ketogenic diet foods to avoid

There are 108 ketogenic diet foods to avoid that will slow down (or shut down) your body’s fat burning capability.

The list of foods to avoid is extremely important on the ketogenic diet.

Remember that carbs must be kept very low to remain in ketosis. Most people need to stay within 20-30 grams of net carbs per day, and protein shouldn’t make up more than 20-25% of total calories.

Keto Macros

Too many carb or protein-centric foods can very quickly bring you out of ketosis and slow down your body’s fat burning capabilities.

This is why the foods below should be avoided on a ketogenic diet.

Not to worry, though. We’ve made it easy for you with this cheat sheet covering the biggest keto foods to avoid and why.

We chunked it down by macronutrient:

Want a quick and easy meal plan that doesn’t include any of these keto-unfriendly foods? We’ve created one for you. Click here to get the FREE downloadable meal plan now.

Carbs to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

Grains

All grains—and foods made from grains (yup, even whole grains)—should be avoided.

Grains contain too many carbs and will interfere with ketosis, slowing weight loss. That includes*:

Beans

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

and Legumes

Beans provide nutrition for those on a regular diet, but they’re not fit for the ketogenic diet due to their high starch (carb) content. Avoid legumes including*:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Most Fruits

Fruit is healthy, right?

Sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re keto-compliant. Fruit is high in sugar and carbs, so is usually a no-go on the keto diet. That includes tropical fruits, fruit juices, dried fruits, and fruit smoothies (for the most part).

If you do have fruit, choose lower-sugar options like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and eat them sparingly.

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Starchy Vegetables

Avoid any vegetables that grow beneath the ground and focus on more on the leafy greens.

The high starch content of some vegetables (like those in the list below) is problematic because—like with beans—high-starch means high-carb*.

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Sugars

Sugar has 56 different names on nutritional labels.  There are hidden sugars everywhere.

While there might certainly be better options for overall health, sugar is sugar, and it’ll still kick you out of ketosis. Sugars to avoid*:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

See these Perfect Keto dessert recipes without sugars:

Carbs and Exercise

Active people might wonder if they need more carbs after a workout. The truth is the importance of carbs for exercise is often way overblown.

For competitive athletes and those looking to build a large amount of muscle, such as bodybuilders, there might be a need for a slight carb-up. In this case, a targeted ketogenic diet might be appropriate, where carb intake is increased slightly around workouts.

Otherwise, the average active person on a ketogenic diet shouldn’t have a huge need for extra carb (or protein) intake. The most important factor with muscle building is an increase in overall calories, not carbs. On a ketogenic diet, that translates to more fat.

Protein Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

What? Avoid protein? Surprising, but yes (sometimes).

Eating these protein’d up foods is one of the biggest ketosis mistakes. Unlike with the  the Atkins Diet, you can’t eat as much protein as you want and remain in ketosis. Avoid these types of protein.

Milk and Low-fat Dairy

Full-fat dairy products like yogurt, butter, heavy cream, and sour cream are okay on the ketogenic diet, but avoid all other milk and low- and reduced-fat dairy products.

Not only is it too high in carb content, but pasteurized milk is hard to digest for most people, is lacking in beneficial bacteria, and usually contains harmful hormones. Raw milk is okay in small amounts (start with no more than a serving per day), just don’t forget to account for the carbs.

Dairy products to avoid:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Factory Farmed Animal Products

Choose organic, grass-fed animal products.

Perfect Keto’s founder Dr. Anthony Gustin has a tremendous series on why source matters and guides on how to buy good food.

  • Avoid grain-fed meats and dairy, as they are lower in nutrients.
  • Stay away from factory-farmed fish and pork products, which are high in omega-6s (that are inflammatory in too-large amounts). Plus, factory-farmed fish is usually high in mercury.
  • Avoid processed meat like hot dogs and packaged sausages, since they usually contain nitrates that are harmful and possibly even cancerous.

Dr. Anthony Gustin (@dranthonygustin) also buys a lot of local meat whenever he can, like this full lamb pictured below which came out to less than $3/lb when buying in bulk!


Try these recipes made with healthy keto proteins:

Fat Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

Unhealthy (Inflammatory) Oils

Unprocessed and nutritious oils, such as coconut oil, virgin olive oil, and macadamia nut oils are great sources of saturated and unsaturated fat. Avoid harmful processed vegetable oils like:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

See our full guide on Good Fats vs Bad Fats for more.

For some good fats, see these fat bombs:

Drinks to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

It’s better to avoid drinking your calories on any diet, and stick to water. The keto diet is especially sensitive to dehydration and therefore electrolyte imbalances, so be aware of beverages aside from H20 and smoothies.

