What veggies can we eat on keto?

When following a ketogenic diet, it’s important to choose low-carb vegetables that won’t kick you out of ketosis. There are many delicious veggies that fit into a keto lifestyle. Let’s take a look at the best options.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.

Why limit carbs on keto?

The main goal of a ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, which requires drastically limiting carbohydrate consumption. The standard ketogenic diet recommends getting only 5–10% of calories from carbs. For most people, that works out to be less than 50 grams of carbs per day. Some research suggests that eating under 50 grams of carbs per day is necessary to achieve ketosis. Each gram of carbs contains about 4 calories. That means limiting carb intake to 50 grams equates to only 200–250 calories worth of carbs per day. The rest should come from protein and fat.

Counting net carbs

When following a ketogenic diet, it’s important to pay attention to net carbs rather than overall carbs. This is because fiber does not get digested or absorbed by the body. Subtracting the fiber from the overall carb count gives you net carbs: Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber. For example, 1 cup (120 grams) of broccoli contains 6 grams of total carbs and 2.4 grams of fiber. That means the net carb count for broccoli is only 3.6 grams. When counting carbs, focus on net carbs to ensure accuracy.

Vegetables to eat on keto

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

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are very low in carbohydrates and calories. They’re also packed with nutrients. There are many options, including:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Swiss chard
  • Lettuce

These vegetables contain only 3–5 grams of net carbs per cooked cup (about 140 grams).

Cruciferous Veggies

Cruciferous vegetables are part of the brassica family and include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage

One cup (140 grams) of cooked cruciferous veggies provides 3–8 grams of net carbs.


Asparagus is a spring vegetable that only contains 3 grams of net carbs per cup (140 grams). It’s also high in the antioxidant glutathione.


Cucumbers are composed of 95% water, making them extra hydrating. There are 3 grams of net carbs in one cup (140 grams) of chopped cucumber.


Mushrooms have only 2 grams of net carbs per cooked cup (about 150 grams). They’re a good source of B vitamins as well.


Tomatoes have a creamy, juicy texture and sweet taste. They’re very low in digestible carbs, containing only 4 grams of net carbs per cup (149 grams).

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers come in several colors, including green, red, yellow and orange. One cup (149 grams) of chopped red or green bell pepper contains 6 grams of net carbs.


Eggplant boasts a creamy texture and flavor. It has about 5 grams of net carbs per cup (99 grams).


Celery is extremely low in digestible carbs at 3 grams of net carbs per one cup (101 grams) chopped. It’s a great choice for scooping up dips and spreads.


Radishes have a sharp, peppery taste and crunchy texture. There are only 2 grams of net carbs in 1 cup (116 grams) of sliced radishes.


Garlic provides several health benefits, including improved immune function. Around 1 teaspoon or 5 grams of minced garlic contains 1 gram of net carbs.


Onions add a lot of flavor for very few carbs. There are 9 grams of net carbs in one cup (160 grams) of chopped onions.

Green Beans

Also known as snap peas or string beans, green beans contain about 7 grams of net carbs per cup (125 grams). They should be consumed moderately on keto.


Zucchini is a water-rich vegetable with a very mild flavor. A cup (124 grams) of chopped, cooked zucchini contains 4–5 grams of net carbs.

Non-starchy vs. starchy veggies

Vegetables can be classified as either starchy or non-starchy.

Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs and high in nutrients. They include spinach, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and most green vegetables.

Starchy vegetables are higher in carbs and should be limited on keto. Examples include potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, butternut squash and carrots.

When selecting veggies for a ketogenic lifestyle, opt for lots of low-carb, non-starchy vegetables.

Serving size

When incorporating vegetables into a ketogenic diet, pay close attention to serving sizes. While many veggies are low in carbs, the carbs can add up quickly if you eat large portions.

Here are some serving size examples:

Vegetable Serving Size
Spinach 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
Broccoli 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
Cauliflower 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
Kale 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
Bell peppers 1 whole pepper or 1/2 cup chopped
Onions 1/2 whole onion or 1/4 cup chopped
Tomatoes 1 whole tomato or 1 cup chopped

When in doubt, weigh or measure veggies to get an accurate carb count.

Cooking tips for veggies

The way veggies are prepared can make a big difference in terms of nutrients and taste.

Here are some keto-friendly cooking methods:

  • Roasting – Toss chopped veggies in oil and seasonings before roasting.
  • Sautéing – Quickly cook veggies on the stovetop in cooking fat.
  • Steaming – Steam above boiling water until desired tenderness.
  • Raw – Some veggies taste great raw with a dip or dressing.
  • Salads – Toss veggies in olive oil and vinegar for a low-carb salad.
  • Soups – Puree cooked veggies with broth for a thick, low-carb soup.

