Nutrition

The Complete Low Carb Shopping List for Beginners

The Complete Low Carb Shopping List for Beginners

Are you feeling confused about what food items to buy and to avoid for your low carb diet plan? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to create your low carb shopping list. You’ll see sample foods and their macros to get a better idea of their carb content.


Making Your Low Carb Shopping List

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed about what foods to buy and what to avoid when you’re just starting out on the low carb diet. It’s mostly because of the information overload and stress of not wanting to make any mistakes.

Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes in the beginning. Appreciate the fact you’re making efforts to learn about everything before diving in.

Our low carb shopping list will give you a clear idea of what food items you should choose and what to avoid adding in your shopping cart. Print or bookmark this page to make it easier for you to look back when you have doubts.

SEE ALSO: 7 Day low carb keto meal plan


Low Carb Shopping List Guide for Beginners

Meat

Unless you’re a vegetarian, you’ll notice that meat products make up a big part of your low carb diet. Here are some of the most commonly eaten meat items and their macros.


raw-meat-assortment-beef-lamb-chicken-on-a-wooden-board-

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Chicken thighs (1 thigh with skin) (3 oz)

12.5g

0g

20g

Chicken thighs (1 thigh without skin) (3 oz)

7g

0g

21g

Chicken breasts (100 g)

3.6g

0g

31g

Ribeye steak (100 g)

22g

0g

24g

Pan fried bacon (100 g)

42g

1.4g

37g

Broiled beef sirloin (100 g)

14g

0g

27g

Broiled T-bone steak (100 g)

16g

0g

24g

Cooked lamb (100 g)

21g

0g

25g

Broiled pork chops (100 g)

14g

0g

24g

Beef brisket (lean and fat, trimmed to ⅛”, braised) (3 oz)

21g

0g

22g

Cooked salami (100 g)

26g

2.4g

22g

Ground beef (85%lean, 15% fat, pan-browned crumbles) (3 oz)

13g

0g

23.5g


Do I need to eat pastured/grass-fed meats?

Although grass-fed beef will usually contain less fat and calories than non-grass fed beef, practically speaking, buying grass-fed meat may not always be possible.


If you can’t eat grass-fed beef, does that mean you can’t go low carb or keto?

Of course, you can.

As far as the low carb diet is concerned, regular meat items are just as good as grass fed. They all have almost zero carbs.


Will you still lose weight if you don’t eat grass-fed meat?

Yes, you will still lose weight eating non-grass fed meats because all meat items are still low carb and have an adequate amount of protein and fat to fuel your weight loss.


Will non-grass fed meat be as good as the grass-fed meat for your health?

No. We don’t want to sugar coat that truth. Grass-fed meat has been found to be more nutritionally dense, especially in omega 6 fatty acids [1]. Thus, opt for grass-fed meat whenever you can if you’re looking to improve your overall health.


What else can you do about it?

If you have no way of eating grass-fed meat, perhaps you could add omega 3 supplements to your diet. It’s not a must, but it’s something worth considering if you wish to improve your overall health.


Seafood

Most seafood items are almost zero carbs and are perfectly fine to eat on a low carb diet. They’re also a great way to replenish your electrolytes. For instance, 100 grams of tuna has 527 mg of potassium and 54g of sodium.


Raw-fish-and-seafood-with-fresh-aromatic-herbs-and-spices

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Cooked Salmon (Coho 100 g)

8g

0g

24g

Mackerel (100 g)

25g

0g

19g

Tuna (100 g)

0.6g

0g

29g

Lobster tails (3 oz)

1.6g

2.7g

22g

Cooked shrimp (100 g)

0.3g

0.2g

24g

Cooked crab (King 100 g)

1.5g

0g

19g

Fried squid (100 g)

7g

8g

18g


Eggs & dairy

Full-fat dairy products are your best choice for a low carb diet like the ketogenic diet. Don’t hold back from eating them because you won’t gain weight as long as you stick to your macros. Consuming more healthy fats on a low carb diet will keep you feeling satiated for longer and prevent symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness.


