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Keto-Friendly Food Swaps

Keto-Friendly Food Swaps

by Lauren Garcia -

Food is an integral element of every faction of our lives. It's a daily dependence—unless fasting, of course—and a matter of significant consideration, particularly for those following a keto diet for weight loss.

The idea of eating a diet void of chewy bread and potato-based fare can strike fear in the heart of any foodie worth their designer salt. But there's no need to eliminate your favorite foods when transitioning to a keto diet.

The aid of clever swaps and minor processing adjustments can create fantastic alternatives to classically starchy and sugar-filled dishes—a perfect way to maintain your desired menu without the unwanted sugars and carbs.

So, if you're missing pasta, rice, and pizza on keto, or your sweet tooth is forcing you to seek out flour and sugar alternatives to fit the low-carb bill, rest assured, this article will point you in the right direction.

Making meals on a low-carb, high-fat diet can be easy and enjoyable while producing recipes reminiscent of when you weren't counting macros. We promise!

Arming yourself with a comprehensive knowledge of the ideal ingredients to support your efforts to limit carbs is an excellent approach to lead with a clear and positive intention.

Consider substituting your commonly-used ingredients such as all-purpose flour or wheat-based pasta with the following alternatives to maintain plenty of taste and flavor with minimal carbohydrates as you venture toward fat-adaptation and metabolic ketosis:

Here are some commonly swapped ingredients used to keep carbs low, without sacrificing a pleasant texture or flavor, on keto:

1 - Sugar: There's likely zero confusion around whether you can consume sugar on a keto diet—it's a hard no. But the absence of sugar in your diet doesn't mean you can't enjoy sweet treats and confections with the aid of some creative ingredient substitutions.

  • Erythritol: You can source pure erythritol from companies like So Nourished, NOW, or Whole Earth to sweeten your keto treats as it's an organic compound—a form of sugar alcohol—that won't negatively impact your blood sugar.
  • Monk Fruit: Companies like Lakanto offer a great granular monk fruit sweetener that's excellent when baking or blending into low-carb beverages. Plus, this sweetener can serve as a 1:1 replacement for sugar, making the conversion of traditional recipes a breeze.
  • Xylitol: You find this sugar alcohol in everything from mouth wash to candies and sugar-free cakes, and it's a suitable sweetener on keto, but it's wise to monitor intake as excessive amounts may lead to digestive upset for some people.
  • Stevia: Being 100-300 times as sweet as sugar with varieties utterly absent of any odd aftertaste: stevia is a stellar sweetener for anyone curbing carbs and eliminating sugars in their diet.

    Plus, there are liquid options available like the line produced by SweetLeaf and even the 365 Whole Foods brand that incorporates seamlessly into beverages and acts as the perfect pick-me-up in your morning keto coffee.

  • Allulose: Being a monosaccharide makes allulose taste like sugar, with about 1/10 of the calories. Plus, allulose is easy on glucose levels as it's not fully metabolized and absorbed by the body, so it won't spike your blood sugar.

2 - Potatoes: A creamy mashed bowl or fried stalks of salted crunchy spuds make the potato a primary ingredient in many “cheat meals” and comfort food sessions, but it's unfortunately too high in carbs to work into keto macros.

Fortunately, we can access a few low-carb ingredient alternatives to create formidable replacements for this beloved veggie, minus the starchy carbs, so we can enjoy some classics without the guilt.

  • Cauliflower: There are few things you can make with flour or a potato that cauliflower cannot imitate well. From remixing pizza dough to making keto-friendly fries and hash browns: cauliflower florets work as the perfect base ingredient to reduce carbs while maintaining taste and texture.
  • Radishes: Including slightly spicy veggies like radishes are a fantastic way to boost flavor and add a crisp and crunchy bite to a dish. Try our Ridiculously Loaded Radishes this holiday season for a terrific take on turning this simple root vegetable into a bonafide comfort food.
  • Jicama: Give this hearty veggie a try to convert traditionally starchy foods like fries of rice into low-carb fare to enjoy freely while maintaining steady glucose levels.

3 - Pasta: Twirling al dente pasta in a red or creamy white sauce makes for a perfect plate of indulgent food, but the ingredients in our pasta selection are essential if trying to mitigate carbs.

