By Amanda Wilks
With the prevalence of the keto diet rising, knowing what to eat is becoming less a guessing game and more a tried and true science.
There are diet guides aplenty that walk you through exactly what to eat and the general facts about what you should avoid but finding specific foods to keep off of your culinary radar is slightly more difficult. You’ll doubtlessly be told to cut back on carbs, but you may still have questions about fringe case foods that aren’t the best for your digestive health. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Here are a few suggestions for what to avoid when you’re still sorting out your dietary routine with a focus on how to remain in proper ketosis without accidentally slipping up and eating something that isn’t ideal for you.
1. Processed Trans Fats/Polyunsaturated Fats
It’s no surprise that a carb-light diet that aims for the majority of its intake to revolve around fats should be choosy about the fats included in said diet. By and large, most fatty foods you already eat are probably just fine for you, depending on what you already snack on. Fats from grass-fed meats, some nuts and many types of oil all pass the good fats test as they help support proper bodily functions.
Bad fats consist primarily of hydrogenated oils and processed fatty acids. The blame mostly falls on the processes used to make these ingredients more shelf-stable or storage-friendly, often resulting in the obliteration of their health benefits and generally making them a poor choice for your daily fat consumption. For instance, hydrogenated oils are linked with heart disease and even depression.
At the other end of the spectrum are natural polyunsaturated fats found in chia seeds and fish. Not only are these fats beneficial for your body, the omega fatty acids in them can help balance out omega fatty acid issues when consumed in proper ratios. If you can’t bring yourself to work chia seeds into your diet or expensive seafood, you should know that trout has a light and fine flavor with more easily accessible culinary applications.
2. Non-Spirit Alcohols
Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone and your keto diet won’t immediately fall apart should you drink, but it’s important to keep in mind the carb load of certain types of alcohol.
Beer and wine are poor choices for regular consumption as they rank fairly high on the carb index. Wine’s other health benefits may still be under scrutiny, but for keto it’s just no good. Try to stick to spirits and liquor. Remember, drinking responsibly isn’t just a good social decision: It’s good for your dietary health, too.
3. Fruit Juice
Much like wine, fruit juice is another poor contender for strong ketosis diets for a litany of reasons with most of them leading back to its sugar content.
Even juices that contain no artificial flavors or colors aren’t safe from this as they’re still often packed full of sugar, even if their vitamin content is fairly high. If you have to go for fruit, try to pick fruits with fewer carbs and less sugar in them such as raspberries or blueberries.
Better yet, drink a smoothie. It may still be full of sugar, but it’ll likely have some fiber to make up for its keto-unfriendly drawbacks.
4. Processed Condiments
The processing isn’t always at fault for poor condiments, but their contents are often less than ideal. Things like ketchup are usually packed full of sugar. Low-fat condiments rob you of exactly what you’re trying to eat. Even a nice salad dressing could be made with processed oils that you’ve already been warned about. Not even mayonnaise is often safe from that fate.
To make sure your next burger in a lettuce wrap isn’t too bland, stick with better condiment choices like mustard and soy sauce. Check to make sure the mayo you’re buying is made with proper ingredients. If not, you can always make some yourself to ensure you know exactly what is going into your body. The same goes for salad dressing, too.
Unfortunately, legumes are often packed full of carbs much like fruits, believe it or not. They’re simply stored in a way that doesn’t equate to sweetness, yet they’re still less than perfect for any keto-friendly diet.
This includes lentils, soybeans and nearly every other type of bean you likely come across. It’s rather unfortunate that two classic affordable staple foods—rice and beans—are such poor fits and require a wide berth. If you’re looking for something in the legume family that you can fit into your routine, stick with green beans and peas.
With any luck, you won’t have to turn your usual cooking schedule upside-down just to fit into a proper keto diet.
Knowing what to buy is the first step and success might feel like it comes at the cost of giving up comfort foods, but remember that this is all for a healthier, happier you no matter why you began. Stay strong!
Amanda Wilks is a writer, contributing author for The Kitchen Advisor and cooking enthusiast. She believes that a healthy lifestyle is based on healthy eating before anything else. For this reason, Amanda tried a variety of diets over the years and she now enjoys sharing her findings and inspiring others to make smart choices regarding their own diet. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.