Deciding to go keto or live a low carb lifestyle can be a little overwhelming at first. There are so many variations and schools of thought out there. If you frequent our posts then you know Josh and I take a very simplistic approach to keto. Basically, if it fits into my macros then great.
When I first started keto, I was one of those people who got a little ... intense ... about it, and I was miserable. I felt restricted and if I "made a mistake" I would beat myself up over it for days. Then I found a balance. I went back to the basics and accepted that keto and low carb is a lifestyle, and everyone has different needs.
What I am saying is, this is just a sample low carb grocery list for people who want to try living low carb, but it is not the end all be all of grocery lists. You can adapt this low carb grocery list and make it your own, just like keto.
As a reminder, the most common keto macro ratio is 70% fats, 5% carbohydrates, and 25% protein. Learn these numbers, and consider using a calorie tracker that will also track macros. I use Cronometer but MyFitnessPal is also popular.
Before You Go To The Grocery Store
Now, before you grab your reusable bags and hit the outer isles of your chosen hunting grounds (grocery store), take inventory of your kitchen and pantry. Gather all the items that are full of sugar and carbs and get rid of them.
You don't have to throw them out. If they are unopened, consider donating them to a local food pantry. If you live in the U.S. you can search for food pantries in your area here.
You can also have a "Grocery Party." Basically, you let your friends know you're changing your eating habits and invite them over for a party where they can take whatever they want from the items you're getting rid of. If you want you can make it almost a grocery swap where everyone can bring items they want to get rid of that they think others may like.
Okay, now your pantry and kitchen are clean and ready to be filled with delicious keto and low carb friendly foods. Let's go to the grocery store.
Low Carb Grocery List
We're going to split this list up into 5 categories:
For the list below we'll be using nutritional information from the USDA website. Bolded foods are easily bought in bulk, can be part of many recipes, and are great for low carb on a budget.
Low Carb Meats
Basically all meat. However, meats like liver can be sneaky and have hidden carbs, so be sure to check. Same with any type of sausage, bratwurst, or bacon. A lot of processed meats have added ingredients which can increase the carb content. So get real familiar with labels and always double check.
ground beef (the higher the fat content the better, stay away from the lean stuff)
salt pork (fantastic alternative to bacon, usually no sugar is added)
Don't be afraid to buy frozen. Fresh fish is wonderful, but frozen fish can be a lifesaver. [something about sustainability]
white fish (like: cod, haddock, catfish, sea bass, flounder, tilapia, trout, etc.)
Don't overlook things like lamb, duck, or oxtail (usually found near beef).
Low Carb Dairy
NOT margarine. Gotta be the real stuff. Margarine has added ingredients that adds carbs.
There are many options for what kind of cheese to buy. Some will have trace carb counts and some will not. Cheese is a great way to get fats in, so go forth and experiment with what kind of cheese you like.
Heavy whipping cream
There are some carbs in heavy whipping cream, but the fat content really counters it. This item is great for baking and adding to coffee.
Milk and Yogurt
You will find low carb milk and yogurt substitutes in the grocery story, or brands that claim to be low carb and keto. This comes back to personal preference. Personally, I have found that the milk and yogurt aren't worth it, and generally any recipe that calls for them can easily be substituted. To not upset the Dairy Pride Act—yes, this is real legislation the U.S. Congress is considering—look under other for almond and coconut milk.
Low Carb Vegetables
From here on you're going to want to start looking at things like fiber content to find the net carb count—total carbs minus fiber.
Also, consider foods with a lower glycemic index (GI). In layman's terms, GI refers to how slowly or how quickly a food causes your blood sugar to rise.
