15 Food to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: July 19, 2023

15 Food to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet

Has your weight loss journey stopped? Or has your weight been stagnant for a long time? You follow a diet, but that's not helping. Limiting your carb intake may help. We have compiled some information about low carb diets, some foods you should avoid on your low carb diet and how a low carb diet will help your health.

A diet has three main macronutrients: carbs, fat, and protein. Carbs provide a significant amount of energy for the body. Carbohydrates do not only are fuel for the brain and cells throughout the body, but they are also beneficial in regulating your appetite, digestive health, cholesterol level and more. Even with so many benefits, many people choose to go on a low-carb diet because they contribute to increasing weight loss and controlling the blood sugar level in the body.  A low carb diet requires you to limit the high carb food and sugar such as sweets, cake, candy and sweetened beverages.

But to decide which staple food you should avoid is difficult. Various foods are highly nutritious but are not suitable for a low carb diet. Your diet's daily total carb target decides which food you must limit and which to avoid altogether. A typical low carb diet allows 20-130g of carbs daily. The amount of carbs depends on your needs, goals and preferences.

 We have a list of 15 foods you should limit or avoid on a low carb diet.

Bread and Grains

Bread, a staple food in various cultures, comes in many forms like rolls, loaves, bagels and flatbreads like tortillas. All these bread are high in carbs, whether made from whole grains or refined flour. Most dishes made of grains like wheat, oats and rice are all high in carbs, and you should limit or avoid them on a low carb diet.

The count of carbs in a meal varies with portion size and ingredients. We have an average count of carbs in some of the most common bread:

  • Whole wheat bread (1 slice): 14 g
  • Bagel (regular): 55 g
  • Flour tortilla (large): 35 g
  • White bread (1 slice): 13 g

Eating a burrito, a sandwich, or a bagel may bring you near or over the daily limit. If you want to avoid all these food, you can think of buying or making a low carb variety.

Some Fruits

Over the years, various studies have shown that eating lots of veggies and fruits decreases your risk of cancer and heart diseases. But, many fruits are high carb-containing and cannot be eaten while on a low carb diet. The best is to limit some fruits, especially the dried or sweet varieties, like:

  • Dates (2 large): 36 g
  • Mango, sliced (1 cup / 165 g): 25 g
  • Banana (1 medium): 27 g
  • Apple (1 small): 23 g
  • Raisins (1 ounce/28 g): 23 g

Berries contain less sugar and high fibre than other fruits, so you can eat them on a low carb diet. People on deficient carb diets may like to have only ½ cup (50g) of berries in a day.

Starchy Vegetables

Most diets allow you to have unlimited vegetables. Also, most vegetables are very high in fibre, so they control the blood sugar level and help in weight loss. But some of these starchy vegetables are high in digestible carbs than fibre and should be limited or avoided while on a low carb diet. These vegetables are:

  • Sweet potato or yam (1 medium): 27 g
  • Corn (1 cup/165 g): 24 g
  • Beets, cooked (1 cup/170 g): 17 g
  • Potato (1 medium): 34 g

But you can be happy that there are many low carb vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers and asparagus that you can have on a low carb diet.


Even with qualities like versatility and low price, pasta is very high in carbs. There are 46g of carbs in just a cup (151g) of cooked spaghetti and 45 g of carbs in the same quantity of whole wheat pasta. Eating pasts is not a great thing to do in a low carb diet unless you take just a tiny portion, which may not be realistic. But, there are two alternatives to fulfil your pasta cravings. You can try cooking spiralised vegetables or shirataki noodles.


It is well known that there are lots of carbs in the sugary breakfast cereals available on the market. Even the labelled “healthy” cereals are very high in carbs. For example, there are 27g of carbs in a cup (234g) of cooked oatmeal. The less processed steel-cut oats also provide 28g of carbs in 1/4th cup (40g) dry serving. A cup (111g) of granola contains 82g of carbs, and the same amount of grape nuts gives 93g. You can easily cross your daily carb limit with a bowl of cereal, even before adding milk.


