have to cut out your favourite fish and chips!

 

But, with so many delicious low-carb veg options, you shouoldn't feel deprived, and your body will thank you for it with a tigher waist-line. 

potatoes

Be cautious with the veggies on this "avoid" list to stay in ketosis. Eliminating these higher glycemic vegetables from your meal plans makes room for far more keto-friendly options. 

low carb veg swaps

Healthy Low-Carb Vegetable Swaps for Keto

One key to keto success is swapping high-carb vegetable ingredients for lower-carb alternatives. Underground veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes are too high in carbs for my keto needs, so I substitute lower-carb options instead.

 

Here are some of my favourite substitutions:

 

High-Carb Vegetable

Low-Carb Alternative(s)

Notes

Potatoes Turnips, radishes, jicama, cauliflower Use as a stand-in for potatoes in salads, soups, and curries. Make mashed "potatoes" with cauliflower.
Pasta Zucchini noodles Spiralise zucchini for a low-carb swap, top with favourite sauces.
Grains Cauliflower rice Pulsed cauliflower yields rice-like crumbs for stir-fries, fried rice, and pilafs.
Peas Broccoli or Brussels sprouts Lower-carb alternatives for a pop

My daily net carb goal is 20-50 grams max, with vegetables making up around half of that allowance. Choosing the lowest net carb vegetables provides the most flexibility in my meal planning. I can enjoy a satisfying diversity of non-starchy veggies and stay in ketosis!

tomatoes and onions on keto

Are Tomatoes and Onions Allowed on the Keto Diet?

When starting a keto diet, it's understandable to be uncertain about ingredients like tomatoes and onions. Can they fit into ultra-low-carb eating or not? We're often asked this question at The Keto Collective. The answer is not completely straightforward. Here are some key points:

Tomatoes and onions are higher in carbs than leafy greens or broccoli. However, they can still work in moderation. The trick is tracking portion sizes carefully.
 

  • A 1/2 cup of chopped raw tomatoes contains around 3-4g net carbs. 
     

  • A 1/4 cup of sliced red onion equals approximately 2-3g net carbs. 


So, while not entirely off limits, be mindful not to overdo it!

tomatoes

When calculating macros, opt for tomato-based products sparingly. Marinara sauce and canned diced tomatoes add up fast carb-wise.

However, onions and tomatoes can provide beneficial nutrients and flavour. Cooked down in a sauce or salsa, their volume is reduced, concentrating their rich taste. 


It may be worth waiting until you are deep in ketosis before testing your ‘card resilience’ with onions. Tomatoes can be included earlier in a ketogenic diet, but it may be worth using an Electronic Ketone Meter to track if you remain in ketosis after consumption.

onions

Moderation and tracking are key with tomatoes and onions. When used judiciously in recipes that accommodate their carbs, they can be included in a keto eating plan. Just be careful not to go overboard on portion sizes.

broccoli on keto

9 Tip for Cooking Veg on Keto

Creativity in the kitchen is key for enjoying vibrant, delicious keto vegetables. Here are my top tips for preparing veggies:

1. Roasting concentrates natural flavours and caramelizes vegetables for added depth and sweetness. 

 

2. Toss chopped veggies in olive oil, herbs, and spices before roasting.

 

3. Grilling adds great charred accents and smoky notes. 

 

4. Brush firm vegetables like zucchini and eggplant with oil and grill until tender.

courgette

5. Steaming is fast and preserves more nutrients than boiling. The gentler heat also maintains more texture.
 

6. Sautèing in olive or avocado oil quickly cooks, adding richness.
 

7. Raw preparations like salads are great for tender vegetables. 

8. Massage hearty greens like kale to soften them up before dressing.
 

9. Mixing veggies into casseroles, frittatas, soups, and other dishes packs extra nutrients into meals.
 

You can turn keto vegetables into irresistible sides and mains with a repertoire of simple cooking techniques. The possibilities are endless for low-carb veggie deliciousness!

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Finally On... Eating Veg on Keto

As we've explored, thriving on a keto diet goes hand-in-hand with incorporating nutritious low-carb vegetables. They provide antioxidants, electrolytes, fibre, and an array of vitamins essential for health.

 

Focus your meals around leafy greens, cruciferous veggies. Be mindful of portions when using moderate carb choices like tomatoes and onions. Avoid potato products, corn, carrots and other high-glycemic vegetables to stay in ketosis. 

 

I hope this guide to thriving with vegetables on a ketogenic diet helps pave your path to vibrant health. 

Suzie Walker - Keto Collective

SUZIE WALKER 

Keto Collective Co-Founder & Naturopathic Nutritionist dipNT.CNM 


Suzie has researched and reviewed the many health benefits of low-carb living. She co-founded The Keto Collective, a company that aims to make it easier to find whole food, great tasting, keto alternatives to their everyday favourites.

Read more about Suzie Walker