Do you ever feel confused when you're in the grocery store checking out the nutrition facts on those supposed “zero carb foods" or “keto” foods and see ingredients not entirely in line with what they claim? Are you eating keto foods and wondering why you’re still gaining weight? Well, you’re not alone. Nutrition labels on "keto" food can be downright deceiving.
Today I’m going to give you clarity on what's really in those "keto" snacks. I’ll share with you my list of zero carb foods by category to help you feel confident next time you are shopping for no carb foods. We’ll discuss when the best time is in your keto journey to use this zero carb foods list. And we will talk about why you should avoid other foods entirely.
I’ll give you the skinny on how Federal guidelines label the number of carbs that are in one serving of food. And I’m even talking about what I personally have used for the past decade that keeps my meals on the right track. You’ll also learn where you can go to join in our free meal plans and snag our free keto food list.
Let's dive in.
The Skinny On Zero Carb Foods
Federal guidelines allow companies to label a serving of food as zero carbs if it contains less than 0.5 grams per serving. That’s right, if food has 0.48 grams of carbs per serving, it can be labeled as zero carbs. The other thing to know is that if you see a label that says “contains less than 1 gram”, that means the food contains between 0.5 and 0.99 grams of carbs per serving.
If you see a zero carb food label and you aren’t sure, assume the food has a half gram of carb per serving. If you see on the package that it says “contains less than 1 gram”, assume it has one gram of carb per serving.
Zero Carb Foods List
Today I’m going to share a real list of zero carb foods with you. I’ll go as high as 1.5 carbs per serving in this list so we can include a few more options. I’ll also give you tips on what to look for when shopping for these foods. In the end, I’ll share my best tip for researching these foods on your own.
When To Use The Zero Carb List
When would you use a zero carb foods list? I refer back to this list time and time again when I’m working to stay around 20 total carbs on my keto diet. This might be when I’m trying to lose weight or increase my blood ketone level to improve my mental focus. It’s also useful if you’ve logged your food for the day and need to eat something else but are all out of your day's carb allowance.
If you’re struggling to figure out what to eat on your keto diet, you can sign up for our free weekly keto meal plans using this link.
Now I’m going to share zero carb foods by category. There are only a handful of truly zero carb foods, so I’m going to share these as best I can from the lowest carb count to the highest carb counts. All of my information was researched through Cronometer which I’ll tell you more about later on.
Fats & Oils
Purest Form of Zero Carbs
You probably already know that the purest form of zero carb food is fats and oils. These include animal fat, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, ghee, olive oil, MCT oil, and palm oil. All of these truly have zero carbohydrates.
Say NO To These Zero Carb Fats & Oils
You may be wondering why I didn’t include vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, or margarine on this list. While it’s true they are also zero carbs, these oils are highly inflammatory to the body. I recommend everyone avoid these oils, regardless of what diet they are on. It’s a simple trick to improve your general health.
Many people think that eggs are zero carbs. However, a large egg has 0.6 carbs per egg. So, in a three-egg meal, you actually have almost 2 carbs.
When looking for zero carb foods, know that most unprocessed meat has zero to .2 carbs per serving.
Avoid meat that is pre-marinated or comes with a sauce. When you’re looking at a meat package, look for an ingredients list and be sure there’s no gluten or sugar hidden in the meat.
Processed meats like bacon and sausage are usually processed using sugar. There are some brands out there like Applegate farms and butcher box that have processed meat products that don’t use sugar.
However, many brands use such a small amount of sugar that you’ll end up with less than 1 gram of carb per serving. Just do your research and pay close attention to the ingredient list. If the nutrition label says zero carbs, assume it has .5 grams of carbs per serving.
Fish has zero carbs but beware of imitation products such as imitation crab meat. One serving of imitation crab meat has around 13-17 grams of carbohydrates. If you aren’t sure if it's real crab meat, assume it’s imitation... Anything “crab-stuffed” is usually made with imitation crab.
Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines are high in omega 3 fats which have been linked to health benefits including lowering insulin levels, increasing insulin sensitivity, and improved cognitive health.
Shellfish such as clams, mussels, octopus, oysters, and squid have from 3-4 grams of carbs for a 3.5 ounce serving.
Avoid Seafood Marinades & Sauces
Avoid pre-marinated seafood or sauces as they usually contain sugar and are not a zero carb food.
Cheese & Dairy
There are hundreds of types of cheese so I won’t list each one out individually. However, know that most cheeses are low in carbs and high in fat. I’ll share a trick for researching your favorite cheese at the end.