Consider the following pasta options if you're craving pasta while following a low-carb, high-fat diet:

  • Zucchini Noodles: With a single cup offering a whopping eight grams of fiber per serving, spiralized zucchini noodles are a fantastic keto pasta selection. Plus, eating zucchini supports healthy digestion while keeping carbs low and enjoying an ingredient that helps you feel full faster and longer.
  • Shirataki Noodles: Ramen is a favorite of college students and your local budgetnista alike, but old-school ramen's carb count is astronomical and not anywhere within the realm of low-carb living.

    However, shirataki noodles, also known as konjac or miracle noodles, have zero calories. Plus, these wondrous noodles, commonly grown in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, contain minimal digestible carbs and loads of fiber in the form of glucomannan—a variety especially prized for its ability to support weight loss and promote heart health.

  • Hearts of Palm: Another versatile veggie that morphs into an excellent noodle swap on keto is Hearts of palm. There are several brands available in stores and online that contain this veggie as its sole ingredient.

    Pair these noodles with any of your favorite savory keto sauces as their taste and flavor are neutral, and assume the profile of whatever you use to season it—making this selection is super versatile.

4 - Rice: Grain-based rice is a centerpiece of many cultures' menus, but traditional rice is too high in starch and carbs to accommodate keto. Luckily, flexible foods like cauliflower, lupin bean, and shirataki substitute beautifully as low-carb alternatives for the beloved grain in recipes.

  • Cauliflower Rice: Again, is there anything these cruciferous florets cannot do? Pulse fresh and firm bulbs in a food processor until you achieve your desired mill—from coarse wild rice to a fine couscous.
  • Shirataki Rice: Along with standing in as an alternative in creating savory keto ramen, shirataki also poses perfectly as a low-carb rice alternative fantastic for making hearty and delicious keto one-dish meals like the beloved buddha bowl.
  • Lupin Crumbles: Beans are persona non grata on keto, but the lupini pod is unique. This bean is void of excessive carbs, an excellent source of protein, and works perfectly in place of chickpeas in keto hummus or textured crumbles to create a rice-like texture.

5 - Bread/Wraps: Letting go of bread is probably the biggest concern when following a keto diet, but there's no need to fear deprivation; there are tons of keto-friendly swaps to choose from and enjoy:

  • Lettuce Leaves: OK, we know lettuce wraps aren't a kind of bread at all. But a couple of lush romaine leaves make for a welcome alternative that adds a slight bite in contrast to your meaty and cheesy burger.
  • Portobello Mushroom Caps: Although mushrooms masquerade flawlessly as a keto-friendly plant-based meat alternative, they work equally well grilled as a burger bun that’s hearty enough to handle your most elaborate meal creations.
  • Keto Bread/Wraps: It's a phenomenal time to follow a keto diet if you love convenience or feel a bit skittish in the kitchen. There are some low carb breads on the market that can fit your daily macro goals. However, it’s always a good idea to check ingredient and nutrition labels to make sure store bought products are truly keto-friendly. Plus, our sweet bread recipes are the perfect addition to pair with tea or hot chocolate to warm up during these chilly winter nights.

6 - Vegetable Oil: We'd advise avoiding hydrogenated and highly-processed oils or fats like canola and soybean, or margarine. Instead, choose cold-pressed options with a better nutritional profile and minimal processing.

Consider our favorite keto-friendly oils instead of trans fats, or highly-processed hydrogenated oils, to avoid long-term health effects and improve nutrient absorption and digestion:

  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grass-fed Lard
  • MCT Oil

7 - Flour: Baked goods provide a nutritional as well as a morale boost for the family. Whether baking keto-friendly loaves of bread in preparation for a week of low-carb sandwich-making—including ooey-gooey grilled cheeses—or making cookies or other confections to ensure having sugar-free treats to enjoy as you wish, flour is essential.

All-purpose, bread, and cake flour work well in traditional baking, but to cut the carbs, we'd suggest defaulting to alternative selections like any of the nut or bean-based options shared below, instead:

  • Almond Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Lupini Flour

8 - Bread Crumbs: Enjoying battered fried fish and other seafood is a fabulous weekend treat, but the dredge and crumb choice can make or break your macros—so beware.

Fortunately, alternative breading options are accessible and likely in your cabinet already if you're following a standard low-carb, high-fat diet. So here are a few starters to consider for your next seafood session.

