14 High Carb Foods to AVOID On A Low Carb Diet

In this Blog post, I’m going to share with you the 14 high carb foods and drinks that you should try to avoid if you’re on a low carb diet.

In my experience of helping people become successful low-carb dieters, I’ve found a theme of common mistakes that people make when starting out.

Whenever someone is having a problem on a low carb diet, it’s usually one of the following foods that after digging through what they’ve been eating, is usually one of the problems.

So make sure you read to the end of the post, to find out all the carbs that you need to dodge so that you can be successful on your low carb journey.

Table of Contents

Sugary food and drinks

fasting mistakes

So the first group of foods to avoid on a low carb diet is of course, the obviously sugary foods and drinks. Now I’m including these here mainly for completeness. It’s not to insult anyone’s intelligence. I’m talking about things like candy, sweets, donuts, cakes, jelly, cookies, jams, adding sugar into your food or drink, stuff where you’re obviously consuming sugar.

The same goes for drinks, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Remember the average can of soda has over nine teaspoons of sugar in it.

Now these are all pretty obvious sources of refined carbohydrates, but it’s the hidden places that sugar seems to get into that catch most people out. Added sugar is hiding in 3/4 of packaged foods. The next few things are some places where people often get caught out.

Sauces and condiments

Some sauces are pretty obviously sweet, for example, ketchup, barbecue, teriyaki, and hoisin sauce. You will spot these pretty easily, and although you might think a little bit is okay, these sauces can be seriously loaded with sugar. Tastes can also be deceiving because even if they’re not obviously sweet, this doesn’t always mean that they’re sugar free.

Thankfully, many of the hot sauces are very low in sugar, but beware of Sriracha where sugar is the second listed ingredient. Commercially prepared sources are often laiden with sugar to boost the flavor. Think about things like tomato sauce and bolognese sauces.

Salad is Healthy but why Dressings are foods to avoid on a low carb diet

Salads are a classic healthy food and for good reason, and they’re great for low carb and ketogenic dieters.

But be aware of what can go into ready prepared salad dressings that you buy from the supermarket. Be especially careful of glazes. By the way, it’s really easy to make your own salad dressings.

Just mix three parts of olive oil with one part vinegar. And you’ve got a basic vinaigrette with no hidden sugars.

Be especially aware of salad dressings that are marked as low fat as they often contain lots of sugar.

Fat

So fat equals flavor. And when fat is removed from foods that are supposed to contain fat, then they generally taste awful.

The food manufacturers often get around this by adding sugars to replace the missing flavor. Meaning that foods that are marketed as diet or low-fat or healthy, are in fact full of sugar. And there are low fat versions of lots of foods.

I’ve already mentioned low fat salad dressings, but in particular, be aware of low fat yogurts. I’d always give these supposedly healthy options or swerve and go for the full fat natural versions.

Best Protein Sources

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, how do I know if I’m eating hidden sugars? I’m sure most people would recognize that glucose and fructose are sugars if they read them on a food label. And sucrose is of course the chemical name for table sugar.

Many of you will also recognize high fructose corn syrup as being a sugar-like substance. You would also be right to be suspicious of other chemical sounding names, such as dextrin, dextrose, maltodextrin and mannose, which are all sugars.

However, they are even more trickier than this. They use names such as cane juice crystals, corn syrup solids, corn sweetener, carob syrup. These are all just some of the names that can be used for sugar in foods. And there are lots more.

So how do you know if you’re eating hidden sugar? Well, for the most part you don’t. So how can you avoid them? Well, the easiest way to avoid hidden sugars is to eat real food. By real food, I mean food that isn’t processed. If it hasn’t got an ingredients list, then it’s not being processed and it hasn’t got any of these hidden nasties in it.

Natural sugars

We’re talking about things like honey, Agave nectar, raw cane sugar, and coconut sugar. This is a common one that I hear when people say, “I thought if it was natural, then it was okay.” So why they are included on our list of foods to avoid on a low carb diet?

Well, yes, it may be a naturally occurring sugar, but it’s still very high in carbohydrates and should be avoided. Which brings us onto the controversial topic that is fruits.

Fruits are generally labeled as healthy. However, fruits can have a wide variety of carbohydrate content. For example, the average banana has the equivalent of nearly six teaspoons of sugar. Whereas the same size portion of watermelon contains less than two spoons. Compare that to the same sized portion of strawberries, which has less than half a spoon of sugar in it.

So when it comes to cutting the carbs, we can’t just lump all fruits together and say they’re low carb. You have to learn a bit more about the different carb contents of different fruits.

