The beauty of the ketogenic diet is that it is not a crash diet – you don’t have to starve yourself or severely restrict your intake. You do, however, need to be cognizant of what you are eating and how many carbs you’re consuming.
This being said, you can enjoy some grains on the keto diet as long as it fits into your macronutrient ratio. There are some grains, however, that are simply too high in carbs to fit well with the keto diet.
Keep reading to learn what they are and how to substitute other foods to replace these grains.
These 10 Grains Are NOT Keto-Friendly
When it comes to keeping your carbohydrate intake low on the ketogenic diet, there are a few obvious foods to avoid – grains are one of them. Grains are very high in carbohydrates and, depending on the fiber content, may also be high in net carbs. Simply put, you should avoid grains as much as possible when following the keto diet
But which grains are the highest in carbs and the most important to avoid?
Here is a quick list of 10 high-carb grains that you should avoid when following the keto diet:
The grains on this list can be found in a wide variety of foods, so you’ll need to learn how to recognize them on a food label. One easy way is to simply check the allergen statement on the back of the package – if it lists wheat as an allergen, the product is not grain-free. Even if there’s nothing of note in the allergen statement, however, you still need to check the ingredients list and the nutrition information. This will tell you how many grams of carbs and fiber is in the product as well as any grain-based ingredients. Remember, you’re only counting net carbs which is total carbs minus fiber.
Tips for Making Keto-Friendly Substitutes
If you’re going to significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake while following the ketogenic diet, you’ll need to learn how to make some keto-friendly substitutes. In some cities you may be able to find keto-friendly bread, wraps, and other convenience foods at specialty stores, or you can always make your own. But what if you just want a simple swap?
Here are some quick and easy keto-friendly substitutions you can make for grains:
• Try pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor into small grains then steam or boil it like rice – you can also mash it like potatoes!
• Instead of using corn or flour tortillas for your wraps and tacos, try using leafy greens like nutrient-packed collards or lettuce.
• Ditch the potato chips in favor of baked veggie chips – you can make your own using everything from kale to zucchini to get all the salt and crunch with way fewer carbs.
• Try using coconut flour or almond flour to make things like pizza crust and breading for chicken or fish – not only is it keto-friendly, but it’s also gluten-free!
• In place of carb-loaded noodles, try spiralizing or peeling low-carb veggies and using them the same way – zucchini noodles are easy to make, and they taste great with olive oil and pesto.
• When it comes to burgers and sandwiches, you don’t necessarily need a bun – try it open-faced on a bed of lettuce and pile it high with keto-friendly toppings like avocado and a fried egg.
If you want to do a little keto-friendly baking, you’ll need to know the basics about keto flours and sweeteners. The best keto flours to use in baking are coconut flour and almond flour. Coconut flour is highly absorbent, and it has a very light consistency with a mild coconut flavor. When baking with coconut flour, you’ll need to use about 2 tablespoons of liquid for every 2 tablespoons of flour and use six eggs for every cup of coconut flour to bind the ingredients.
Almond flour is nothing more than ground almonds, so it is an excellent source of fiber, protein, and healthy fat. Not only is almond flour very low in carbs (only 3g net carbs per serving), but you can make it yourself at home from whole almonds in a pinch. You can’t substitute almond flour at a 1:1 ratio for wheat flour, however, so be sure to use a recipe that is made for almond flour.
In terms of keto-friendly sweeteners to use in baking and cooking at home, there are a few options. Stevia comes in both liquid and powder form and it is much sweetener than sugar, so you only need a little bit. Erythritol comes in powdered and granular and it is about 80% as sweet as sugar but it has a much lower effect on your blood sugar. Other options include things like sucralose, xylitol, and monk fruit sweetener. Try them all and see which one you prefer.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
In addition to avoid obvious sources of grains and other grain-based foods, you should also be wary of consuming alcohol on the ketogenic diet. Grain-based alcoholic beverages like beer tend to be very high in carbs (though there are certainly low-carb options). Even if you’re drinking spirits which are relatively low in carbs, the mixer may not be. You also need to be wary of wine and cider because it is often sweetened which means sugar and carbs.
So, is there any alcohol that is considered keto-friendly?
If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, your best bet is to go with some form of liquor on the rocks or with a keto-friendly mixer. Things like tequila, whiskey, rum, vodka, and gin are generally okay on the keto diet, as are things like scotch, brandy, and cognac. Again, you should consume carb-containing foods in moderation to make sure you get the maximum benefit from your ketogenic diet.
By now you should have a thorough understanding of why it is important to avoid grains on the keto diet and you’ve also learned how to make some easy grain-free substitutes. Take what you’ve learned here and apply it in your daily diet to help you stick to your macros.