No-Carb Foods: Zero-Carb Foods for Your Keto Diet
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No-Carb Foods: Zero-Carb Foods for Your Keto Diet

Low-carb is good, but no-carb foods are better for your ketogenic diet meal plan. Try these high-fat, high-protein foods with zero carbs.

Your ultimate no carb foods list

If you’re starting a ketogenic diet, you may be overwhelmed by creating a meal plan and figuring out how to find low-carb and no-carb foods.

Many first-time keto dieters go heavy on low-carb veggies like kale, spinach, and other leafy greens, and focus on full-fat dairy products like cheddar and blue cheese. 

While these options certainly fit into the guidelines for the keto diet, it’s possible to take the guesswork out of carb-counting altogether with no-carb foods.

Your No-Carb Foods List

Most foods contain carbs. The trick to being successful on the keto diet is knowing which foods are brimming with carbs, and which contain only traces.

There are, however, a handful of foods that contain zero carbohydrates. These foods can become your fail-safes on the ketogenic diet. 

The lists that follow will detail zero-carb options for each food type.

Food Labels and Carbs

For clarity, to be listed as “zero carbs” on a nutrition label, the food needs to contain less than 1 gram of total carbohydrates per serving. 

Any food other than oil (which are 100% fat) will contain trace carbs. Even animal products have small amounts of carbohydrates.

For this reason, the no-carb foods list means the food has less than one carb per serving. 

It’s also worth noting that when you’re reading a food label, there are four aspects of the food that can fall under carbohydrates: total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, total sugars, and added sugars.

Who Is This List For?

Starting a keto diet can be tricky — it’s almost like learning a new language. When the biochemistry of your body depends on your keeping your carb intake under a certain level, even a seasoned keto dieter could benefit from this handy list of keto safe foods. 

Taking the guesswork out of your food choices is a great way to free up mind power for more important things. Without further ado, here’s your ultimate list of no-carb foods.

No-Carb Fats and Oils

Fats and oils that you use for cooking are the only true zero-carb options. These foods are fantastic sources of nutrition on your keto diet, but the quality is essential. 

Here are your no-carb healthy fat and oil options (with a focus on quality):

No carb foods: Fats & oils

What to Watch Out for With Fats and Oils

While all oils and fats will be 100% fat and zero carbs, not all fats are created equal. Some oils use chemicals in their processing, or the fatty acid profile is suboptimal. 

Most vegetable oils, for instance, are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can become inflammatory when consumed in excess. These fats may also inhibit the anti-inflammatory activity of other fats like omega-3’s[*].

For this reason, it’s best to avoid oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids like:

  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil

Another variable to be aware of is the quality of fat from animal products. When looking for lard, butter, and ghee, try to focus on organic, 100% grass-fed, or pastured varieties. 

These products will not only contain fewer hormones and antibiotics but may also have a superior fatty acid profile[*][*].

Meat

Almost all fresh meat will fall under the no-carb category, whether it’s a lean, low-fat protein or a marbleized, high-fat protein. Meat is mostly protein and fat and should be a staple for your ketogenic diet. 

Just like with the animal fats listed above, it’s important to source your meat from healthy animals that are grass-fed, pasture-raised, or wild. This standard is especially important when you’re on the keto diet because you’re consuming so much meat. You want your main sources of calories to be high-quality foods.

Here’s a list of common zero-carb fresh meat options:

No carb foods: Fresh meat

Fresh Meat

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Veal
  • Pork
  • Bison
  • Organ meats  (kidney, heart, tongue)

Fresh meat is fantastic, but sometimes you have to mix it with processed meat options. These foods often come pre-cooked, making it easier to satisfy your hunger.

Processed Meat

No carb foods: Processed meat

What to Watch for in Meat

The meat category comes with a few caveats. The things you want to keep an eye out for when buying meat are:

  1. Quality
  2. Additives
  3. Hidden carbohydrates

When it comes to animal products, quality is essential. Some animal farming practices to look for are:

  • 100% grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken and pork
  • Hormone-free
  • Antibiotic-free

When in doubt, choose organic. Processed meats can contain additives that help extend their shelf-life. The main culprit here is nitrates, and most food companies that avoid them will make that abundantly clear with a “nitrate-free” label. 

With processed meats, keep an eye out for sneaky carb ingredients. Many food companies will add sugar, spices, and flavorings that can up the carb count. To avoid extra carbs, check out the nutrient breakdown on the food label. 

You also want to keep an eye out for liver. It’s a wonderful source of nutrients, but it may contain more carbohydrates than you would expect. One serving of liver (about 100 grams) contains 4 grams of carbohydrates[*]. 

This certainly isn’t enough to kick you out of ketosis, but it also keeps liver off the “no-carb” list, despite its many health benefits.

