Looking for a low carb recommended food list?
Wanna know what you should you eat on a low carb or keto diet?
Mr Skinny Pants is here to answer that question once and for all with his personal low carb recommended food list.
If it’s not on the list, assume it’s not a good low carb food option.
This should help you create a low carb shopping list for yourself, to fit your specific diet.
Mr Skinny Pants chimes in with some notes to highlight his own eating habits, along the way. 😉
Low Carb Recommended Food List
You probably know why you should follow a low carb diet. Maybe it’s for weight loss, for diabetes or just for your keto diet.
Either way there are some new ‘food groups’ you’ll want to get acquainted with for your low carb recommended food list. We will cover all of them in detail but first here is a quick overview.
Low Carb Food Groups
- Beverages – Water is your #1 choice but we will cover coffee, tea & alcohol as well as some options to keep you from being bored.
- Fats & Oils – MCT Oil, coconut oil, olive oil, butter (even nut butters) will help you keep healthy fats in your diet.
- Protein. Organic grass fed meat, fish and eggs are good places to start. Try to be careful to not eat too much protein as it can be converted by your body to carbohydrates and wreck your keto diet.
- Fruits & Veggies – Green vegetables are always a safe bet, but there are some good low carb fruit options as well if used in moderation.
- High Fat Dairy & Cheese – Dairy is not all bad. Stick to full fat dairy options. There are some great dairy alternatives as well. We’ll cover them all!
- Nuts & Seeds – The right nuts and seeds can help create some yummy foods and even some helpful snacks when you’re on the go.
Before we get started…. make sure to download a free printable PDF of this entire list.
Did you grab the low carb recommended food list PDF? Cool. Let’s get going.
Low Carb Beverages
The human body is over 60% water so choosing the right beverages is a solid first step on your keto diet.
- Water – This should be your #1 beverage choice.
- Water with Lemon or Lime – A super healthy and refreshing option to plain water.
- Sparkling Water – They have some flavor to keep you from being bored of water and to mimic a soda.
- Tea – Hot or cold, must be unsweetened though.
- Coffee – Take it black, no sugar, no milk, no cream. See our low carb Starbucks coffee options here.
- Alcohol – Alcohol isn’t a go-to for Keto but we all have needs. Drinking an occasional glass of dry wine at 2g per 5oz serving, some Whiskey or a Dry Martini at zero carbs are decent low carb alcohols.
Mr. Skinny Pants Low Carb Beverage Advice: Carry a water bottle with you all day to make sure you stay hydrated all day. I drink 3+ La Croix’s per day right now. It satisfies my taste for something different than water and is sometimes an adequate substitute for beer for me. Topo Chico is also delicious.
Recommended Low Carb Protein (Meat & Seafood)
The best recommendation for meats is to try and stick with grass-fed meat, as they are known to have the least amount of ‘extra’ stuff in them. When on a keto diet, make sure that your protein intake does not go over the recommended daily dose. If this occurs, it can lower your ketone production and increase your glucose production.
Low Carb MEAT Recommendations
As far as choosing your meat…Ground beef (usually 80/20 ratio is best, in our opinion) can be used in TONS of different recipes such as: lettuce wrapped tacos, hamburgers, etc. for easy and tasty meals. When you’re in the mood for red meat, the fattier the cut…the better. If you’re going for bigger and better steaks, a New York Strip is extremely high in protein and fat to stick with the Keto ways. Beef jerky and sliced pepperonis are my go to snack foods, and easy to find in the grocery store. It is easy to go over board with jerky, so just check the nutrition label to see how much you can eat.
- Ground beef
- Steak (New York Strip, Ribeye, T-Bone, Porterhouse)
- Cured Meats (Pepperoni slices, Salami, Prosciutto)
- Beef jerky
- Chicken (breasts, thighs, wings, drumsticks)
- Ribs (Pork/Beef/Lamb)
- Pork Loin, Chops & Steaks
- Deli Meats
- Link Sausages
- Roasts (Pork/Beef/Lamb)
- Ground Breakfast Sausages
Low Carb SEAFOOD Recommendations
Seafood is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamins to help create a healthy body, reduce risks of several diseases, and last but not least…have low net carb counts. It’s a great add to any low carb recommended food list for serious keto dieters. Try to stick with any of the fish that are caught in the wild – that’s usually the safest bet. High in proteins, vitamins and Omega-3 Fatty acids, which tons of people lack, fish and seafood are perfect Keto diet options. Many of the seafood options are extremely high in fat/protein but only have 1, or even zero carbs such as: Salmon and Mahi Mahi.
