STOP the confusion about what to eat. Use the easy CHEAT SHEETS for 31+ easy keto-friendly alternatives that show you quick low-carb substitutes.
If you're just starting your keto diet or low-carb diet, knowing what you can eat can be confusing.
Just look at all the delicious low-carb substitutes you can make—you won't miss your favorite comfort food such as bread, pasta, pancakes, or sweet desserts!
Save the lists, print them out and keep them on your pantry or fridge door. You will always know what to eat to curb your carb cravings and replace your favorite recipes.
If you are new here, you may want to look at the keto diet food chart and the keto glossary.
What are carb substitutes?
Carb substitutes are lower carb alternatives to your regular high-carb everyday foods. They are healthy swaps so you can reduce your carbs and reduce your sugar.
From breakfast to dinner to baking, here are a few simple low-carb swaps you can make.
Simply look at each cheat sheet and see the easy swap you can make with the grams of carbohydrates you will save.
Remember, when you're just starting your low-carb diet, it's easier to switch things out one at a time. One low-carb snack, one low-carb dinner and one low-carb dessert, at a time.
Progress, not perfection.
Breakfast carb alternatives
Start with breakfast since it's the easiest meal to begin your transition to eating lower carbs.
You may think that starting a ketogenic diet, breakfast will just be bacon and eggs, but let me show you how delicious and varied a sugar free breakfast can be.
Nutritional values from cronometer.com
Typical pancakes have about 44g net carbs in 2 pancakes. Instead, make this low-carb alternative: waffles. There are just 5g net carbs in 2 low-carb waffles.
My favorite recipe is coconut flour waffles because they have the best texture and taste. Then there are sheet pan pancakes, almond flour pancakes and even breakfast chaffles.
Low-Carb Granola/Cereal Swap
In just one cup of granola, there are 61g of carbs. That's way too much! Instead, make some bacon and eggs. There are just 1.3g net carbs total in 2 slices of bacon and 2 eggs.
Or you could make some of my favorite granola recipes such as chocolate sugar-free granola, orange and pecan granola or cinnamon crunch.
Low-Fat Fruit Yoghurt
Stay away from any yoghurt that has added syrups or sugar. Most of these will have about 28g carbs per cup.
Instead, go for natural yoghurt and sweeten it yourself with some berries or low-sugar fruit. Do it this way, and there are just 15g net carbs in each cup.
One of the biggest ways to cut down on carbs at breakfast is to stop eating oatmeal. There are 47g carbs in each cup of oatmeal. Try a chia breakfast instead, with only 1.4g net carbs in each cup. That cut out 45.6g of carbs!
These 4 chia breakfast recipes will give you a fresh new taste every day.
Low-carb lunch alternatives
Lunch can get pretty boring on a low-carb diet if you only allow yourself to eat leftovers or salad all the time. Try these low-carb substitutes for some of your favorite lunches.
They are all good options and the easiest way to stay on track with your daily carb limit.
Whole Grain Bread Substitute
You don't have to give up sandwiches on a low-carb diet. Instead, use 2 large lettuce leaves. There are only 0.5g net carbs in 2 leaves - saving 18.5g carbs.
If you miss bread filled with whole grains, you can make low-carb 3-seed bread, coconut flour bread or almond flour bread.
They all have much fewer carbs than white bread with white flour. Plus you will have stable blood sugars compared to those following a traditional wheat flour sandwich.
That rice-filled sushi you love so much has 18g carbs in just 2 pieces. Even brown rice sushi is high in grams of net carbs.
So swap that out with cream cheese sushi or cauliflower sushi. There are only 4g net carbs in 2 pieces - so you can indulge and have as much as you want.
There are a whopping 21g carbs in just 4 cracker squares. You can easily cut that down to just 5.6g net carbs in 4 crackers if you make wheat-free crackers.
Then, enjoy them with your favorite goat or feta cheese. Or, go for classic cheddar cheese! And if you like spicy crackers, some low-carb chili crackers are quick and easy to make.
Granola Bar Substitute
A granola bar might seem like an easy grab-and-go lunch, but there are 21g in a typical bar. Muesli bars (granola bars) also have added sugar, dried fruit then dipped in chocolate.
