Dr. Anthony Gustin is a board-certified sports chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, entrepreneur, podcast host, and founder of Perfect Keto.
There are 108 ketogenic diet foods to avoid that will slow down (or shut down) your body’s fat burning capability.
The list of foods to avoid is extremely important on the ketogenic diet.
Remember that carbs must be kept very low to remain in ketosis. Most people need to stay within 20-30 grams of net carbs per day, depending on your current body composition and activity level. Check out the keto calculator to find out your unique macronutrient ratios.
Too many carbohydrate-rich foods can bring you out of ketosis and slow down your body’s fat burning capabilities.
So, here’s a cheat sheet with 108 foods to avoid if you’re trying to get into or stay in ketosis.
- Carbohydrates To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Proteins To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Fats To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Drinks To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Packaged Foods To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Sweeteners To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- Condiments To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
- What If You Have A Cheat Day?
There are five types of carbs to avoid on keto:
- Beans and legumes
- Most fruits
- Starchy vegetables
If you’re going to get into ketosis quickly, you need to limit your carb intake. And all grains are mostly made of carbohydrates. The easiest and best way to stay low-carb is to avoid grains completely.
Some carbs, like rice and corn, contain enough carbs in one serving to hit your entire day’s carb allotment.
Beans and Legumes
Beans provide some fiber and other nutrients, but they’re not a great fit for the ketogenic diet due to their high starch (carb) content. Avoid legumes including*:
Fruit is healthy, right?
Sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re keto-compliant. Fruit is high in sugar and carbs, so they’re usually a no-go on the keto diet. That includes tropical fruits, fruit juices, dried fruits, and fruit smoothies (for the most part).
If you do have fruit, choose lower-sugar options like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and eat them sparingly.
Avoid any vegetables that grow beneath the ground (tubers) and focus more on cruciferous veggies and leafy greens.
The high starch content of some vegetables (like those in the list below) is problematic because—like with beans—high-starch means high-carb*.
Sugar has 56 different names on nutritional labels. There are hidden sugars everywhere.
While there might be better options for overall health like raw honey, sugar is sugar, and it will still kick you out of ketosis. Sugars to avoid*:
Try these Perfect Keto dessert recipes without sugars:
What About Carbs During Exercise?
You might wonder if you need more carbs to support your workouts. The truth is — the importance of carbs for exercise is often way overblown.
For competitive athletes and those looking to build a large amount of muscle, such as bodybuilders, there might be a need for strategic carb re-feeds. In this case, a targeted ketogenic diet might be appropriate, where carb intake is increased slightly around workouts.
Otherwise, you probably don’t need those extra carbs.
Protein is just fine on a ketogenic diet, but you should always avoid low-quality proteins.
There are two main types of protein to avoid on a ketogenic diet:
- Milk and low-fat dairy
- Factory-raised meat and animal-byproducts and processed meats
Milk and Low-fat Dairy
Full-fat dairy products like yogurt, butter, heavy cream, and sour cream are okay on the ketogenic diet; however, you should avoid all other milk and low- and reduced-fat dairy products. They have way more carbs and sugar.
Not only is low-fat and non-fat dairy higher in carbs, but pasteurized milk is hard to digest for most people, is lacking in beneficial bacteria, and usually contains harmful hormones. Raw milk is okay in small amounts (start with no more than a serving per day). Just don’t forget to account for the carbs.
Dairy products to avoid:
Factory Farmed Animal Products
Choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed meat and eggs and wild-caught seafood.
Perfect Keto’s founder Dr. Anthony Gustin has an information-packed series on why source matters and guides on how to buy good food.
- Avoid grain-fed meats and dairy — they are lower in precious nutrients.
- Stay away from factory-farmed fish and pork products, which are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, factory-farmed fish is usually higher in mercury.
- Avoid processed meat like hot dogs and packaged sausages, since they usually contain nitrates and other additives you don’t need.
