The keto diet is a hyper-specific and niche eating regimen involving minimal to no carbohydrates alongside a fairly low daily overall calorie intake. In recent years, the ketogenic diet—or “eating keto”—has become extremely popular, and its potential efficacy continues to be widely studied. If you’re considering or have decided to take this diet path, knowing what not to eat may end up influencing how well your body adapts and changes in accordance with the results you seek, if at all.
“Some of the pros of the diet are that people do lose weight and oftentimes pretty quickly,” explains Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. “While many people lose weight on the keto diet, it does not necessarily mean it is good for you. Many keto-diet lovers eat very little fiber, which is essential for proper gut and heart health.”
Prioritizing dietary fiber is great and can contribute to a healthy and well-functioning digestive system. That being said, balancing nutrients like protein and healthy fats, while on keto will be most crucial in giving your body what it needs. High protein foods facilitate your body’s fat-burning process, as it burns more calories to digest. And on the other hand, eating more healthy fats (in moderation, of course) can make your body feel fuller for longer, which is a great resource in trying to lose weight in a healthy way.
According to News Medical, to enter into ketosis—a metabolic state where one’s body can ultimately burn fat in lieu of carbs for energy—you should only eat around 20–50 grams of carbohydrates each day. Sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, juices or fruit-flavored beverages, and sweet teas, tend to be high in added sugars and carbohydrates. If trying to follow a keto diet, consuming too many of these kinds of beverages can cause the body to revert back to breaking down carbohydrates for energy instead of stored fat.
Before reaching for a sweet pumpkin muffin or a fluffy croissant, remember that these will counter your keto-eating efforts.
“You need to limit carbs to a very low amount to maintain ketosis,” explains Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD, nutrition communications specialist, and co-founder of Appetite for Health. “That means any sugar-rich treats or processed foods are pretty much off-limits on keto,” she continues.
Pastries and baked goods will not only push you over your daily intake of carbohydrates while on the keto diet. But the excess calories and added sugars in the sweet treats can end up resulting in health issues like weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Upton recommends only shopping for plain, unsweetened or low-sugar yogurt brands. In doing so, you can avoid sweetened or fruit-flavored yogurts that can have up to about 12 teaspoons of pure sugar, according to SFGATE.
A bowl of Greek yogurt can be a wonderful source of protein in the morning, which is especially great for a keto diet. Per the USDA, 100 grams of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has about 10 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, and only 4 grams of carbs, making it a great keto-friendly snack to enjoy—if consumed in moderation. It can also be a wonderful source of protein in the morning, which is especially great for a keto diet.
A keto yogurt parfait doesn’t have to be bland; you can add in toppings to boost the flavor and add texture without interfering with countering your dieting efforts.
“[For] low-carb alternatives in your diet, you would opt for berries and other fruit low in sugar,” Upton says. You’ll be able to enjoy naturally sweet flavors, while still remaining within keto’s calorie regimen.
The keto diet is not for the faint of heart, particularly for those who have a big sweet tooth. Realistically, a traditional tub of ice cream is made up of only a few main ingredients: milk, cream, and sugar. As of 2022, the FDA recommended that the portion size for regular ice cream should be no more than two-thirds of a cup.
Nowadays, you can find multiple ice cream brands have surfaced at the grocery store offering keto-friendly ice cream options. These products are usually low-carb with low or zero sugar, and are often made with healthy sweetener alternatives such as stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols.
After starting the keto diet, some people may find it “cuts out most sources of fiber in the diet and lots of nutrients found in high fiber foods,” according to Goodson. Beans and lentils happen to be a part of this category, especially since they are the most carb-heavy of the legumes family. Even though they’re packed with tons of fiber and substantial amounts of protein, these foods can be challenging to incorporate into a keto-focused diet as they reach between 40-50 grams of carbohydrates per serving of 100 grams.