Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet

Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet

Carbs are a natural part of every diet, but many high-carb foods such as candy and sodas should clearly be avoided.

You must be sure to incorporate the right carbs into your nutrition plan and decide what foods to avoid or limit in your low carb diet.

Many foods bedsides from meat and fish contain carbohydrates. They are a healthy and natural source of food but not very fitting for a low-carb diet due to the high amount of carbs.

Good carbohydrates will satisfy you and provide minimal disruption to your blood sugars. Bad carbs, on the other hand, create high blood sugar, increase obesity and are high in preservatives.

Below standard food choice includes processed, junk foods and is what you need to avoid.

The complicated part is determining how many carbs to eat and being mindful not to eat too little unless under the supervision of your physician.

While you cannot eat many foods on a restricted low carb or keto diet, you can include a mixture of healthy, natural and nutritious vegetables and fruits. Providing you limit portion size you can enjoy a variety of your favorite meals on a daily basis.

Benefits of a Low Carb Diet

Following a low-carb nutrition plan can assist you to lose weight, balance blood sugar, fight obesity and other conditions.

If you were to drop protein intake as well as sugars, then you can experience all the benefits of a ketogenic diet.

Keto diets also have benefits to help with fat loss, control diabetes, prevent and treat neurological disorders, treat epilepsy in children and improve insulin resistance.(1)(2)(3)

One of the best perks of low carb dieting is the effect it has on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss. Compared to the typical diet high protein and high-fat food take longer to digest in the gut compared to glucose.(4)(5)

By increasing fullness, it gives you the best possible chance to lose excess body weight and teaches you when to stop eating.

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Low Carb Foods to be Weary Of

Since carbs are going to be part of your meal plan one way or another it is essential to fill your body with the most significant quality food choices.

The least natural and processed the food is the healthier it will be for you.

When preparing your favorite low sugar recipes choose low carb flour alternatives such as almond or coconut flour instead of whole grain flour.

Even though whole grain flour is “healthier” than regular flour, it cannot match the nutritional profile of other food sources.

Lower carb products that you can purchase while shopping such as bread, wraps, pastas, and sauces are generally inadequate for losing weight.

They are typically loaded with carbs and preservatives and are simply there as an expensive solution to real food.

Limit or avoid low carb variants of high carb foods with the foods mentioned above. If you make it yourself from whole fresh ingredients, then it is a different story.

Entirely avoid foods containing hydrogenated and trans fats. It tends to resonate in processed foods, commercially fried foods, baked goods, and margarine.

Studies show trans fatty acids is linked to coronary heart disease and diabetes.(6)(7)

Low sugar foods and snacks are plentiful, and sometimes it is easier to know what to eat than what not to eat. With that said, here are foods to avoid or limit on a low-carb diet.

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Foods to avoid on a low carb diet


A cup of cooked penne pasta is 80% carbs at 43g. Way over the limit after you finish eating all your other meals for the day.(8)

If you are in the maintenance stage of a Atkins diet, then you could include pasta every so often, otherwise stay clear.

Use a spiralizer and enjoy a pasta alternative made from zucchini or spaghetti squash.

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Alcohol such as beer and cider are high in yeast and sugar so should be avoided. A can of beer will give you 13 g of empty carbs.(9)

When you drink alcohol, your body must first process the alcohol as fuel before burning glucose or ketones. It will set you back for the day and possibly more to get back on track.

Alcohol can have its place in a low carb lifestyle with some exceptions.

Pure spirits and liqueurs such as vodka, whiskey, brandy, tequila, and gin contain zero carbs, and you can enjoy them on a low carb diet.

Save it for special occasions only, drink in moderation and don’t make it a weekly habit.

For more information see our alcohol on a keto diet guide.


There’s a good chance that when you were growing up, you had milk on a daily basis in your cereal. Milk is a good source of nutrients notably calcium.

Just one cup of whole milk contains 11g of carbs. If you drink a few cups of tea or coffee with milk, then carbs will add up slowly but surely.(10)

Overall it is best wholly avoided since there are much better options to choose.

Popular on the ketogenic diet is adding a dash of heavy cream to your coffee. It goes a long way and will boost your fat intake while keeping you full.

Opt for non-dairy varieties such as coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk. It may take some getting used to compared to dairy milk, but fewer calories can equal more fat loss.


It is no secret that breakfast cereal is not the best choice for adults, kids or anyone for that matter. All cereal, even “healthy” contains many grams of carbs.

Some people have their staple foods in the morning such as cereal and coffee. It is one food you certainly want to limit.

