Eating LCHF / Keto On a Budget: Vegetables

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Eating LCHF / Keto On A Budget Part 3: Vegetables

By: Todd Gamel, RN

July, 23, 2017

If you are new to the low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic (Keto) lifestyle, I am going to encourage you to do one thing for the first three or four months until you have developed good eating habits, and that’s follow the ‘KISS’ principle. Of course ‘KISS’ is normally an acronym for ‘keep it simple stupid’, but I also like to think of it as meaning ‘keto is simple stupid’. Now, before anyone gets riled up, the point is that following a keto “way of eating” (WOE) is really easy if you purchase the correct foods and prepare them properly. My advice is that you stay away from the LCHF and Keto dessert recipes as much as possible as overeating of these so called “fat bombs” and other low carb treats can blow you right out of ketosis. Once you have the basics of the Keto lifestyle down and have been doing it for several months, then slowly start adding some “treats” to your eating plan.

In my two previous articles on this subject, I talked about strategies you can use to help stretch your food dollars when you embark on a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic (Keto) lifestyle. While it might cost a little more to eat LCHF and Keto due to the increased amount of fresh protein, dairy, seafood and vegetable sources, money should not be your biggest hurdle, most people fail because they purchase the wrong foods, or do not prepare enough ready meals during the week for those hectic days. Now that you know where to buy food and how to store it, let’s examine what to buy in order to help you meet your weight loss goals. BTW, If you haven’t read my previous article ‘Money Saving LCHF and Keto Strategies‘, you can find it by following this link.

I mentioned earlier that Keto is simple, well it is, you have only one goal, and that is to keep your total carbohydrate intake less than 20 grams per day for a strict LCHF diet, or 50 grams per day for a moderate LCHF diet. Sounds hard right? Well actually it is pretty simple, and I am going to show you how to accomplish this goal without breaking the bank and help you to stay “keto strong”. Let’s face it if you do not have LCHF and Keto friendly foods in your home, then you are destined to fail, and no ones wants that. So, in this article we are going to look at some of the basic types of vegetables that you should be growing and or looking for on sale when eating LCHF and Keto.

Choosing The Right Vegetables

I have seen the following questions many times on LCHF and Ketogenic forums and Facebook groups “So I can eat all the vegetables I want right?” or “Vegetables are great for keto right?”. Well no, and yes. While vegetables are an essential part of a LCHF and Keto WOE, they do contain carbohydrates, and while the majority of the carbohydrates from your diet should come from vegetables, not all veggies are created equal. In fact, some vegetables contain a large amount of carbohydrates and this small, but important fact can derail your LCHF / Keto WOE.

When it comes to carbohydrate content, the one thing you should keep in mind is that in general vegetables that grow above the ground have fewer carbohydrates than those grown underground (aka root vegetables). If you are on a moderate LCHF / Keto diet (50 grams or less per day), then you can generally eat all of the above ground vegetables you wish, but if you are on a strict LCHF / Keto diet (20 grams or less per day) then you have to be more selective. So let’s take a look at the most common vegetables available for LCHF / Keto eaters.

 

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables – I put this classification of veggies in a separate category because dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent way to get fiber, nutrients (folate, cartenoids), minerals (iron, and calcium), and vitamins (C, and K) as well as cancer fighting antioxidants into your diet. For the LCHF / Ketogenic eater with a minimal carbohydrate footprint. Like many who have embarked on this WOE, we prefer to get our dark leafy green veggies in salads although there are a variety of different ways they can be prepared. In fact, on the days that I work (3 to 4 days a week) I eat a chef salad for dinner. The following nutritional data is for raw, uncooked leafy vegetables, In this article, I have included both volume (1 cup serving) and weight based (100 gram serving) nutritional information for your convenience. Adjust the portion size as necessary, for your WOE, but I needed a standard in which to compare vegetables. Note that for some vegetables the carbohydrate is higher for the weight based portion versus the volume based potion, and some are the same. It just depends on the vegetable being compared.

