VEG ON KETO: GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE BEST LOW-CARB VEGETABLES FOR THE KETOGENIC DIET
Lesezeit 8 min
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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:
Net Carbs (per cup or as specified)
|2 grams of net carbs
|Incredibly versatile, use it as rice, roast it, puree it, adds bulk without spiking carbs.
|Neutral flavour, perfect for various savoury dishes, can be spiralized, grilled, or baked into fritters.
|Tender spears, bright spring flavour.
|Leafy green superfood, use generously in dips to casseroles.
|Ample vitamin C and vitamin k, roast florets or add to stir-fries.
|Great roasted flavour, toss with bacon for a tasty side.
|Brighten dishes, use generously.
|Saute with olive oil and garlic for a delicious side.
|In moderation, use canned crushed or dry Roma tomatoes.
|More of a plant-based fat, offers vitamins, minerals, and creaminess perfect for keto.
|Hydrating, perfect for salads, nibbling, and light snacking.
|Curly kale provides vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
|Meaty mushrooms add flavour, numerous ways to cook with them.
|Satisfying crunch, fill with nut butter or hummus for an easy snack.
|Adds a crisp, peppery flavour to salads or plates.
|Ideally roasted, baked into casseroles, or grilled into meatless "steaks".
|Romaine, butter lettuce, and other crisp heads are perfect vessels for building keto salads.
|Substitute for leafy greens.
|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.
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.
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:
Net Carbs (per specified quantity)
|Over 15 grams of net carbs per potato
|All varieties of white and sweet potatoes are too high in carbs.
|15g per ear
|Starchy vegetables, avoid corn tortillas.
|6g (per medium carrot)
|Too much natural sugar, limit to 1/4 cup max per day.
|Closely related to carrots, too high in carbs.
|8g (per 1/2 cup)
|Unsuitable for an ultra low-carb keto diet.
|10g (per 1/2 cup)
|Starchy veggie, leave them off the menu.
|10g (per medium heart)
|Not keto-compatible, should be avoided.
|Over 20g (per medium sweet potato)
|Too high in carbs, steer clear of sweet potatoes, yams, and similar tubers.
|5g (per 1/2 cup)
|Consume very sparingly, if at all, on keto.
|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.
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.
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:
|Turnips, radishes, jicama, cauliflower
|Use as a stand-in for potatoes in salads, soups, and curries. Make mashed "potatoes" with cauliflower.
|Spiralise zucchini for a low-carb swap, top with favourite sauces.
|Pulsed cauliflower yields rice-like crumbs for stir-fries, fried rice, and pilafs.
|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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.