When you start planning a keto diet, you will need to know a lot about vegetables, specifically those that fall into the dark, leafy, green category. This eliminates potatoes, corn, peas and yams.
Keep in mind, you are switching to a low-carb diet, so those particular items won’t fit into your plans. They deliver a lot of starch to the diet, which is converted to the type of fuel you don’t want to burn.
When choosing vegetables for carbohydrates, it’s important to consider the fiber content that is included in total food carbs.
This is not digested in the human body and should not be included in your carb count. You’re looking for net carbs in your vegetables, not total carbs.
To give a good example, as a way to get started with understanding vegetables in the keto diet, asparagus is a popular veggie that is commonly served with meals.
Asparagus delivers about 4 total carbs, but when you subtract the fiber content, your net carbs are less than 2. This number is for a 100-gram serving, which is less than four ounces, not a large serving.
By way of comparison, less than four ounces of kidney beans give you 60 total carbs and 35 net carbs. Navy beans, come in at 13 total carbs and have no fiber benefits, so that’s the total carbs you get when you eat navy beans.
To continue this inspection of vegetables that are good for the keto diet, you can certainly include broccoli, with only 4 carbs, or snap beans (green beans) with less than four carbs.
To summarize: asparagus – 2 carbs; broccoli – 4 carbs; snap beans – 4 carbs. Avoid kidney beans, which have 35 carbs and navy beans, which have 13 carbs. The reason these numbers are important? With a basic keto diet, you want to limit your daily carb intake to 50 net carbs or less.
More of Those Vegetables
It’s also important to include vegetables that grow above ground in your diet. To make this idea a bit clearer, if you eat a serving of beet root you get almost 7 carbs, while the greens deliver less than one total carb. Carrots put almost 7 carbs in your body, compared to cabbage with less than half that amount.
To change the focus a bit, consider that many people enjoy having candied yams (sweet potatoes) for a special meal. But, an average serving of this vegetable delivers almost 24 carbs, half of what you should consume in a day on the ketogenic diet.
People also enjoy a butternut squash occasionally, but this rather healthy idea does put almost 10 carbs on your plate.
Then there’s that great standby – spinach. Some meal plans on this diet suggest you get used to eating spinach. One reason, of course, is the absence of carbs – less than two total. Spinach is also known for its other nutritional values, including calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
A few other excellent choices are radishes (2 carbs), portabella mushrooms (3), red or green peppers (3 to 4), lettuce – most varieties (2 or less), cucumber with peel (3) and celery (less than 2).
While some cynics may say that you don’t get to eat “real food” on the keto diet, the truth is much different.
Many vegetables that you consume on a regular basis can be used in the meal plans for this diet, along with meat, eggs, nuts, yogurt and a limited amount of fruits of the correct kind.
You must, of course, carefully restrict the net carbs to 50 or less per day. You should also avoid processed foods and foods that contain preservatives and colouring content.
The ketogenic diet is not just about losing weight, though that is a benefit. It’s very much about being much healthier overall, with consistent energy and clarity of the mind.
To summarize, you can eat grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish and seafood, poultry, any healthy-fat foods, such as olive oil, macadamia nuts, avocados, fatty fish etc.
Stay with non-starch vegetables such as leafy greens, celery, asparagus, cucumber and water, black coffee and tea. It’s definitely possible to eat well and be healthy as well. Just watch your carbs closely.