A low carb diet allows you to have moderate alcohol. Dry wine provides very few carbs and hard liquors, like rum, have no carbs. But, beer has a relatively high quantity of carbs. A light beer provides 6g of carbs, while a 12 ounce can of beer gives 13g of carbs. Researchers also say that liquids do not fill you as much as solids. Beer also lacks essential nutrients in other high carb foods like fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Sweetened Yoghurt

Yoghurt is used widely and tastes good. The basic plain yoghurt has low carbs, but people often eat the sweetened, fruity yoghurt varieties that usually contain carbs as much as a dessert. You get 47g of carbs in a low-fat sweetened fruit yoghurt cup, higher than the same amount of ice serving.

 A good alternative is topping plain unsweetened yoghurt with your favourite low carb toppings. An example can be ½ cup (123g) of plain Greek yoghurt with ½ cup of raspberries, which provides the net carbs under 10g.


A glass of juice contains some vital minerals and vitamins but still can not fit into a low carb diet due to low fibres and high carbs. Like, 12 ounces (355 mL) of apple juice can give you 42g of carbs, which is even higher than the same amount of soda serving, giving 39g of carbs. The same amount of grape juice serves 55g of carbs. Although vegetable juices are low on carbs, you can still get 23g of carbs in a 12 ounce (335mL) vegetable juice, of which only 4g comes from fibre.

 In short, you may need to keep your juice intake in check on a low carb diet.

Low fat and fat-free salad dressings

You can eat varieties of salads in your low carb diet. But, keep the amount of commercial dressings, especially the fat-free and low-fat varieties, in check as they often have more carbs than expected. For instance, two tablespoons (30mL) of fat-free French dressing may serve you 10g of carbs, while the same amount of fat-free ranch dressing gives 7g.

Most people use more than two tablespoons, especially in a large entree salad. To have the minimum carbs in your salad, you may dress it with a full-fat creamy dressing. Otherwise and better, if you can use vinegar and olive oil, you can create your homemade vinaigrette. Vinaigrette helps to improve heart health and supports healthy body weight.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes come with good health benefits like reducing heart disease risk and inflammation. They contain high carbs but also have a pretty good amount of fibre. You can include small amounts of beans and legumes in your low carb diet. We have listed the amount of carbs contained in a cup (160-200g) of various cooked beans and legumes:

  • Pinto beans: 45 g (30 g net)
  • Black beans: 41 g (26 g net)
  • Chickpeas: 45 g (32 g net)
  • Lentils: 39 g (23 g net)
  • Kidney beans: 40 g (27 g net)
  • Peas: 25 g (16 g net)

Honey or Sugar in any form

If you are on a low carb diet, you must be aware that food high in sugar like candies, cookies and cakes should be limited.  But you may not know that the natural forms of sugar content as many carbs as white sugar. Many of them even have a higher carb content in tablespoons.

We enlisted different types of sugars and their carb content in one tablespoon (13-21g):

  • Honey: 17 g
  • Agave nectar: 16 g
  • White sugar: 13 g
  • Maple syrup: 13 g

Moreover, these sugars have no nutritional value, and while limiting carb intake, you should choose alternate foods with high nutritional values and high fibre content. You can use monk fruit or stevia, low carb sweeteners, to make your food and drink sweet without adding carbs.

Chips and Crackers

A trendy snack food, chips and crackers, can quickly add to the carbs intake. You may get 19g of carbs in just one ounce (28g) of chips, i.e., 10-15 chips of average size. The carbs content of the crackers depends upon their processing, but even an ounce (28g) serving of whole wheat crackers can provide 20g of carbs. Many people eat large quantities of processed snack foods, but they should be avoided on a low carb diet.

Alternatively, you can buy keto-friendly snacks usually made of flaxseed, almond flour or wheat bran, or try cooking vegetable chips at home. 