When cooking veggies, avoid high-carb sauces and instead season with herbs, spices, olive oil, vinegar, mustards, or low-carb sauces.

Potential vegetable carb pitfalls

There are a few potential pitfalls regarding veggies and net carbs, including:

  • High-carb veggies like carrots, potatoes, corn, peas
  • Hidden sugars and additives in canned and pre-made veggies
  • Carb-heavy salad dressings, dips and sauces
  • Fried vegetables cooked in high-carb batters
  • Vegetable juices with added sugars or fruits

Always check labels and avoid sneaky high-carb ingredients. Stick to whole, fresh or frozen low-carb veggies without additives or added sugar.


There are many delicious veggies to choose from on keto. Opt for low-carb, non-starchy vegetables and watch your portions. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, zucchini, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes are great options. Limit high-carb veggies like carrots and potatoes. Veg out on low-carb veggies to stay in ketosis and reap the many health benefits.

Vegetable-focused keto recipes

Here are some nutritious, vegetable-based keto recipes to help you get started:

Keto Eggplant Parmesan

Makes 4 servings


– 1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1 cup almond flour
– 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
– 1 jar low-carb pasta sauce
– 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then almond flour to coat. Fry in olive oil until crispy and browned.

2. Spread pasta sauce in bottom of baking dish. Layer fried eggplant slices. Top with mozzarella and parmesan.

3. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Low-carb Zoodle Bolognese

Makes 4 servings


– 4 medium zucchinis, spiralized
– 1 lb ground beef
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
– 1 can crushed tomatoes
– 1 tsp Italian seasoning
– 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
– 1/4 cup parmesan cheese


1. Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until browned, 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. In the same skillet, sauté onion and garlic until softened, 3-5 minutes.

3. Return beef to pan along with mushrooms, crushed tomatoes and spices. Simmer 15 minutes.

4. Add zucchini noodles and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Top with basil and parmesan before serving.

Simple Roasted Broccoli

Makes 4 servings


– 4 cups broccoli florets
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
– 1 Tbsp lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Toss broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Roast on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes until browned and tender.

4. Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice. Enjoy!

Potential side effects

When transitioning to a very low-carb keto diet with more vegetables and natural fats, some people may experience side effects including:

  • Keto flu – Carb withdrawal can temporarily cause tiredness, headache, nausea, dizziness, and irritability. Staying hydrated with electrolytes can help.
  • Digestive issues – A sudden increase in fat intake can trigger digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting. This usually resolves over a few weeks.
  • Bad breath – Acetone breath is common early in ketosis. Staying hydrated and using breath mints helps.

These uncomfortable side effects often resolve within a few days or weeks. Drinking enough water, getting sufficient sodium, magnesium, potassium and rest can all help minimize symptoms.

Staying in ketosis with low-carb veggies

Here are some tips to stay in ketosis while enjoying plenty of vegetables:

– Focus on low-carb, high-fiber veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, bell peppers, asparagus, garlic and onions.

– Avoid starchy, sugary veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas and carrots.

– Read labels and avoid sneaky sugars or high-carb sauces on canned or pre-made veggies.

– Be mindful of portions. Carbs from veggies can add up quickly.

– Use healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds to balance meals.

– Avoid pairing vegetables with high-carb foods like grains or fruits.

– Try vegetable-focused meals like salads, veggie omelets, roasted veggies, low-carb soups or sautéed veggies.

Health benefits of low-carb vegetables

Vegetables are incredibly nutrient-dense and provide many benefits, including:

  • Fiber – Crucial for digestive and heart health.
  • Vitamin C – Immune support and antioxidant effects.
  • Potassium – Helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Folate – Important for cell growth and synthesis.
  • Vitamin K1 – Boosts bone health and heart health.
  • Antioxidants – Reduce oxidative damage and lower disease risk.

Non-starchy veggies are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds. Make them a staple of your keto diet.


There are many delicious low-carb vegetables to enjoy on keto. Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumber, celery, mushrooms and bell peppers are great choices. Limit high-carb starchy veggies like potatoes and corn. Read labels to detect any hidden sugars or carbs. Use healthy cooking methods and avoid high-carb sauces. Vegetables provide tons of nutrients and should be a centerpiece of any balanced ketogenic diet. Loading up on fibrous veggies can help you stay in ketosis while benefiting your health.

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