As we know, it’s very important that we eat enough vegetables in order to be healthy individuals. And some of us also know that while vegetables contain a lot of nutrients, they can also have high amounts of natural carbohydrates (primarily from fructose and glucose) in them, so someone who is on a keto diet may ask the simple question of “What are the best vegetables should I eat on a Keto diet?” This is what we will include in this article.
We’ll learn on what types of vegetables we should heavily consume, as well as what types of vegetables we should consumer very little, as well as a few suggestions in order to get those healthy vegetables fit into your diet’s schedule.
Preliminary Guidelines When It Comes to Eating Vegetables
No matter whether your diet is actually a keto diet, or any other form of low-carbohydrate diet, we should make sure that you want to keep your carbohydrate intake anywhere from 5% or less of your daily total calories. On average, most websites recommend that for most people, you should try to eat approximately 20g of carbohydrates daily, because our bodies still have to function some off of carbohydrates for some gluconeogenesis to occur.
In order to calculate this, we have to calculate about three to five servings of vegetables (which is the about the daily amount recommended anyway by the federal dietary guidelines). If you have a goal of 20g of carbohydrates, and you want to eat a total of five services, then we should aim to do the math and divide 5 from twenty, which equals four. That is a total of 4g we are needing to get per serving in order to achieve our daily goal.
Beware Low-Grown Vegetables
Contrary to belief that all vegetables have low carbohydrates, many vegetables that grow above the soil actually have lower carbohydrates than that of their underground cousins. This includes items such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and more. When it comes to these items, you need to check the carbohydrate count in a nutrient calculator or check listings to see how many carbohydrates each of these items have. Most vegetables that grow below the soil are very well known for being high starch, and generally have high amounts of carbohydrates from starch (although some of these are also high fiber).
Why Serving Size is Important
We want to ensure that the standard serving size is roughly 100g. This can include many fruits, vegetables, and even meats. The goal is to ensure that you only achieve a small portion of your daily limits. For example, let’s say that a carrot has 6 grams of net carbs for each medium carrot, and 3 grams of sugar… and they also have 1.5g of fiber (fiber subtracts net carbs), then that carrot actually only delivers about 4.5g of net carbs. That is one of your five servings of net carbs that day! If you are on a more liberal keto or low-carb diet, you may be able to eat more than just one carrot.
So then What Veggies Can I Eat a Lot of?
There are plenty of vegetables that have very low net carbs in the keto diet. Remember to follow the 100 gram serving guide as a serving of just about everything you eat.
Greens – The best and lowest carb leafy greens out there you could eat are spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard. You can also opt for other natural “backyard” alternatives such as dandelion greens, lambs quarters, plantain (the common weed, not the banana cousin), purslane, and even stinging nettle can give you a healthy dose of vitamins without all of the net carbs as even some more common market vegetables. Bok choy is also a good choice, and can be found at most grocery markets. Just about all forms of lettuce (iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce – which has the lowest net carbs of all of them) are great additions in order to achieve a healthy dose of micronutrients and vitamins while not chowing down on those unhealthy carbs you’re trying to avoid. You can also eat alfalfa sprouts (while a 100g serving contains about 2.1g carbs, you only get 0.2g net carbs), and even watercress leaves.
These types of vegetables are extremely high in vitamins A, C, K, as well as have vitamins and antioxidants which help combat numerous ailments that are common, as well as promote healthy eyesight (One can actually eat enough vitamin K that they can increase their eyesight and reduce astigmatism). It also helps to promote healthy skin, and iron levels to increase blood efficiency. All of these vegetables have also been proven to help aid a person when it comes to how fast their bodies age (hence why so many people called “centennials” eat a lot of greens in their diets).
There are tons of vegetables such as cabbage, mustard greens, radish greens (and radishes themselves), zucchini, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, cucumbers, and even broccoli, and a few others, which have a very low net carb count, and can be pumped full of vitamins for your body.
Many of these types of vegetables contain vitamins C, E, and also vitamin K, and include plenty of folic acid (a form of vitamin B), fiber, and a plethora of healthy minerals that your body needs to thrive (iron, magnesium, potassium, and more).