When you need a portable lunch, make the nutritional recipe for a grain-free granola bar or seed bar. Each one only has 2.5g net carbs. That saves you 13.5g of carbs.
Low-carb meal swaps
There are lots of common easy meals that are, unfortunately, really high in carbs. Here are some simple ways to cut some out and still enjoy the meals.
It's often the high-carb side dishes that need to be removed or your favorite comfort food that need to be replaced.
Burger And Fries Alternative
In a ½-pound burger with a cup of fries, there are an astounding 56g of carbs. You don't have to give up burgers and fries on a low-carb diet.
Instead, ditch the hamburger buns and make lettuce wraps. Or order a bun less burger. Enjoy a cup of salad with mayo (instead of fries). All of that only has 2g net carbs!
If you still want a bun with your burger pattie, make "oopsies bread." There is actually less than a gram of net carbs in them!
Then, instead of french fries, make some eggplant parmesan bites. There are only 3g net carbs in a cup of eggplant bites.
Low-Carb Pasta Substitute
You can save 33.9 grams of carbs just by using zoodles instead of wheat pasta. Zoodles are just spiralized zucchini. They have a very mild flavor and taste delicious with your favorite low-carb sauce.
But if you want the traditional lasagna noodles, or white pasta, this 3-ingredient keto pasta is the easiest way to reduce carbs.
Mashed Potatoes Substitute
The most popular low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes is mashed cauliflower. In one cup of mashed cauliflower, there are only 3.1g net carbs.
This is my favorite mashed cauliflower recipe. It's perfect for enjoying with steak, chicken, or pork chops.
Low Carb Rice Substitutes
As tasty as white rice is, it doesn't fit on a low-carb diet. There are 48g carbs in just one cup of rice (brown or white). Instead, make some low-carb cauliflower rice.
You can even buy frozen steamable cauliflower rice at the grocery store, saving you lots of prep time.
Low-Carb Breadcrumbs Alternative
Anytime a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, use pork rind crumbs instead. There are literally zero grams of carbs in a cup of pork rinds. They are basically a carb-free ingredient!
Low-Carb Pizza Substitute
The problem with typical pizza is the number of carbs in the crust and sauce. Make some fat head pizza with sugar-free sauce. It tastes the same and saves you 63g of carbs.
If pizza is the downfall of your healthy diet, you might also like to try lower carb pizza pockets, pizza pancakes or pizza chaffles.
Low-Carb Sausages Substitute
Did you know that there are wheat fillers in sausage patties? Some sausage patties have as much as 20g carbs in two of them.
Replace sausage patties with some burger patties. There aren't any carbs in burger patties.
Most store-bought sauces are high in added sugars. BBQ sauce has just as much sugar as chocolate sauce and all the other chemical nasties too.
However, if you look for it, you can usually find sugar-free ketchup in the store, or you can make your own low-carb ketchup or tangy sugar-free BBQ sauce at home.
I also like to make homemade mayo. My mayo has no carbs in it at all.
Low-carb drink & snack swaps
Parties and snack time can still be fun. Just make these easy low-carb swaps for your favorite foods.
Sugary soda and sugary fizzy drinks are off the menu so drink these top 10 flavored water ideas instead without triggering your sweet tooth.
Low-Carb Cocktail Substitute
So many mixed drinks are made with syrups that have tons of sugar and carbs. In fact, a rum and Coke has 39g of carbs.
Sip on a glass of red wine instead - it only has 2g net carbs.
If red wine isn't your drink of choice, you can see all the best drinks to choose in the Ultimate Guide to carbs in alcohol.
Low-Carb Soda Substitute
When you drink soda or fruit juice, it is the equivalent of drinking water and eating sugar cubes. If you don't like to drink plain tap water, then you could jazz it up and make some flavoured water to sip on instead. It is completely carb-free.
Low-Carb Latte Alternative
Lots of popular latte drinks are incredibly high in milk plus they are loaded with high-carb syrups. If you enjoy it, plain coffee is the best choice. If you want some flavor, add some cream - that only adds 2g net carbs.
Coffee may be stopping your weight loss goal. You need to understand which is the best coffee to order (or avoid) by looking at the carbs in coffee chart.
