How Many Carbs Can You Have on Keto?
Keto Beginners Series

How Many Carbs Can You Have on Keto?

Carb Manager Staff

Carb Manager Staff

a year ago

One of the core principles of the Ketogenic diet is keeping carbohydrate intake extremely low – less than 50 grams per day. 

The purpose of keeping carbs low is so that your body has to switch to using fat as the primary energy source instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Fat is a very energy-dense molecule, and some of that energy is converted into ketones. Ketones can be used by most of the cells in your body for energy instead of glucose. When your body switches to using fat and ketones as the primary energy source, you’re in a state of nutritional ketosis

But that doesn’t mean you have to (or would even want to) completely remove all carbs from your diet. After all, Keto isn't meant to be a zero carb diet.

In this Keto Beginners Series, we’re going to talk about the types of carbohydrate foods that fit best into the low carb, high fat Ketogenic diet.

How Many Carbs Can You Have on Keto?

Everyone has slightly different levels of carbohydrate restriction on the Ketogenic diet. Some people can get away with eating more and stay in ketosis, while others may need to be more restrictive.

Most Ketogenic diet guidelines recommend you stay between 15 - 30g of net carbohydrates per day, or 5-10% of total calories. 

Net carbohydrates = Total Carbohydrates - fiber - sugar alcohols

In general, if you’re a very active person who exercises 4 to 5 times a week, you’re more likely to be able to consume more carbohydrates and stay in ketosis.

But if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight, we encourage you to keep carb intake on the lower end to ensure you achieve a state of ketosis.

Carbohydrates to Avoid on the Ketogenic Diet 

There are certain foods that contain extremely high amounts of carbohydrates and will need to be avoided in order to achieve and maintain ketosis. 

During your Ketogenic journey, avoid high-carbohydrate foods including: Most fruits, pasta, potatoes, candy bars, pastries, donuts, candy, soda, juice, rice, and bread.

List of Carbs You Can Consume on Keto

Now that you understand which foods should be avoided entirely, let’s talk about the best Ketogenic-friendly carb sources you can still incorporate into your diet plan. 

Some of the foods listed below still contain some carbohydrates, so it’s best to be sure to read labels and carefully track your intake so you don’t overdo it, especially if you’re a beginner. 

#1. Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate

Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are great alternatives to eating sugary chocolate bars. They’re a great source of antioxidants. Chocolate is even considered a “superfood,” because it contains essential nutrients to help you stay healthy. 

Dark chocolate also has flavanols, which have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. 

It’s important to only consume dark chocolate that contains 85% cocoa or more. Anything less usually contains other higher carbohydrate ingredients that could potentially interrupt ketosis.[*]

Tip: A great low-carb snack you can make with cocoa powder or dark chocolate is a Keto Coconut-choc Fat Bombs. Simply add cocoa powder into a bowl with almond butter and coconut oil and put it in the microwave or heat on a stovetop and stir until it becomes a consistent liquid. Then place it in the freezer for half an hour and you'll have a tasty, sweet low-carb snack! Add a little stevia if you need a little more sweetness. Read about more Keto snack ideas here.

#2. Low-Carb Vegetables

Vegetables store sugar in the form of starch. Non-starchy vegetables store less sugar, so they are low in starch and carbohydrates. They are also low in calories, high in fiber, and nutrient-dense, making them the perfect Keto-friendly carb source.

Many non-starchy veggies contain high amounts of fiber, which is a carbohydrate itself. However, fiber doesn’t break down into glucose, or sugar, in your digestive system like other carbohydrates do, so the fiber doesn’t count toward your carbohydrate limits! This fact about fiber becomes important when reading labels because fiber is included in the grams of total carbs. Remember, take total carbs – fiber to determine how many carbs in the food count towards your carbohydrate goal.  

You can consume large amounts of the following low-carb veggies on Keto:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Brussel’s sprouts     

Veggies that grow above ground tend to be non-starchy and low in carbs (there are some exceptions - always check nutritional information in the Carb Manager app).

#3. Avocados

Avocados should be a staple in everyone’s Ketogenic diet. They are high in essential vitamins and minerals including potassium and magnesium, and are a great source of monounsaturated fat. 

Avocados make the Keto-adaptation phase much easier, because you replenish your body with the essential minerals it excretes during the initial fat-adaptation stage.

One avocado only contains about 2-3g of net carbs per serving, making it the perfect Ketogenic-approved fruit!

#4. Berries

Most other fruits are too high in carbohydrates, so they’ll mostly need to be avoided. Berries are the one exception. 

Berries are both low in carbs and high in fiber. 

These fruits are packed with antioxidants that have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects and protect against disease.[*]

Remember, they still have some carbs, so try to keep your berry consumption in moderation. 

#5. Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are great for Keto-ers who miss eating pasta. These noodles contain less than 1g of carbs because they’re mostly water and fiber. 

You can get them at your local health food store, often in a fettuccine, linguine, or rice shape. 

If you want to make a pasta dish, substitute normal pasta for shirataki noodles for a delicious low-carb meal!

#6. Olives

Research has found that polyphenols from olives can help reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage, decrease blood pressure, and have anticancer potential.[*]

Half of the carbs from olives are fiber, so they make for a great carb source on Keto. 

A 14g serving of olives only contains 1g of total carbohydrates. This means around seven olives come out to 1g of carbs!

#7. Cauliflower

If you're looking for a Keto-friendly food to take the place of starches like rice and potatoes in your diet, look no further than the friendly cauliflower.

Cauliflower contains only 2g of net carbs per cup, so you can fill up on it and hardly move the carb needle. 

