20 and 50 grams of carbs – how much food is that?
A low-carb diet restricts carbs. For example, on a keto diet, your target is fewer than 20 grams of net carbs each day.1 While healthy, active and insulin sensitive individuals can remain in ketosis at higher levels of carb intake, others must be more strict with their carb intake.2
You can eat a lot of vegetables before reaching 20 grams of net carbs, even if you add some colorful peppers and tomatoes. Roughly 20 ounces – more than half a kilo – of vegetables, which are full of other nutrients.
On the other hand, just half a large hamburger bun can contain 20 grams of carbs, adding up to the entire day’s ration of carbs on a keto diet. In that case, regular bread is not really an option. But there are low-carb breads that are much lower in carbs.
20 grams of carbs in high-carb foods
Just one large potato contains 20 grams of net carbs, the daily limit on a keto low-carb diet. As does one half of a large hamburger bun. Or half a cup of rice or pasta.
These foods practically can’t be included at all on a keto low-carb diet, and only in small amounts – if at all – on a more liberal low-carb diet.
Rice can be replaced with cauliflower rice and potato mash can be replaced by cauliflower mash. For a pasta option check out our keto pasta or simply spiralize a zucchini.
Furthermore, there are are tons of other delicious low-carb side dishes that can replace the pasta, rice and potatoes.
More foods to avoid on low carb
20 grams of carbs in lower-carb foods
Getting to 20 grams of net carbs by just eating spinach (bottom right plate) requires an enormous effort. At 1.4 grams of net carbs per 100 grams you’d have to eat about three pounds (1.5 kilos) or 42 cups of spinach. Please note that this is much more than what is shown above. This is simply all the spinach we could fit onto the plate!
However, by adding some other low-carb vegetables like peppers and cherry tomatoes, it’s quite easy to get to 20 grams (top left plate). One large yellow bell pepper, half a large zucchini, one cup of cherry tomatoes, and five cups of spinach total up to 20 grams of net carbs.
Nuts and berries are moderately low carb, and you’ll have to be a bit careful with them to stay under 20 grams every day. One cup of raspberries and 3/4 cup of blueberries add up to 20 grams of net carbs. One cup of walnut halves plus 1 1/2 cups of hazelnuts also add up to 20 grams of net carbs.
50 grams of carbs in high-carb foods
Adding a bit more bread, pasta, rice or potatoes will easily take you above 50 grams of carbs as well – the suggested limit for a more moderate low-carb diet.
It does not take much – for example, just three large potatoes or three slices of bread.
50 grams of carbs in low-carb foods
Getting to 50 grams eating only vegetables, nuts or berries is a challenge, but you could do it:
4 cups of cherry tomatoes, 2 large zucchini, and 3 large red peppers = 50 grams of net carbs
2 1/2 cups of raspberries, 1 1/2 cups of blueberries, and 5 large strawberries = 50 grams of net carbs
1 1/2 cups of walnut halves, 2 cups of hazelnuts, and 1 1/2 cups of almonds = 50 grams of net carbs
Really low-carb foods
None of the foods above are extremely low in carbs. How much would you need to eat to get to 20 grams of net carbs when eating other low-carb staples? Get the answers below:
Butter – 44 pounds (20 kilos)
Eggs – 30 eggs (one egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs)
Avocado – 7 avocados (net carbs per avocado: 3)
Cheese – 3 pounds (1.5 kilo)
Béarnaise sauce – 2 pounds (1 kilo)
Meat – an almost infinite amount (meat is virtually free of carbs)
Fish – an almost infinite amount
Olive oil – an infinite amount
Coconut fat – an infinite amount
More visual low-carb guides
Net carbs = total carbs minus fiber. ↩
keto low-carb diet.Net carbs = digestible carbs, or total carbs minus fiber. ↩