A bowl of cornflakes with 125ml semi-skimmed milk gives you 31g carbs, and you have only just awoken. How are you expected to balance your macros for the rest of the day?(11)

If you must eat cereal, then stick to the healthier steel cut oats and avoid the processed varieties. A 1/4 cup dry steel cut oats provide 27g carbs but also 4g dietary fiber to help balance blood sugar. Consuming enough fiber is essential to help with constipation and other gut problems.(12)

Some Fruits

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Eating fruits and helps reduce cardiovascular disease, and cancers so you certainly do not want to exclude them permanently.(13)

With that said many fruits are unsuitable for low-carb or keto diets.

One medium banana contains 27g carbs which will significantly spike your insulin. A cup of watermelon provides 11g sugars and will also set you back.(14)

You can enjoy small quantities but try and limit high glycaemic and dried fruits. If possible eat fruits around the times, you exercise or workout. It will give your body the opportunity to burn the glucose or sugar off fast.

Some great fruits to eat on a carb-restricted diet are avocados, olives, lemons, and limes.


Natural yogurt is healthy, tasty food to enjoy. The problem is the yogurts people tend to enjoy are the sweetened varieties with added fruits and sugars.

Light and non-fat yogurts are ineffective in many diets. It is basically stripped of natural fat and loaded with added sugars and preservatives to bulk up the product.

Opt for the minimally processed natural and Greek yogurt over fat-free or light dairy foods.

Plain Greek yogurt topped with a tablespoon of chia seeds is my personal favorite. However, be wary, a cup of Greek yogurt has 16g carbs before adding anything to it.(15)

White Bread

Bread is a staple food all over the world. People have been serving it for many years in the shape of loaves, bagels, rolls, tortillas.

Bread varieties are high in carbs ranging from refined white flour to whole-grain flour.

Eating a single slice of bread gives you 12g of carbs which simply has no use. Be sure to clear away all refined white bread from your home.(16)

Learn to make bread made from almond flour or coconut flour or other low-carb and keto friendly foods.

Fruit Juice and Soda

Fruit juice such as orange and apple juice is a poor choice of beverage for any diet. Yes, it will provide nutrition such as vitamin C but will also spike insulin, rot teeth, and increase sugar-cravings.

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A cup of orange juice will set you back 26g carbs and importantly provide zero fiber.(17)

Sugary soda drinks such as Pepsi, Cola, and Dr. Pepper all contribute to empty calories and zero nutritional benefits.

Diet soda varieties serve a minor purpose as a possible mixer for alcoholic beverages. Even in this situation, it should be a one-off or special occasion.

Chips and Dips

Foods such as chips and other processed varieties are obviously wrong to eat for many reasons, that is no question.

Even so, some people choose to enjoy chips and popcorn at the movies, watching favorite TV shows on Netflix and other occasions with family and friends.

Calories add up super-fast when eating processed foods. It is best to entirely avoid them as you can eat large portions within a short space of time.

A small bag of plain tortilla chips contains 18g carbs with 2g fiber. Now it does not seem like much, and yes you could fit in your macros, but it is incredibly easy to overindulge.(18)

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Starchy vegetables such as beets, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes contain vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. It can help increase satiety levels and stabilize blood sugar.

The problem is the even with the fiber the carb content of the foods are just too high especially if you are on a carb-restricted diet.

One medium potato and a healthier medium sweet potato have 33g and 26g of carbs respectively with around 3-4g fiber.(19)(20)

Best reserved for a maintenance phase on an Atkins diet and enjoyed somewhat sparingly.

Choose green leafy veggies over starchy vegetables as the prime source of nutrition.

See our low carb food list for healthy foods you can enjoy daily.

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Diabetes and Low Blood Sugar

People with diabetes on a low carb nutrition plan must plan accordingly and think about portions and timing.

Carbohydrates play a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels, and too many carbs or sugars will cause substantial insulin spikes.

Not eating enough carbohydrates can also cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.


If thinking how many net carbs to eat daily then look to eat between 20g-100g. If you are reasonably active or not seeking to lose weight, then increase to the higher carb limit corresponding to your health and fitness goals.

An important thing to remember is most grains are high in carbs. There are healthfuller grains such as steel cut oats, quinoa, and wild rice which have valuable fiber and antioxidant content.

Otherwise, you should limit grains on a low-carb diet to avoid going over carb limit for the day.

Other foods to keep a close eye on are condiments and everyday sauces. A tablespoon of ketchup contains nearly 4g of carbs, but frequently people go way overboard the serving size without even thinking about it.(21)

Always check food labels to ensure you stay within your health and weight loss target.

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