In the last few months I’ve tested a few vegetables outside my normal “keto list” and typical greens. The higher carb vegetables I’ve tested so far are grits, carrots and sweet potato fries – specifically to see whether those foods knock me out of ketosis.
See: List of Low Carb Vegetables (in alphabetical order, with carb counts)
I was at a riverside pub with friends over the weekend where there were very few low carb options. Mostly pub style food: fried appetizers and sandwiches. They did have a great side salad with mixed greens though, and sweet potato fries.
Did they pass MY keto test?? Yes!
Are Sweet Potato Fries Keto Friendly? (Maybe…)
1. Many restaurants add brown sugar and/or corn starch to their sweet potato fries, so ask or look up their nutrition facts online before you order them out.
2. If you’re going to test sweet potato fries, it’s best to bake them at home first where you’re SURE of the ingredients.
Or better yet, test half a baked sweet potato.
3. A 3oz serving is 20-25 carbs. They will affect blood sugar & ketone levels for some people, but not others. The only way to know is to test your own levels before and after, with nothing else new besides that ONE food.
Testing is key.
Not only should you do glucose/ketone testing on any new higher carb food or “keto product” but you also want to monitor whether it triggers cravings, causes inflammation, or you experience any other results or symptoms.
We’re all different!
Video: Ketones, Ketosis Levels & Bio-Individuality
Sweet Potato Fries Carb Count & Nutrition Facts
Again, if it’s a restaurant, you want to look up their nutrition facts online, or ask the owner or cook how they are prepared.
A three ounce serving of frozen or fresh sweet potato fries (85 grams) is approximately 20-25 carbs.
Here are the nutrition facts for a larger sweet potato (130 grams). Half a baked sweet potato with butter & salt may be a better test to start! 😉
My test: Sweet Potato Fries = Ketogenic Friendly!
I had a big juicy hamburger steak, a bowl of spring greens (plain), an order of plain sweet potato fries (salt only), plus ranch dressing to dip the greens & fries.
I didn’t eat the onions. I love them if they’re caramelized, but not so much when they’re raw or not cooked enough. Just preference!
It’s worth noting that I didn’t eat much otherwise that day, so my total carb count was still relatively low.
I had a collagen coffee that morning, then an Atkins Bar around lunch, and this early dinner. I had a full schedule and I just didn’t have a huge appetite that day. 😉
So my total for the day was 37 total carbs, and 30 net carbs:
“Interesting. I always thought if I consume that many carbs it’s not considered keto & would kick me out of ketosis.”
This ^ was a comment in our discussion about it on Instagram. My reply:
That used to be the case for me, for years actually – I had very low carb tolerance. There are a few ways ways to increase your ketone levels, and your carb tolerance (for slightly higher carb whole foods). My day came out to only 30 net carbs total, btw – so not WAY over the normal keto range.
(I’ll share some of the ways you can increase your ketone levels and carb tolerance below.)
Tip: If you’re dining out, or planning to test something higher carbs, it’s ideal to keep your carb count super low otherwise that day.
There are plenty of zero carb or super low carb foods you can eat on those days such as eggs & meats.
How the Sweet Potato Fries affected my ketone levels…
The evening before that dinner my ketone level was 0.7, which is about baseline (normal) for me on days I don’t have MCT Oil in my coffee.
I had the sweet potato fries for dinner, then I tested again mid-morning the next day and I had a 1.1 ketone level.
I use the Keto Mojo Glucose/Ketone Testing Meter and that link has a 15% off discount coded into it for you. You’ll see the discount automatically applied at checkout.
So the plain sweet potato fries (nothing but salt) did NOT knock me out of ketosis or affect my ketone levels. They remained around my usual baseline level.
This is the 4th time I’ve tested plain sweet potato fries with only salt, by the way – and they every time for me. Yay!
I did not test my blood sugar or blood glucose levels because 1) I didn’t know what I was going to have at dinner, and 2) I was out with friends and didn’t have my meter with me. 😉
That said, I didn’t experience the usual effects of a blood sugar spike. No bloating, I didn’t feel lethargic afterward, zero effect at all!
Carrots are even lower in carbs than sweet potatoes!
Carrots are not generally considered keto friendly because they’re a root vegetable, and a starchy food.
That said, I have also tested plain carrots recently with no affect on my blood sugar or ketone levels. And they are even lower in carbs than sweet potatoes!
I also tested grits back in June, and that was because I was at a fancy restaurant where it was the specialty – and I was just curious! 😉
There were a lot of factors at play in that test though, that allowed me to eat a serving of cheese grits without getting knocked out of ketosis.
You can read my post here: Testing Grits
That is definitely NOT an everyday thing, but testing allows you to know what you can and cannot tolerate. Especially if you NEED to stay in nutritional ketosis for health reasons (like me), or simply want to enjoy a restaurant or holiday specialty in moderation without worrying about weight gain – or getting keto flu again. 😛
Why test higher carb whole foods, or starchy vegetables on a keto diet?
First, because I’ve been eating a ketogenic low carb diet for 8 1/2 years now, so being able to increase my ketone levels and carb tolerance and introduce NEW foods I can enjoy is awesome after so long of sticking to the same set of foods!
Obviously you want to test cautiously and introduce only one new food at a time, ideally whole foods like higher carb vegetables.
This is in line with the Atkins method of “phasing up” to find your own sweet spot or carb tolerance over time, to enjoy the widest variety of healthy foods while still maintaining your weight loss and/or staying in nutritional ketosis.
See: Keto vs Atkins for more on that.
The other, and more important reason (at the moment), is because I am struggling with green vegetables right now due to ongoing gut health issues.