- Mahi Mahi
- Sea Bass
Mr Skinny Pants – Meat & Seafood Advice: Make sure to be aware of your protein intake. Too much protein may cause a lowering in ketone function and hinder the Ketosis process in the body.
Low Carb Fruits & Vegetables
Yes, it’s true you can have fruits on a low carb/Keto diet…but in moderation! 🙂 Even a low carb recommended food list needs it’s fruits and veggies! Check out the list below for some great options to continue to have your fruits and veggies on the daily. While there are way more vegetable options than there are fruit options for your low carb diet restrictions, don’t let that deter you from keeping them in your life!
Keto/Low Carb Veggies
- Lettuce & Leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, Romaine, Iceberg, Arugula, Bibb, etc.)
- Squash (Zucchini, Butternut, etc.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow, Orange)
- Hot Peppers (Jalapenos, Banana peppers, etc.)
- Artichoke hearts
Note: potatoes and sweet potatoes are NOT approved. Corn and all corn byproducts (like corn tortillas, corn bread, corn chips), likewise are too high in carbs. Beans, like pinto beans, refried beans, black beans, etc are also off the list. I get these questions often. They are too high carb and should be eat sparingly…if at all.
Mr Skinny Pants – Advice on Veggies: Roasted asparagus is a delicious and indulgent side that I use as kind of a replacement for french fries, believe it or not. They’re that good! I buy the frozen, “steam in bag” broccoli and cauliflower. I steam it in the microwave and then drain it and then sauteed it an pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper to give it some flavor.
We also buy spaghetti squash about once a month as a veggie in our tuna casserole, or as your main course…you choose!
You can grab our top low carb fruits & veggies printable list if you’re in a hurry.
Keto/Low Carb Fruits:
Remember a fruit is a “fleshy, seed-associated product of a plant that is edible in its raw state” so there are some ‘non sweet’ fruit options here 🙂
- Avocado – at 2g of net carbs per medium sized avocado this should be a staple.
- Berries – Berries can be eaten on a keto diet but be careful. There are 3 good berry choices for low carb dieters per 100g serving. Raspberries 5g of net grams, Blackberries 5g of net carbs, and Strawberries 6g of net carbs. (Blueberries are an option…but I’d stay away if possible. They have 12g of net carbs per 100g serving)
- Melons – Melons are not the best choice, but if you need something sweet here are the top 4 lower carb melon choices. Casaba Melon — 5.7g net carbs per 100g. Watermelon – 7.15g net carbs per 100g. Cantaloupe – 7.9g net carbs per 100g. Honeydew Melon – 8.3g net carbs per 100g
- BONUS: Black Olives – at less than 3g of net carbs per 20 olives, these are a fun (not so normal) choice.
- BONUS: Star Fruit – These cool fruits are hard to find, but low in carb! Only 4.3 net carbs in 1 cup, if you can find them in your market
Mr Skinny Pants – Advice on Fruits There are other common fruits such as: apples, peaches, bananas and more that are just simply too high carb to be added to your Keto shopping list, so they should all be avoided. Don’t worry…there are plenty of options to meet your food needs!
We made a printable Top List of Low Carb Fruits & Veggies list of our own.
Click here to find the Top 7 Low Carb Fruits & Vegetables Printable List … in our opinion 😉
Nuts & Seeds
These are your go to snacks to have on hand when you don’t have something better prepared. For the disciplined keto dieter who’s not prone to binging, nuts are a fun low carb snack that can almost replace that pop-able sensation you used to get from popcorn or candy. Pick your favorite ones and add them to your low carb recommended food list.
NUTS with the lowest carbs
These are in order of best keto options down to nuts to avoid…no matter how tasty they are 😉
- Brazil Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pine Nuts
- Nut Butter (this ranges in carbs, but can still be a good option!)
- BONUS: Pistachios are great nut options, but BE CAREFUL to not overindulge! Keep it to a handful…otherwise 100g is almost 18g net carbs.
SEEDS with the lowest carbs
Seeds are great meal toppers to add some more protein and fat to the mix! Some are made into flour for baking as well, which are mentioned below. 🙂
- Flax Seeds
- Poppy Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds*
Mr. Skinny Pants – Advice on Nuts: Almonds, Brazil nuts and Macadamia nuts are my preferred nut varieties. Note: The image shows the lowest to highest net carb count for these nuts & seeds. If you choose to keep the higher nuts or seeds in your diet, make sure you keep it to a small amount! In a hurry? You can grab our keto snacks shopping list.