Eggs-and-dairy-products-on-wooden-table

Fat

Carbs

Protein

1 large egg

4.8g

0.4g

6g

Butter (1 tbsp)

12g

0g

0.1g

Cream cheese (1 oz)

10g

1.2g

1.7g

Full-fat greek yogurt (3 oz)

4.2g

3.4g

7.9g

Cheddar (1 oz)

9g

0.4g

7g

Heavy cream (1 tbsp)

5.4g

0.4g

0.4g

Cottage cheese (100 g)

4.3g

3.4g

11g


Vegetables

Below are some vegetables you can feel free to eat on a low carb diet. They’ll provide you with essential vitamins and minerals needed for your health. For instance, broccoli is a rich source of vitamins C and K as well as a good source of potassium and fiber [2].


cauliflower-broccoli-Brussels-sprouts-kale-in-wooden-bowl

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Cauliflower, raw (1 cup)

0.3g

5.3g (3.2g net carbs)

2.1g

Broccoli, raw (1 cup)

0.3g

6g (3.6g net carbs)

2.6g

White mushrooms, raw (1 cup)

0.2g

2.3g (1.6g net carbs)

2.2g

Tomatoes, raw, chopped or sliced (1 cup)

0.4g

7g (4.8g net carbs)

1.6g

Spinach, raw (1 cup)

0.1g

1.1g (.4g net carbs)

0.9g

Zucchini (1 cup chopped)

0.4g

3.9g (2.7g net carbs)

1.5g

Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained (1 cup)

0.8g

11g (7g net carbs)

4g

Asparagus, cooked, boiled, drained (1 cup)

0.4g

7.4g (3.8g net carbs)

4.3g

Celery, raw, chopped (1 cup)

0.2g

3g (1.4g net carbs)

0.7g


Fruits

Unfortunately, only a few types of fruits such as berries are considered low carb. But even with these fruits listed, it’s important to measure out your portions so you don’t unintentionally overeat and consume more carbs than you intended to.


Fresh-berries-in-a-bowl-on-rustic-wooden-table

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Blueberries (50 berries)

0.2g

9.8g (8.2g net carbs)

0.5g

Raspberries (1 cup)

0.8g

14.7g (6.7g net carbs)

1.5g

Strawberries (1 cup halves)

0.5g

11.7g (8.7g net carbs)

1.0g

Avocados (1 California, raw, 136 g)

21g

11.75g (2.5g net carbs)

2.7g

1 Lemon (2 and ⅜” diameter)

0.25g

7.8g (5.4g net carbs)

0.9g


Nuts & seeds

Nuts and seeds are not only nutritious, but they can also help suppress your appetite and prevent you from overeating. Most of them have fairly lower carbs per ounce, but you have to be careful not to finish a 100-gram bag in one go.

The best time to eat nuts and seeds is anytime you feel the need to snack on something, especially in the night. Keeping them in small 1-ounce portions will prevent you from overeating.

Some nuts like cashews are quite carb dense and you can easily overeat cashews because they’re super delicious. One-hundred grams of cashews contain approximately 30 grams of carbs.


Mix-of-different-nuts-in-a-wooden-cup-against-the-background-of-fabric-from-burlap

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Almonds (1 oz)

14.2g

6.1g (2.6g net carbs)

6g

Walnuts (1 oz)

18.5g

3.9g (2g net carbs)

4.3g

Peanuts (1 oz)

14g

4.6g (2.2g net carbs)

7.3g

Brazil nuts (1 oz)

19g

3.3g (1.2g net carbs)

4g

Macadamia nuts (1 oz)

21.5g

3.9g (1.5g net carbs)

2.2g

Pistachio (1 oz)

12.9g

7.7g (4.7g net carbs)

5.7g

Flax seeds (1 tablespoon, whole seeds)

4.3g

3g (0.2g net carbs)

1.9g

Sesame seeds (1 tablespoon)

4.5g

2.1g (1g net carb)

1.6g


Pantry essentials

Consider these your staple items to always have in stock. For example, you can use coconut flour and psyllium husk powder to make delicious low carb bread and naan.

So let’s say you have one of those unfortunate days where all you can see is a can of tuna in your cupboard. You can make some tuna keto sandwiches if you have some coconut flour and psyllium husk powder in your pantry.