Alcohol

Very few people are immediately willing to sacrifice alcohol. Alcohol can easily slow down fat loss in ketosis. Plus, many alcohol drinks do have carbs to watch out for, such as:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

If you are drinking, reach for hard liquor first (is that the first time you’ve ever heard that suggestion?) Even though it’s also made from carb sources, those sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol during the distillation and fermentation process.

Alcohol is ethanol, which is readily broken down into sugar. Make no mistake, though:  from your cells’ perspective, drinking a glass of wine is like sipping soda.

Sweetened and Sugary Beverages

It’s best to stay clear of most caloric and sweetened drinks, as they are often full of carbs. That includes:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Try these Perfect Keto drinks instead:

Other Red Flags to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet

Processed/Packaged Foods

Not only are the oils mentioned above found in unhealthy processed products, but  manufacturers stuff packaged products with extra sugar, trans fats, preservatives, and other junk. Avoid packaged and processed foods like:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

And beware of packaged foods that label themselves as “low-carb” or “zero-carb” (like diet drinks, sugar free gums or candy, and Atkins products). They might be low in carb content per serving, a serving size is likely very small and not satiating, and they may have added gluten or artificial additives or flavors.

Focus instead of whole food ketogenic foods.

Artificial Sweeteners

Approach artificial sweetener with caution. People react to them differently, but they can sometimes affect blood sugar levels or cause issues like cravings. Some people even find artificial sweeteners disrupt their ketosis. Artificial sweeteners to avoid/be wary of:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Condiments

It’s best to make condiments yourself so you know what’s in them, or use pure herbs and spices. If that’s not an option, avoid condiments that are:

ketogenic diet foods to avoid

Want a quick and easy meal plan that doesn’t include any of these keto-unfriendly foods? We’ve created one for you. Click here to get the FREE downloadable meal plan now.

And if you want this entire guide in a printable infographic? See below.

keto diet foods to avoid

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Do You Get a Cheat Day on the Keto Diet?

Cheat days (or even cheat meals) are not recommended on the ketogenic diet.

They can easily kick you out of ketosis and reverse any progress, so try your best to avoid these foods consistently to remain in ketosis.

Some foods we’ve mentioned are okay “in small amounts.” We can’t give an exact amount because that will vary per person.

Get familiar with how many carbs are in a serving of these foods, then consider how they fit within your calculated daily macros.

Over time, you’ll get used to knowing which foods you can eat a little of and which ones need to be avoided completely.

Bottom line: whether your goal with the ketogenic diet is weight loss or improving a disease, the stricter you are in avoiding these foods, the better chance there is of seeing quick results.

Avoid These 108 Foods to Remain in Ketosis & Burn Fat

Ketosis is a measurable state of metabolism, not just an idea or methodology, so foods can’t definitively be labeled “keto” or “not-keto”.

The only way to know is to eat foods that you think will put you in ketosis and then test your ketone levels. Anything less is guessing, which is literally like showing up to the basketball court and taking a three-point shot, and then closing your eyes and trying to tell if it went in.

Use this list as your reference when you need a refresher on what’s non-keto, but don’t let it discourage you. There are some delicious foods you can turn to on this diet! Check out this comprehensive list of ketogenic diet foods and check out our awesome Perfect Keto recipes. And don’t forget to download your free meal planning PDF by clicking here! 🙂

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Responses (117)

  1. I’ve heard that pink grapefruit aids in weight loss, and I don’t see it on the forbidden list. What about that? Is pink grapefruit OK on a ketogenic diet?

    1. Ugh. Oh well. Day 2 and I had pink grapefruit and cooked with cherry tomatoes. What about balsamic vinegar? Ok or no? Carrots a no? And I ate part skim cheese in eggplant parm😩I probably gained weight.

      1. Vanessa, did you get a reply about the balsamic vinegar?
        If carrots are grown underground is that a no on them?

        1. That is a no, they’re starchy veggies (they are listed to avoid, in the graphic above). Many other veggies are good to eat, though!

    2. I recall reading once that pink grapefruit and eggs for breakfast (or maybe it was the grapefruit 10-15 minutes before eggs) was supposed to launch you into some crazy fat burning mode. Something to do with hormone production, I seem to recall. Can’t say if it’s true or not. I tasted a grapefruit once when I was about 10, and have never desired to repeat that mistake in the 24 years since.

    1. Bacon is great! Paleo bacon (uncured, sugar free) is the best. Whole Foods sells Wilshire Farms and you can order other uncured, sugar-free meat products from US Wellness. Bon Appetit!