Low Carb Recommended Dairy
- Higher Fat Cheeses (Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, etc)
- Full-fat sour cream
- Whipped Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Grass Fed Butter (avoid Margarine)
Low Carb Dairy Alternatives
I’d recommend, a few cheese sticks a week and sprinkle some cheese on dishes that you think must have cheese in order to be edible.
Milk, unfortunately should be something that you stay away from. HOWEVER…if you are a milk fan, you can still grab your fix with these low carb options.
Here are our recommended Dairy Alternatives:
- Almond Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Macadamia Nut Milk
- Flax Milk
- Soy Milk
- Unsweetened Pea Milk
- Hemp Milk
Mr Skinny Pants Advice on Dairy: These milk alternatives are great for making protein shakes, baking needs, or adding to your coffee, instead of regular milk (or perhaps you just want a glass all by itself, that’s cool too.)
Be careful with the serving sizes for all of your milk alternatives, but the good news is these products have great health benefits including, but not limited to: nutrient-rich daily doses, promote healthy cholesterol levels and decrease certain cancer cells.
Low Carb Condiments & Sauces
(Per 1 Tbsp. serving)
- Tomato Sauce – 0.8g
- Salsa – 1g
- Mayonnaise – 0.2g
- Mustard – 0g
- Soy sauce – 0.5g
- Hot sauce – 1.9g
- Ranch Dressing – 0.6g
- Caesar Dressing – 0.5g
- Blue Cheese Dressing – 1g
- Relish (Sweet free) – 0g
- Balsamic Vinaigrette – 2g
- White Wine Vinegar – 0.5g
- Guacamole – 1.1g
Mr Skinny Pants – Advice on Condiments: Not listed because of the net carb numbers, you can use BBQ sauce and ketchup sparingly. Buy the ones with the lowest amount carbs & sugar and the fewest ingredients. Sometimes you may be able to find specific Low Carb/Keto condiments – be on the lookout!
Spices & Vinegars
Really any and all spices are great, especially the dried herb/spice variety. The spices listed below are staples in any low carb kitchen. They will really spice up any low carb recommended food list! Vinegar helps to subside your carb cravings and helps to improve your sugar balance in the body. Sugar regulation is important in keto or low carb diets, so adding vinegar into your diet can have great benefits to your health!
- Everything Bagel seasoning
- Taco Seasoning
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Wine (Red or White) Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Lemon/Lime Juice
Essential Fats & Oils for Keto Dieters
Fat and Oils are important to keep in moderation. Oils are essential for cooking, baking and everything in between. My new favorite cooking oil is Extra Virgin Avocado Oil, which is great for light cooking! Fats are important for all Keto diet plans, so make sure and add these items to your shopping cart – you’ll use them A LOT!
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- MCT Oil
- MCT oil powder
- Butter / Ghee
- Beef Tallow / Animal Fat
Mr. Skinny Pants’ Shopping Advice: The darker the color of the butter, the better! The deeper the color, the more nutrients it has packed in that package. MSP’s favorite butter brand: Kerrygold. I use it in Bulletproof coffee everyday!
Low Carb Sweeteners
We all have a sweet tooth, some sweeter than others…but the urge is there! So as to not have to completely cut out sugars from your diet, there are a few options that you still have! (If possible, try using sweeteners in their liquid form, instead of powders or granular sweeteners.)
- Monk fruit
- Swerve (Combines erythritol + stevia)
- Pure erythritol
- Chicory Root
Mr Skinny Pants Advice on Sweeteners: Some of these come in packets (which is good portion control) others come in bulk. Be careful when using to not go overboard with the serving size.
Low Carb Baking Ingredients
Luckily, nowadays it is much easier to find low carb baking alternatives than it used to be! Whether you’re looking for gluten-free baking ingredients, or just low carb options, there are quite a few options to choose from. Betty Crocker ain’t got nothin’ on you! 😉 Try these Low Carb Baking products for all your tasty low carb treats!
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Flax seed meal
- Sunflower seed meal
Mr Skinny Pants Baking Ingredient Advice: Try looking for nut or seed flour to bake more Keto friendly breads, etc. Some of the options out there: Almond flour, peanut flour, not to mention coconut flour, chia seed meal & flaxseed meal which can add a nice flavor to anything you make and gives you much lower carb options!
Low Carb Alcohol
While low carb alcohol is a nice addition to some meals, it is not always the best low carb or Keto option. That being said, there are some options out there so let’s look into it a little more. If you want to have a drink, the best drink for weight loss is a shot of tequila or vodka diluted in sparkling water with some lime juice to mask the taste. Perhaps those options aren’t exactly what you were looking for?
