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The Best Veggies (& Fruit) to Eat on a Keto Diet

Mark Sisson
July 15, 2021
Photo Credit: Harald Walker

If you’re thinking about a keto diet, chances are it’s a big change from your current way of eating. The keto diet emphasizes healthy, nutritious fats as your predominant source of dietary calories (65% to 75%); protein intake is moderate, just enough to sustain lean muscle mass (20% to 25%); and carb intake is minimal (5% to 10%). Which might leave you wondering what, exactly, you can eat. In particular, if you’ve been asking yourself, Aren’t vegetables and fruit carbs? you’re not alone.

The bottom line is that you can (and should) eat vegetables — and even some fresh fruit — on a keto diet. Here’s what to know.

Why a Healthy Keto Diet Includes Vegetables

Keto enthusiasts often make the mistake of obsessing over macronutrient numbers and sacrificing nutrient density. But vegetables, especially leafy greens, cruciferous, and other high-fiber, above-ground veggies are a healthy centerpiece for a keto diet. They provide important micronutrients and antioxidants, play a key role in supporting a thriving intestinal microbiome, and stimulate minimal insulin production.

Plus, since vegetables have ample fiber and water content, and minimal net carbohydrate count, even hard-core keto enthusiasts can eat heaping quantities of vegetables.

The Best Keto-Friendly Vegetables

If you’re new to keto and carefully tracking your carbohydrate intake to adhere to the often-recommended 50 grams per day or below, it’s helpful to have a general idea of the carbohydrate contribution of vegetables. Here are some great options and their gross carb content per 1 cup. Even with abundant daily vegetable consumption, you’ll be safely under the 50 gram per day keto threshold, particularly when you take net carb adjustments into account.

  • Broccoli (7 grams)
  • Brussels sprouts (7 grams)
  • Cabbage (5-8 grams)
  • Chard (6 grams)
  • Cucumber (3 grams)
  • Kale (6 grams)
  • Kohlrabi (8-11 grams)
  • Lettuce (2 grams)
  • Peppers (4-6 grams)
  • Spinach (1 gram)
  • Tomatoes (10 grams)

A Note on Root Veggies and Berries

You’ll notice I’m leaving out root veggies or tubers, such as sweet potatoes, squash, rutabaga, carrots, and beets. That’s because these starchy veggies stimulate a higher glycemic response and insulin production. On the other hand, I do recommend eating a small amount of berries. They are the most appropriate fruit choice for minimizing your carb intake but maintaining optimum nutrition. Berries are high in antioxidants and lower in glycemic value than other fruits. For reference, one-half cup of berries contributes 6 to 8 grams of carbs for a high dose of phytonutrients.

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