Most green vegetables cause me extreme discomfort still, except raw spring greens/mixed greens – those are fine. But this has REALLY limited my low carb food options, so I’m carefully testing things I can eat instead while I recover from my gut issues.
How To Increase Your Ketone Levels & Carb Tolerance
There are several ways to increase your ketone levels, which I’ve discovered (through clean testing) also raises your carb tolerance.
These are the three ways I’ve read about, and personally tested:
1. MCT Oil
I don’t do fasting as a practice, but there are times I skip meals since I don’t eat when I’m not hungry. So that’s not one I do intentionally.
Exercise does raise your ketone levels, but you want to be cautious about potentially spiking your blood sugar or knocking yourself out of ketosis if you’re doing something like a strenuous hike or other physical activity – as that can really TANK your endurance and energy levels.
I have found though that post-exercise higher carb meals, such as the one-cup serving of grits after miles & hours of strenuous hiking, did NOT affect my blood sugar or ketone levels – like it may have on a sedentary day.
The easiest and most effective way to increase your ketone levels is by using a pure, undiluted high quality MCT Oil.
I often add it to my first morning coffee, or you can simply take a teaspoon in the morning – but it’s ideal to take it first thing, before you eat anything that day.
MCT Oil will increase your metabolism, increase your ketone levels, promote calorie/fat burning, and give you an immediate energy boost and mental clarity.
See: Using MCT Oil for Weight Loss
It’s also a SERIOUS appetite suppressant, so I often don’t get hungry or want a meal until dinner that evening if I have it in my first morning coffee.
You do want to make sure you’re using a QUALITY (pure) mct oil though, NOT one like this.
MCT Oil is NOT the same as exogenous ketones, which only give you a temporary false positive – don’t use those! MCT Oil actually raises YOUR ketone levels, meaning it causes your body to produce it’s own ketones, which is what you want.
I’m using Perfect Keto and/or Kiss My Keto mct C8/C10 oil at home, and our discount code is LOWCARBTRAVELER for a discount at either of those sites.
The Perfect Keto brand is super high quality and lower price… plus the discount makes it one of the cheapest of all the GOOD mct oils out there.
Using a GOOD mct oil has really improved my ketone levels and my carb tolerance, which allows me to enjoy a wider range of whole foods I haven’t been able to eat for YEARS! 🙂
Not every day of course, but at least on occasion, including some higher carb foods typically tagged #thatsnotketo (because a carrot never made anyone fat!) without negative side effects.
Testing over Guessing
You are metabolically unique. While there is good science behind the standard rules of a keto diet, there is room to test and tweak based on your own bio-individuality.
This is not necessarily something you do in the beginning, but rather further into your health or weight loss journey when you’ve overcome things like overeating or binge eating or simply an unhealthy relationship with or mindset about food.
You should start out sticking to the basics of 20 net carbs per day max, mostly meat & greens plus plenty of healthy fats. You want to retrain both your body AND your brain, and get in optimal health before you start testing.
When you are closer to your goal weight, and have a healthier mindset overall, it’s a good idea to find your baseline blood sugar and ketone levels so you can learn which foods affect you personally – and how.
This is where the Keto Mojo testing meter comes in…
Everyone kept telling me my “keto Starbucks order” was terrible for example, that it would spike my blood sugar, knock me out of ketosis, that maltodextrin spikes your blood glucose worse than sugar, yada yada yada.
But you can’t go by “what everyone else says” and you DO need some enjoyment and indulgences in your life! And I happen to LOVE my Starbucks iced coffee order. 🙂
See how I used the Keto Mojo glucose/ketone testing meter to find out IF my Starbucks order was truly keto friendly (or not!):
Keto Myths, My Starbucks Keto Iced Coffee & Maltodextrin Hype vs Truth
I love my Keto Mojo. It has really helped me “tweak to happiness” – discovering what was causing me problems, and even better: what doesn’t!
What is your ultimate end goal with keto?
I personally stay in nutritional ketosis for health reasons, even when (a few years ago) I dropped almost 10 pounds below what I thought was my ideal weight.
I was in chronic pain prior to going keto over 8 years ago, and I do NOT enjoy feeling that pain again anytime I get knocked out of ketosis!
For me the goal is, and always has been: to become the happiest healthiest version of yourself.
That included doing the mind-work, overcoming mindset issues and emotional/stress eating, changing my habits, etc – in addition to becoming more physically healthy.
I plan to stay on a ketogenic low carb diet and IN ketosis long term, or continue to I should say since it’s already been over eight years (lol)…
So it’s NICE to be able to add in some new food variety now that we have so much affordable technology available to use ourselves at home for blood sugar & ketone testing!
Back when I first started eating this way, all we had was urine strips – which are notoriously unreliable, and only test the ketones you discard (pee out), not what’s actually IN your body or bloodstream.
I’m curious YOUR ultimate goal with keto?
I am always working on improving my body composition and overall health.
It’s a work in progress.
I’m currently focused on losing body fat, resolving my gut health issues, and gaining lean muscle weight – and using exercise to tone and sculpt a better figure.
In the meantime, I want to continue adding in whole foods that are extremely nutrient dense – such as sweet potatoes and more berries – as much for the nutrition as for the ENJOYMENT. 😉
And while nutrition is a great focus, let’s be realistic: sometimes you just WANT something that’s not the same old same old stuff you eat all the time, or that FEELS like a nice indulgence.
Am I right?!
Sweet potato fries fit that bill for me!
I look forward to hearing your feedback, or any questions you have!
p.s. This Keto Mojo Glucose/Ketone Testing Meter (that’s our 15% off discount link) is the gadget I use to test my glucose & ketone levels when I do my “6 Day Clean Testing” product reviews on keto products for you. 😉
Learn more at: Ketones, Ketosis Levels & Bio-Individuality
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