What Can't You Eat on Keto - Prohibited Foods Explained

what cant you eat on keto

The ketogenic diet is on hearing for its ability to facilitate weight loss and enhance overall well-being. The main objective of this diet is to transition the body's metabolism into a state that is called ketosis, where fat becomes the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates.

In case you’re a newcomer in keto, you should be mindful of the foods that are strictly forbidden on this meal plan in order to successfully achieve and sustain ketosis. This article reveals ten foods that are not recommended on the keto diet and discusses the reasons why they should be avoided.

Understanding the Keto Diet

Before we explore restricted foods, let's briefly grasp the principles of the keto diet. The main objective of this diet, distinguished by high fat, modest protein as well as low carbohydrate intake, is to significantly reduce carb consumption. By limiting carb intake to approximately 20-50 grams per day, the body depletes its glycogen stores and shifts to breaking down fats into ketones, an alternative source of fuel. Consequently, the body enters a state of ketosis, which forms the basis of the ketogenic diet's effectiveness. This can be done by achieving a proper meal plan containing the right goods. At Ideal Nutrition, you can find flavorful keto meals boasting a diverse menu and ensuring a satisfying culinary experience while staying true to your ketogenic goals.

And here are the common foods that should be avoided.

10 Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet & Their Substitutes

1. Grains and Starches

Grains and Starches

One of the initial food categories to steer clear of on the keto diet is grains and starchy foods. Examples include wheat, rice, corn, and oats, which are rich in carbohydrates. These goods can have a notable impact on blood sugar levels and impede the body's ability to enter ketosis. By eliminating these high-carb staples from your diet, you enable your body to efficiently burn fat for energy instead of relying on glucose derived from carbohydrates.

Substitutes for Grains and Starches

  • Cauliflower rice. Substitute traditional rice with cauliflower rice, a nutritious alternative that is low in carbs. It serves as a versatile base for stir-fries, curries, and even keto-friendly sushi rolls.
  • Zucchini noodles (Zoodles). Replace traditional pasta with zucchini noodles to savor your beloved pasta dishes while avoiding excessive carbs. Zoodles can be lightly cooked or enjoyed raw in salads.

2. Sugary Foods and Sweets

Sugary Foods and Sweets

Sweet treats and sugary foods are a definite "no" when following a keto diet. Consuming candies, pastries, and sugary drinks leads to a quick rise in insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels hinder fat burning and encourage fat storage, making it hard to achieve and maintain ketosis. Avoiding these sugary temptations helps stabilize blood sugar levels and enhances your body's ability to burn fat.

Substitutes for Sugary Foods and Sweets

  • Stevia or erythritol. Incorporate natural sweeteners such as stevia or erythritol into your keto baking and cooking. These sweeteners have minimal effect on blood sugar levels and can satisfy your cravings for sweetness without disrupting your ketosis.
  • Dark chocolate. Pick dark chocolate with at least of 70% cocoa content and low sugar. It can be a delightful indulgence in moderation and provides numerous health advantages.

3. High-Carb Fruits

grapes and bananas on wooden tab

While fruits provide essential vitamins and antioxidants, some fruits have higher carbohydrate content. Bananas, grapes, and mangoes, for example, contain significant amounts of sugar and are not recommended for those following a keto diet.

Substitutes for High-Carb Fruits

  • Berries. Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and have a low carb content. Indulge in them moderately for a delightful and nutrient-packed treat.
  • Avocado. Avocado is a fruit that is compatible with the keto diet, as it contains beneficial fats and is low in carbs. It can be a flexible ingredient in salads, smoothies, and desserts.

4. Starchy Vegetables

baked potatoes in white bowl

Vegetables are typically regarded as nutritious, although certain types contain higher levels of starch and carbohydrates. On the keto diet, you should restrict the consumption of starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, and corn.

Substitutes for Starchy Vegetables

  • Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, arugula, and other leafy greens serve as top-notch substitutes for starchy vegetables. These nutrient-rich options are low in carbohydrates and offer a myriad of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower. These vegetables are rich in nutrients and can be incorporated into a range of keto-friendly recipes like casseroles and soups, making them a great addition to your low-carb diet.

