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I remember the first week I started Keto. I whipped up one of my favorite dishes, roasted Brussels sprouts and my jaw dropped when I realized that what I had just eaten was 20 carbs! Ok, I had more than one serving, but I thought vegetables were carb-free but they just aren’t. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll be over 25 carbs in a blink of an eye before you know it.
So how can we stay under 25 net carbs?
One of the easiest and most efficient ways of getting your head around the keto diet is to memorize what you CAN eat, and stop stressing about what you can’t. Of course, this doesn’t mean sitting there writing out flashcards so you can memorize the list I’m about to give you, after a few weeks of weighing and measuring and reading the backs of packets you’ll get a really good feel for how much you need for each meal and what each food contains. The head spin of going keto will start to clear and things will easier.
Focusing on no carb food is a really easy way to keep that carb count low! To give you a head start here’s a go-to list of no carb food.
Fats have zero carbs
Healthy fats keep you full and are high in omega 3’s as well as other important fatty acids like MCT’s which are super important for your health. Fat bombs (and bacon) are your friend!
A special note about MCT oil. Medium chain triglycerides are found naturally in coconut oil. These fatty acids reduce inflammation, improve metabolism and cognitive function. Lots of Ketoers use MCT oil as part of their daily protocol because they are easily digested, enhance ketone production and help stabilize blood sugar.
There are lots of ways to get your healthy fats into your daily meals.
Drizzle your salads with plenty of olive oil, eat oily fish, fry your spinach in butter, put coconut oil in your coffee.
Some meat and eggs have carbs
Be careful with processed hams and luncheon meat, they often have hidden sugars or honey in. Eggs do have carbs too (.2 to .7 per egg) but they are so vital to the keto diet (full of important amino acids and healthy fats,) that you don’t want to sacrifice eggs so you can have luncheon meat!
Not to worry though, there are plenty of zero carb types of meat and fish to choose from.
Shellfish has slightly higher carb content but like eggs, are nutrient dense so worth paying attention to. Lobster has trace carbs and there are .35 net carbs per oyster.
Fruit and vegetables.
We need vegetables in our diet but unfortunately, it’s impossible to escape the carbs. This is why leafy greens are most ketoer’s first go to for nutrient dense veg as they have the least carbs, the most nutrients and often the fiber content cancels out the majority of carbs.
Sadly most fruit is out on the keto diet, but berries can be eaten in moderation as well as a little melon. Avocados are actually a fruit, with almost zero carbs and a fantastic source of healthy fat.
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Bok Choy .7
Serving size: 1/4 cup
Garlic (1/2 clove) .5
Yellow Squash .7
Asparagus (3 pieces) .6
I’m highlighting zucchini because it’s so versatile. It can be easily “zoodled” and used in place of noodles for low carb stir-fries or spaghetti bolognaise. Helping you recreate those classic high carb comfort foods like mac and cheese in a much healthier way.
Milk is too high in carbs, maybe you can get away with a little in your tea, but at 2.7g per tablespoon as a drink on its own, it’s out. Most dairy apart from eggs and heavy cream has too many carbs with no fiber, so it’s easy to overdo.
If you keep your serving small, cheese can be a possibility. It’s the perfect solution for topping up unused calories or curbing hunger pains. Cheddar, for example, has one of the lowest carb counts at just .3 grams of carbs per cubed inch, parmesan is pretty high at .9 and Monteray is the lowest at .1.
Instead of putting milk in your tea many of us use heavy cream or even butter in coffee (butter in tea doesn’t work, trust me!), Watch out though, as different brands of cream can have quite different amounts of carbs.
- Heavy Cream .4 net carbs per tbsp
- Half-and-Half .2 to 1 net carb per tbsp
Tips for successful Zero carbing
Once you know what you can eat, it’s still important to keep track of your carbs and fiber calories to make sure you don’t go over. Here are three tips for successful zero carbing.
Don’t forget net carbs!
Zero carb doesn’t actually mean zero carbs, it means zero net carbs. It would be impossible to eat without ingesting a few carbs. To find out your net carbs you simply subtract your fiber carbs from your total carbs.
My favorite zero carb food is chia. 6 grams of carbs per tablespoon seems quite a lot, but as there are 6 grams of fiber too it makes it a 0 carb food! I like to add chia to my greek yogurt for added bulk, fiber, protein and omega 3!
If you want to stay at 0 carbs, tracking is imperative. Some people do well on keto without tracking, but until you really know what and how much you can eat it’s important to track EVERYTHING.
Don’t get caught by the zero carbs on the label
If you are looking at a product that has sugar in the ingredients but 0 carbs listed on the nutritional info, stay away! It is likely that there are just under 0 carbs in the serving size. These hidden carbs add up fast! Here’s another great resource about the keto diet for beginners.