The main purpose of these items is to make it easier for you to prepare your low carb meals and save you time from going back and forth to the grocery store.


peanut-butter-in-a-glass-jar

 

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Almond flour (1 cup)

56g

24g (12g net carbs)

24g

Coconut flour (2 tbsp)

2g

9g (4g net carbs)

3g

Psyllium husk powder (2 tbsp)

1.4g

20g (6.2g net carbs)

5g

Olive oil (2 tbsp)

28g

0g

0g

Coconut oil (2 tbsp)

28g

0g

0g

Almond butter (2 tbsp)

18g

6g (2.8g net carbs)

6.8g

Peanut butter (2 tbsp)

16g

6g (4.1g net carbs)

8g

Apple Cider Vinegar (1 tbsp)

0g

0.1g

0g

Stevia leaf powder (1 serving)

0g

1g

0g

Almond milk, unsweetened (1 cup)

2.5g

1g (<1g net carbs)

1g


Beverages

Have you ever wondered what else you can drink besides water on a low carb diet? A lot more than you think! Here are some beverages with zero to low carb content.


woman-drinking-from-a-cup-of-coffee-or-tea

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Lemon water or Juice with stevia

0g

0g

0g

Tea (8 fl oz)

0g

0.4g

0.1g

Black coffee (8 fl oz)

0g

0g

0.3g

Standard table wine (5 fl oz)

0g

3.8g

0.1g

Coconut water (1 cup)

0.5g

8.9g (6.3g net carbs)

1.7g


You could also try some of our best low carb drink recipes in our “Keto Recipes” section.


Foods You Need to Avoid Adding in Your Cart

If you’re researching about what not to eat on a low carb diet, chances are you already know some of the basics like rice and pasta. So we’re going to focus on some of the other high carb foods you should avoid on a low carb diet.


TIP: Try cauliflower rice if you find it harder to give up regular rice.


carbohydrate-food-on-wooden-background

High carb fruits & vegetables

Although fruits and vegetables, in general, are packed with vital nutrients, most of them are also high in carbohydrates. This means it’s not a good idea to consume many of them on a low carb diet. Here are some examples of higher carb produce and their macros.


Fat

Carbs

Protein

Banana (1 medium 7”- 7 and ⅞” long)

0.4g

27g (23.9g net carbs)

1.3g

Dates (1 Medjool, pitted)

0g

18g (16.4g net carbs)

0.4g

Mango (1 cup sliced)

0.4g

28.1g (25.1g net carbs)

0.8g

1 medium sweet potato (2” diameter, 5” long, baked)

0.2g

26.8g (23g net carbs)

2.1g

Beets, raw (1 cup)

0.2g

13g (9.2g net carbs)

2.2g

Carrots, raw (1 cup chopped)

0.3g

12.3g (8.7g net carbs)

1.2g

 

Beer

Moderate alcohol consumption, especially red wine has been found to be beneficial for health. However, beer may not be a good choice for those on a low carb diet unless it comes in at under 5 grams of carbohydrates.


 

Fat

Carbs

Protein

The average can of beer has the following macros:

0g

13g

1.6g


Occasional drinking is fine, but if it won’t be a wise move if you wish to drink a can or two of beer every day during your low carb diet.


Flavored Yogurts

Flavored yogurts can have artificial sweeteners, and sometimes natural fruit sugars [3].


 

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Sample macros of a cup of fruit yogurt (1 cup):

0.5g

46g

10.8g

 

Fruit juices

Similar to consuming fruits, fruit juices are also high in carbs.


 

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Orange juice (1 cup)

0.5g

26g

1.7g

Honey & store-bought syrups


 

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Honey (1 tbsp)

0g

17g

0.1g

Maple syrup (1 tbsp)

0g

13g

0g

Agave nectar (1 serving)

0g

21.3g

0g


Conclusion

If you’re just getting started with the ketogenic diet, having a grocery list can make you feel less overwhelmed about what to buy. It can also help you be aware of what food items to avoid when you’re shopping.


Takeaways

  • Having a grocery list like the one we have here can help you make informed choices about what to buy and what to avoid on your low carb diet.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the macros of some of the common food items we’ve discussed can make it easier to avoid overeating. It can also help you avoid eating too many carbs unintentionally.
  • When you’re doing some grocery shopping, pay attention to the food labels. We would suggest calculating the net carbs for each food (total carbs in grams - total fiber in grams). That way, you can make smarter choices.

References:

  1. Daley CA et al. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. 2010 March 10 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/
  2. Hwang J-H, Lim S-B. Antioxidant and Anticancer Activities of Broccoli By-Products from Different Cultivars and Maturity Stages at Harvest. 2015 March 31 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391535/
  3. Yogurt, fruit variety, nonfat. - https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/7641/2

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