How to Shop on a Keto or Low Carb Diet – How to Read Nutrition Labels and What Ingredients to Avoid

Keto offers many benefits, including weight loss, the reduction of inflammation, and stabilizing mood. However many people, myself included, make errors when trying to shop on a keto diet. When looking for products to buy, it can get quite overwhelming.

We always aim to buy whole foods, but sometimes, we need those canned goods.

People in a grocery store. Photo by Thomas Le on Unsplash
We’re probably getting our groceries delivered nowadays though – source

There are many options in grocery store aisles, such as salsas, low-carb tortillas, protein bars, sauces, spices, jams, and more! You just need to know how to read the nutrition label and ingredient list. Learn everything you need to know to shop on a keto diet below!

How to Shop on a Keto Diet

Here is how to shop on a keto diet. Simple and easy-to-remember tips and instructions.

Read a Nutrition Label

Look at Total Carbs; this is the most important.

When looking at this section, subtract Fiber and Sugar Alcohols from Total Carbs. This will give you the net carbs of a product.

Fiber and sugar alcohol are not processed by the body as sugar and do not enter into the bloodstream, therefore they do not need to be counted in the total carb count for a keto diet.

In the Total Carb section, try to ensure there are no added sugars!

Finally, look at Ingredients; make sure the ingredients are natural, with sea salt, and no added chemicals, preservatives, and other harmful products.

You especially want to avoid sugar pseudonyms!

Example of Nutrition Label

Look at the hypothetical nutritional label.

Total carbs for one serving are 50 grams of carbohydrate, but the item has 20 grams of fiber and 20 grams of sugar alcohol!

50 (total carbs)- 20 (fiber)-20 (sugar alcohols) = 10 total net carbs per serving.

Notice the label only states 5 grams of sugar. Sometimes labels omit sugar information if it is in ingredients and not something added, but this still counts towards the total carb count.

Learning how to read a nutritional label correctly makes shopping a lot simpler!

What Ingredients to Avoid

When Looking at ingredients; make sure they are natural, with no added chemicals, preservatives, and other harmful products.

A simple rule of thumb is if you don’t know what it is, it is probably not amazing to add to your diet.

Avoid any added dyes, such as Yellow No. 5, Nitrates, and Benzoates.

Avoid artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose, and saccharin, as these do more harm than good in the body, and are linked to migraines, higher blood sugar, and increased cholesterol.

You especially want to avoid sugar and all its pseudonyms! There are over 50 different names for sugar, making it extremely difficult to avoid.

The main goal to remember is that a benefit of keto is detoxifying the body. We want to reach for whole foods more often than not.

Foods That May Kick You out of Ketosis

If adhering strictly to keto, the following foods may reduce your level of ketosis or even kick you out!


This includes rice, wheat grains, oatmeal, quinoa, corn, rye, and barley.


While they are a great source of vitamins and fiber, any sort of bean, such as black beans, green beans, and kidney beans, has the potential to stop ketosis.

Some Vegetables

Some vegetables are too high in starch and sugar to be consumed on a keto diet. This includes any potato or root vegetable, carrots, and corn. Instead, eat a lot of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce. Reach for asparagus, zucchini, squash, and many more.


Avoid soda, juice, or any sweetened drink. These have a lot of added sugar and will bring you out of ketosis.

Reach for a glass of water with lemon juice instead, for added electrolytes, hydration, and nutrition!


While high in vitamins, fruit is also very high in sugar. Pineapples, grapes, bananas, dates, peaches, mangoes, pears, and oranges tend to be extremely high in sugar.

Fruit today is selected to be sweet. For example, many years ago apples were small and sour, probably as sweet as a carrot. Today, they are high in sugar because they have been selectively produced.

Berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are high in vitamins as well, and have a lot less sugar in them, making them a great replacement!

The Takeaway

Learning to read a nutrition label can help us make informed decisions about what goes into our bodies. When we know what to avoid, we can make informed decisions to increase our wellbeing. Keto is not for everyone, but if you’re going to try it out, be sure to do a clean keto

Certain additives, preservatives, or ingredients should be avoided regardless of the diet we have. Check out what sugar does to the body and the reasons to limit its consumption here.

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