keto food substitutes
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It may be the start of a new decade but the keto movement remains as popular as ever. For those of you who are new to the diet (perhaps the result of a New Year’s resolution?), be warned. Carving a path to achieving a state of ketosis, ensuring fat is the primary source of fuel that is revving up your body’s engine, can be difficult, especially if you’re not using the right tools.

Related Reading: What Exactly Is the Keto Diet?

The key is cutting out those pesky carbs which likely means making some changes to what’s in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. While some familiar items need to sashay away, that doesn’t mean you need to completely change your eating habits. With a few simple swaps, you can go full-keto while continuing to enjoy your food favorites, even dessert!

Swap Soy Sauce for…

Coconut Aminos

Soy sauce may be used across the wide spectrum of Asian cuisine, from stir-frys to sashimi dipping, but its high sodium content and bevy of additives makes it keto questionable. Thankfully, coconut aminos can help fill in the gap. The salty and slightly sweet sauce (it’s a great teriyaki alternative as well) is low in carbs as well as sodium. Unlike other aminos it’s produced from coconut sap instead of soy which means it’s also gluten-free.

Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, $5.99 on Amazon

A key to keto Asian cooking is this gluten-free soy and teriyaki sauce substitute.
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Swap All-Purpose Flour for…

Almond Flour

Get your baked goods and sweets fix without having to succumb to the power of all-purpose flour. Instead, go nuts for its almond alternative to prepare a variety of keto-friendly treats including pancakes, muffins, and cookies. Just be sure to keep in mind almond flour isn’t exactly a perfect swap for white flour. It has a slightly grainy texture so avoid using it as a thickener. Also, once opened, you’ll want to store it in the fridge rather than the pantry.

Blue Diamond Almond Flour, $9.98 on Amazon

For baked goods, almond flour is a keto must.
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Related Reading: The Science Behind Making Keto Bread That Doesn’t Suck

Swap Refined Sugar for…

Monk Fruit Sweetener

Speaking of sweets, refined sugar is definitely a keto no-no. But if you’re in need of a sweet substitute, your prayers have been answered. Not only does monk fruit sweetener contain zero net carbs and zero calories, it’s a cup-for-cup replacement for refined sugar so you don’t have to do any extra math when a recipe calls for it.

This popular option from Lakanto also contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol which is another popular keto-friendly refined sugar alternative. Keep it handy for addictive Brownie Bites or for a keto version of cranberry sauce during the holidays.

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, $23.99 on Amazon

Swap with sugar when preparing sweet keto treats.
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Swap Potatoes and Rice for …


cauliflower rice recipe


Cauliflower continues to emerge as a stronger presence in the frozen food aisle and for good reason. It’s the ultimate side piece for the carb conscious, serving as a faithful stand-in for grain rice or beloved tuber-based standards such as gnocchi and mashed potatoes. While there are now plenty of pre-made options to choose from, go the homemade route if you have the time. We’re especially big fans of this creamy mashed cauliflower recipe, which is as easy to make as it is delicious. Try making cauliflower rice, cauliflower fried rice, and cauliflower pizza crust too.

Related Reading: 5 Plant-Based Swaps for the Carbs You Crave

Swap Potato Chips for…

Cheese Crisps


One of the great things about the keto diet is that even though you’ll have to eschew carb-heavy items such as spuds, fatty favorites like cheese are A-OK. So while you may lament the loss of potato chips from your snack routine, celebrate the introduction of equally craveable Parmesan and cheddar crisps which can be bought in bags or prepared from scratch in only a few minutes. Chicken chips are another option.

Whisps Cheese Crisps (12 pack), $14.99 on Amazon

Hungry for a tasty low-carb, high-protein snack? Look no further.
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Related Reading: The Best New Keto Snacks We’ve Tried

Swap Pasta for…

Zucchini Noodles

keto food substitutions

Westend61 / Getty Images

Partaking in the goodness of flour-based pasta is perhaps the most dreaded sacrifice for going keto, but zucchini can help fill the void. While taking the veggie direction doesn’t exactly recapture that carbtastic magic, it’s healthy, tastes great and is simple to prepare: simply buy a spiralizer then watch this how-to video and you’ll be getting your noodle on in no time. Consider Palmini noodles too.

Swap Ice Cream for…

Keto-Friendly Ice Cream

Here’s some sweet relief for fans of ice cream who want to hop on the keto train. You can now find several low-carb, low-calorie frozen delights (ingredients such as coconut milk and erythritol take the place of cow’s milk and refined sugar) from brands such as Enlightened and Rebel. You can even go DIY with this keto ice cream cookbook which has a five-star rating on Amazon.

Related Reading: The Best Keto Cookbooks for Your Low-Carb Kitchen

Header image courtesy of Westend61 / Getty Images

David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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