Zero-Carb Foods for Your Low-Carb Diet
Discover the list of zero-carb foods you can safely add to your low-carb or keto diet without disrupting your daily carb limit.
Table of Contents
- Are There Foods With No Carbs?
- Are Low-Carb Diets Safe?
- Zero-Carb Foods and Snacks for a Low-Carb Diet
- Wrapping Up
You may be drawn to a low-carb diet’s many proposed health benefits, including weight loss, improved heart health, and blood sugar control. However, knowing what foods have no carbs is not always easy to figure out.
This article will outline foods with zero carbs, from meat to vegetables to snacks.
Are There Foods With No Carbs?
While some foods do not contain sugar or carbs, most foods contain a combination of all three macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbs. However, foods with no carbs or sugar can include some vegetables, meats, beverages, and other food categories that we’ll cover later in the article.
Are Low-Carb Diets Safe?
Low-carb diets are gaining popularity due to various potential benefits, from weight loss to heart health and more. However, high-quality studies demonstrating the effectiveness of a low-carb diet are lacking, especially in long-term trials.
In a literature review published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers report limited evidence for the effectiveness, proposed health benefits, and safety of low-carb and high-fat diets such as the keto diet. 
Additionally, in a meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, researchers found no statistically significant difference in weight loss or heart health benefits when participants consumed a low-carbohydrate diet compared to a regular balanced-carbohydrate diet. 
This was also true for those with type 2 diabetes.
However, a review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that low-carb diets could potentially be effective in individuals who are obese and have type 2 diabetes. 
Furthermore, this review emphasized that individuals should eat until satisfied rather than focusing on counting calories.
Therefore, research regarding low-carbohydrate diets and eating patterns is continuing to emerge, especially long-term. Always speak with your physician and registered dietitian nutritionist before beginning a low-carbohydrate diet.
Zero-Carb Foods and Snacks for a Low-Carb Diet
This list of zero-carb foods will outline what foods have no carbs and can be included plentifully in your low-carb diet.
It is important to note here that some foods can be considered low carb but still contain a minimal amount of carbohydrates (or net carbohydrates), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) FoodData Central database. 
Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the grams of dietary fiber from the grams of total carbohydrates. This number is the amount of carbohydrates your body actually absorbs.
Meat, Poultry, and Fish
Whether striving for weight loss, improved blood sugar control, or more, when you reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, it is essential to make up for those needed calories from other foods.
One important area to prioritize in your diet are protein sources. These include poultry, fish, seafood, and meat. But does meat have carbs? Thankfully, a majority of protein sources, such as beef and others listed below, are low in carbohydrates.
Here are some low-carbohydrate protein sources:
- Fish, such as pollock or tuna
However, many red meats, such as beef, pork, and bacon, tend to be high in saturated fat. Excessive consumption of saturated fat can contribute to unintended weight gain, high blood sugar, and more.
To reduce the carbs in meat, avoid meats and poultry sources that are honey-smoked, breaded, or have other added ingredients that can contribute to sugar and carbohydrate content.
While dairy milk or non-dairy milk alternatives are often high in sugars and carbohydrates, there are some low or zero-carb options for your dairy food group. Some examples are the following: ‘
- Blue cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Hard Cheeses
Having low-carbohydrate snacks around can help when tempted to reach for a sweet treat or a bag of chips. Nuts are a great snack when you are on a low-carb diet. Most nuts have carbohydrates but can have just a few net carbohydrates because of their high fiber content.
The following nuts are low in net carbohydrates:
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
However, some nuts, such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios, are higher in carbohydrates. Low-carbohydrate nuts can be added to a vegetable-based salad or paired with a protein source such as chicken or beef to create a filling and balanced snack.
Avoid nuts that are candy-coated or honey roasted.
Some more low-carb snacks include the following:
- Eggs, such as hard-boiled or scrambled eggs
- Seeds, such as sunflower seeds
Besides grains and starches, fruits often readily come to mind when considering foods high in carbohydrates. However, since they are high in fiber, a few fruits have low amounts of net carbs.
Here are a few examples:
- Avocado (4.2 grams net carbs per cup)
- Coconut (5.25 grams net carbs per cup)
Opt for a small serving of whole fruit with the skin instead of concentrated sources of fruits that do not have very much fiber, such as fruit juices. This includes fresh-squeezed juices that have had the pulp removed.
Even fruit smoothies, while high in fiber, are best avoided because they are less filling than a regular piece of whole fruit (with the skin on).
What vegetables do not have carbs? Most vegetables are very low in carbohydrates, if not zero net carbs, because of their high fiber content. Therefore, bulk up your meals with delicious and satisfying non-starchy vegetables, including those listed below.
However, there are some vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, that are very starchy and high in carbohydrates.
Here is a list of some examples of vegetables with no carbs or very low amounts of carbohydrates:
- Spinach (0.43 grams net carbs per cup)
- Celery (1.64 grams net carbs per cup)
- Radish (2.07 grams net carbs per cup)
- Mushrooms (2.71 grams net carbs per cup)
- Bell Peppers (2.98 grams net carbs per 85-gram serving)
- Broccoli (3.67 grams net carbs per cup)
- Cauliflower (3.18 grams net carbs per cup)
As mentioned above, juices, even 100% fruit juice, are high in sugar. Other common sugar-sweetened beverages are soda pop, milkshakes, lemonades, and some coffee beverages, such as lattes.
Additionally, alcoholic beverages are typically very high in carbohydrates since some sugar remains from the fermentation process, and many types of alcoholic drinks are sweetened even more.
While water is, of course, zero-carbs and the healthiest beverage to consume, here are a few zero-carb beverage options to include in your diet:
- Sparkling water
- Seltzer water
- Club soda
- Black coffee
- Unsweetened tea, including herbal teas
Let’s wrap up some key takeaways from this article.
- Most foods have a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. However, some foods have a negligible amount of carbohydrates or zero net carbs.
- A low-carbohydrate diet can improve weight, blood sugar control, and heart health. However, research has not shown that low-carb diets work any better than regular balanced diets.
- There are many low-carbohydrate foods from many food groups, such as protein, snacks, fruits, vegetables, and beverages. Incorporate these foods into your diet to reduce carbohydrate intake.
If you are still looking for nutritious and healthy foods to add to your low-carb diet or debating if you should begin a low-carb diet, speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
They can provide individualized recommendations that fit your lifestyle, preferences, and budget. Remember that your low-carb diet does not need to be restrictive or boring. By incorporating some of the foods mentioned in this article, your low-carb diet can still be delicious and full of variety.