Seafood

Another high-protein food option is seafood. And luckily, there’s an abundance of seafood in the no-carb category:
No carb seafood

  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Tuna
  • Catfish
  • Bass
  • Swordfish
  • Mackerel
  • Sardine
  • Halibut
  • Haddock
  • Sole
  • Flounder

Low-Carb Seafood

There are a few seafood options that don’t fall under the zero-carb category but still offer an excellent low-carb option.
Low-carb seafood

  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Clams
  • Scallops
  • Mussels
  • Oysters

Seafood to Watch Out For

Buying seafood can be tricky. Whether you’re buying wild-caught fish or farm-raised, there are certain things to be aware of. 

First, make sure canned fish comes in a BPA-free can. Many companies offer BPA-free packaging, so keep an eye out for that claim on the label.

BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical in products that store food and beverages. There is a rising concern that BPA that lines cans can seep into your food, effectively giving you a dose of chemicals that you didn’t ask for. 

Second, be aware of the amount of large fish you’re consuming. In the ocean, large fish eat smaller fish, and the smallest fish eat algae. Large fish bioaccumulate what all the smaller fish have eaten, which is why large fish have higher concentrations of mercury and other potential toxins. 

Considering the state of our oceans, it’s hard to say what kinds of toxins fish might bathe in. Since larger fish tend to eat the smaller fish, they have a greater chance of toxicity. This is also true for increased mercury content. 

Beverages

Drinking water is crucial for a healthy body, but sometimes, you want to mix it up. Luckily, there are plenty of no-carb drink options:
No carb foods: Beverages

Watch Out for These Drinks

As the keto diet grows in popularity, there are more low-carb and no-carb beverages coming to market. While this is wonderful, it’s essential to understand where the flavors of these beverages is coming from.

For instance, Diet Coke has zero carbs, but its sweet flavor comes from a chemical sweetener called aspartame. Aspartame has been indicated as a potential carcinogen and should be avoided on a ketogenic diet[*].

Sugar Alternatives

There are a handful of sugar alternatives that are safe to consume on a keto diet. After all, you deserve to have your keto cake and eat it too. 

The below list of sugar alternatives come from natural sources, and shouldn’t have an impact on your blood sugar.

List of no-carb sugar alternatives

  • Stevia extract (can be found in liquid form or powder)
  • Monk fruit (can be found in liquid form or powder)
  • Erythritol (a sugar alcohol — more on this below)
  • Swerve sweetener ( a mix of stevia and erythritol)

What to Watch for in Sugar

Sugar alcohols can be excellent allies on your ketogenic diet, but know what to look for and how to use them. For instance, the sugar alcohol maltitol may cause digestive discomfort and diarrhea.r[*].

As mentioned in the beverages section, you also want to be aware of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. These two sugar alternatives can be found in many low-quality sugar-free foods and may cause significant health risks[*].

Seasonings

An excellent way to diversify the flavors in your low-carb diet is by playing around with different herbs and spices. Most herbs are used in small quantities, lending them to the no-carb category. Below is a list of no-carb, keto-friendly herbs and spices:
No carb foods: Seasonings

Watch to Watch for in Seasonings

Some seasoning blends will add sugar to increase the sweet flavor. Single herbs are typically a safe bet, but always keep an eye out for the blends that don’t list all of their ingredients.

CondimentsNo-carb condiments

Watch Out for This in Condiments

All of the above options are safe bets as long as there are no sugars added. Unfortunately, many companies will add sugar to condiments to enhance the flavor, so make sure you always check the ingredients labels. If you’re looking for the healthiest possible mayonnaise options, avoid the ones that contain canola oil, and opt for avocado oil-based or olive oil-based mayonnaise.

Difference Between Low-Carb and Low Net Carbs

The above food lists provide a fool-proof guide to keto-friendly foods that contain zero carbs. However, there is also the matter of net carbs.

Net carbs are the number of carbohydrates in food after any indigestible carbohydrates have been deducted from the total carbs. Dietary fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate because your body cannot fully break it down on its own. 

Sugar alcohols are another indigestible carb. However, this is where things get tricky. Not all sugar alcohols behave the same way in your body. 

Some experts suggest subtracting half the sugar alcohols to get to your net-carbs. 

Here’s an example.

A protein bar contains:

  • 20 grams of total carbohydrate
  • 10 grams of dietary fiber
  • 8 grams of sugar alcohol

The net carb count would be 20 -10 (grams of fiber) – 4 (8 grams of sugar alcohol / 2) = 6 grams net carbs.

Very Low-Carb Foods

Dietary fiber creates a category of foods that can be considered very low-carb. These are foods that, without the indigestible carbs, may supply significant carbs. Once calculated for net carbs, however, these are quite low.