Arugula

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 6, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 0.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 30, protein 3 grams, fat 1 grams, carbohydrates 2 grams

Bok Choy (Shredded)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 9, protein 1.1 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 0.8 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 13, protein 1.5 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.2 grams

Collard Greens

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 11, protein 1.1 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 0.6 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 33, protein 3.3 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 1.8 grams

Kale

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 33, protein 2.9 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 5.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 44, protein 3.86 grams, fat 0.8 grams, carbohydrates 7.18 grams

Leaf Lettuce (Green, Red, Romaine, and Iceberg)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 5, protein 0.49 grams, fat 0.05 grams, carbohydrates 0.5 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 15, protein 1.36 grams, fat 0.15 grams, carbohydrates 1.43 grams

Mustard Greens

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 15, protein 1.6 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 0.8 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 30, protein 3.2 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 1.6 grams

Napa Cabbage

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 13, protein 1.2 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 12, protein 1.1 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.1 grams

Spinach

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 7, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 0.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 22, protein 2.9 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 1.5 grams

Swiss Chard

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 7, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 0.7 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 21, protein 1.8 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 2.1 grams

 

Veggies That Grow Above The Ground – In addition to leafy green vegetables, most vegetables that grow above the ground are preferred over vegetables that grow below the ground (root vegetables), and even some vegetables that grow above the ground contain quite a bit more carbohydrates than others, especially those that contain natural sugars. This is where some people unknowingly get tripped up as they assume that all vegetables that grow above ground are safe to eat when on a LCHF / Ketogenic WOE. If you are on a strict LCHF / Keto WOE, then you really need to examine the individual carbohydrate count of the type and amount of vegetables that you add to your eating program or you can quickly blow yourself out of ketosis.

Asparagus

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 27, protein 2.9 grams, fat 0.16 grams, carbohydrates 2.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 20, protein 2.2 grams, fat 0.12 grams, carbohydrates 1.8 grams

Avocado (Sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 234, protein 2.9 grams, fat 21 grams, carbohydrates 2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 160, protein 2 grams, fat 15 grams, carbohydrates 2 grams

Bell Peppers (Sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 28, protein 0.8 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.7 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 20, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.9 grams

Brussel Sprouts

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 38, protein 3 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 4.7 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 43, protein 3.4 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 5.2 grams

Broccoli (Chopped or diced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 30, protein 2.4 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 3.6 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 34, protein 2.8 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 4.4 grams

Cabbage (Shredded)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 17, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 2.3 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 22, protein 1.17 grams, fat 0.13 grams, carbohydrates 3 grams

Cauliflower

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 27, protein 2.1 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 2.9 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 27, protein 2.1 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 2.9 grams

Celery

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 16, protein 0.7 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 16, protein 0.7 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.4 grams

Cucumber

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 16, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 3.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 16, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 3.2 grams

Green Beans

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 31, protein 1.8 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 3.6 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 31, protein 1.8 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 3.6 grams

Mushrooms, White (Sliced or Pieces)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 16, protein 2.2 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 1.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 22, protein 3.1 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 2.3 grams

Olives, All Varities (Whole)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 160, protein 1.6 grams, fat 14.4 grams, carbohydrates 3.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 115, protein 0.8 grams, fat 11 grams, carbohydrates 2.8 grams

Patty Pan Squash (Cubed or sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 23, protein 1.6 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 3.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 18, protein 1.2 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.6 grams

Spaghetti Squash

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 31, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 5.5 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 31, protein 0.6 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 5.5 grams

Summer Squash (aka Yellow), (sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 19, protein 1.4 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.6 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 16, protein 1.2 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.3 grams

Tomatoes (Chopped or sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 32, protein 1.6 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 4.8 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 18, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.7 grams

Zucchini

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 19, protein 1.4 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 2.4 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 17, protein 1.2 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 2.1 grams

Although they fall into the category of vegetables that grow above the ground, the following vegetables should be consumed sparingly due to their high carbohydrate content. I have included these vegetables because they are a popular part of the American diet, but due to their high carbohydrate content it is best to avoid adding these vegetables to your diet on a regular basis. If you want to eat them then it is important to plan ahead so that you can make adjusts to the rest of the carbs you are going to be consuming that day in order to stay under your carbohydrate goal.

Butternut Squash (Cubbed)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 63, protein 1.4 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 13.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 45, protein 1 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 10 grams

Corn (Kernels)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 132, protein 4.96 grams, fat 1.82 grams, carbohydrates 25 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 86, protein 3.22 grams, fat 1.18 grams, carbohydrates 16.5 grams

Green Peas (English, Sweet)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 118, protein 8 grams, fat 0.6 grams, carbohydrates 14 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 81, protein 5 grams, fat 0.4 grams, carbohydrates 9 grams

 

Veggies That Grow Below The Ground – These are the vegetables that usually have a higher concentration of carbohydrates (related to starch and sugars) than those grown above the ground. That is not to say that they should be totally avoided when on a LCHF / Keto WOE, you simply need to make the necessary adjustments when planning your meals to keep your total carbohydrates below your daily goal. Remember the lower your carbohydrate restriction, the more care you must take when adding root vegetables to your eating plan. Not listed are starchy vegetables that should be avoided as they simply have to much starch or natural sugars, these include: dried beans (pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo, navy, lima, etc…) and dried peas (black-eyed, purple hull, split, crowder, zipper, cow etc…), potatoes (all varaties), sweet potatoes (all vararities), acron squash, and pumpkin to name a few.

