What vegetables can you not eat on keto?

When following a ketogenic diet, you drastically reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat. The goal is to achieve nutritional ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. For most people this requires keeping net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) below 20-50 grams per day. Since veggies are carb-containing foods, some are better choices on keto than others. Here are the veggies that should be limited or avoided on a ketogenic diet.

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are very high in carbs and should be avoided on keto. Here are some examples:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Winter squash

A 1/2 cup serving of cooked potatoes contains about 15 grams of net carbs. The same amount of sweet potato has over 13 grams. Yams, beets, parsnips and winter squash are slightly lower in carbs but still too high for keto.

Corn and peas are starchy vegetables that are better left off your plate if you’re following a ketogenic diet. Just a half cup of corn has nearly 15 net grams of carbs.

Bottom line: Starchy veggies are very dense in carbs and should be avoided on keto.

Root Vegetables and Tubers

Root vegetables grow underground and tend to be higher in carbs than above ground veggies. Tubers are bulbous root vegetables that store energy in the form of starch and sugar.

Here are some examples of root veggies and tubers that don’t fit into a keto diet:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic

A 1/2 cup of cooked carrots has almost 7 grams of net carbs. Parsnips, beets and sweet potatoes are even higher. Onions and garlic are very healthy veggies but contain around 5 grams of net carbs per 1/2 cup.

While moderate portions of these foods may fit into some keto diets, large amounts should be avoided.

Bottom line: Root vegetables and tubers tend to be higher in carbs. Watch your portions or consider limiting your intake.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are off limits on a strict keto diet. Examples include:

  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Peanuts

Legumes are very high in carbs. For example, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of cooked chickpeas contains about 15 grams of net carbs.

Also, beans and legumes contain a compound called lectins. Some believe lectins may cause inflammation and potentially lead to leaky gut syndrome when consumed in excess.

Bottom line: Avoid beans, legumes, peanuts and peas on keto due to their high carb content.


Fruit tends to be very high in sugar and carbs, so it’s extremely limited on keto.

Fruits to avoid include:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Mangoes

For example, one small banana contains over 14 grams of net carbs. A single apple has nearly 11 grams of net carbs.

Berries like strawberries and raspberries are slightly lower in carbs and can be enjoyed occasionally in small portions.

Bottom line: Fruit is not keto-friendly due to the high sugar and carb content. Consume berries in moderation if you must have fruit.

Starchy Vegetables to Eat in Moderation on Keto

Some high-carb veggies can fit into a keto diet in moderation. However, portion sizes should be limited to around 1/2 cup cooked per serving.

Here are some starchy vegetables that can be enjoyed occasionally on keto:

  • Carrots: 5 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup
  • Winter squash: 8 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup
  • Onions: 5 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes: 3 grams of net carbs in 1/2 cup

When preparing these veggies, avoid adding high-carb ingredients like honey or breadcrumbs. Also limit snacking on them throughout the day.

Bottom line: Some higher carb vegetables can be included on keto in moderation. Limit portions to 1/2 cup per serving.

Low-Carb Vegetables for Keto

There’s a wide variety of delicious veggies to choose from on keto.

Here are some of the best low-carb vegetables for the ketogenic diet:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Bell peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Radishes

Most non-starchy vegetables contain fewer than 5 grams of carbs per serving. Fill your plate with these low-carb veggies at mealtimes.

Bottom line: There are plenty of delicious low-carb vegetables you can enjoy freely on the ketogenic diet.

Other Tips for Eating Keto Vegetables

Here are some other tips for fitting more low-carb veggies into your keto diet:

  • Add generous amounts of leafy greens like spinach, kale and lettuce to meals.
  • Include cauliflower rice or zoodles (zucchini noodles) with main dishes.
  • Snack on celery sticks with nut butter or guacamole.
  • Sauté broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus or green beans in olive oil as a side dish.
  • Top salads with sliced avocado, mushrooms, bell peppers or tomatoes.
  • Mix up salad greens with baby spinach, arugula and cabbage for variety.

When shopping for fresh veggies, opt for organic whenever possible. Choose frozen over canned since frozen veggies contain fewer preservatives and no added sodium.

Read nutrition labels and opt for low-sodium varieties when buying canned or packaged veggies.

Bottom line: There are many creative ways to include nutrient-rich low-carb veggies in your keto diet. Prioritize non-starchy vegetables and limit high-carb veggies.

Sample Keto-Friendly Vegetable Side Dishes

Here are a few delicious keto vegetable side dish recipes to give you some plant-based inspiration:

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts


  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes until browned and tender, stirring halfway.

Cheesy Cauliflower Mash


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Steam cauliflower florets for 10 minutes until very soft.
  2. Drain cauliflower and add to food processor along with remaining ingredients.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy.

Lemon Garlic Green Beans


  • 1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. In skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic in olive oil 1 minute.
  2. Add green beans and sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Bottom line: There are endless ways to prepare delicious low-carb vegetables that fit into the keto diet.

Should You Eat Vegetables on Keto?

Some people following a keto diet choose to limit vegetables or avoid them altogether because of their carb content. However, eating plenty of low-carb veggies can provide many important nutrients.

Here are some benefits of including veggies on keto:

  • Fiber: Non-starchy vegetables provide fiber, which supports digestive health.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Veggies supply many vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate.
  • Antioxidants: Colorful veggies are rich in antioxidants that help fight inflammation and protect cells.
  • Nutrition density: Vegetables provide lots of nutrition with few calories.

That being said, if you choose not to eat many veggies on keto, make sure you find other ways to get nutrients like magnesium and potassium like taking supplements.

Bottom line: Vegetables provide many health benefits. Be sure you’re getting necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants if you limit veggies on keto.

Tips for a Nutritious Keto Vegetarian Diet

You can follow a vegetarian keto diet as well. Here are some tips for making sure it’s healthy and balanced:

  • Eat plenty of low-carb veggies like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and peppers.
  • Include nuts, seeds and plant-based oils for healthy fats.
  • Choose high-protein dairy and eggs like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs.
  • Incorporate plant-based protein from tofu, tempeh and seitan.
  • Use avocado to make smoothies and chia pudding.
  • Flavor foods with herbs, spices and lemon/lime instead of dressings high in carbs or sugar.

With proper planning, you can achieve ketosis and meet your nutrient needs on a plant-based keto diet.


When following a ketogenic diet, it’s important to choose low-carb vegetables and limit higher-carb options. Avoid starchy veggies like potatoes and corn as well as beans, peas, and fruits.

Focus on non-starchy, leafy greens vegetables like spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. You can enjoy limited portions of moderately higher-carb veggies like tomatoes, carrots, onions and squash.

Make sure to get creative with preparing vegetable side dishes and snacks. This ensures variety and helps increase your nutrient intake on the keto diet.

Prioritize green, low-carb veggies, track your portions of higher-carb ones and you’ll be an expert on keto-friendly vegetables in no time.

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