Below are vegetables that are under 10 net carbs per 100 grams. Pro-tip: check out the frozen food sections for bagged veggies. These veggies are often already cut and prepped and can be stored longer in your freezer, and are also cost effective.
alfalfa sprouts (0.2 net carbs)
endive (0.3 net carbs)
watercress (0.8 net carbs)
collard greens (1net carbs)
celery (1.2 net carbs)
bok choy (1.2 net carbs)
spinach (1.4 net carbs)
mustard greens (1.5 net carbs)
lettuce (1.6 net carbs)
asparagus (1.7 net carbs)
radish (1.8 net carbs)
Chives (1.9 net carbs)
arugula (2 net carbs)
chard (2.1 net carbs)
zucchini (US) (2.1 net carbs)
mushrooms (actually a fungus, not a plant) (2.3 net carbs)
kohlrabi (german turnip) (2.4 net carbs)
daikon (2.5 net carbs)
tomato (biologically a fruit, but taxed as a vegetable) (2.6 net carbs)
rhubarb (2.7 net carbs)
eggplant (2.8 net carbs)
broccoflower (a hybrid) (2.8 net carbs)
kale (2.8 net carbs)
cauliflower (3 net carbs)
parsley (3 net carbs)
cucumber (biologically fruits, but taxed as vegetables) (3.1 net carbs)
bean sprouts (3.4 net carbs)
mung beans (3.4 net carbs)
cabbage (3.5 net carbs)
green beans (3.6 net carbs)
okra (3.8 net carbs)
bell pepper (3.9 net carbs)
fennel (3.9 net carbs)
jicama (4.1 net carbs)
Jalapeño (4.2 net carbs)
turnip (4.2 net carbs)
broccoli (4.4 net carbs)
scallion (4.7 net carbs)
hubbard squash (4.8 net carbs)
artichoke (5.1 net carbs)
brussels sprouts (5.2 net carbs)
Habanero (5.3 net carbs)
spaghetti squash (5.4 net carbs)
beet (US) (6.7 net carbs)
carrot (6.7 net carbs)
rutabaga (6.7 net carbs)
bitter melon (7.2 net carbs)
onions (7.3 net carbs)
celeriac (7.4 net carbs)
chili pepper (7.5 net carbs)
acorn squash (8.9 net carbs)
peas (9 net carbs)
butternut squash (9.6 net carbs)
The next three items have a higher net carb count, but I wanted to include because when you cook with them a little goes a long way.
ginger (30.9 net carbs per 100 grams)
garlic (16 net carbs per 100 grams)
leeks (12.3 net carbs per 100 grams)
Low Carb Fruits
There are some keto'ers and low carb people who firmly believe once you're keto you can never eat fruits again. I am not one of those people. If you can fit something into your macros then you do you. Here are some of the lower carb fruits.
Again, we're looking at foods that come in under 10 net carbs for a serving of 100 grams, raw.
winter melons (0.1 net carbs)
avocado (2 net carbs)
starfruit (4.2 net carbs)
olives (4.4 net carbs)
strawberries (6 net carbs)
coconut meat (6.2 net carbs)
lemons (6.2 net carbs)
watermelon (7.6 net carbs)
limes (8.2 net carbs)
peaches (8.5 net carbs)
apricots (9 net carbs)
guava (9 net carbs)
papaya (9.1 net carbs)
grapefruit (9.4 net carbs)
oranges (9.6 net carbs)
plums (9.6 net carbs)
There are a few honorable mentions that, like the vegetables above, have a higher net carb count but when you cook with them a little goes a long way.
dates (68.2 net carbs per 100 grams) - often dates are used as a low carb sugar substitute in baking.
bananas (20.4 net carbs per 100 grams) - another fruit that often used in low carb baking.
coconut milk (unsweetened)
almond milk (unsweetened)
coconut whipping cream
nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.)
peanut oil (for frying)
spices (but keep in mind, in large quantities spices do add carbs, so be sure to track your spices)
low carb tortillas (use sparingly)
This is not the end all be all of grocery lists, but it's a good place to start. Trips to the grocery store on keto become an adventure of reading labels and discovering foods you may not have noticed before. As you continue on your low carb journey you'll find foods you like and foods you don't, and before you know it, you'll know which foods are low carb and best for your kitchen.
Have fun shopping!
We hope you enjoyed this list, and please tag us on Instagram @KaitandKeto during your next grocery store visit.