Milk supplies various nutrients like potassium, calcium, and many B vitamins. However, it also has a high amount of carbs. The low fat and skim varieties and the whole milk provide the same carbs per ounce-12-13g of carbs per 8 ounces (240mL). You can include a tiny amount of milk in your low-carb diet if you add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to your daily coffee. But, if you frequently drink coffee, the best option will be to opt for half, and half or cream, as these are low in carbs.

 If you want to drink a glass of milk or make smoothies or lattes, you can use unsweetened coconut or almond milk instead.

Gluten-Free Baked Goods

People with gluten-related disorders like celiac disease have to avoid gluten to prevent intestinal damage and manage digestive symptoms. But the, gluten-free muffins, bread and other baked items do not typically contain low carbs. They even have a higher cab content than gluten-containing bakery items.

These foods are made from flour with high starch content and rapidly lead to a high blood sugar level. To limit your carb intake, start eating whole foods, or you can use coconut or almond flour to cook homemade low carb baked items instead of having processed gluten foods.

Trail Mix

What does your trail mix contain? Raisins, pretzel pieces, dry fruits, chocolate candies, etc. So, you should avoid trail mix on a low carb diet. A typical serving (1oz) provides more than 12g of carbs which is relatively high in such a small serving.

What is the need for carb limitation?

Not everyone needs a low carb diet, but there are many reasons for limiting your carb intake. Researches show that low carb diets help quick weight loss just as efficiently as other diets like low-fat diets. Likely, the efficacy of low-carb diets decreases over a long time. Carb-controlled or low carb diets are prescribed to people with diabetes. A review of nine studies showed that a low carb diet improves blood sugar control in the long term for people with type 2 diabetes. Deficient carb diets like the keto diet also improve weight loss and insulin sensitivity, which helps in better blood sugar control.

 A study also suggested that low carb diets also reduce the effects of metabolic syndrome in obese people. Metabolic syndrome brings risk factors to your body that may increase the risk of heart stroke, disease and type 2 diabetes.

Is limiting carb intake healthy?

Low carb diets can be healthy. They bring numerous health benefits, including weight management and blood sugar control. If you plan your low carb diet well, you can include various low carb nutrient-dense food items like high fibre fruits, seeds, vegetables and nuts. 

But some low carb diets such as keto and Atkins can be very restrictive and unsustainable for a long time. The Keto diet aids in short-term weight loss, but they limit various nutritious foods and may increase the risk of several diseases. It can cause kidney stones, vitamin or mineral deficiency, fatty liver disease and constipation in the long run.

If followed with medical supervision, the low carb diets may prove beneficial for everyone, including pregnant women, children and underlying chronic disease patients. Therefore, you should always consult your dietician or doctor before limiting your carb intake drastically. So, if you want to follow a low carb diet, you should opt for food items with low carb but high nutrition.

You may need to minimise some foods and altogether avoid some. The choice depends on the individual health goals and carb tolerance. Until then, focus on eating a balanced diet with various highly nutritious foods.

What to Eat?


  • Meat: Any kind, including beef, hog, lamb, game, fowl, etc., can be eaten. Feel free to eat the meat's fat and the chicken's skin. If you can afford it, organic or grass-fed meats may be worth considering, albeit whether they provide significant health benefits is debatable, and scientific studies are still preliminary.
  • All types of fish and seafood: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are delectable, and their high omega-3 fatty acid concentration may even provide health advantages. Breading should be avoided.
  • Eggs: Boiled, fried, scrambled, omelettes, and other egg recipes are good. If you have the option, pick pasture-raised eggs.
  • Natural fats and high-fat sauces: Cooking using butter and cream can improve the flavour of your low-carb meals. Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauces are good choices. Olive oil or coconut fat are acceptable choices. Check the ingredients for carbohydrates and vegetable oils if you bought it ready-made. Make it yourself, if possible.
  • Vegetables grown above ground: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, mushrooms, cucumber, avocado (technically a fruit but commonly included with vegetables), onions, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and other leafy greens, among others. These have the fewest net carbohydrates and can be eaten at any carb restriction level.
  • Dairy: Full-fat dairy products, such as real butter, cream (40 per cent fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yoghurt, and high-fat cheeses, can help you lose weight while enjoying excellent food. You should avoid sugary and flavoured items. Milk, in general, should be avoided because it contains a lot of milk sugar.
  • Nuts are a great alternative to popcorn, candy, or chips for a treat (in moderation).
  • Berries: If you don't need to be too tight with carbs, they are fine in moderation. With whipped cream, it's even better.