Beets

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 59, protein 2.2 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 9.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 43, protein 1.6 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 7.2 grams

Carrotts (Strips or Slices)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 50, protein 1.1 grams, fat 0.3 grams, carbohydrates 8.6 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 41, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 7.2 grams

Onions (Sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 48, protein 1.3 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 9 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 40, protein 1.1 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 7.3 grams

Radish (Sliced)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 18, protein 0.8 grams, fat 0.2 grams, carbohydrates 2.2 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 16, protein 0.7 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 1.8 grams

Turnips (Cubed)

Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories – 36, protein 1.2 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 5.7 grams

Per 100 gram Serving: Calories – 28, protein 0.9 grams, fat 0.1 grams, carbohydrates 4.2 grams

 

Veggies: Fresh, Frozen, or Canned

Obviously, one of the best options for adding fresh vegetables into your diet is to grow your own. Having a small to moderate size garden is an excellent way to stretch your food dollars. Each year we have a pretty substantial garden, this year it was destroyed by a hurricane on April 29th so we are having to rely on purchasing the vegetables we like from our local supermarket. Even if you have the time and the space for a garden, sometimes it is simply cheaper to purchase those vegetables that you use quite frequently from your local supermarket, especially if you are a savvy shopper and purchase them on sale.

Many believe that purely from a nutrient standpoint, fresh vegetables are a better choice than canned, or frozen vegetables, but this may not always be the case. According to ‘About The Buzz’ “The nutrient content of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables is comparable to fresh and, in some cases, it may be higher than fresh. Produce to be canned or frozen is processed immediately after harvesting, so nutrient losses after picking are minimal. The canning or freezing process may cause some loss of nutrients which can vary by nutrient.” The University of Minnesota concluded in their study of nutrient loses in fresh versus frozen and canned vegetables “once canned veggies go through the necessary heating process to be packaged, about one-third to one-half of vitamins A, C, thiamine and riboflavin are lost. And about 5 to 20 percent of vitamins are removed after each year, depending on just how you’re storing the vegetables. So if you compare the nutritional value that’s lost between canned and fresh vegetables, the numbers are pretty even, which proves the difference between the two types of veggies are very small.”

So when it comes to vegetables, my advice is to eat what you have available or what you can afford. After all, if you adhere to the concept that you must only eat fresh vegetables, but you cannot afford to purchase such for your family, or they are not readily available then both your WOE and your family will suffer. While fresh vegetables still may be preferred by many consumers, it should not be a “fresh or nothing” option when it comes to preparing and eating vegetables.

 

Conclusion

So as you can see there is a wide variety of vegetables that are available to you when you are on a LCHF / Ketogenic diet, but care must be taken as not all vegetables are keto friendly. The stricter your carbohydrate allowance, the more care needs to be taken when adding any of the starchy vegetables to your diet. This is where meal planning really becomes an important part of your LCHF / Keto eating regimen. If you do not take the time to plan your meals ahead of time, you may find that over time you slowly begin to develop bad eating choices without even knowing it. I am sure there are a lot of veggies that are LCHF / Keto friendly that are not listed in this article, what I have tried to include are the most commonly consumed as well as our favorites. As for those that got left behind, there is always next time.

So while my research may indicate that there is little or minimal nutritional difference between fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, my preference is still to eat fresh first, then frozen and lastly canned. In fact, we generally try and grow as much fresh vegetables as we can. So plant more greens, and stay keto strong my friends.

References:

About The Buzz: Frozen And Canned Fruits And Vegetables VS Fresh, Accessed June 12, 2017.

Jennings, Kerr-Ann, M.S., R.D. Fresh vs. Canned vs. Frozen: What’s the Best Produce to Buy? Food Network’s Healthy Eats. April 1, 2016.

Nelson, Daryl, Fresh, Frozen and Canned Vegetables: Is There Really A Difference in Nutrient Levels, Consumer Affairs. September 29, 2012.

Rickman, Joy, Barrett, Diane, Bruhn, Christine, Nutritional Comparison Of Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Fruits And Vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C And B And Phenolic Compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2007

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