Surprising Foods To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet

October 25, 2022

The ketogenic diet is becoming popular as a way to increase muscle gains while reducing fat. While this diet tends to be simple and easy to follow, there are a few common pitfalls. The following foods may seem to follow the rules of the ketogenic diet, but are actually a break in the diet for a variety of reasons. Read on to find out what surprising foods ketogenic followers should avoid, as well as keto-friendly substitutes.


Many fruits are okay on the ketogenic diet in moderate quantities. Grapes, however, are not one of these acceptable foods. Grapes are almost pure carbohydrate despite all of their other health benefits. Even a small portion of grapes may have enough metabolic effect to slow or stop ketosis, slowing fat loss and muscle gains. If an individual is craving the juicy sweetness of fruit, they can instead choose keto-friendly berries - in moderation, of course. Berries have a low carbohydrate content, high fiber, and are full of antioxidants that help repair cells. This grape prohibition includes all grape products, such as wine and raisins.

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Potatoes are a vegetable - what could go wrong? Unfortunately, potatoes and other kinds of starchy vegetables are simply not ketogenic due to their high carbohydrate content. Corn, parsnips, and similar vegetables are also high in carbohydrates. While these vegetables may be healthy for the average individual due to their high nutrient content, they simply are not keto-friendly. However, most vegetables are perfectly fine for individuals adhering to a keto diet. Instead of potatoes, reach for leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, and other low carb fruits and vegetables. The keto diet is all about avoiding carbohydrates. The general rule of thumb is most vegetables that grow above the ground are perfect for the keto diet, while those that grow below it should be avoided.

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Low Fat Cheese And Dairy

Although milk is not a solid keto choice, many dairy products such as sour cream and cheese are fine. However, low-fat dairy products are not ideal on the ketogenic diet, which emphasizes fat content. While it is hard to drop the hatred of fat ingrained in many minds, fat is just about perfect for the ketogenic lifestyle. Low-fat cheese and other low-fat dairy products often use lactose or other high carbohydrate additives to keep the fat content down. There is no reason for someone following the ketogenic diet to reach for anything but the natural high-fat dairy they crave. It allows for the dieter to remain fuller, longer, with lower carbohydrate intake.

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Canola Oil

Fats and oils are encouraged on the keto diet because they make it easier to hit ketosis. However, highly processed fats like canola and sunflower oils can actually cause more damage to fragile cells. These oils are refined at high temperatures, creating free radicals that can oxidize an individual's tissues. If someone following the ketogenic diet wants to enjoy the oily goodness allowed on this diet, they can enjoy less processed oils such as avocado and walnut oil. As a side benefit, these less refined oils also tend to be tastier and more versatile with a more desirable texture.

Specialty Low-Calorie Ice Creams

There are several low calorie frozen desserts on the market that are very popular among individuals on a wide variety of diets. While they are often lower in carbohydrates and calories than their traditional alternatives, these are hardly ideal keto-friendly foods. Although these brands are extremely low calorie and often advertise that dieters can eat the entire carton, they have up to twenty-eight grams of carbohydrates and sugars per serving. Also, they are low in fat, which is a keto dieter's best friend. Instead of low-calorie frozen desserts, those following the ketogenic diet can enjoy dark chocolate, unsweetened whipped cream, and products made with keto-friendly sugar substitutes such as stevia.

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Many Americans are still reaching for margarine as a healthy alternative to butter, but ketogenic dieters should abstain, as butter has many more healthy, natural fats than margarine. Besides, margarine often uses carbohydrates to replace some of the flavor lost to high water content. Margarine is also usually made with low quality highly processed oils, which have been discussed elsewhere as oxidizers of human cells and tissues. When an individual is craving butter, they should reach for the real thing rather than a synthetic substitute. The high-fat goodness of butter will help to fuel ketosis in the body while keeping hormone levels high and healthy.

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Diet Sodas

Many individuals on a ketogenic diet turn to diet sodas and zero calorie drinks to enjoy a carbonated beverage without compromising their carbohydrate count. While these drinks are certainly preferable to the sugary drinks they replace, they are not always keto-friendly. First, they contain citric acid and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, which is not metabolically neutral. Many scientists believe citric acid and aspartame are both perceived as sugars in the body and thus can slow down ketosis, making these drinks a poor choice. Instead of a diet soda, reach for sparkling water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. While this adjustment is difficult, it is an important step in killing sugar cravings.

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Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are made of meat and even sometimes offal, both of which are encouraged on the ketogenic diet. However, there are several downsides to hot dogs as well as many other highly processed meats. Many hot dogs actually contain sugar, including corn syrup solids, which have negative metabolic effects. Hot dogs and other processed meats also tend to have nitrates and other preservatives linked to cancer. Instead of reaching for a hot dog or a slice of bologna, choose natural meats and offal from the butcher counter. These will fill the stomach and fuel ketosis without any questionable additives or hidden sugars.

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Nuts are full of high-quality natural fats and protein, making them ideal for the keto diet - in most cases. However, they do contain some carbohydrates. There are a few nuts with too high of a carb content to support ketosis, even when eaten in small quantities. Many individuals who try to follow the keto diet may be accidentally sabotaging themselves with cashews as well as chestnuts and pistachios. While lower carb nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts are keto-friendly in general, it is important to watch intake as even their low number of carbs can quickly add up.

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Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils are widely considered incredible sources of fiber and protein. They are staples in some diets, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet. They are not, however, a great choice for individuals following the ketogenic diet. The reason for this is, as many may now start to suspect, is because legumes are typically high in carbohydrates. In fact, half a cup of lentils contains roughly twenty grams of carbs. This is not in line with the ketogenic diet, which is focused on fat, then protein, and aims to minimize the consumption of carbohydrates. So leave the legumes on the shelf if you are following the ketogenic diet.

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Soy Products

It may be surprising to many individuals to learn, but soy products are not acceptable under the keto diet. Part of this is because many soy products are sweetened with sugar (any of the soy milk on the shelves, unless marked unsweetened, fall into this). Another major reason is because soy milk and other soy products are highly processed, which isn’t all that healthy, particularly when individuals are trying to follow the ketogenic diet, which favors fresh, unprocessed food choices. If someone is looking for a non-dairy alternative to milk and wants to follow the ketogenic diet, experts recommend reaching for unsweetened coconut or almond milk instead.

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Red Apples

Apples are one of the controversial fruits when it comes to the ketogenic diet, due to their sugar content. Some individuals who follow the diet claim apples are fine in moderation, but many claim the sugars they contain are simply too high. When it comes down to it, however, red apples are the major ones to avoid when following the keto diet, simply because of the high amounts of sugars they contain. If you really start to crave apples while following the ketogenic diet, reach for yellow or green apples instead. Of course, these still need to be highly moderated, as they do still contain some sugars. Only grab green or yellow apples if it’s absolutely necessary, and only in small amounts. And remember, red apples are a no-no!

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