Keto. Does this word bring to mind images of sizzling bacon, cheddar cheese, and seared tuna? Somehow, vegetables seem to be an afterthought in this diet's general narrative communicated to the general public.
Veggie lovers, don’t fret – the ketogenic diet, when implemented correctly, can include an array of delicious vegetables that’ll keep you from drowning in animal-based fats. If you're committed, it's even possible to follow a vegetarian keto diet or vegan one.
Want to see which veggies are a go and which are a big no? We've put together a list of keto vegetable you may want to include in your diet – but before diving in too deep, we need to define what keto actually is.
What is a keto diet?
The ketogenic diet was developed by medical professionals in the 1920s, as part of a nutritional approach in treating epilepsy in children. The side effect of this healthy fat-forward eating style is noted weight loss, and as such in recent years it’s been gaining ground among people who want to lose weight, increase energy and treat an array of different health conditions.
So, what does a keto diet look like? It’s a high-fat, moderate -protein, low-carb diet -- meaning that high-carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, and rice are a no go. There are several variations of the ketogenic diet, so the macronutrient ratios can be tweaked depending on the particular outcome you’re looking to achieve.
A ketogenic diet can help practitioners achieve noticeable weight loss and may even lead to higher energy levels. However, like any restrictive diet, it has its drawbacks. Perhaps the most obvious is the need to plan your days around the food you're allowed to eat, with fewer options when it comes to spontaneous dinners and of course, no potatoes (sorry, French fry enthusiasts).
Other possible side effects include keto breath, constipation and, due to the diet’s focus on fat and meat, higher levels of cholesterol in some people. As always, we recommend speaking with your doctor before undertaking any significant dietary changes like starting a ketogenic diet.
Keto vegetables – do they exist?
In short: Yes, they do! Vegetables contain carbs, and as we discussed earlier, carbs are only allowed in minuscule amounts in the ketogenic diet. However, some veggies happen to be pretty low-carb, and that means they’re A-OK to be eaten in moderation when on the ketogenic diet.
As a general rule, try to opt for vegetables that grow above ground, as they tend to be lower in carbohydrates (with a few exceptions). On the other end of the spectrum, root veggies tend to be a little higher on the carb scale. Want to get more specific? Then let’s take a look at the best vegetables to eat while following the ketogenic diet.
Our keto vegetable list
Thankfully for those of us who love fresh produce, there are quite a few keto vegetables out there that you can incorporate into your new low-carb lifestyle. Have a quick look at our keto vegetable list to see if you’re in the clear.
Ok, so maybe avocado is technically a fruit. However, as it’s typically eaten with savory seasonings, we’re going to go ahead and include it on our list of keto vegetables. We think avocado and keto go hand-in-hand like peas and carrots – avocado is full of good fats that are ideal when following the keto diet. With just two grams of net carbs per hundred grams, adding more of this unique food to your meals is a breeze, especially in the form of guacamole.
Zucchini is truly a godsend for low-carb diets. Having this versatile veggie on hand can make going low-carb feel more tolerable. Zucchini shines in dishes with an Italian or Asian flare, especially because you can use them to make zucchini noodles (also known as zoodles) which can take the place of traditional noodles in just about any pasta dish.
We also like to make zucchini boats by scooping out the inside of zucchini and using them as a base for cheese and other fillings. Just pop the boats in the oven to heat them with some tomato slices, cheese, and ground beef the next time you get a craving for pizza.
Cauliflower is undoubtedly one of the superstars in the world of ketogenic vegetables. At just three grams per 100 grams, cauliflower is outstanding for any ketogenic veggie fix. If you’ve been missing potatoes or rice, let cauliflower come to the rescue!
Try mashing cauliflower and seasoning it with butter and salt for those times when you crave the comforting warmth of a bowl of mashed potatoes. Another favorite is cauliflower rice – all you have to do is roughly grate cauliflower into rice-sized pieces and cook for a tasty, low-carb alternative to regular rice.
Another cruciferous vegetable we can’t get enough of is and made it onto our keto vegetables list is broccoli. Cut broccoli florets into pieces and serve with the low-carb dip or dressing of your choice, or steam it and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top for a flavorful low-carb side.
Of course, broccoli is chocked-full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that support heart health and can protect against certain illnesses.
They may technically be part of the fungi family, but just like avocado, we’re classifying mushrooms as vegetables for simplicity’s sake. As far as we’re concerned, mushrooms are amazing and make a fantastic addition to any stir-fry, casserole or dip.
Take your fried eggs or omelets to the next level by sautéing a handful of mushrooms in the healthy oil of your choice. Or, next time you’re at a cookout, why not throw a couple of portobello mushrooms on the grill, rubbed with a little oil and salt and enjoy that smokey umami taste.
Keto vegetables and diet -- is it too restrictive?
Those were just a few of the keto vegetables you can eat without worrying if you might be throwing a wrench into your keto diet. However, if you want to enjoy a wonderfully wide range of nutritious plants out there – think beets, parsnips, onions, carrots – as well as a bounty of luscious fruits, maybe the ketogenic diet isn’t for you.
At 8fit, we prefer balance and moderation as well as longterm healthy habits over restrictive diets . If you’re interested in learning how to eat intuitively using everyday ingredients, give 8fit Pro a try.