Here are a few other low carb alcohols, you might be interested in:
- Dry Wine – No matter the color, the drier the wine, the better. Stay away from anything sweet! Dry wine (white or red) will come in at about 2g of carbs per 5oz
- Low Carb Beer – My top choices for beer are Bud Select 55 at 1.9g of carbs and Michelob Ultra at 2.6g of carbs per bottle. There are other lower carb beers out there. Check the labels. Most companies are pretty forthcoming about carb counts now. (Some beers will surprise you though…)
- Hard Liquor – Bourbon, Rum, Tequila, Gin, Vodka, and Whiskey, on their own, come in at 0 carbs. That’s the good news! The bad news is that drinks like coke, pre-made mixes, etc. can ratchet the carbs (and sugar) up fast, so be cautious about your mixers.
- Seltzers – The White Claw phenomena has swept the nation and world. With no added sugar and low carb count, this actually makes for a pretty good, light and refreshing drink option.
- Wine Coolers – These are a big no, no! Wine coolers and things like Smirnoff Ice are over 25g of carb. Avoid these!
- High Carb Beer – If you’re craving a brew, go with one of the ultra lite options. Still get the beer taste, with less carbs!
Mr Skinny Pants advice on Alcohol: As long as the drinking doesn’t result in binge eating and comfort eating after a multiple day hangover, it shouldn’t ruin your diet. Make sure to stay away from the mixed drinks, as much as possible. They have large numbers of carbs that will hinder your diet and body functions.
Low Carb/Keto Snacks
Snacks are important throughout the day when we don’t have time to make a complete meal, or just need a little something to tide us over for the moment. Your low carb recommended food list needs to include go to snacks! You’ll see some of these items in other sections, but they are also easy, low carb snack options that you can readily find in the grocery store.
- Sliced Pepperoni / Turkey Pepperoni
- Pork Rinds
- Fresh Deli Meats
- Cheese Cubes
- Nuts (Almonds, Brazil Nuts, etc)
- Hard Boiled Eggs (Eggs are a must have in your Keto /Low Carb diet! With tons of protein packed in there…it can be a salad topper, eaten on their own, or added to any meal. Eggs, Eggs and more eggs!)
- Kale Chips
- Select Fruits and Veggies
- String Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
- Canned Sardines
- Dark Chocolate (85%+ cocoa)
Mr Skinny Pants Advice on Snacks: Always have 3x more snacks than you think you need. They will save you from cheating! Here is a list of Easy Keto Snacks!
Foods to Avoid on a Low Carb Diet
Diets are always hard, but these pesky foods are ones that will not make dieting any easier. These foods are definitely those that should be on the Naughty list for any Keto dieter! You may have a sweet tooth, you may crave those brioche buns…but you must be strong – you’ve got this! The good news is…while you can’t always get what you want…we have some alternatives for your favorites, so you can get what ya need! 😉 Here’s a list of foods to avoid at all cost…as tempting as they may be!
- Bread – we all love it…but use lettuce as an alternative! Lettuce wraps! All. Day. Long.
- Sugar – stay away! (If you need a sugar fix, Stevia will do the trick)
- Beer – As much as we love our brews…these are some of the highest carb drinks out there
- Pasta – Who doesn’t love Italian food? Opt in for Zoodles, aka Zucchini noodles! They’re great!
- Rice – Never fear…Cauliflower rice is here! Cauliflower rice is a great alternative
- Beans – While these may be high in protein, the high carb count makes these a no-go food option.
- Common snack foods – (Pretzels, Potato chips, etc) – Try nuts, or some veggie chip alternatives…
- Starchy Veggies – (Potatoes, Peas, and Corn to name a few) Go for the leafy greens!
- Processed Meats and Cheeses – with all the added crud in these products…they’re not good for anyone!
- Sodas – Unnecessary intake of sugar, and just not good for ya. Give sparkling water a shot!
- Milk – Milk does a body good, it’s also extremely high in carbs. Give coconut or almond milk a try.
Mr Skinny Pants Advice on Foods to Avoid: So much of your success on a keto diet will come down to understanding the types of foods you just can’t have. You’ll need a solid low carb food list for a keto diet.
It’s not that you won’t cheat from time to time but if you love something on the list above, you’ll want to do your homework to make sure you have a safe low carb, keto friendly option.
This is pretty much everything you need for your recommended low carb food list.
From these category lists, you should be able to pick and choose which options are the best for you!
Obviously, things can be taken away, but be cautious to add anything else unless you’ve done your research! Happy shopping!!
It contains this entire article!
Mr Skinny Pants
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PPS Do you need some Grocery Shopping Tips for Keto? I share some strategies to avoid impulse buys here.