A ketogenic diet encourages your body to reach a state of ketosis. This is the state where your body is burning the energy that it has stored as fat reserves.
The trouble that many of us have is that our bodies turn to carbohydrates when they need access to quick energy. And our busy lifestyles can cause us to rely on quick and easy convenience foods like sandwiches, crisps, biscuits, cakes and sugary snacks.
The more refined a carbohydrate is (with sugar being the most refined carbohydrate you can get), the faster the energy it contains needs to be used.
As such, many of us find it difficult to achieve ketosis because we’re inviting carbs into our bodies faster than we can burn the energy they contain. A high carb foods diet combined with a deskbound sedentary lifestyle can lead to a lot of the energy we eat being stored as fat, making it impossible to lose weight.
A keto diet emphasises fats and proteins over carbs, encouraging your body to burn the energy that it keeps stored as fat. But what about veggies? After all, we know that vegetables are a great vehicle for essential nutrients.
Vegetables are not only tasty and versatile, they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and all kinds of good stuff. Indeed, it’s common knowledge that we should be getting at least 5 portions of veggies and fruit per day.
However, many vegetables also contain a lot of carbohydrates. This may lead those considering a keto diet to wonder which veggies they can enjoy, and which to leave on the supermarket shelf. We’re going to be looking at the most keto friendly vegetables.
When you’re on a keto diet, it’s easy to become mired in what you can’t eat. The foods that are now off-limits to you. But actually, when you’re on a keto diet, it’s easy to focus more on the foods that you can enjoy in abundance and use in your keto cooking.
A keto diet teaches you not to fear fats. Even saturated fats. When you’re on a keto diet you can enjoy all kinds of foods that contain this unfairly maligned macronutrient.
If you love your veggies, don’t worry. You’ll have to sacrifice very little. Indeed it’s possible, though difficult, to enjoy a keto diet with no animal products at all (vegan keto). The only veggies that those on keto diets should actively avoid are starchy vegetables. Pretty much everything else is fair game.
By rule of thumb, if it grows underground, it should be left alone – so avoid root vegetables. If it grows overground, tuck in! The exception to this is the humble onion. These flavoursome bulbs are quite high in carbs. However, they are usually used for seasoning and eaten in small quantities.
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn how many of your favourite low carb vegetables you can enjoy on a ketogenic diet.
Here, we’d like to go over a few of our favourite keto vegetables and their health benefits when combined with the fat-burning properties of a keto diet.
Green beans are tasty, subtly sweet and highly versatile. They’re also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, folic acid and fibre.
With antioxidants and phytonutrients, cauliflower can help to keep serious illnesses like cancer at bay. Grated, it also makes a fantastic low-carb substitute for rice.
Who says you have to wait until Christmas to fill up on sprouts? These little green bundles of nourishment are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Perfect for a low carb diet at any time of the year!
Watercress contains antioxidants called carotenoids, which can help to promote heart health and reduce blood pressure. They’re also a great source of potassium— a nutrient that’s essential to all kinds of bodily processes.
A 2016 study found that a stick of celery provides 19 fewer calories than you normally burn during the time you are eating it. But calorie deficit isn’t the only reason to enjoy this flavoursome distant relative of the carrot.
Celery is also packed with vitamins, fibre and anti-inflammatory compounds called flavonoids.
This versatile cruciferous vegetable is high in protein and has been linked to improved hormonal balance. It also contains the antioxidant glutathione which has been linked to healthy immune function.
Cabbage is available in a huge variety of colours and flavours. But whether you opt for green, white or red cabbage, you’re chowing down on a vegetable with a great nutritional profile. Cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K and a great source of fibre.
Quick and easy to cook, pak choy is a great source of folate which can help us to maintain our energy levels and keep us feeling alert.
Like the tomato, the aubergine is technically a fruit. These vine-ripened beauties are packed with potassium, vitamins and antioxidants and have been linked to reduced LDL cholesterol.
Protein-rich, tasty and extremely versatile, spinach is also full of vitamins K and C. It’s also loaded with iron and phenols. These phenols have been linked to reduced cancer risk.
Refreshing and hydrating, cucumber is low in carbs but high in nutrients. It contains substances called cucurbitacins that can help to control blood sugar and moderate insulin release.
Red, green and yellow peppers are rich in nutrients. Although maturity (and colour) can affect the nutritional properties of the pepper.
Mature red peppers contain high concentrations of folate, vitamin C and potassium. Green peppers, however, contain higher levels of polyphenols which can help regulate blood pressure.
Curly kale is one of the most nutritionally-dense foods in the world. It is a great source of iron, which the body needs for cell growth and development. It’s also rich in vitamins (especially vitamins C and K) antioxidants and phytochemicals. In general, leafy greens are great to eat on the keto diet.
Outside of meat and offal, mushrooms are the best source of vitamin B12 you can get. They’re also a great prebiotic and can help to aid digestive health.
Low in carbs and calories, asparagus is a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. It has also been linked to reduced blood pressure, and can help to support healthy pregnancy.
Swiss chard is hugely nutrient-dense. It is rich in vitamins K, A and C, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium and iron. Put chard on your keto vegetable list!
Courgettes are a great addition to everything from curries and stir fries to chillies. They’re also a great source of vitamin A to support immune function. They’re also abundant in antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
This leafy green vegetable is known for its distinctive peppery flavour. And while it can add punch to your salad, it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Rocket is rich in vitamins C, K, B and E, as well as amino acids and chlorophyll. Rocket is also a good source of glucosinolates, which can help to protect the body from cancer.
Vegetables are among the healthiest things you can eat. As we can see above, they’re portable powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and antioxidants.
Nonetheless, there are some vegetables that are high in carbohydrates, and therefore best avoided by those on keto diets. Many, but not all, of these high carb vegetables grow below ground.
Starchy vegetables to avoid include:
As we can see, a keto diet can still allow you to get lots of amazing nutrients from vegetables. Nonetheless, even the most perfectly-planned diet can benefit from additional supplementation. Fortunately, keto supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet and help to complete its nutritional profile.
Don’t like swallowing capsules? Or keep forgetting to take them? Take a look at one of our most popular supplements, our 100% natural keto patches. These are packed with keto-friendly ingredients to help support and enhance weight loss.
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