This list of foods is a great starting point for anyone new to a low carb lifestyle — everything on this list is safe to eat in moderation on a low carb diet, and most ingredients are commonly found in supermarkets.
Going shopping? Use the bulleted list below as your shopping list. Generally, you’ll want to move along the outer edges of a grocery store where most of the meat, dairy, and produce sections are located. Avoid the bakery section and center aisles, which have carb-dense foods like desserts, breads, chips, cereal, and pasta.
Unsure about a food? For foods not listed below, read the nutrition facts label. Most people limit their daily total of net carbs (net carbs is total carbs minus fiber minus sugar alcohols) and this limit can be anywhere from 20 grams (for ketosis) up to 150 grams daily. Judge how many servings you plan to eat and calculate the carbs to determine if it fits within your daily total.
Vegetables and Fruit
Many vegetables are low carb when eaten in moderation; avoid starchy ones like potatoes. Avoid most fruit, except for berries.
- Brussels sprouts
- Herbs, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, and mint
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
- Lettuce, such as romaine
- Chile peppers, such as jalapeños
- Berries, such as blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
Meats are low carb because they are mainly protein and fat, containing almost no carbs. Watch out for processed meats that may contain extra ingredients like sugar.
- Pork, such as bacon and ham
- Offal, such as liver
- Sausages and ground meat, such as ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, and ground chicken
- Deli-style or lunch meats, such as roast beef, pastrami, and turkey slices
- Cold cured meats, such as pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto
- Fish, such as salmon, cod, halibut, trout, and swordfish
- Other seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, clams, crab, and lobster
- Canned meat, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines
Dairy and Eggs
Most dairy products are low in carbs if you consume unflavored and unsweetened versions. Watch out for hidden carbs and pay attention to serving sizes. Eggs are very low carb.
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Cream, such as heavy whipping cream and half-and-half
- Any variety of cheese – sliced, snack sized, blocks, and shredded
- Greek yogurt
Cooking and Baking
Avoid rice and wheat products like flour, bread, and pasta.
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Ground flaxseed
- Chia seeds
- Low carb sweeteners, such as pure erythritol or erythritol blends like swerve
- Dried spices, such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne, and cinnamon
- Flavor extracts, such as vanilla, mint, almond, orange, and lemon
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Cooking oil, such as olive oil and coconut oil
- Vinegar, such as white vinegar and balsamic vinegar
Condiments, Dressings, and Spreads
Many condiments and sauces are acceptable if you can find a sugar-free version. When in doubt, check its ingredients label and nutrition facts.
- Soy sauce
- Dijon mustard
- Buffalo sauce
- Sugar-free barbecue sauce (G Hughes)
- Sugar-free ketchup (Heinz)
- Caesar dressing
- Ranch dressing
- Vinaigrette dressing
- Sugar-free peanut butter
- Sugar-free almond butter
Most nuts and seeds are low carb, but watch out for flavored varieties that may contain too much added sugar.
- Macadamia nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pork rinds
- Seaweed snacks
- Cheese crisps
- Sugar-free chocolate bars (Lily’s, Choc Zero)
Drink options are limited because most of them contain too much sugar, especially fruit juices, sodas, and other flavored beverages. For Starbucks options, check out this guide.
- Unsweetened nut milks, such as almond, coconut, cashew, and walnut
- Unsweetened soy milk
- Unsweetened coffee
- Unsweetened tea
- Protein powder