  2. I recall seeing a list of “not to eat” oils and SAFFLOWER, not sunflower was the worst. This was in a video by Dr. Phinney & Volk.
    When I buy “real” mayo the only kind I can find is avocado oil based, or sunflower oil based..all the rest are, of course, the evil SOYBEAN oil..and many don’t contain eggs at all like “Just Mayo” which “IMPLIES” an egg in its label design. Making my own mayo may have to be a solution.

      1. Olive oil.Egg. Vinegar. Smidge of brown mustard. Salt. Herbs if you want a kicked up mayo. Roasted garlic would be really good. I’ve started using guacamole in place of mayo in certain preps.

      2. It’s fairly simple to make. Olive oil will leave a strong taste that overwhelming the other foods. My daughter LOVES mayo, & is on a diet & she had to finally learn how to make her own. She loves it & says she wishes she had listened to how easy it is to make. She adds spices to it & has become quite creative

      1. I agree! I love the chipolte mayo from Primal Kitchen and most of their dressings for Keto. I put my mayo on 2 boiled eggs and call it a really good filling snack or light lunch 😉

  3. Cherry Tomatoes are on the high starch list and on the good Keto snack list…. Can you confirm one way or the other …

      1. My husband is doing this diet and I was making him bean soup with sausage for dinner, but I’m reading beans are a food to avoid, even being a high fiber food is that really true? Beans were always a good I was encouraged to eat in many other diets. I’m new to keto and don’t want to hinder his process. Would appreciate your advice because I’ve already got the beans cooking. Oh they are the dry beans, not canned.

        1. Hi Rene, it’s best to avoid all beans on keto. They do have fiber but they’re still too high in carbs to be considered keto-friendly.

  4. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless
    think about if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts
    more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this site could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its
    niche. Amazing blog!

        1. Hi, I would definitely advise talking to your doctor first but there have been many reports of people with Type 2 diabetes seeing amazing results on keto. Also, using a supplement such as ox bile has been shown to help people without gallbladders.

        2. I’m a Type 2 diabetic who has had their gall bladder removed. The keto diet drastically improved my life. All my lab results are now normal again and my AC1 is back in the safe zone! (Below pre-diabetic levels). I’ve lost 90 lbs in the last 9 months. Never felt better!

      1. I am a type II and was on many shots a day but since the Keto way of eating – off of all and sugars are normal! And I’ve dropped 40 pounds. Great diet for type II diabetics!

    1. I had type two diabetes I also had high blood pressure after doing ketogenic eating for five months I have reversed both to a normal range. Thank you ketogenic way of eating

  5. Is using whipped cream in my first week of ketosis a good idea?
    it only has one gram of sugar one gram carbohydrate the only thing I can think of that’s sweet thank you

    1. Hey Michael, I would avoid it when just starting off because the carbs can add up fast and mostly of the canned whipped creams are full of additives. Once you’re adapted, I’d recommend making whipped cream from scratch and adding a dash of stevia or other keto-friendly sweetener. It’s super easy and much healthier than the canned versions (also tastes 1000x better!)

    1. Hi there, you can certainly eat guavas, but as with any fruit on the keto diet, it’s important to consume in limited amounts. If you must have fruit, we recommend sticking with berries (blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, mulberries, etc.)

  6. I am curious why MSG is specifically called out. Is it the “glut” part of “glutamate”? Seems the jury is out on its impact to insulin production (well, at least the Google jury – for every article I found about negative impace, it seems I cam find one that states no impact).

    Thanks! Great content!

  7. Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers

  8. I like what you dudes are now up to. This kind of cool work and reporting! Keep up the excellent work friends, I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

  9. Hello. Thank you for this article…it is very helpful. I see spaghetti squash on here and thought it was a good substitute for pasta. What would you suggest as a good alternative? Thanks again.

    1. Hey Melanie, spaghetti squash is okay in moderation! I also love zucchini noodles as an alternative to pasta 🙂

    2. There is a product called miracle noodle. 0 across the board on the nutrition. They are different in texture but fulfill the noodle craving for me

  10. Hello, I want to know what is a good “snack” food for this diet?

    Something you can nibble on 2-3x a day at work.

    I currently have a few pistachio/almond or similar… I want to change it up.

    1. sesame oil has a higher omega 6 count and therefore not the healthiest compared to other keto friendly oils such as coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

    1. Hi Ash, soy milk is a little bit higher in carbs than say almond or coconut milk. Unsweetened soy milk has about 4 grams of carbs per cup whereas most unsweetened coconut or nut milks have 1 gram or less of carbs per cup. Hope that helps!

