A List of High Carb Foods

This is a list of the most common high carb foods and beverages which should be avoided on a low carb, ketogenic diet.  This list does not contain all foods which are high carb, but it will give you an idea of how to judge a food for general carbohydrate amount.  In other words, most sweet and starchy foods are to be avoided:

Sugars: The Ultimate High Carb Foods

Sugars and sweetened foods: read labels and avoid any foods which contain:

  • brown sugar, Demerara sugar, turbinado sugar, muscovado sugar 
  • cane sugar, cane juice, cane juice crystals, cane syrup 
  • caramel, panela, panocha 
  • coconut sugar, date sugar 
  • corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup 
  • fructose, crystalline fructose fruit syrup, fruit juice concentrates 
  • glucose, lactose, galactose, glycerol, dextrose, dextran 
  • honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, invert sugar syrup 
  • maltose, barley malt, diastatic malt powder, maltodextrin
  • sorghum, molasses sucrose or white sugar, confectioner's sugar, beet sugar, caster's sugar
  • syrups of all kinds, including oat, rice or carob syrup, maple syrup, malt syrup, golden syrup or treacle, tapioca syrup
  • and any food that has a name which ends in ~ose.

If it tastes sweet, avoid it. This of course, rules out cakes, candy, frostings, cookies, pies and other desserts.

You may also want to reduce the amount of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol that you consume daily. These can have an anti-ketogenic effect, and they can disrupt your normal gut flora and cause intestinal bloating.

"Healthy Whole Grains" are High Carb Too...

All grain and grain products (wheat, oats, barley, rye, sorghum, tricale, teff, spelt, rice, etc..) and products made from grain flours:

  • breads, muffins, rolls, bread crumbs
  • cakes, pies 
  • cold cereals, hot cereals
  • cookies, tarts
  • corn and corn products*
  • crackers
  • pasta
  • pretzels
  • tortillas
  • waffles, pancakes

This includes oatmeal, cream of wheat, cous cous, quinoa, and other popular breakfast foods. 

*Corn products include cornbread, tamale wrappers, corn chips, grits, polenta, popcorn and cornmeal are high carb. Corn is in all sorts of food as high fructose corn syrup, or thickeners, or preservatives, so read labels.

Other Starchy Foods

  • Beans such as kidney, pinto, northern, lima, black beans and lentils, all are high in starch.
  • Boxed processed foods, because most are high in wheat and sugar and are the worst high carb foods to eat because of the added preservatives and fillers. 
  • Canned soups and stews, as most canned products contain hidden starchy thickeners. 
  • Fruit of any kind (dried, fresh, frozen): Fruit is high in carbs and fructose. Fructose, even from natural fruit, puts a detrimental metabolic load on your liver if eaten in large amounts. Berries are the lowest in carbohydrate, so if you have to have something sweet, you could eat a few strawberries or blueberries on a ketogenic diet. It depends on how intolerant you are to carbohydrates. 
  • Potatoes and other starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes and potato products such as hash browns, potato chips, tater tots, etc.. 
  • Starchy vegetables, such as corn, sweet potatoes, lima beans, peas, okra, and artichokes.

High Carb Beverages

Generally, high carb foods in liquid form are the worst, because the sugar hits the bloodstream very quickly. Avoid the following:

  • Beers, as they are made from grain (there are low carb beers, but since you only have so many carbs per day, you have to decide if you want to spend them on beer.)
  • Juices made from fruit and vegetables. Juicing just concentrates the sugars in the original plant product; it's like drinking sugar water.  It also discards the fiber which could slow down the effect of the sugar on your blood glucose levels. 
  • Milk, especially skim and 1%. Milk is full of lactose, a type of sugar. Fermented milk products like cheese and yogurt have less lactose because the bacteria used to ferment the milk eats up all the lactose during the fermentation process. 
  • Non-diet sodas: Sweetened soda pop or soft drinks are probably the most damaging food product ever made. They contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is extremely damaging to your liver, plus all kinds of other chemicals not so good for you. And it's easy to consume many of them in one day. **Remember that your blood stream normally has about 1 teaspoon of sugar in it.  When you drink a sugared soda, you are taking in about 20 teaspoons of sugar all at once. 
  • Sweet or Dessert wines such as Icewine, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Ruster Ausbruch, Moscato, Riesling. These are high in sugar. (Dry wines are okay in moderation, but if you drink any kind of alcohol on this diet, make sure you have a meal with it.  Alcohol and ketosis don't mix well.)

The SugarStacks website has some interesting information on the amount of sugar in foods and beverages.

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