So you’ve taken the decision to go keto. Great! But there is a right way to go keto, and a wrong way.
Firstly, people make the mistake of assuming keto is a high protein diet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Keto is a high fat diet, and too much protein can even knock you out of ketosis.
The second is that people think it’s a no carb diet. This isn’t true either, it’s a low carb diet. In fact, we need some carbs as not every part of our body can run on fat.
These carbs should mostly come from vegetables, and that’s where my third point comes in: people aren’t eating enough vegetables.
One of the biggest mistakes I see on keto is that people don’t eat enough vegetables. While we will be getting most of our energy from fat, gorging on cheese 24/7 isn’t healthy by any standard.
The goal of keto is to be healthy, and as your mother once said, you need vegetables to grow big and strong.
But, like calories, not all veggies are created equal. You want enough carbs so your body can run optimally, but not too many that you come out of ketosis. Ideally you want vegetables with low carbs but high volume, so you can feel fuller and more satiated.
A good rule to live by is if it grows above ground, it’s low carb. If it grows below ground, it’s most likely high carb.
With that in mind, here are the top 15 vegetables to eat on keto you should be looking to incorporate into your diet.
1. Olives – 6g
A staple in mediterranean cuisine, the humble olive is an excellent topping to practically any dish. They’re high in vitamin E and antioxidants, and even have a hidden niche in helping stave off osteoporosis.
They are also one of the top plant-based fats, so for any keto vegetarians, olives are one of the best ways to boost your fat ratio without turning to meat products.
2. Brussels sprouts – 5g
Brussels sprouts aren’t just for Christmas. They’re compact and tasty, and can be roasted to your heart’s content. They are relatively higher carb than some of the other vegetables on this list, but if you belong to the half of the population who loves brussel sprouts rather than hates them, they’re a solid bet.
They’re high in vitamin K and go really well with bacon.
3. Eggplant – 5g
Also known as aubergine, eggplant is an excellent source of fibre to help with your digestion. In addition, they’re the champions of B1 and B6 vitamins and potassium. It also contains necessary metals like copper, magnesium and manganese.
Its purple color comes from the antioxidant nasunin. Sliced eggplant makes a great replacement for pasta in lasagna, and baked just right they make excellent chips.
4. Kale – 4g
Often touted as a superfood, kale is known for its powerful antioxidant properties, a key anti-carcinogen.
Not only that, but kale also contains high levels of vitamin C, and can be cooked to a crispy, seaweed-like texture. You can also have it in a salad or make chips out of them.
5. Cauliflower – 4g
It has high amounts of vitamins across the board, and has a neutral flavour, making it easy to incorporate into many, many meals.
6. Peppers of all colours – Various
The key to understanding peppers is that they come in three main colours, yellow, red and green. They each contain 5, 4 & 3 grams of carbs per 100g respectively.
Each variety is rich in vitamins, but red peppers are especially rich in vitamin A. One of my favorite recipes of all time are keto nachos, made with bell peppers as a base.
7. Broccoli – 4g
Broccoli has a solid, almost meaty texture, and is a staple vegetable for many dishes. It’s surprisingly versatile, and can be cooked in a variety of ways.
It’s high in vitamins K and C, a good source of folate (folic acid) and also provides potassium and fiber to help with your gut. It has a good texture with lots of nooks and crannies, which make it an ideal candidate for a cheese casserole, where the cheese can get in and hold to all the different branches.
8. Green beans – 4g
A staple at Thanksgiving, green beans can be cooked in anyway way you could imagine. They’re also ideal for cooking in fat, which is one of the best ways to incorporate more fat into your diet when going keto.
Look no further than the keto version of this classic dish to fill you up and keep your carbs low.
9. Tomatoes – 4g
Yes, it’s technically a fruit, but it still makes the list. It has similar nutritional properties to a vegetable, and tastes like one too.
Tomatoes hold a near-monopoly on the powerful antioxidant lycopene, in addition to the standard highly nutritious package, being rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.
They can be applied to practically any dish, but one of the classics is a tasty soup.
10. Cabbage – 3g
At first glance, cabbage seems humble and bland, but don’t be fooled. It’s been a staple for hundreds of years for a reason. You can use it in a variety of cuisines, most notably asian cabbage stir fry.
Like most vegetables, it’s high in vitamins and minerals, but has potent levels of vitamin C and antioxidants too.
You can cook it with meat to make a mixed stew, or even make it into tacos!
11. Zucchini – 3g
Also known as a courgette this vegetable appears similar to a cucumber, but has a much richer and distinctive flavour. It’s high in potassium and fibre and low in sodium.
On days when you’re not feeling cauliflower rice, you can always turn to zucchini pasta.
12. Avocado – 2g
Also technically a fruit, but it comes under a similar umbrella. Increasingly popular with millenials, it’s nutrient-dense and full of healthy fats.
It boasts vitamins C, E, K and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. As you can see, that’s quite a lot!
Avocados have traditionally been mashed and served in guacamole, but we don’t want any tortillas in our nachos. Instead, you can make your own keto nachos and serve homemade guacamole with your avocados; ready made guacamole is full of sugar and nasties!
13. Asparagus – 2g
When people say asparagus, all people can think about is the smell. But don’t be put off, asparagus is a very good vegetable. It’s filling and nutritious, being high in vitamin k and B-9, and has a solid, almost meaty texture.
Its bulk makes it fitting for heavier dishes, and can be accompanied by great high fat sauces like hollandaise or béarnaise. Indeed it makes a good companion to bacon and cheese.
14. Celery – 1g
Celery is almost as low-carb as you can get. This crisp vegetable is loaded with fiber that not only is important for your digestive system, but also cuts your net carbs to just over 1g a stalk.
In addition, celery is known for being anti-inflammatory and an excellent source of antioxidants. For that, celery is a must when making bone broth.
Alternatively, celery sticks with almond butter is an incredibly easy, nutritious, and filling snack at any time.
15. Spinach – 1g
Try and over-eat spinach. Go on, I dare you. Spinach simply has the lowest carb rating of any vegetable. And as we see with Popeye, these leafy greens are filled with nutrients that will make you big and strong!
Spinach boasts potassium, magnesium, vitamins B6, B9, C, K and E. It also contains folic acid, calcium and most notably iron.
It’s also incredibly versatile. It’s excellent raw, but cooked I would definitely recommend sauteeing it. If the top chefs serve it like this, they must be onto something. And that’s why it makes the top of my list. Highly nutritious, low carb, and versatile!
When you’re on keto, you need to eat your vegetables. They provide a lot of low-carb bulk to your diet, break up the potential monotony of just eating fat and meat, and are an essential source of vitamins and nutrients.
However, it doesn’t mean you can just eat any old root vegetable and claim it’s low carb. Potatoes may be vegetables but it doesn’t mean they’re on the same level as the greens.
Luckily, the vast majority of them can be consumed en masse without breaking your state of ketosis. Just follow this list and you’ll know the best one to add to your meal.
What’s your favorite vegetable? Share your favorite recipes with us below!