Low-Carb Potato Chips Substitute
Munching on potato chips is a lot of fun. But also a lot of carbs. When you feel like you want something crispy and salty, grab some pork rinds. Pork crackling is crunchy salty and has no net carbs.
If you're a vegetarian, you might like zucchini chips, there are even 4 flavors to try.
Low-Carb Crackers and Croutons Alternative
Crackers, croutons, and onion rings are all really high in carbs. Munch on some cucumber slices or parmesan chips instead of crackers and croutons.
A fantastic replacement for onion rings is almond flour calamari. It tastes so good! Plus all the health benefits of eating more seafood.
Low-carb sweets & dessert swaps
You don't have to give up sweets on a low-carb lifestyle. Instead, just enjoy something that fits when you are carb counting and giving up your sugar addiction.
Low-Carb Ice Cream
There are lots of low-carb ice cream recipes out there. Find your favorite one and make it!
Another really easy option is to swap it with some low-carb cheesecake. There are just 2.5g net carbs in each slice.
Making sugar-free cheesecakes are real crowd-pleasers and your family won't even realise they are a healthier version.
Low-Carb Candy Substitute
It's no secret that candy has tons of sugar. When you are craving a candy bar, eat a small bit of dark chocolate. It's good for your heart and low in carbs.
Or why not try some sugar-free peanut butter cups or keto peanut butter fudge?
Low-Carb Brownies Substitute
In a 2"x2" square piece of brownies, there are 23g net carbs. Instead, swap with some low-carb brownies. Thanks to the fiber, there are only 3g net carbs in each slice.
Low-Carb Sugar Alternatives
There are a bunch of sugar substitutes you can choose from. My favorites are erythritol, xylitol or stevia. They are easy to use and are available in drops, granulated or powdered versions.
You can see what I keep in my pantry and the sweeteners I use in my Low-carb & Keto Amazon shop.
Low-Carb Frosting Substitute
In just 2 tablespoons of frosting, there are 20 grams of carbs! Cut out at least 17 grams of carbs by using sugar-free ganache instead.
Here are some questions people often ask about making food swaps on a low-carb diet.
When you are on a low-carb diet, your body will begin to utilize fat for energy instead of carbs. You will become a slow fat burner, not a fast sugar burner. Your energy dips will slowly diminish over time and you will eventually feel energized. But if you need more energy, eat some quality filling protein - such as nuts - and something with healthy fats.
I have lots of recipes for low-carb bread that you can choose from. They are made with low-carb and high-protein flour like almond or coconut flour instead of white flour, all-purpose flour or wholemeal flour which are all high starch.
These are great for beginners:
Low-Carb 3 Seed Bread
Low-Carb Almond Flour Bread
Low-carb coconut flour bread
Honestly, a great alternative is to just try to replace carbs with any of the low-carb substitutes on this list and/or low-starch vegetables. For example, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. You can also swap out your standard noodle for zucchini noodles, miracle noodles, shirataki noodles, or some riced butternut squash.
I always suggest you make your own food instead of relying on processed food at the grocery store. There are lots of hidden carbs in things that might surprise you (like soy sauce).
But if you are short on time, there are many low-carb-friendly pre-packaged foods you can buy at the grocery store. Just remember to always read the nutrition labels so you know what you are buying.
There are lots of zero-carb foods. Mostly, these are going to be meats and anything with so much fiber that the net carbs are almost zero.
Almost any kind of meat has zero carbs. This includes salmon, pork chops, steaks, and chicken breast. If it is processed and has added ingredients or fillers, it might have hidden carbs.
Canned meat (without sauces), seaweed, and pork rinds are all zero-carb snacks.
Sparkling or seltzer water are carb-free drinks, and unflavored vodka or whiskey are carb-free liquors.
Protein in meat is the best quality protein source, but if you are vegetarian you can eat high-protein nuts and seeds, high-protein dairy, and of course, high-protein vegetables and fruits.
When you are on a low-carb diet or making this your new lifestyle, it is important to get support. I hope these swaps make eating low-carb just a little bit easier for you!
Easy low-carb swaps recipes
If you are looking for something specific, browse my recipe index. I have over 400+ recipes for breakfast, snacks, and dessert ideas that are all low-carb.
