I’ve had quite a few friends switch over to a Keto lifestyle and I always seem to get texts from them when they are at the one place… the grocery store.
When first starting Keto the grocery store can be daunting. You’re not sure what “is Keto” and what “isn’t Keto”.
So I thought, why not create a sort of “know before you go” post with tips on what to buy when grocery shopping as a Keto beginner!
Let’s get started!
Shop the perimeter of the store
Think of how a grocery store is generally laid out. You’ve usually got your fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, and frozen on the perimeter of the store. Then in the middle are the aisles, generally filled with processed foods. You want to keep to the perimeter of the store, because these items are generally the ones with lower carbs.
Stay away from the middle aisles
As mentioned above, the middle aisles are generally filled with processed, higher carb items… the ones you want to stay away from. When entering these dangerous aisles shopping Keto, you want to make sure you pay close attention to the nutrition labels.
Know what to look for on a nutrition label
When purchasing food on a ketogenic diet, there are generally a few things you want to look at. Most Keto beginners have probably used a Keto macro calculator to have a general idea of how many calories, fat, net carbs and protein they should be having on a given day, as outlined here. (Note: this is a US label, they can appear different in other countries).
Another thing you want to do is read the ingredients. If I come across an ingredient I don’t know, I google it! It could be something that could spike your blood sugar and kick you out of ketosis, such as maltitol. When grocery shopping as a Keto beginner, don’t be afraid to get your phone out and consult google when you aren’t sure of something.
Know how to calculate net carbs
Net carbs very simply the number of carbs minus the number of fiber minus the number of sugar alcohol. Let’s use the example below of this Quest bar. The Quest bar has 21g of carbs, 14g of fiber and 3g of Erythritol (a sugar alcohol). In this example, to calculate the net carbs it would be:
21g carbs – 14g fiber – 3g sugar alcohol = 4g net carbs.
Whole foods on the other hand such as let’s use spinach for example, would not have sugar alcohol. Spinach contains about 1g of carbs and 1g of fiber. In this example, the calculation would be:
3g carbs – 2g fiber = 1 net carbs
Keep in mind the serving size
Some labels can be misleading. While there may be for example 4 net carbs in a cereal, the serving size may only be ¼ of a cup, which may not actually fill you up. Serving size is also important on Keto because you want to maximize your net carbs so that you feel full and have enough carbs to carry you through your day.
Have a list
I never leave for the grocery store without a list. Grocery lists was something I started when we began eating Keto and I found it’s the only way I can stay on track throughout the week. While I’m not a big meal prep person, my grocery lists helps me to know what I am making throughout the week. I can also ensure I’m getting everything I need through my list so I don’t need to make multiple trips to the store!
Find out more about how I make my grocery list my clicking here.
Now that you have my tips for how to grocery shop for Keto items, let me give you a few staples that I grab when I’m at the store.
Meat and Eggs
Do not be afraid to stock up on things like chicken, steak, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork. What you should watch out for when grocery shopping on Keto is anything pre marinated and processed. This is where they can get you with the hidden sugars! Even in something as unsuspecting as bacon, you will find sugar.
My best advice is to either make your own marinades at home, use a low carb dressing, or read the label carefully to make sure you aren’t buying something full of sugar.
Veggies are also a great staple to have around the house, as long as they are veggies that are low in carbs. Beware of vegetables like carrots and corn which are higher in carbs. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat the occasional carrot, it does mean you may have to save up some carbs for them.
This is why I find it so important to track what you are eating so you learn the nutrition of what you are eating. Read more about tracking here.
Cheese can also be a great option on Keto and very low in carbs. Where you can run into trouble is when you get into the sweet cheeses or the ones containing fruit. This is another item where reading your nutrition labels can be vital.