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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, and protein shouldn’t make up more than 20-25% of total calories.
Too many carby foods can very quickly bring you out of ketosis and slow down your body’s fat burning capabilities.
This is why the foods below should be avoided on a ketogenic diet.
Not to worry, though. We’ve made it easy for you with this cheat sheet covering the biggest keto foods to avoid and why.
- 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 5 types of carbs to avoid on keto:
- Beans and legumes
- Most fruits
- Starchy vegetables
All grains—and foods made from grains, even whole grains, should be avoided.
Grains contain too many carbs and will interfere with ketosis, slowing weight loss.
Beans and Legumes
Beans provide nutrition for those on a regular diet, but they’re not 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 is 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 and focus on more on the 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 certainly be better options for overall health, sugar is sugar, and it’ll still kick you out of ketosis. Sugars to avoid*:
Try these Perfect Keto dessert recipes without sugars:
What About Carbs During Exercise?
Active people might wonder if they need more carbs after a workout. 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 a slight carb-up. In this case, a targeted ketogenic diet might be appropriate, where carb intake is increased slightly around workouts.
Otherwise, the average active person on a ketogenic diet shouldn’t have a huge need for extra carb intake.
You can eat abundant protein on keto, but low quality proteins should always be avoided.
There are two main types of protein to avoid on a ketogenic diet:
- Milk and Low-Fat Dairy
- Factory-Raised Animals
Milk and Low-fat Dairy
Full-fat dairy products like yogurt, butter, heavy cream, and sour cream are okay on the ketogenic diet, but avoid all other milk and low- and reduced-fat dairy products.
Not only is it too high in carb content, 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, grass-fed animal products.
Perfect Keto’s founder Dr. Anthony Gustin has a tremendous series on why source matters and guides on how to buy good food.
- Avoid grain-fed meats and dairy, as they are lower in nutrients.
- Stay away from factory-farmed fish and pork products, which are high in omega-6s (that are inflammatory in too-large amounts). Plus, factory-farmed fish is usually high in mercury.
- Avoid processed meat like hot dogs and packaged sausages, since they usually contain nitrates that are harmful and possibly even cancerous.
Dr. Anthony Gustin (@dranthonygustin) 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
The quality of the fats you consume on keto is extremely important. Since a vast majority of your diet is made up of fat, the better the fat the healthier your diet.
There is only one type of fat you should absolutely avoid on keto: vegetable oils.
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
High Carb Alcohol
Alcohol can easily slow down fat loss in ketosis. Plus, many alcohol drinks do have carbs to watch out for, 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 is readily broken down into sugar. Make no mistake, though: from your cells’ perspective, drinking a glass of wine is like sipping soda.
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. Avoid packaged and processed foods like:
And beware of packaged foods that label themselves as “low-carb” or “zero-carb” (like diet drinks, sugar free gums or candy, and Atkins products). They might be low in carb content per serving, a serving size is likely very small and not satiating, and they may have added gluten or artificial additives or flavors.
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 or use pure herbs and spices. 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 reverse any progress, so try your best to avoid these foods consistently to remain in ketosis.
Over time, you’ll get used to knowing which foods you can eat a little of and which ones need to be avoided completely.
Avoid These 108 Foods to Remain in Ketosis & 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 know is to eat foods that you think will put you in ketosis and then test your ketone levels. Anything less is guessing, which is literally like showing up to the basketball court and taking a three-point shot, and then closing your eyes and trying to tell if it went in.
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 some delicious foods you can turn to on this diet!
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 by clicking here!
Dr. Anthony Gustin is a board-certified sports chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, entrepreneur, podcast host, and founder of Perfect Keto.
After growing his sports rehab and functional medicine clinics to six locations in San Francisco, he shifted his mission to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health and well-being.