Commercial avocados, while high in general carbohydrates, have high natural fats, have a surprisingly low amount of net carbs, due to the fact of how much fiber and other nutrients they have. There are also other vegetables which have a generally low amount of carbohydrates, including but not limited to eggplants, asparagus, celery, olives, white mushrooms (raw), artichoke hearts (eliminating the starchy outside), bamboo shoots, okra, sauerkraut (be sure to avoid those that are commercially sold which have sugar and aren’t naturally fermented. Some canned varieties are just simply cabbage and salt, which is perfect). Snow peas are also an excellent choice, as they also contain high amounts of fiber (the shell casing). If you cook these vegetables the right way, and learn how to utilize your spice rack (we’ll get into that another time), then you’ll learn there are plenty of ways to make these vegetables not only delicious, but look appealing too!
So What Veggies should I Avoid While Keto Dieting?
Any vegetable that is high in starch will have a high carbohydrate count. One of the worst vegetables to avoid on a keto diet is actually potatoes. Those will be probably completely eliminated from your diet, as they contain mostly starch carbs as compared to other starchy veggies. Another thing to avoid is what is considered as legumes. These include garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), red kidney beans, butter beans, and more. While these types of beans are high in fiber, they are also high in net carbs, and should be primarily avoided when you are trying to ensure that you are getting the lowest amount of net carbs per serving or per meal.
What Vegetables Can I Eat Moderate Amounts Of?
There are some veggies that while having higher carb counts, they can be eaten while on a keto diet, you just have to be sure not to eat too much. The carrot being one of them (remember the calculation above… that’s only one carrot, which is less than the common serving). You can still eat squashes, onions (although there is debates on that one), and even pumpkin. Generally, the sweeter vegetables have a higher carbohydrate count because they have higher amounts of glucose and starches in them. We’re trying to lower the gluconeogenesis and replace it with ketosis, remember?
The highest and most dangerous veggies we don’t want to eat are generally things such as potatoes mentioned above (both sweet, regular white potatoes, yellow potatoes… generally anything that has potato in the name), parsnips, turnips, regular green peas, and even corn (don’t worry, you can still eat plenty of green beans though). Many of these items that are mentioned are above 10g of net carbs, and some of them have twenty or more net carbs per 100 servings. That’s more than your typical daily allowance on a standard keto diet! Do note that other diets that are low carb still allow some indulgence of having possibly one of these vegetable servings per day, but none more than that, as they would be contributing to higher calorie and carbohydrate count, and you get carbs from other sources throughout the day as well (or you would want to). It’s best to spread out your carb intake because if you crammed it all into one sitting or meal, then you’re not getting that amount that your body needs throughout the remainder of the day.
Wild “Vegetables” That are Wonderful
We mentioned in this article some of the leafy green vegetables that can be found in the wild (and some even in your own back yard), but in this section we will look at other wild “vegetables” that we can eat and indulge on (100g servings of course) that are low in net carbs as well.
- Morel Mushrooms – 2.3g
- Beet (greens) – 0.2g
- Beet (roots) – 5.5g (moderation)
- Kohlrabi – 3.5g
- Wild Onions – 0.5g
- Tomatoes (raw) – approx. 3.3g
- Grape leaves (and vines) – 0.5g
- Radishes (commercial/wild) – 0.2g
- Seaweed (spirulina) – 0.5g (raw)
- Asparagus (boiled/drained) – 0.2g
- Chicory (greens raw) – 0.2g
- Kidney beans (naturally boiled/drained) – 4.7g (per 100g).
- Ginger Root (for flavor and natural properties) – 0g!
- Broccoli – 2.3g
- Cowpeas – 2.8g
- Clover sprouts – 1.1g
As you see, there are numerous things you can eat, both wild, and commercial, when it comes to vegetables that contain a combination of things. You can make a salad with them, combining them to achieve approximately one third of your daily carbohydrate intake if you insist on only eating 3 well rounded meals per day. The way to look at it is that if you are wanting to have healthy snacks, you want to ensure that you limit your carbohydrate intake with these healthy vegetables to about one fifth of your daily intake of net carbs (that would be about 4g of net carbs as mentioned before). Many of these intakes might seem like a small amount, but remember you are eating 100g of each vegetable in these measurements, not more, and not less. That can actually equal a high calorie intake of vegetables, but what you are getting are soluble and ketone friendly amounts.
