When it comes to burning fat and losing weight, the low-carb ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is hard to beat. On keto, you get to eat lots of healthy fats and tasty protein while keeping your carbohydrate intake to 50 grams or less per day. This forces your body to burn more fat for fuel.
There is a long list of foods you can’t eat on keto, including bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and high-carb snacks like cookies and candy. Eating these foods will kick you out of ketosis and put the brakes on fat loss.
There are also several non-carb foods to avoid on keto. These foods won’t disrupt ketosis and are often free from carbs, but they aren’t good for you and, in some cases, can even be harmful.
While you can do “dirty keto” and eat almost any low-carb food, the ketogenic should be as healthy as it is good for weight loss and fat burning. After all, what’s the point of being slim if your diet makes you unwell?
8 (Non-Carb) Foods to Avoid
Keep your consumption of the following eight foods to an absolute minimum.
1. Reduced-fat peanut butter
Reduced-fat peanut butter is one of those foods that sounds healthy but actually isn’t. Peanut butter made from whole peanuts, peanut oil, and a little salt is an excellent food for keto, but that all changes if you pick up the reduced-fat version.
For starters, keto is a high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet. You NEED to eat an abundance of fat for keto to work. Low-fat products are generally less useful than the full-fat varieties.
Also, reduced-fat peanut butter is usually higher in trans fats than full-fat peanut butter. Trans fats are very unhealthy. They may also contain artificial sweeteners and even sugar, turning what should be a keto-friendly food into one that could push you out of ketosis.
Skip the reduced-fat peanut butter, and stick to the natural, unrefined version instead.
2. Deli meats
Deli meats are very enticing when you need a keto snack to go. After all, like all meats, they’re low in carbs and high in fat and protein.
They taste good too. Unfortunately, despite being keto-friendly, deli meats are also high in sodium, which can increase water retention and your blood pressure, and nitrates, which are linked to things like bowel cancer. Some deli meats also contain added sugar and could derail your ketogenic diet entirely.
Choose low-sodium deli meats or, better still, avoid them altogether. In their place, cook your own joints of meat and then slice them up yourself. That way, you can avoid all the unhealthy additives that invariably end up in these processed meat products.
3. Low-grade Burgers, Sausages, and Hotdogs
The ketogenic diet is a meat-eaters dream! After all, so long as you skip the fried, mashed, and baked potatoes, you can eat some form of meat at most meals if you wish. However, some meats are better for others, even if they are keto-friendly.
While things like grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and even artisan sausages are perfect for keto, low-grade meat products are generally best avoided. Cheap burgers, sausages, and hotdogs are made from a variety of meats, some of which are “mechanically reclaimed.” This means they’re scraped from carcasses and bones and include things like ears, hooves, and other unappetizing body parts.
These meats are then processed, heavily salted, and may even have grain fillers and sugar added to them. They probably contain cariogenic nitrates too.
So, while you can eat burgers, sausages, and hotdogs (without the buns, of course!) on keto, you should seek out premium products that contain mostly real meat and not mechanical scrapings and lots of unhealthy additives.
4. Pork Rinds
Pork rinds look like the perfect keto-friendly snack. They’re carb-free and contain plenty of fat and protein. They taste pretty good too! On paper, pork rinds are a good alternative to things like pretzels and chips, which are too high in carbs to make it onto any keto menu.
Unfortunately, like most processed meat products, pork rinds are very high in salt, may contain nitrates, and have no nutritional value other than being a source of calories and fat. Also, pork rinds are made from pigskin and the uppermost layer of fat.
This is where pigs store most of their toxins. Eating pig rinds, especially in large amounts, could be bad for your health. This is especially true for pigs raised inorganically.
Pork rinds on keto? Give them a miss!
5. Diet Soda
Sugar, carb, and calorie-free diet soda might seem ideal for keto, but appearances can be deceiving. Drinking diet soda can trigger carb and sugar cravings, increasing your chances of cheating on your diet.
Artificial sweeteners can also be inflammatory, and systemic inflammation is linked to a host of unpleasant diseases. Diet sodas are usually high in phosphoric acid too, which is as bad for your teeth as sugar.
The occasional diet soda probably won’t do you any harm, but drinking a big gulp cup every day probably will, even if it doesn’t kick you out of ketosis. Instead, most keto dieters should drink more water, as that’s what your body needs.
6. Fast Food
A lot of fast food meals can be modified to make them keto-friendly. For example, you can have a cheeseburger without the bun or a breakfast sandwich without the bready biscuit. However, despite being low carb, these meals are devoid of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, contain trans fats, and, because they’re processed, probably contain harmful artificial chemicals too.
Lack of time is a legitimate reason for needing to grab the occasional take out, but living off this kind of food could seriously harm your health, even when you skip the carbs and fill up on protein and fats instead.
Limit your consumption of fast food and try and find the time to make more of your own low-carb meals.
Keto is a high-fat diet, and that means you can (and should) eat fat from lots of different sources, including butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and even beef dripping and bacon grease. However, one fat you should mostly avoid is margarine.
Unlike all of the other fats just mentioned, margarine is an artificial fat. It was invented as a replacement for butter that would spread even when chilled. However, most margarine contains trans fats and other potentially hazardous substances. Chemically speaking, margarine has more in common with the plastic container it’s in than real butter!
Keto dieters do not need to fear butter; it’s natural and contains healthy substances like vitamins A, D, and E, zinc, medium-chain triglycerides, and CLA, a fat that helps burn fat. Margarine contains none of these things and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good either!
8. Low-Carb Versions of High-Carb Processed Foods
Going keto means giving up things like ice cream, breakfast cereal, candy, desserts, and other sugar and carb-laden foods. This makes sense on two levels – they’re the foods that will stop you from getting into ketosis, and they’re also the foods that caused your weight gain in the first place!
But, because some people find these foods hard to quit, the food industry has created low-carb versions, so you can have your low-carb cake and eat it too! Needless to say, eating carb-free versions of what are already unhealthy foods is not a good idea. A low-carb cookie is no better for you than a regular cookie and will probably cost twice as much.
Also, people tend to overeat low-carb alternatives of high carb foods because they mistakenly believe they’re healthier and won’t lead to weight gain. This is called the “health halo effect.” Unfortunately, even keto-friendly chips or chocolate can make you fat if you eat enough of them.
Skip the low-carb versions of high-carb foods and eat something different instead. Foods that are naturally low in carbs are generally best.
Losing weight is a relatively simple process; you just need to eat less and exercise more. This creates a calorie shortfall, and your body is forced to burn fat to make up the difference. Keto foods can contribute to this energy deficit and enhances fat burning. The keto diet is also very satiating and, with less hunger to contend with, you should find it easier to stick to your diet.
However, not all keto-friendly foods were created equal, and some are definitely better than others. While any low carb food can contribute to ketosis, you need more than calories, fat, and protein to be healthy.
Make keto good for weight loss AND your health by eating more natural foods. Unprocessed meats and fats, an abundance of non-starchy vegetables, plenty of water, and some low sugar fruits is an excellent place to start. Try to make most of your own meals, too, so you know exactly what you are eating.
Dirty keto, also known as lazy keto, can definitely help you lose weight but could be bad for your health. Avoid these eight foods to ensure that your keto diet is both good for weight loss and good for your health too.