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High Carb Vegetables to Avoid on a Keto Diet

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Updated on

A well-formulated keto diet is focused on keto meats and keto fats, like steak, pork, and butter.  These keto foods comprise 80-100% of your calories on a keto diet. The remainder, if there is any, is made up of keto-friendly veggies, keto fruits, and keto nuts.  However, there are some high carb vegetables to avoid on keto. Let’s look at the top 7 vegetables to avoid on keto and why. 

Table of Contents

7 veggies to avoid on keto

Though all vegetables are mostly carbs and water, the vegetables to avoid on keto have the highest carbs. 

NOTE: A keto diet allows between 10 and 50 grams of carbs a day depending on your individual metabolism and activity level. Most people aim for less than 30 in order to stay in ketosis

Veggie Net carb content per serving
Corn 19 grams 
Potatoes  37 grams
Beets  13 grams
Parsnips  24 grams
Peas  21 grams
Sweet potatoes 27 grams
Yams 42 grams 

1. Corn

Corn contains 19 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is a substantial amount of your daily carb intake. 

Corn is also high in several antinutrients, the biggest being phytic acid. Phytic acid impairs the body’s ability to absorb certain dietary minerals, including zinc and iron.  

Corn’s phytic acid is so impairing, in fact, that if you were to eat an equal amount of corn tortillas along with oysters (the most zinc-rich foods on earth), your body would absorb essentially zero zinc. 

On the bright side, corn also contains several antioxidants like ferulic acid — an antioxidant that boosts skin health by reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Corn also contains anthocyanins that possess anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and zeaxanthins that may improve overall eye health. [1

Are these benefits worth the carbs and antinutrients? Certainly not on a keto diet that includes organ meats, keto seafood, and bone broth loaded with meat-specific compounds, antioxidants, and collagen. 

These compounds boost skin, bone, and organ health while eliminating the sugars at the root of glycation–the process where sugar binds to proteins in the body, causing aging. 

2. Potatoes

If you thought corn contained a lot of carbs, be prepared — potatoes contain 39 grams of carbs per serving. That is definitely going to take up nearly  all of the carbs allowed in your daily intake.

Potatoes are high in several antinutrients, including glycoalkaloids, a specific kind of antinutrient which if consumed in high doses can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. 

Potatoes also contain protein trypsin inhibitors and lectins. Similar to glycoalkaloids, trypsin inhibitors can interfere with digestive health and reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. [2

On the bright side, potatoes also contain several antioxidants, including phenolic acids and flavonoids. Phenolic acid consumption can help boost the anti-inflammatory capacity of your body. Similar to phenolic acids, antioxidant flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory benefits and protect your cells from oxidative damage.

But again, are the downsides of potatoes worth the upsides? Probably not. If you’re kicking your carb addiction and cutting out inflammatory foods like processed grains and vegetable oils, you likely don’t need the anti-oxidants from potatoes. 

3. Beets

Beets contain 13 carbs per serving which is relatively moderate for a vegetable to avoid on keto.  But beets are high in several antinutrients, including oxalic acid (oxalates), which has been found to lead to kidney stones and blocks the body from absorbing other nutrients it needs. 

For those who have sensitive digestive systems, beets are a serious hazard. They contain FODMAPs that can feed ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut causing bloating, constipation, and may contribute to leaky gut.  [3

On the bright side, beets also contain several phytonutrients, like betalains, which help support antioxidants and detoxification in the body. A few key benefits to beets are their vitamin C, and folate (Vitamin B-9). Folate is important for specific cell formation such as red blood cells and supports cell growth. [4

However, if you’re eating a diet rich in whole animal foods, your B vitamin intake will be more than covered. And you can get your vitamin C from small amounts of keto fruits with fewer antinutrients. 

If you’re trying a carnivore diet like the lion diet that eliminates all plant foods, you can even get vitamin C from organ meats like beef kidney, and beef spleen

You can also get vitamin C, along with other powerful nutrients from tasteless beef organ supplements

GRASS-FED, PASTURE-RAISE BEEF ORGAN SUPPLEMENTS

4. Parsnips

Parsnips contain 24 grams of carbs per serving, which equates to roughly half of even the most generous keto diet’s carb allowance. These carbs could be spent elsewhere and spread out among other fat-rich keto foods like keto yogurt and cottage cheese

Parsnips are also high in semi-toxic furocoumarin compounds. These compounds can lead to serious health consequences because they activate photoreceptors and make your skin and eye cells more sensitive to sunlight.

5. Peas

Peas contain 21 carbs per serving. Even without looking at their plant toxins and antinutrients, this makes them a vegetable to avoid on keto.  

Like many of the veggies above, peas are also high in antinutrients like phytic acid and lectins. Phytic acid is the primary antinutrient that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb important minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc. 

While lectins can attach to your intestinal cells trigger autoimmune responses in susceptible groups, and blocking mineral absorption. [2] This is why many people are turning to a lectin free diet. 

To be fair, peas are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants that are linked to several health benefits. The antioxidants in peas may repair cell damage and prevent further damage caused by aging, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices. Peas are also a decent source of plant protein, containing 8 grams in a single cup. [5

But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, when you cut the carbs, you’re eliminating the root source of cell damage. And nearly every meat is far more protein rich than peas. 

6. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain 27 carbs per serving — far too high for most people to remain in fat-burning mode. Though they do often make an appearance on carb cycling keto diets. 

Sweet potatoes are also high in oxalates and other antinutrients. Oxalates are responsible for the body’s inability to absorb nutrients, especially calcium. And they are linked to kidney stones and gallbladder issues. 

Focusing on the positives for a second, sweet potatoes also contain several types of antioxidants, notably the carotenoids. Carotenoids may boost the immune system and allow it to ward off diseases. Arguably the biggest pro to sweet potatoes is their sheer amount of vitamin A. One baked sweet potato contains up to 400% of your daily intake. Vitamin A is linked to eye health and overall immune system health. [6

However, if you want to get an abundance of vitamin A without the carbs and plant toxins, there’s no better food than beef liver. In fact, beef liver is so high in vitamin A that you should only consume it in small amounts or 1-3 times per week. For this reason, beef liver supplements are ideal. 

GRASS-FED, PASTURE-RAISE BEEF ORGAN SUPPLEMENTS

Yams

Yams might be tasty, but they’re too high in carbs to be compatible with keto. A single serving of yams contains 42 grams of carbs — more than an entire days allowance for most people. 

Yams are also high in several antinutrients, including our oxalate. Unlike some of the other veggies on this list, yams are low in protein.  Another serious takeaway: yams can be toxic when raw, and they need to be carefully prepared prior to being eaten. [7

On the positive side Yams are high in vitamin C and  copper, too. This mineral improves iron absorption and red blood cell production. 

But as with the other vegetables to avoid on keto, you can get these nutrients from other, healthier sources in abundance. 

Vegetables to Avoid on the Keto Diet: The Bottomline

The vegetables to avoid on keto are all high in both carbs and antinutrients. 

Though each of these veggies has some positive qualities, especially antioxidant content, you can get these benefits from whole animal-based foods without exposure to plant toxins, antinutrients, and excess carbs. 

 

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