In particular, I urge you to be aware of the more tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapples, that kind of thing. Be especially aware also of dried fruit, such as sultanas, raisins, apricots, and dates. These can be a really effective sugar delivery system. The lack of water content in these means it’s easier to consume a lot of carbohydrates really, really fast.

Fruit juices should also be avoided on a low carb diet. In a similar way to dried fruit, fruit juices and fruit smoothies allow you to consume large amounts of sugar very rapidly.

This 200 milliliters of apple juice, which is less than a cup, contains the same amount of sugar as a can of soda.

Grains and cereals

This is of course a well-known area to avoid on low carb diets, but there are still a few mistakes that I commonly see in this area. And by grains and cereals, I’m talking about things like wheat, maize, rice, oats, barley, et cetera. The things that are used to produce things like breads, pasta, and breakfast cereals.

These all contain a lot of starch. And starch is just long branch chains of glucose molecules all joined together. And these chains break down into glucose eventually. So starch is just another form of carbohydrate.

The most common mistake I see in this area is that people cut out the white breads and pasta and the obviously high carb breakfast cereals, but will instead choose the apparently healthier whole grain alternatives thinking they’re lower carb.

Let’s take bread for example. A slice of white bread has the equivalent of 3.7 teaspoons of sugar. Whereas a slice of whole grain bread has the equivalent of three teaspoons of sugar which is definitely less, but two small slices of whole grain bread is still the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar. And the same goes for apparently healthier breakfast options that suggest muesli, porridge or oatmeal.

So even if they appear to be or are marketed to be healthier options, all grains and cereals really should be avoided on a low carb diet.

And before I move on to the next section, I just want to mention something that is a grain, but many of us think of it as a vegetable, and that’s sweetcorn. And the clue is in the name really sweet corn. And a typical 80 gram portion will give you the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar, which is 20 times the amount you’d get from eating the same amount of broccoli.

Gluten-free products

This is kind of related to the last one. By avoiding grains, most people who are living a low carb lifestyle are naturally gluten-free, but I’ve seen plenty of people get confused about gluten-free products, naturally assuming that they are low carb. So just be aware that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily equal low carb.

Many of these products are actually quite high in carbs.

Starchy vegetables

So people often know to avoid potatoes on a low carbohydrate diet. The average 150 gram serving of potatoes has the equivalent of nine teaspoons of sugar. Other starchy vegetables to avoid would include sweet potatoes and parsnips, which have similar carbohydrate contents to potatoes, but also cassava or Yucca, which has about double the carb content of potatoes.

Legumes

Legumes are a family of plants that are made up of beans, lentils, and peas. Most of these are a great source of protein and the carbohydrates from these are absorbed quite slowly by the body.

If you’re really cutting back the carbs, then most of the legumes need to be off the shopping list.

There are loads within this group, so I’m not going to go through all of them, but the ones that commonly catch people out are chickpeas. Chickpeas are very high in carbohydrates compared to garden peas, which are much lower. Peas can be used in moderation in all but the most restrictive of low carb diets.

Pseudo grains

Pseudo grains include things like Quinoa, buckwheat and wild rice, which technically isn’t actually a rice at all. Now I think of these in the same way that I do legumes. They are a lot better and more nutritious than grains and cereals, but they’re still pretty high in carbs and should be avoided.

Cashew nuts

Cashew nuts are an exception within the nut family, which are generally pretty low in carbohydrates. Cashew nuts have three to five times the carbohydrate content than most other nuts. And this can be especially problematic as they’re really easy to consume in large amounts, especially if they’re salted.

Milk

Milk contains lactose which is of course a sugar. Lactose is rapidly converted into glucose in the body, and therefore should be considered high carb. Remember the lattes, cappuccinos and other drinks that are prepared mainly with milk should be avoided.

If you’re drinking a small splash of milk in two or three coffees a day, then you should be fine. But if you’re using loads of milk in seven or eight cups a day, then you’re probably consuming a fair amount of carbs just from the milk itself.

I definitely recommend getting full fat milk, rather than any of the reduced fat stuff. You need far less of it to do the same job, and I just think it tastes way better.

Beer

Now, any alcohol is always going to slow down or stall weight loss on a diet. But there are definitely some alcohols that are higher in carbohydrates than others.

Of particular note is beer, which quite rightly has the nickname of liquid toast. And of course there’s hundreds of different brands of beer that all have varying amount of carbs within them.

You can, by all means, find low carb beers, but they all taste pretty awful.

Summary

So that’s it, that is my top 14 list of drinks and foods to avoid on a low carb diet. Now it’s going to sound like you pretty much can’t eat anything, but I assure you that really isn’t the case.

If you want to find out some more information on what you can actually eat, then check out the recipes here on the website.