10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead)

By: Bob's Red Mill | July 9 2020

Doctors and nutritionists may recommend a low-carb diet for a variety of reasons. Low-carb diets have many health benefits and have increased in popularity in recent years. While the Atkins diet has been around for many years, the Keto diet is a newer low-carb diet that recently emerged in the health industry. Due to their impressive benefits, more and more individuals are interested in learning more about low-carb diets. Determining if a low-carb diet is right for you depends on various factors, and it is best to speak to a nutritionist or health professional before making any changes to your diet. 

If you've done the research and found that a low-carb diet may be worth trying, keep reading as we discuss which foods to avoid on a low-carb diet.

Before diving into specific foods, let's first discuss the guidelines of a low-carb diet and everything it entails. When following a low-carb diet, the amount of carbohydrates you eat daily is drastically restricted. Though the actual number of allotted carbs varies by person, keeping carbs to a minimum is highly recommended.

If you're thinking about trying a low-carb diet, you might worry that sticking to it will be difficult. Well, we're here to tell you that it doesn't have to be. There is a wide variety of indulgent, low-carb foods that you can continue to enjoy daily. Foods that you may not even realize are low-carb! Additionally, low-carb substitutions can be made to help turn your favorite comfort food into a delicious low-carb dish. 

Knowing which foods to eat and which high-carb foods to cut back on will help you plan out your meals and achieve your health goals. Continue scrolling to discover ten common high carb foods to avoid on a low-carb diet and low-carb alternatives that you can use in their place.

10 High Carb Foods (and Low-Carb Alternatives)


While low-carb diets come in all shapes and sizes, nearly all of them limit your intake of grains. Although natural, most grains are high in carbs and are not permitted on a low-carb diet. Now, you might be wondering if some grains are higher in carbs than others. In short, the answer is yes. While certain grains (rice) are higher in carbs than others (oatmeal), there is no such thing as "no-carb" or "low-carb" grains. Depending on how strict your diet is, grains are not likely to be permitted on any low-carb diet. 

Low-Carb Alternative: Cauliflower

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

So what do you do if some of your favorite dishes are made with grains? Don't worry; there are several low-carb grain alternatives out there. One grain alternative that is growing in popularity is cauliflower. This nutrient-rich vegetable is so versatile that it can be used in everything from pilafs to pizza crust. Riced, minced, blended, mashedthe ways that you can use cauliflower are endless.

Don't believe us? Try out this low-carb Cauliflower Chia Baked Falafel


Most fruits contain a high amount of carbs. They're nature's candy after all. When trying to decide if a specific fruit is high in carbs, aside from a quick google search, generally, the sweeter the fruit is, the more sugar it contains.

For reference, here is a list of the fruits with the highest amount of carbohydrates. 

  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Apple
  • Raisins
  • Dates

Similarly, here are a few low-carb fruits that may be acceptable to eat in moderation.

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

  • Watermelon
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Avocados
  • Honeydew
  • Peaches

Low-Carb Alternative: Vegetables

So, how should you replace your daily serving of fruits? Swap them for refreshing veggies! Cucumbers, celery, carrots and radishes are all veggies that you can snack on when you need a quick boost of energy.

If you're searching for a more savory plate of veggies, try out these Mini Springtime Vegetables Quiches.

Starchy Vegetables

That being said, not all vegetables are created equal. In fact, some of them can be quite high in carbohydrates. When following a low-carb diet, you can eat just about as many fibrous veggies as you want (celery, spinach, cabbage). However, certain vegetables are especially high in carbs and should be avoided. 

What kind of vegetables are high in carbs? While both starchy and non-starchy vegetables contain carbohydrates, generally starchy vegetables have a much higher carbohydrate content. Though this high carb content doesn't make them any less healthy, it does exclude them from a low-carb diet.  

Vegetables to avoid on a low-carb diet include: 

  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Squash

Low-Carb Alternative: Fibrous Vegetables

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Fibrous vegetables like spinach, celery and cucumber are all low-carb veggies that can be consumed on a carb-restricted diet. Enjoy them as a snack, add them to your meals, or pair them with a delicious dip. There are several tasty ways that you can work vegetables into a well-balanced diet. 

Pizza & Baked Goods

Pizza is often labeled as off-limits among the diet crowd. With the various toppings, cheese and fluffy crust, each slice of pizza comes with a different carb count. Though some pizzas might be "lighter" than others, when following a low-carb diet, it's best to avoid this dish altogether. However, if pizza is one comfort food you can't live without, there are low-carb alternatives that you can use to make this dish less carb-heavy.

Low-Carb Alternative: Cassava Pizza Crust

By simply swapping out traditional pizza crust for this Cassava Pizza Crust, you can drastically cut the carbs. It's easy to make, gluten free and sturdy enough to hold up against all of your favorite toppings. 

Low-Carb Alternative: Cassava Flour Muffins

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

For a more wholesome snack to keep on hand, try making Bob's Red Mill Low-Carb Muffins. An easy-to-make treat, these muffins are completely customizable! 


It's no surprise that soda is full of chemicals and sugar, but did you realize it's also overflowing with carbs? When sticking to a low-carb diet, it's best to avoid soda entirely. Especially being just one 12 ounce drink can pack more carbs than a bowl of pasta. 

Low-Carb Alternative: Naturally Flavored Waters

For a refreshing way to hydrate, check out this Cucumber Ginger Chia Fresca water instead. 


By now, you may probably realize that smoothies are a high-carb menu item. They're jam-packed with flavorful fruits, which frequently carry a lot of carbs. While there is no question that smoothies have health benefits, they might not be the best choice for those trying to cut their carbs. There are various ways to change up your smoothie routine so that it fits in with your new low-carb lifestyle. 

Low-Carb Alternative: Vegetable Based Smoothies

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Swapping fruit for veggies is a great way to keep your smoothies low-carb. For a tasty, veggie-packed smoothie, try out this Zucchini Basil Smoothie

Fat-Free Food Items

Many people hear the words "fat-free" and they immediately think it's the healthier option. The truth is that many candies and processed foods labeled "fat-free" are just as packed with carbs and sugar—if not more so—as their fat-filled counterparts. 

Low-Carb Alternative: Berries

If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for a healthy, low-carb alternative to fat-free candy, try snacking on a handful of sweet berries instead.


While dessert is a staple in many households, just one spoonful of a sugar-filled treat like cake, brownies and pie can serve up more carbs than any of the foods listed above. Luckily, if you're craving a sweet treat to indulge in after dinner, there are low-carb options. Keeping low-carb cooking alternatives on hand is an excellent way to make sure that you're fully prepared to make a diet-friendly dessert when you're craving it most.

Low-Carb Alternative: Dessert Made with Low-Carb Flours

10 Foods to Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet (and What to Eat Instead) | Bob's Red Mill Blog

For a low-carb dessert recipe that satisfies your sweet tooth, try swapping traditional flour out for low-carb cassava flour. Don’t have a recipe on hand? These Paleo Cassava Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy to make and delicious!

We hope that after reading this article, you have a better idea of which food to avoid on a low-carb diet. While following a low-carb diet might seem challenging at first, upon discovering low-carb options for some of your favorite foods, it becomes much more manageable. In general, when eating low-carb, it's best to focus on natural, wholesome foods. The fewer ingredients and less sugar, the better! 


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