A common question for those starting a ketogenic diet is whether the carbs from vegetables need to be counted towards your daily carb limit. The simple answer is yes – the carbs from all foods, including vegetables, count if you want to stay in ketosis. However, the amount of carbs in most low-carb veggies is minimal, and they provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Here’s a more in-depth look at how to incorporate low-carb vegetables into a keto diet.
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Should You Count Veggie Carbs on Keto?
To get into and stay in ketosis, you need to restrict your net carb intake, usually to 20-50g per day. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs.
Vegetables contain varying amounts of carbs, so technically they do need to be counted. However, most low-carb veggies contain very few digestible carbs, so they can be enjoyed liberally.
Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, and others have minimal effects on ketosis due to their low net carb counts.
These should be the basis of your veggie intake.
Higher-carb options like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash need to be portioned carefully, but can still be incorporated in moderation.
Choosing Keto-Friendly Veggies
Focus on non-starchy, above-ground vegetables to keep net carbs down. Great options include:
- Leafy greens – spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, collards, arugula, etc.
- Cruciferous veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy
- Bell peppers
- Green beans, snap peas, snow peas
- Onions, leeks, shallots, scallions
- Zucchini and summer squash
For those able to tolerate more carbs, in moderation:
- Winter squash – butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti squash
Canned vegetables can also be a convenient low-carb option if you choose varieties preserved in water or salt, rather than syrups. Just be sure to rinse well to remove excess sodium.
Net Carb Counts in Common Keto Vegetables
To make it easy to incorporate vegetables into your keto diet, here are the net carb counts for 1-cup serving sizes of some popular options:
|Vegetable||Total Carbs||Fiber||Net Carbs|
Non-starchy vegetables should be the foundation of your veggie intake.
Tips for Incorporating Veggies Into Keto
Here are some tips for working vegetables into your keto diet:
- Focus on non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, peppers, etc. These offer nutrients with minimal carbs.
- Watch portions on higher glycemic veggies like carrots and winter squash. Enjoy them occasionally in moderate amounts.
- Add vegetables liberally to main dishes like fajitas, stir fries, and casseroles.
- Make veggies the star of keto side dishes. Try roasted broccoli, sautéed spinach or mashed cauliflower.
- Snack on raw veggies with ranch dressing or nut butter for dipping. Celery, bell peppers and cucumbers work great.
- Add extra vegetables in soups, chili and similar dishes. They add nutrients and bulk up meals.
- Spiralize zucchini or carrots to make low-carb “noodles” in place of pasta.
- Try new ways to prepare veggies – roasted, sautéed, steamed, stuffed, etc. Variety keeps things interesting.
The Bottom Line
The carbs in vegetables do count towards your daily limit on keto. However, most low-carb vegetables contain very few digestible carbs per serving and should be heavily incorporated. Be mindful of portions of higher-carb veggies.
With smart choices, you can enjoy a variety of nutritious veggies on a ketogenic diet.