Most of us will benefit from going low-carb or keto at least temporarily, so I decided to create a handy low carb food list that you can download if you wish. On the keto diet, you will restrict your carb consumption to 20 grams of net carbs a day or less (subtract the fiber amount from the carbs). A low carb diet allows for anything under 100 grams of net carbs. This low carb food list includes the number of net carbs per serving to make your life easier. Don’t forget to download the PDF for an easy bring along format.
Low Carb Food List
I am going to divide this low carb food list into four main categories: veggies and fruits, baking ingredients, nuts and seeds, protein and dairy products. Of course, my list is not exhaustive; it comprises the most common low carb foods. I did not include seasoning and fats because, well, fats never have carbs and seasonings don’t make much of a difference. The common seasonings that contain the most carbs are allspice, ginger, turmeric, onion powder, and garlic powder (in this exact order – garlic powder has the most). They range from 1 to 2 grams of net carbs per teaspoon.
Low Carb Veggies and Fruits
This low carb veggie and fruit list gives you the number of net carbs per cup for veggies and half cup for fruits).
Low Carb Veggie List (net carbs per cup)
- All leafy greens (0.5-1.2 grams) – Note that iceberg lettuce has the most carbs at 1.2 grams per serving. All other leafy greens are at around 0.5-0.6 grams.
- Garlic (1 clove contains 0.9 grams)
- Celery (1.4 g)
- Cucumber (3.2 g)
- Radishes (2 g)
- Mushrooms (2.2 g)
- Zucchini (2.4 g) – I actually don’t like zucchini even though I tried to learn to like it for years. I know many of you do, so there!
- Cabbage (3 g)
- Cauliflower (3.2 g)
- Green beans (4.3 g)
- Brussel sprouts (4.6 g)
- Green onions (4.7 g)
- Snow peas (4.9 g)
- Onions (8.6 g) – Keep in mind that you won’t put 1 cup of onion in your recipes!
Low Carb Fruit List (net carbs per half cup)
- One avocado (3.2 g)
- Olives (2.2 g)
- Blackberries (3.1 g)
- Raspberries (3.3 g)
- Strawberries (4.3 g)
- Cranberries (4.6 g)
- Tomatoes (4.8 g)
Low Carb Baking Ingredients
To be honest, I think it is best to avoid baking if you go keto or low carb, particularly on the keto diet anyway. I understand that for some of us the transition is difficult and some keto threats might be a life saver. So here we go.
Low Carb Baking Ingredient Food List
- Flaxseed meal (2 Tbsp, 0 carbs)
- Protein powder (whey, collagen, etc.) (1 scoop, 0 carbs)
- Psyllium husk powder (1 tsp, 0 carbs)
- Cocoa powder (1 Tbsp, 1.1 g)
- Peanut flour (1/4 cup, 2 g)
- Unsweetened chocolate chips (1 oz, up to 3.4 g)
- Almond flour (1/4 cup, 3 g)
- Coconut flour (1/4 cup, 4 g)
Keto sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, erythritol, and monk fruit don’t contain any carbs.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a weakness for many low carb and keto dieters. While they have many nutritional benefits, don’t overdo them. It’s easy to start with a handful of almonds and, before you know it, you ate a whole bag!
Low Carb Nuts and Seeds List (net grams of carbs per 1/4 cup)
- Pecans (1 g)
- Sunflower seeds (1.3 g)
- Brazil nuts (1.4 g)
- Hemp seeds (1. 4 g)
- Pumpkin seeds (1.6 g)
- Macadamia nuts (1.7 g)
- Walnuts (2 g)
- Chia seeds (1 oz, 2.1 g)
- Almonds (3 g)
- Pine nuts (3.2 g)
Protein and Dairy Products
Choose the highest protein foods you can afford. Not only this will help protect the environment, but your body will thank you. For example, grass-fed beef has a much better nutritional profile than conventionally raised beef. It contains more omega 3s, antioxidants, and certain vitamins).