Very Low-Carb Vegetables

Vegetables are made up mostly of carbohydrates. However, there are plenty of low-carb vegetables that are rich in dietary fiber:
List of very low-carb vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Arugula
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell pepper
  • Tomato
  • Cabbage
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Mushrooms
  • Swiss chard
  • Avocado
  • Bok choy

Very Low-Carb Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of fiber. Here are some great very low-carb options:
List of very low-carb nuts and seeds

Very Low-Carb Eggs and Dairy Products

While eggs and dairy do contain some carbohydrates, depending on how the dairy is processed, it can have a very low-carb count. Aged cheeses are less likely to contain lactose (milk sugar), and are therefore lower in carbohydrates than something like fresh brie.

Some eggs and dairy products with low-carb content are:

Very low-carb eggs and dairy

Strategies For Keeping Your Carbs Low

As you can see, there are plenty of no-carb options in a variety of food categories.

There are, however, some things to keep in mind while you fill up your grocery cart. The world is full of sneaky sugars and carbs, so get into good habits like checking food labels and committing no- and low-carb options to memory.

Check Your Nutrition Labels 

This is especially true for packaged foods, but if your fresh meats or dairy are packaged, check those too. You want to look for:

  • Serving size: This is what the rest of the label is based on. Remember: Total carbs are calculated per serving. If you eat four servings of food labeled zero carbs that actually has 0.5 grams of carbs, you’re getting an extra 2 grams of carbs in.
  • Servings per container: Before you down that bag of low-carb almond crackers, make sure that the bag contains only one serving, or you could be eating a lot more carbs than you were expecting.
  • Ingredients: Always peek at the ingredients of packaged food. That’s where hidden sugars often reveal themselves. You may be surprised by the added sugars and other sources of carbohydrates that wouldn’t be obvious from the front of the package or the nutrition label. 
  • Total Carbohydrates: After looking at the ingredients, check out the total carbohydrates to be sure of what you buy. 

Focus on Low-Carb and No-Carb Foods

This may seem obvious, but creating meals around no-carb-category foods will help ensure that you’re staying within your target carb count. Don’t forget that leafy greens are essential to the keto diet. So, load up on salad and kale whenever you can.

Understand Net Carbs

Understanding net carbs can be a big hurdle to getting your macros right on the keto diet. Everyone’s body works differently, so you’ll have to experiment to determine your own threshold. 

Remember:the goal is to stay in ketosis, not to have a specific carb count every day.

The Takeaway

There are plenty of low-carb and no-carb foods, you just need to know where to look and how to determine which ones are best for you.

Quality plays an incredibly important role in the keto diet, especially when it comes to healthy fats and animal products. If you want to reap the health benefits of a ketogenic diet, then focusing on high-quality food is a must. 

Make sure you read your nutrition labels to figure out what foods work best for your body. To that end, be sure to check out this complete ketogenic grocery list.

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19 thoughts on “No-Carb Foods: Zero-Carb Foods for Your Keto Diet

  1. As Aketo newbie,
    This is the best post I’ve read online Super helpful and well detailed. Thank you so much

    Ms. Wings.

  2. Thank you so much for this easy breakdown. I’m new to keto and hear many of these terms but had not yet found a source that made it this easy!

  3. Very Helpful , I am trying hard, but my downfall is portions and depression. I can get up in the morning with the best intentions, drink a meal shake, take the dog for an hour long walk (almost sprint, she doesn’t know how to just walk) and be full of energy, keep busy, salad with 2-3 oz. deli chicken/turkey , 2Tbl. Kens Ceasar dressing, again keep busy through dinner and then I go down hill. Husband works odd hours, daughter suffers depression/anxiety never likes anything I want to make for dinner and I feel defeated. Sometimes I fit a workout in, and try to redirect myself from food but I find myself getting depressed and throwing in the towel.

    1. Hi Mary, I’m so sorry to read about your situation. You seem really brave! It’s best if you could seek professional help and find a solid support system.

  4. Great information! I see asterisks next to some words. What do they mean? Usually the asterisks mean more information at the bottom of an article but I didn’t see any extra information.

  5. Very informative and helpful, but it would be nice if this could be condensed a little and in a printable form.

  6. Thank you for the reminder its hard to keep on track and it is always nice to have a list to keep on track.

  7. Awesome list. Everybody starting out on Keto needs this. Pretty much takes all the guess work out of it. Easy peasey.

  8. Perfect Keto is my very favorite place to order high quality products; no one else compares in my opinion.

  9. I forgot to add…you give us so much info to guide us on our Keto lifestyle. It is really obvious to me that you care about your customers. Reading these article enlightens my journey. Thank you so much

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