Popular cheeses with around half a carb per serving include muenster, colby jack, edam, swiss, gouda and cheddar.
Aged cheeses have fewer carbs per serving, not by the ounce, but because we tend to use less than an ounce of shaved cheese. Asiago, parmesan, and romano cheese are just under 1 carb per ounce. They’re great to dress up your meal while adding a pop of flavor.
Cottage cheese has the most carbs of all the cheeses, coming in between 3-4 grams per ounce. But, be sure you choose full-fat cottage cheese. Read the nutrition label carefully.
Heavy Whipping Cream
Heavy whipping cream is low carb but is not a zero carb food. One Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream contains 0.4 carbohydrates. So, this can be labeled as zero carbs on the carton as long as the serving size is 1 Tablespoon.
Sour cream is also low carb, but not zero carb. Usually, sour cream has .7-.1 gram of carbs per 1 Tablespoon serving. Read the labels of different brands and choose the lowest carb option you can find.
Most broths have less than a half carb per serving but there are some bone broths on the market that contain more. The basic flavors of Kettle & Fire bone broth contain zero carbs.
Read the nutrition facts and the ingredients list whenever you're in doubt. If you aren’t sure and the nutrition facts say zero carbs, you could safely assume each serving contains .5 grams of carbs.
Most nuts are low carb but not zero carb.
Pili Nuts have under 1 carb per ounce.
Macadamia nuts have 1.5 carbs per ounce.
Most vegetables are packed full of fiber and they all contain some carbohydrates. Here are a few vegetables that contain less than 1 gram of total carbs per serving.
- Bok Choy
- Lettuce & leafy greens such as iceberg, romaine, butter lettuce, kale, swiss chard
Sauces, Syrups & Glazes
Sauces are famous for having hidden sugars. Read the ingredients list carefully, even on brands you know and trust. Primal Kitchen and Sir Kensington both have some sauces that are very low carb. But always read the ingredient list.
Mustard and Vinegar are zero carb.
Mayonnaise and aioli are usually low in carbs. Make sure you’re checking the ingredients lists carefully.
Ketchup and BBQ sauces are higher carb even when sugar is omitted in the company's recipe. Find the lowest carb option you can and use it sparingly.
Syrups and glazes usually contain sugar but there are more and more keto options out there that are zero carb. Use my general tip for these and assume .5 gram of carbohydrate per serving if the label says zero carbs.
Track your food
That covers the lowest carb foods you can find for your keto diet. If you’re wondering if this or that is a zero carb food, I’m going to share my best research tip that goes beyond reading a label or an ingredient list.
Calculate Your Own Zero Carb Foods
For the past decade, I’ve been using Cronometer to track my meals. Cronometer is where I build my recipes, research foods, and create meal plans. It has one of the best databases out there and is trusted by doctors and researchers alike.
Free Cronometer Account
Sign up for a free account through this link. This is an affiliate link which means I’ll get a few cents if you choose to sign up using my link.
Follow Health Coach Tara
One thing that has helped many of my fans is upgrading their Cronometer account to Gold. Upgrading means that tracking your keto meals just got easier. Gold status gives you access to all of our Cronometer recipes from Tara’s Keto Kitchen and wholebodyliving.com.
That's right, we did all the data entry for you. The recipes from The Keto Cupcake Cookbook are all available in Cronometer too for Gold Membership. And we are continually adding all our new recipes and upcoming cookbooks as they are created to the list.
All you have to do to become a Gold member and have access to these convenient and delicious keto recipes is send me a friend request in Cronometer. When it's approved you'll see all of my published recipes from Tara's Keto Kitchen and wholebodyliving.com. When this article was written, one whole year cost less than $3 per month, a price well worth the time you'll save for not having to plug in those recipe details yourself... You save 10% on your first year using this link.
Send your friend request to email@example.com. Then comment below or send us an email and we’ll approve it as soon as we see it.
Grab Your Freebies
If you’d like to sign up for our free meal plans or get our free keto food list, head over to our website at wholebodyliving.com and choose from any of the freebies on our homepage.
While you’re there, explore hundreds of delicious keto recipes that are complete with macro’s we’ve calculated using cronometer. There are no hidden carbs in our recipes!
If you have any questions at all, drop those in the comments. Until next time, I wish you the best of health.
Keto Grocery Store Tour
If you enjoyed this post, click here to go to our Keto Grocery Store Tour Blog post and video.