  11. Hello, This website is such a great resource for everything Keto. I do have a question regarding Spaghetti squash, its on both the allowed and avoid list, is there a reason why?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sylvie, thanks for the positive review! To answer your question about spaghetti squash – it could quite frankly go either way. It has about 7g total carbs per serving (1 cup) and 5.5 net carbs which could be considered a bit high for keto but still on the moderate/low range compared to all the other starchy veggies out there. I would just be mindful of this and consume in moderation 🙂

    1. Hi Fatema, yes milk actually has more carbs per serving than fat or protein (even whole milk)!! Coffee and tea are definitely allowed and I’d recommend replacing the milk with things like heavy cream, unsweetened coconut milk, and/or MCT powder.

  12. Hi guys, really informative. I have been on a variation of keto and mostly low carb and low to no sugar. My daughter and I are down 70 lbs since Feb.
    One question: Fresh veggies getting to expensive. Are frozen veggies ok.
    Oh yeah we took a holiday break, good for our moral but VERY VERY bad.
    Two question: What is the best “WE SCREWED UP” begin again cleanse.
    THANK YOU.

    1. Hey Donna, yes frozen veggies are totally fine! And my best advice would be to just jump right back into it and not dwell on the past! I would recommend tracking your carbs and making sure they are low enough to get back into keto, maybe try some intermittent fasting as well. It will take a few days to get back on track but just stick with it and focus on your goals!

  13. Thank you for the perfect information which gives in this site,
    I have got a serious problem with berries, you know ,i usually have tea during work and wanted to know if it is possible to have one or two dried mulberries with that???

  14. I love mulberries and found the plants on Walmart.com. I have not had any since I was a child. Am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

  15. Thank you for this really helpful article.
    Should we avoid foods that are cooked with regular tomatoes?
    What about using almond milk in coffee (unsweetened).

  16. Ive been reading a moderate carb day is recommended. Which i would consider a cheat day. Thoughts? I own a gym and workout cardio/lift/yoga about 6 days a week (8-10 hours total).

  17. Hi, can you please tell me what foods are suitable to re-introduce into my everyday life after doing keto, in order to maintain weight loss?

    Thank you
    Mandy

  18. I’m so confused some pages I see eat shredded cheddar and this one says no? I seen add that and butter to add fat/protein if you are out to eat etc.???

    1. Shredded cheese has corn starch added so it doesn’t clump together. Corn starch adds carbs. I buy a block and shred it then pop it in a Ziploc.

  19. What about home brewed ginger water? I know ginger is high carb but if im slicing and boiling it tgen mixing that 1:3 ratio w water is it ok or no?

  20. Hi, I had a gastric bypass 8yrs ago. I’m doing the keto diet with my 16yr old son to help him lose weight and I’ve also put on 20lbs back that I’m trying to get rid off. So far we’ve lost 6lbs in 4weeks. Since I can only eat a little portion at a time and it’s hard to consume the 75% fats to get into a Ketosis stage, although I’m trying really hard but it’s impossible. Can you recommend ways to booster my fat intakes pls. Or other ways to get in to Ketosis. Thank you for all this info you’ve shared by the way.

    1. Hi Hannah, i’d suggest focusing on high quality sources of fats like pasture raised ghee, coconut and avocado oil, fattier cuts of meat, nuts and seeds, olives, etc.

  21. I have ate bacon everyday since starting Keto and have lost 78 pounds in 11 weeks. Most Keto recipes consist of bacon that I see actually. I see so many list of foods to avoid and I certainly find some of them to have some odd foods on them. Packaged sausage is another I have had as a protein and have had no issue. To each their own I guess, some things obviously work differently for others.

    1. The processed meat to avoid are those with added preservatives. (Nitrites, etc). And those with added sugars. Just read the ingredients.

  22. Thanks so much for this article! Definitely learned a lot from this. I’ve been curious about the Keto diet for awhile.

  23. Thanks for the info! I was having a hard time keeping my carb track down even with an all veggie,fat, and protein diet. I didn’t realize that some of these veggies were so high in carbs! I’m learning that its probably best to track my meals in my fitness pal first and then eat.

  24. Thanks for all the info. Just found Endame Pasta at Hannafords. Two ounces (a hefty plateful) is just 9 net carbs. It’s absolutely delicious with a sauce made of mushrooms & shrimp sauteed in olive oil, a bit of butter and garlic and shredded cheese to top it off (hand shredded of course). I’d only had 6 grams of carbs today and decided to give it a try. Yum. So glad I did. Easy & quick supper.

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