Run some raw cauliflower through your food processor until it's a rice-y consistency, then microwave or pan fry the bits in coconut oil, and you'll have delicious cauliflower rice to accompany your main course. Or boil and mash cauliflower with cream and butter, and you'll have a tasty substitute for mashed potatoes.

A Little Preparation Will Guarantee You Stay Low-Carb on Your Ketogenic Journey

While your carb cravings may feel very intense as a beginner on Keto, keep in mind that this is only temporary while your body gets used to becoming an efficient fat-burner. 

By replacing high-carb sources with the low-carb foods listed above, you’ll provide your body with the fuel and essential nutrients it needs to thrive. 

If you’re smart about it, consuming these low-carb foods will also help you stay full so your cravings are greatly reduced!

Note: The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.

Comments 27

  • FantasticMacadamia410387

    FantasticMacadamia410387 a month ago

    Since I started Keto, I’ve been eating more cheese. Help!

    • AwesomeMacadamia214601

      AwesomeMacadamia214601 2 months ago

      My wife and I could not tolerate the Shirataki noodles. We had the sensation of eating something akin to a rubber band and found they were also a bit difficult to swallow, but I also know people who love them.

      • FortuitousKale313332

        FortuitousKale313332 a month ago

        You may want to try spaghetti squash. I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and pressure cook them for 16 min. Then scoop out the squash and serve with butter. It keeps well in the fridge too so it goes a long way.

    • livingthecreative1533

      livingthecreative1533 2 months ago

      I was really shocked by your 50g carbs ideology...I used to do 20-22 and then fell off I now do about 25 to 28 and I consider 30 doing 30-32 really not having a good day. I cannot imagine loosing a pound doing 50g a day.

      • Ps91cb

        Ps91cb 3 months ago

        Thank you for sharing. What do they taste like

        • PE

          PE 4 months ago

          I can’t wait to try the shirataki noodles. I’ve been using zucchini spirals with Keto friendly pasta sauce and cheese. Add a couple of meatballs and you forget it’s not pasta noodles.

          • moosicster

            moosicster 4 months ago

            The Walmart hete has them in their produce department

        • nurrea739af7

          nurrea739af7 4 months ago

          I’m also a little confused in the carb manager app you’re only allowing 11 g of net carbs and only 856 cal daily. In the above post it says most Keto diets allow 15 to 30 g of carbs. Am I missing something here? Please help

          • FortuitousRadish108108

            FortuitousRadish108108 3 months ago

            You can adjust the amount of net carbs per day under your profile settings. Ther ideal amount based on 5-10% is 15-30g per day depending on your caloric intake. I have mine set at 16g net per day but hardly ever hit that. If you have your calories st at say 1400 it may only be 14g per day . Hope that helps. Im still learning too!! Constantly reading up!!!

        • FantasticAvocado332702

          FantasticAvocado332702 5 months ago

          I’m really confused about the veggies and amounts to have. I weigh everything I eat. And seems like I can not have the amount of veggies recommended and not go over net carbs. I would love to incorporate more cauliflower, spinach broccoli zucchini and brussel sprouts but seems like it’s impossible with out going over. I watched a sr on a video stating you need/should have 7 cups of leafy or green veggies a day.

          • ranakhoda25e1

            ranakhoda25e1 4 months ago

            Yeah it’s advertised incorrectly- if you measure your veggies and count their carbs you quickly reach your cap and if not careful will get kicked out if ketosis- I normally eat only 100 grams of at most 2 vegetables at the same time - again you need to measure and calculate the carbs

        • Skinjunkiern

          Skinjunkiern 5 months ago

          I made ramen noodle soup using the Shirataki noodles... it was awesome .

          • JonTheKetoDude

            JonTheKetoDude 5 months ago

            Prior to starting Keto, I would roast Brussels Sprouts in the air fryer. They were coated in EVOO, salt and pepper. Now I pan fry them in coconut oil and, they taste amazing!

            • IncredibleKetone804913

              IncredibleKetone804913 5 months ago

              I love shirataki noodles!

              • Beccaboo127

                Beccaboo127 4 months ago

                I buy them. Certain grocery stores have them. I also found a product called "zero noodles."

              • UpbeatRadish224932

                UpbeatRadish224932 5 months ago

                How do you make those please?

            • PropitiousArugula829308

              PropitiousArugula829308 5 months ago

              Good info. Thanks.

              • FantasticAvocado983030

                FantasticAvocado983030 6 months ago

                Thanks it’s good to know about noodles ☺️

                • Sabrina Pattison

                  Sabrina Pattison 6 months ago

                  I eat bean noodles they are just like rice noodles

                  • PropitiousKale562120

                    PropitiousKale562120 5 months ago

                    There is 121 carbs in bean thread noodles..is that what you mean?

                • PropitiousAvocado348545

                  PropitiousAvocado348545 6 months ago

                  Very helpful! Thanks!

                  • MarvellousArugula538793

                    MarvellousArugula538793 6 months ago

                    Thanks, I never know about the shiirataki noodles. Will have to try them

                    • PropitiousKetone448272

                      PropitiousKetone448272 6 months ago

                      How do I track total carbs and not net carbs on CarbManager?

                      • FabulousMacadamia603067

                        FabulousMacadamia603067 6 months ago

                        It is on the bottom of the drop down where you find your net carbs

                    • AwesomeRadish913673

                      AwesomeRadish913673 6 months ago

                      Great article! 😊

                      • karenbustin169

                        karenbustin169 6 months ago

                        Thanks!

                        • Kgandy

                          Kgandy 6 months ago

                          Great advice.. thank you