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What Vegetables do I eat when I am watching my carbohydrate intake ?

It’s so confusing when we hear that we need to eat our veggies and then in the same sentence that we need to watch our carb intake – aren’t vegetables considered carbohydrates ?  So what do we do ?  eat them or not ?  I am going to break it down so that you can have your cake (veg) and eat it too !

Below is an easy to go to list which tells you which veggies are the best to eat when watching your carbohydrate intake.  Get ready for a few surprises though !  Did you know that your leeks are high in carbohydrates or that a great low carb option is to snack on radishes ?

So if it’s so confusing and some vegetables are high in carbs while others are not – why not just eliminate all vegetables from our diets ?  

Please don’t do this – those vegetables that you avoid give you tons of fiber and vitamins and minerals that keep our body happy and healthy.  Instead of just giving up veg, stick to the ones that are lower in carbohydrates while you are still in the active weight loss phase post bariatric surgery.  

What do I count ?  Net Carbs or Total Carbs ?

Try not to focus on total carbs and change your focus to the “net carbs” in your vegetables.  Fiber is so healthy and it keeps us “moving” and it also keeps our guts healthy so don’t exclude it in your diet.  Try to get more of it.  A lot of that fiber is not going to be digested and so it doesn’t turn into “glucose” or carbohydrates – it passes through your gut and feeds the micro-biome keeping your gut healthy.  Eat low carb veggies and keep your gut happy and healthy. 

What’s the “best of the best” when talking about low carbohydrate vegetables ?  Which ones can you turn to when looking for high micronutrients and low in carbs ?  I like to suggest that you turn to the following vegetables:

Broccoli – it’s a super versatile low carb veg which is packed with vitamins C and K and it only contains 4g net carbs per one full cup.

Asparagus – eat asparagus because it can be wrapped in bacon lol and it comes in at 4g of net carbs per cup – plus you will be getting plenty of Vitamin A, C and K.

Mushrooms – they are super low carb at 1g net carbs per cut of white mushrooms.  They have been found to contain amazing anti-inflammatory properties.  Add mushrooms to boring dishes to add texture and flavour.

Zucchini – there are different types of zucchini and some are higher in carb count than others but regular green zucchini has approximately 3 grams of net carbs per cup.  Zucchini will give you plenty of vitamin C.

Spinach – when watching carb count, spinach is a favourite for most people because it only has 3 grams of net carbs per each cooked cup.  Spinach can be used cooked or in salads or with eggs.  It’s extremely versatile and you can even add some healthy fats to make it creamy as a side dish.

Avocado – so avocados are actually considered a fruit but I am adding them here as they are eaten more like a veg.  Avocado is super high in healthy fats and they are also low in net carbs as they are very high in fiber.  They come in at 3g of net carbs.  They are also super high in vitamin C.  Add a bit of avocado to your meals to increase satiety and healthy fats.

Cauliflower – this is a super versatile vegetable which is low in carbs (2g net carbs per cup).  You can use this vegetable as a side dish or a main course.  You can switch regular potatoes for cauliflower mash and you can even make pizza crust out of this veg.  

Bell Peppers – the green bell pepper adds great flavour to cooked dishes.  The green ones are lower in carbs over the red/ yellow ones but even then the coloured peppers only contain 6g of net carbs per one cup chopped up.  Get your vitamin A and add tons of flavours to your salads and wraps.

Green Beans – green beans are a super addition as a side dish.  One cup of green beans has 6g of net carbs and they add plenty of texture to cooked and raw dishes.


Low Carbohydrate List of Vegetables / per 100 grams  / Net Carbs

  • Broccoli Raab 0.15g
  • Bok Choi 1.18g
  • Celery 1.37g
  • Spinach 1.43g
  • Asparagus 1.78g
  • Radish 1.80g
  • Avocado 1.84g
  • Arugula 2.05g
  • Zucchini 2.11g
  • Mushrooms 2.26g
  • Tomato 2.69g
  • Olives 2.80g
  • Eggplant 2.88g
  • Bell Pepper 2.90g
  • Cauliflower 2.97g
  • Cabbage 3.00g
  • Cucumber 3.13g
  • Jalapeno Pepper 3.70g
  • Broccoli 4.04g
  • Bean Sprouts 4.14g
  • Fennel 4.20g
  • Okra 4.25g
  • Green beans 4.27g
  • Turnips 4.63g
  • Snow Peas 4.95g
  • Brussels Sprouts 5.15g
  • Carrots 6.78g
  • Onion 7.64g
  • Leek 12.3g
  • Ginger 15.7g

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About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery patients for 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric patients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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