Eating the right vegetables on the keto diet is crucial to meet your daily macronutrient goals in a healthy way. But which ones are better for you and how much of them should you eat?
Keep reading to learn the details!
Why you should get your carbs from vegetables on keto
Carbohydrates should make no more than 5 to 15% of your daily caloric intake if you want to reach ketosis effectively, and usually, that’s less than 20 g of net carbs. But besides just counting the numbers it’s very important to keep an eye on the source of these carbs.
Just think about it. You could eat a small candy to get these carbs - or you could go for veggies instead. In the first case, you’ll be getting ”pointless” carbs with no additional value. The sugar in the candy would cause a temporary spike in your blood glucose levels, and that’s all. No lasting satiety, no healthy nutrients, and a whole lot of potential harm.
On the other hand, you could get the same amount of carbs from a good bunch of green vegetables and reap the following additional benefits:
Vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which has been linked to increased and prolonged satiety (in other words, it’s great to keep hunger at bay). Oh, by the way, studies report that increased fiber intake is also associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.A fun size Snickers bar contains about 9 grams of carbs. To get the same amount of net (total minus fiber) carbs from raw spinach, you’d have to eat close to 650 grams of the stuff. That means you could add this delicious green to all of your meals throughout the day, still be in the safe zone for daily allowed carbs, and get a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals (iron, potassium, phosphorus) along the way.
All vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that scavenge the free radicals that are formed in your body. This is important because studies indicate that free radicals can contribute to the development of a lot of health issues including autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and even cancer.Eating enough vegetables daily significantly reduces one’s risk of developing depression.
As you see, the reasoning is straightforward as can be. Now let’s get specific and take a good look at the best vegetables to eat on the keto diet.
Best vegetables to eat on the keto diet
The rule of thumb in this matter is very easy to remember: opt for vegetables that grow above the ground. Underground vegetables, also known as root vegetables, usually have a much higher carbohydrate content. This doesn’t mean that they’re forbidden on keto—you’ll just have to be extremely careful when eating them in order to not go over your daily limit.
Most above-ground vegetables usually have a carb content somewhere in the range of 1 to 5 grams of carbs per 100 g. Root vegetables often have more than double the carb amount (potatoes, for example, have almost 13 g carbs per 100 g of raw mass).
Here’s a quick list of the 11 most keto-friendly veggies that grow above the ground.
Note that the numbers represent the amount of net carbs (total minus fiber) in 100 g of raw product. All data was taken from the United States Department of Agriculture database.
Brussel sprouts (5.15 grams)
Kale (4.4 grams)
Green beans (4 grams)
Bell peppers (3 grams)
Cauliflower (2.97 grams)
Cabbage (2.96 grams)
Broccoli (2.76 grams)
Avocado (1.84 grams)
Asparagus (1.78 grams)
Lettuce (1.57 grams)
Spinach (1.43 grams)
Vegetables to eat carefully on the keto diet
Now, sometimes it’s hard to stick exclusively to the veggies listed above, so here’s an extra list with the carbohydrate content of the most popular vegetables that grow below the ground. If you carefully calculate your macros and weigh your foods, you should still be able to eat them moderately from time to time.
Sweet Potato (17.12 grams)
Potato (15.39 grams)
Parsnip (13.09 grams)
Onion (7.64 grams)
Celeriac (7.4 grams)
Carrot (6.78 grams)
Rutabaga (6.32 grams)
Conclusion (And A Bonus Tip)
To meet your daily carb goal on keto without going over it, sticking to the right vegetables is an essential principle. Opt for those foods that grow above the ground: all kinds of lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, cabbage, and everything of the sort. Avoid underground vegetables since they have a much higher carb content in general.
And here goes the bonus tip: whenever possible, eat your vegetables with high-fat sauces and dips. This approach will make your meal MUCH more filling - and help you reach that crucial goal of daily fat at the same time!