  • Water: Make this your preferred beverage. Flavoured or sparkling water is also OK, but check the ingredients list for added sugars or consult the nutrition label.
  • Coffee is ideal for weight loss when consumed black or with small amounts of milk or cream. Avoid using a lot of milk or cream in your coffee, especially if you drink it all day, even if you're not hungry. However, if you're hungry and need more calories, use full-fat cream. Alternatively, make "bulletproof coffee" with coconut oil and butter.
  • Tea: The same information that applies to coffee also applies to tea.

Myths Debunked

Low-carb diets are subject to a lot of misinformation. Some argue that it is the ideal human diet, while others say it is a fad that is unsustainable and potentially hazardous. The following are nine typical misconceptions concerning low-carb diets:

  • They are only a fad: Popular diets for a short period were referred to as "fad diets." Fad diets are fashionable and successful for a brief time. On the other hand, the low-carb diet has been around for decades and is backed up by more than 20 high-quality human studies.
  • According to science, it is challenging to stay on track: Low-carb diets are not challenging to maintain. In fact, unlike calorie-restricted diets, they allow you to eat till you're full while still losing weight.
  • Water weight accounts for the majority of the weight loss: People who follow a low-carb diet lose a lot of water and body fat, particularly from the liver and abdomen.
  • It is harmful to your heart: There is no evidence that dietary cholesterol or saturated fat is unhealthy. Studies on low-carb diets demonstrate that they reduce numerous critical heart disease risk factors.
  • They are only effective because people consume fewer calories: Although low-carb diets reduce calorie intake, this occurs subconsciously as a significant benefit. Low-carbohydrate diets are also beneficial to metabolic health.
  • They limit your consumption of nutritious plant foods: A low-carb diet is not the same as a no-carb diet. Even if you eat relatively few carbs, you can eat many plant foods. Low-carb vegetables, berries, nuts, and seeds are all healthful plant foods.
  • Ketosis is a metabolic condition that is highly hazardous: There's a lot of misinformation out there concerning ketosis. Many people get "ketosis" and "ketoacidosis" mixed up. Ketoacidosis, which is fatal but exclusively happens in patients with untreated type 1 diabetes, is not to be confused with this condition.
  • Carbohydrates are required for brain function: Ketones can be used as fuel by a section of your brain on a low-carb diet. Your body can then produce the little glucose that other brain areas still require.
  • They are detrimental to physical performance: For the most part, low-carb diets do not impair physical performance. It may, however, take a few weeks for your body to adjust.

Low-carbohydrate diets have a lot of health benefits. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes patients benefit significantly. They are, however, not for everyone.

Many popular beliefs regarding a low-carb diet, however, are just false. Low-carbohydrate diets have been related to several health benefits. However, if followed for an extended period, very low carb diets can be overly restrictive and have negative consequences. So, if you want to follow a low carb diet, you should opt for food items with a low carb but high nutrition.

You may need to minimise some foods and altogether avoid some. The choice depends on the individual health goals and carb tolerance. Until then, focus on eating a balanced diet with various highly nutritious foods.





Written by
Resurchify is an information portal for the people pursuing research. We bring to you a varied list of research gatherings like conferences, journals, meetings, symposiums, etc across multiple areas. Along with that, we also share a huge chunk of details of these events.

Check out other articles written by Resurchify . Protection Status