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to not make too many of those decadent dairy-filled keto recipes. Rather, focus on greens and pure fats as the basis of your meals. I used to be dairy sensitive until I realized I was histamine intolerant. If you think that’s you, you may want to try the Histamine Block.
Protein Food List (grams of carbs per 4 oz)
- One egg (0 g)
- Beef (0 g)
- Lamb (0 g)
- Pork (0 g)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, quail) (0 g)
- Game meat (moose, bison, venison) (0 g)
- Deli meats (0-1 g)
- Fish and shellfish (0-2 g)
Dairy Food List
- Soft and hard cheeses (1 oz, 0-1.5 g)
- Heavy cream (1 Tbsp, 0.4 g)
- Sour cream (1 Tbsp, 0.6 g)
- Half and half (1 Tbsp, 0.7 g)
- Cream cheese (1 Tbsp, 0.8 g)
- Whole milk and yogurt (1/2 cup, 3.7 g)
Why Follow a Low Carb Diet
In North America, I would venture to say that most people struggle with some form of insulin resistance. Most of us are raised on way too much sugar. We grow accustomed to it, don’t appreciate the natural taste of foods, and we struggle with food cravings. I find a low carb diet to be an excellent way to reset my system. I don’t necessarily endorse it long term for everyone, but I do think most of us would benefit from going low carb at least occasionally. If you are curious about my experience trying the keto diet, read My Intermittent Fasting and Keto Results: 14-Day Experiment.
The Difference Between Simple Carbs and Complex Carbs
Carbs are made up of fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch are complex starch. Generally, complex carbs include whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables, Keep in mind that many foods have a mix of carbohydrates. For example, fruit contains natural fruit sugar (fructose, a simple carb) as well as dietary fiber (a complex starch).
Complex carbs take longer to digest than simple carbs. Simple carbs occur naturally in milk and fruit, but they are mostly added to food in the form of sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Refined grains and flours also contain simple carbs.
Health Benefits of Complex Carbs
Foods with complex carbs offer many nutritional benefits. I mean, I could go on and on about vitamins and minerals, but all foods on my low carb food list are very nutrient-dense. You do not need many carbs to get all the vitamins and minerals required for optimal health. However, foods with complex carbs also contain fiber, which is very important for your body. I don’t know if you have heard of the Blue Zones, but these are the zones on the planet where we find the greater numbers of centenarians. They have a few things in common, and one of them is eating half a cup of legumes a day. I don’t think there is one perfect diet for everyone. Some people feel their best when they eat mostly carbs. I do think that the average North American would do best on a combination of fasting and low carb periods. Even complex carbs can contribute to insulin resisance.
How Even Complex Carbs Can Harm You
As I was thinking about what I was going to write, I was simply reliving my own experience. I know how I feel when I eat a lot of carbs. My food cravings increase, I am never quite satisfied. However, I wanted to present to you some scientific evidence rather than just my experience.
The body breaks down sugar and starches into glucose. Even though your body needs to produce insulin any time you eat (that’s why fasting is so effective), it will release more when you fill up on carbs, even complex carbs. Protein results in a smaller amount of insulin release and fat requires the smallest release of insulin. Very high levels of insulin have a key role in storing body fat and other health issues. Moreover, too much insulin will contribute to an endless cycle of feeling tired and hungry.
Helpful Substitutions to Help Lower Your Carb Intake
To conclude this post, I thought I would share some helpful suggestions to help you decrease your carb intake.
- Lettuce leaves instead of bread or taco shells
- Portobello mushrooms instead of hamburger buns (I personally enjoy just the meat patties with all the trimmings but without bread.)
- Baked butternut squash fries
- Eggplant lasagna
- Cauliflower pizza crust
- Spaghetti squash instead of noodles
- Konjac noodles and rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Mac and cheese style cauliflower