  • Almond Flour
  • Pork Rinds
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Moon Cheese (ground in the food processor into crumbs)
  • Whisps (pulsed into crumbs or flakes)

9 - Dairy/Milk: Whole cow's milk might seem like a good option on a high-fat diet, but with almost 13g of carbs per eight-ounce serving, it's a costly beverage to consume when curbing carb intake.

Luckily, many other milk options fit nicely into a low-carb diet. And, the variety of keto-friendly milk options include an abundance of plant-based choices for those intolerant or opting to abstain from dairy.

Here are a few keto-friendly milk options to add to your meal plan:

  • Unsweetened Nut or Seed Milks (i.e., non-GMO soy, cashew, hemp, macadamia, et. al)
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • Heavy Cream

10 - Soda: Although it's gotten a bad reputation over the years for its excessive sugars or unsavory artificial sweeteners, there are ways to enjoy a fizzy, sweet, and tangy beverage without compromising our weight loss or wellness goals.

Plus, with homemade options like coconut water kefir, store bought selections like Zevia sodas sweetened with stevia, zero-carb seltzers flavored with citrus, or a fruity variety of Sweet Drops, there's an endless variety of configurations to sample.

Sometimes you want a chilled and bubbly soda with your burger and keto fries, and there's no need to forego this simple pleasure on a low-carb, high-fat diet. You’ve got lots of options!

Whether concocted at home or snagged in-store or online, there's a wide variety of fizzy libations to enjoy.

  • Seltzer/Sparkling Water (naturally flavored or unflavored)
  • Coconut Water Kefir
  • Keto-friendly Diet Soda (i.e., Zevia, Virgil’s Sugar-free)

11 - Juice: One way to slam down a ton of sugar and calories quickly without realizing it is by drinking juice; it takes many pieces of fruit to make one small serving, and the sugars therein are sure to impact your glucose and insulin levels in drastic ways.

However, you can create homemade lemonade or cranberry juices and sweeten them with a keto-friendly sweetener of your choice. Cut them with plain or seltzer water to make a range of libations that won’t compromise ketosis. Plus you can also incorporate the following into your protocol in place of traditional juice to break up the monotony of drinking plain water throughout the day, while gaining a needed boost of electrolytes:

  • Keto-friendly Electrolyte Powder
  • Water Enhancers (e.g., Stur, SweetLeaf, etc.)

12 - Chocolate Candy Bars: Dark chocolate isn't just a dessert; it packs powerful minerals, like iron, while also providing a potent antioxidative effect.

Fortunately, keto-conscious companies like Choc Zero and Lily's, among other burgeoning brands, now provide an endless selection of chocolate bar options to try in every variety: dark, milk, and white chocolate.

13 - Pretzels/Chips: Like bread, chips are a foodie favorite thought to be banished once following a keto diet, but again, there are many alternatives to provide all the texture and flavor with minimal carbs and sugars.

  • Pork Rinds: Whether you nosh on the whole rind or pulse them down as a keto-friendly breadcrumb alternative, pork rinds are an excellent substitute for higher carb foods like chips, pretzels and frying dredge bases.
  • Flaxseed Crackers: Having a batch of thin and crispy homemade flax crackers on hand is the perfect way to forego reaching for chips or other starchy snacks—especially if you live in a mixed dietary household where you may be the only one vowing to cut the carbs.
  • Baked Pepperoni Chips: Adding pepperoni rounds to pizza elevates the slice to new heights, and eating them solo as a chip replacement is equally satisfying and tasty.
  • Cheese Crisps (i.e, Whisps): Top these light and crispy crackers with an endless variety of fatty dips for the perfect go-to snack throughout the week, using up what you have on-hand. Enjoy, these cheesy crisps pair perfectly with a flavorful guacamole or any other keto-friendly and hearty dip.

The Takeaway

A ketogenic diet offers many health and weight-loss benefits that are well worth the effort to ditch sugar and carbs. Plus, with all the alternatives to use to recreate the sweet and savory dishes you know and love makes the transition as effortless as the weight loss you’ll surely notice quickly after eliminating carbs from your diet.

Plus, with crossover creations like the variety of homemade keto breads to make and the plethora of sugar substitutes available to help mimic any sweet treat, breaking up with sugar can be a virtually painless endeavor.


  • Sweeteners and sugar alternatives in Food Technology. (2012).
  • Fresh perspectives on diabetes and the benefits of a low-carb diet. (2017). The Pharmaceutical Journal.


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