Best Veggies To Eat In Winter On A Keto Diet
Now that you know what the best keto-friendly wintertime fruits are, it’s time to learn which veggies are in season that will keep your immune system balanced and that won’t kick you out of ketosis.
Veggies aren’t as big of a carb conundrum as fruits for the keto lifestyle. But the biggest problem with picking the best keto-friendly veggies this time of year is that the healthiest ones that are in season are the ones that are highest in net carbs.Are there any wintertime veggies that are easy to include in a low-carb diet? Which ones not only keep the net carb count to roughly 25 grams or less but also support the immune system?
So let’s explore some Kidney-nourishing veggies that are ripe in winter and appropriate for the keto lifestyle:
According to traditional Chinese medicine, a holistic system of healing that’s roughly 5,000 years old, winter is associated with the Kidney meridian system. This organ system controls your vitality and essence. If you keep your Kidneys operating in perfect Yin/Yang balance, you’re more likely to avoid getting sick in the winter.
- Brussel Sprouts: 4.7 grams net carbs per cup
- Celery: 1.5 grams net carbs per cup, chopped
- Beets: 4.5 grams net carbs per half-cup
- Green beans: 3 grams net carbs per cup
- Zucchini: 2.7 grams net carbs per cup, chopped
- Cauliflower: 3.2 grams net carbs per cup
- Broccoli: 3.7 grams net carbs per cup, raw
- Turnips: 3 grams net carbs per half-cup, raw
Cooked vs Raw Winter Veggies: What’s Better For Carb Count?
Before exploring more low-carb veggies, is eating raw better than cooked? The answer depends on perspective. From a keto point of view, measuring raw veggies will yield a lower net carb count. This is because sauteed or stir-fried veggies are softer and more compact. What this means is that you can stuff more lightly cooked (don’t ever overcook veggies, meat or anything else!) veggies into a measuring cup. More of the veggie equals more net carbs.
However, from a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, eating raw vegetables is terrible for digestion. In fact, if you visit a true traditional Chinese food eatery, you will never see salad on the menu.
It’s only been in recent years that Western diets have infiltrated China. The reason why salads and raw veggies are not eaten in traditional Chinese culture is that they require a lot more energy to digest than cooked food. Eating raw veggies often creates a condition called “Spleen Qi Deficiency.”
The Spleen organ system is the master of digestion in Chinese Medicine. Spleen transforms nutrients into blood as well as Qi, the body’s energy source.
Raw veggies may save you ounces of net carbs. But if you run cold in the wintertime, even if it’s toasty in your home, don’t eat too many raw veggies and salads. Eat them lightly cooked instead.
More Keto-Friendly Veggies To Eat In Winter
Now then, let’s get back to our regularly-scheduled programming of the best low-carb veggies.
Arguably the most keto-friendly veggie is a Jerusalem artichoke. (Disclaimer: this natural health and nutrition writer has never tried one.) Totally unrelated to regular artichokes, they are related to sunflowers and when baked, they take on the texture and taste of a baked potato.
A baked potato might not seem like a keto-friendly tuber. At over 13 grams of net carbs per half cup, eating a whole one can kick you out of ketosis. But a Jerusalem artichoke contains absolutely zero net carbs! And not only is it carb friendly, it’s great for your gut.
Jerusalem artichokes are one of the most excellent sources of prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber is like food and fertilizer in one for your friendly gut bacteria (probiotics). Without enough prebiotic fiber, your probiotics won’t multiply and crowd out the harmful bacteria in your colon.
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens are great low-carb veggies to eat anytime of year.
Onions are a traditional Chinese winter-friendly veggie. But some people following a keto lifestyle don’t eat them because they contain over 12 grams of net carbs per cup. But who among us wants to eat a whole cup of onions? Think about the horrible breath you’ll have.
You can benefit from the phytochemicals in onions—sulphuric antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols and quercetin—by eating just a tiny amount of it. If there’s one raw veggie you may want to consider eating, it’s onion. Like Jerusalem artichokes, they contain gut-friendly prebiotic fiber.
Some other low-carb friendly veggies to eat in winter also include leeks (5.5 net carbs per half cup); seaweed (less than a gram per 2 tbsp); and sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes? Aren’t they high in net carbs? Yup, they are: over 20 grams per potato. But like onions, you can fill up your tummy and get the nutrients from it by limiting your portion size. Stick with a quarter of a sweet potato, which clocks in at roughly 5 grams of net carbs.
Obviously, combining several of these keto-friendly veggies may kick you out of ketosis. (And the only way to know for sure is diligent monitoring of ketone bodies). But if you just select one or two low-carb veggies with every meal, you’ll support your health during the winter and keep those ketone bodies burning like a raging furnace.
Which wintertime keto-friendly veggies do you love? Did we miss any on the list? Leave a comment.