These vegetables are all commonly used by plant and commercial edible enthusiasts alike. Have you ever noticed that some countries have a higher rate of long living elderly citizens who seem to have no health or weight problems? This is because of the large amounts of vegetables they consume on a daily basis (as they have a high intake of vitamins and nutrients compared to their calorie intake, protein intake, and even their carbohydrate intake). Even in Asian cultures, if you ever watched closely, while they do eat rice, they actually eat about 1 tsp of rice to their three or four mouthfuls of other content (proteins, vegetables, etc.).
Another great thing to utilize is herbs and spices when we are creating concoctions out of these vegetables. Herbs are actually a form of vegetables that sometimes grow in the wild, yet also are commercialized. We’re going to show you a healthy salad now that has only a little more than nine grams of your daily net carbs, but is packed with a large punch to kickstart your body’s ketones
Here’s what you’ll need for this power green salad
1c Spinach Leaves 0.6g
1c Green Leaf Lettuce 0.6g
1/2 green onions (greens) 1.4g
1/2 tomato (diced) 1.7g
2 shitake mushroom (chopped) 1.6g
1/3 avocado (diced) 1.2g
1 clove garlic (minced) 0.9g
1/2 tsp salt 0. 0g
4 dashes black pepper 0.4g
1/2 tsp oregano 0.2g
3 tsp Kraft Zesty Italian dressing 0.3g
5 slices pepperoni (diced) 0.0g
3 slices beef pastrami (diced) 0.4g (3g protein)
1 venison steak (broiled, diced) 0.0g (32.1g protein)
2tsp parmesan cheese (shredded) 0.1g (1.3g protein)
First step is to dice the venison and utilize 1 tsp of the Kraft dressing, 1 dash of pepper, and about one half of the clove of garlic, as well as one fourth cup of green onions and cook together on a skillet until mostly done and the meat is tender. You may use a half tsp salt in order to season the meat as well. Sautee together until the meat is completely cooked. Using the Kraft dressing, you don’t need to add more oils (as it’s a primary source of oil in the dressing anyway to help keep the venison pieces from sticking to the skillet or broiling pan). This conglomeration of seasonings will also help to remove some of the gamey taste. (Note: If you choose to use venison rather than beef in most of your cooking for the amino acids and low glycol levels, keep in mind that in many states in the U.S.A., you cannot purchase wild game meat as it is considered illegal. However, there are farms that sell the meats online, and you can also choose lamb [younger sheep] which is also considered venison.)
While the venison is cooking, shred the green leaf lettuce, and loosely chop the spinach leaves in a large bowl. Dice the pastrami slices, and the pepperoni slices into small pieces, and add to the salad. Toss in the venison pieces, and toss the salad using two large salad tongs. Add the two remaining tsp of vinaigrette or Italian dressing (you may use a natural vinaigrette like balsamic vinegar if you would rather), and then the rest of the sale and pepper while tossing. You will want to make sure this salad is well mixed so that everything is pretty well covered and blended together just lightly with the salad dressing and salt/pepper. Once this step is completed, simply sprinkle with parmesan 1tsp of parmesan cheese to your own plate, or add both tsp of parmesan cheese to the mixture, and repeat the mixing process until it is completely mixed thoroughly.
The above recipe is simply one of many that you can use, or you can create your own, to give yourselves a power keto boost. This includes adding certain ingredients, and even the common supplements mentioned above (if you want to spend the money on them), as well as mixing and matching.
The Final Results
When it comes to vegetables, you may have covered that while your options are somewhat limited, they are extremely broad. The various forms of vegetables that you can intake have very rich flavor when used in conjunction with many herbs, spices, and other ingredients. Don’t be too worried about experimenting with various ingredients and spices much. Take your time, and you will quickly learn what goes together, and what does not. Also, even if you don’t favor spicy food, don’t be too hesitant to add just a little bit of spice to your food when you are making it, as it will help you satiate your appetite faster and longer than other forms of food which may not have enough spices to flavor your food well.