5. Legumes and Beans

bowls of beans and legumes


Beans and legumes receive accolades for their protein and fiber content, yet they also contain a considerable amount of carbohydrates. Lentils, chickpeas, and black beans, among others, can potentially interrupt ketosis and cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. For a strict keto diet, completely abstain from consuming legumes and beans.

Substitutes for Legumes and Beans

  • Nuts and seeds. Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats and protein. They can be enjoyed as snacks or used as toppings in ketogenic recipes.
  • Coconut flour. To reduce the carbohydrate content of your beloved recipes, consider using coconut flour as a substitute for conventional flours when baking. This change can help keep your creations healthier and more suitable for your dietary needs.

6. Processed Foods with Hidden Carbs

potato curl chips close up

Processed foods are well-known for their concealed sugars and carbs, which can impede your keto progress. Foods like chips, pre-packaged snacks, and some convenience meals may appear low in carbs, but they frequently harbor covert sugar and starch sources. Be vigilant in reading food labels and opt for whole, unprocessed foods to stay on course with your keto adventure.

Substitutes for Processed Foods

  • Homemade snacks. Create your own low-carb snacks, such as kale chips, cheese crisps, or nut blends. By doing so, you can have full control over the ingredients and ensure they align with your daily carb limit.

7. Alcohol and Cocktails

mojito served with lime

Alcohol consumption presents a distinct challenge when following the keto diet. While certain alcoholic beverages contain minimal carbohydrates, the body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol over fats, which can delay or halt ketosis. Cocktails that are mixed with sugary syrups or sodas can result in a significant intake of carbs. Exercise moderation if you decide to consume alcohol while on a keto diet, and pick low-carb options.

Substitutes for Alcohol and Cocktails

  • Spirits with low-carb mixers. Select spirits such as vodka, gin, or tequila and combine them with sugar-free alternatives like soda water, sparkling water, or diet tonic.

8. High-Carb Sauces and Condiments

ketchup served in sauce cup

Many seasonings contain sugars and starches that can quickly add up and disrupt ketosis. Examples of condiments to avoid include ketchup, BBQ sauce, and sweet dressings.

Substitutes for High-Carb Sauces and Condiments

  • Olive oil. Use olive oil as a foundation for dressings and sauces. It serves as a fantastic provider of nutritious fats while imparting a delightful taste to your keto dishes.
  • Mustard. Mustard is a condiment with low carbohydrate content, which adds a tangy flavor to sandwiches and salads in a delightful way.

9. Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils

bread with margarine

Partially hydrogenated oils, which commonly contain trans fats, bring negative effects on heart health and can contribute to inflammation. While there is no direct link between trans fats and ketosis, it is better to avoid them in order to promote overall health while following a keto diet. To support your body's optimal functioning, steer clear of margarine and processed foods that contain hydrogenated oils.

Substitutes for Trans Fats and Oils

  • Healthy fats. Choose natural sources of healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts. These fats promote ketosis and enhance overall wellness.

10. Low-Fat and Diet Products

low fat yoghurt opened

While low-fat and diet items are advertised as nutritious choices, they frequently include extra sugars and artificial sweeteners to alter the absence of fat. The consumption of these products might impede your progress on the keto diet by raising your carbohydrate intake.

Substitutes for Low-Fat and Diet Products

  • Full-fat dairy. Opt for full-fat versions of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and heavy cream. These choices are lower in carbohydrates and provide greater satisfaction compared to their low-fat alternatives.
  • Grass-fed meat. Savor the goodness of grass-fed meats, rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and free from any added hormones or antibiotics.


Maintaining a successful keto diet requires a solid understanding of the foods to avoid. By staying away from grains, sugary foods, high-carb fruits, and starchy vegetables, you set yourself up for a smoother transition into ketosis. Additionally, steer clear of processed foods, alcohol, and condiments that may contain hidden carbs. This wise approach helps you stay on track with your keto goals while promoting overall health. Embrace a balanced approach to the keto diet, and soon you'll experience the benefits of increased energy, weight loss, and overall health state.