Browse them and start enjoying your new lifestyle. They are super easy and have as much flavor as their carb-filled counterparts.
Keto cheat sheets - east carb substitutes
Click on the image below to see the full version. To make it printable, right-click, save the image, and print.
All computers, laptops, and phones will vary so I cannot give advice on all devices. You'll know your device better than me.
Want to start low-carb FAST?
Subscribe to my FREE newsletter service and get instant access to the FREE Low-Carb FAQ & Diet Sheet as a subscriber bonus. You also receive secret discount codes for subscribers only.
I have spent more than an hour trying to find the substitute for different baking ingredients. All I have found is almond and coconut flour.
Hi Jo, this post is for foods, not baking ingredients. "Just look at all the delicious low-carb substitutes you can make—you won't miss your favorite comfort food such" You'll love my healthy baking guide 101.
I have scrolled all the way to here and I have NOT found the button to print off 'Cheat sheets for you please send the link, so I can print the sheets off.
Click on the image below right at the bottom of the post to see the full version. "To make it printable, right-click, save the image, and print. All computers, laptops, and phones will vary so I cannot give advice on all devices." Yu can also right-click on any of the smaller images within the post too.
WOW! LIBBY! Thank you for your amazing & helpful website! I am sending you a copy of an email I sent to the Mayo Clinic Diet people and I wish i had included your site in my email to them:
To Mayo Clinic Diet,
Greetings from Mexico! I noticed your website and I will be deleting it because, PASTA? REALLY? The ONLY WAY that I was ever able to lose weight and keep it off was to go on a KETOGENIC- virtually NO processed food or carbs, eating plan. From 210# I have come down to 159# and I feel healthier, stronger, and will continue down to my goal of 150# in about a month. In 2021 I paid $5000.00 USD to the Andrew Hanoun Metabolic Reset Program and I finally lost the weight after 30 years of failure (and I am 76 yo). Their plan is VERY tasty and filling, and doable, (despite the excessive price!). You might want to look into it and quit recommending processed, carb foods since you claim to be helping people to lose weight! Just thought I'd give some unsolicited advice, so there you are. I also recommend suggesting to EVERYONE to plant their own FRUIT TREES (which practically take care of themselves) and provide FREE healthy and delicious food at one's own home!! I hope you take a look at the MRP program and take it to heart. Blessings of Peace and Health! -Shankari Rise.
Just part of my small help toward health & weight loss for all!
Again, thanks for your amazing site and help! Shankari
This a wonderful article! So much great information. Thank you!
Great post! In the Drinks and Snacks section, in the coffee with cream swap, it says 1/4 heavy cream. Is it 1/4 cup?
Yes, that is 1/4 cup, or 4 tbsp. Some may enjoy a coffee with even less heavy cream, making this even lower in carbs - yay.
I don't know if this is the correct place to correspond but I have a question. I am following the LCHF diet but I am not loosing weight. I think I must be doing something incorrect. Can you help me understand how to be sure and get enough fat in my diet? I think I am eating too much protein and not enough fat. I have not been eating carbs, at least nothing that is obvious to me.
A couple of years ago I did a high protein keto sis diet that was very expensive. I was able to loose 75 pounds in 6 months but I didn't feel it was very healthy. My hair became brittle and thinning terribly when I quit that diet. And of course I gained half of the weight back. I want do it your way and make it a way of life for me.
Thank you for your help.
Hi Judy, this is a good place to start if you are new here. Everyone varies how many carbs, fat, protein they enjoy. I would say most people start at about 50g carbs per day, 1-1.5grams protein per kg ideal body weight per day and enough fat to feel full. Too many over eat fat in the belief it is OK to over indulge. But if we have weight to lose, we want the fat we burn to be from our bodies, not from lunch. Eat enough fat to keep you full and get back your control of your appetite. I hope that helps, and come and join my free closed Low Carb Support Group. It's a wonderful helpful and supportive place where you can ask all your questions.
This is absolutely perfect Libby. I've been looking for a resource like this to share with my readers and I never what to call it except "eat this, not that" :). "Low carb swaps" is great. Shared! thanks. -ryan
Awesome, so glad it was helpful. It has been super popular.