Dr. Anthony Gustin also buys a lot of local meat whenever he can, like this full lamb pictured below which came out to less than $3/lb when buying in bulk.
Try these recipes made with healthy keto proteins:
- Portobello Bun Cheeseburgers
- Cheesy Broccoli Meatza
- Lemon Balsamic Chicken
- Crispy Skin Salmon with Pesto Cauliflower
Fat is an excellent food source that helps your body make important hormones and neurotransmitters. Plus, without all those carbs, your body will use more fatty acids to fuel your body and brain.
However, the source and quality of your fats are crucial.
Not all fats are created equal, and processed vegetable oils are by far the worst for you.
Inflammatory Vegetable Oils
Unprocessed and nutritious oils, such as coconut oil, virgin olive oil, and macadamia nut oils are great sources of saturated and unsaturated fat. Avoid harmful processed vegetable oils like these 4 offenders:
See our full guide on Good Fats vs Bad Fats for more.
For some good fats, see these fat bombs:
Drinks to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet
It’s better to avoid drinking your calories on any diet and stick to water and no-sugar drinks. Stay clear of these:
- High-carb alcohol
- Soft drinks
Alcohol can easily slow down fat loss in ketosis. Plus, many alcoholic drinks are carb-heavy, such as:
If you are drinking, reach for hard liquor first (is that the first time you’ve ever heard that suggestion?)
Even though it’s also made from carb sources, those sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol during the distillation and fermentation process.
Alcohol is ethanol, which your body (mostly your liver) will prioritize into breaking down and detoxing. That means, if you’re trying to lose weight, your body takes a break on fat burning to take care of those tequila shots first.
And that 100% slows fat loss.
Check out this Low Carb Alcohol Guide: What You Need to Know About Drinking on Keto to learn what’s safe to drink on keto.
Sweetened and Sugary Beverages
It’s best to stay clear of most caloric and sweetened drinks, as they are often full of carbs. That includes:
Try these Perfect Keto drinks instead:
- Chocolate Sea Salt Smoothie
- Micronutrient Greens Matcha Smoothie
- Acai Almond Butter Smoothie
- Perfect Keto Frappuccino
Processed and Packaged Foods To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
Not only are the oils mentioned above found in unhealthy processed products, but manufacturers stuff packaged products with extra sugar, trans fats, preservatives, and other junk — even if they’re marketed as “low-carb” or keto.” Avoid packaged and processed foods like:
Again, beware of packaged foods labeled as “low-carb” or “zero-carb” (like diet drinks, sugar-free gums or candy, and other diet products). They might be low in carb content per serving, but there are several serving sizes per package.
Most packaged foods are also high in gluten or artificial additives and flavors, which can add to your inflammatory load.
Focus on whole food ketogenic foods instead.
Artificial Sweeteners To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
Avoid artificial sweeteners. They’re unhealthy and some can spike blood sugar. These are the worst offenders:
Condiments To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
It’s best to make condiments yourself so you know what’s in them. If that’s not an option, avoid condiments that are:
But… What If You Have a Cheat Day on the Keto Diet?
Cheat days (or even cheat meals) are not recommended on the ketogenic diet.
They can easily kick you out of ketosis and make it tough for you to get back into ketosis. That means less fat-burning and fewer benefits from all your hard work.
Over time, you’ll get used to knowing which foods you can eat a little of and which ones you should avoid completely.
Avoid These 108 Foods to Remain in Ketosis and Burn Fat
Ketosis is a measurable state of metabolism, not just an idea or methodology, so foods can’t definitively be labeled “keto” or “not-keto.”
The only way to truly know if a food is “keto” or not is to eat it and test your ketone levels over time. After a while on the keto diet, you’ll also likely be able to tell if it kicked you out of ketosis.
Use this list as your reference when you need a refresher on what’s non-keto, but don’t let it discourage you. There are plenty of delicious foods you can turn to.
Check out this comprehensive list of ketogenic diet foods and check out our awesome Perfect Keto recipes. And don’t forget to download your free meal planning PDF below.