Starchy Carbs vs non Starchy Carbs

The #1 thing that has helped me in my weight loss journey and balancing hormones has been reducing my starch intake on keto.

I believe that everyone in general benefits from eating fewer starches.

But what’s the difference between carbs and starches? All starches contain higher amounts of carbs. Let’s break it down.

What’s a starch? It is the main carbohydrate in our diet, often referred to as complex carbs.

Starches are NOT bad!

They provide:

  • Nutrients
  • Happy thoughts
  • Instant energy

However, eating more fat and protein on the keto diet, and less starches (i.e. lower carbs) helps increase fullness, promotes consistent energy, and balances hormones, all while meeting our weight loss goals.

So, what is a Starch vs. Non-Starch?


In general, I classify a starch as >15g NET carbs (total carbs – fiber = net carbs), about the serving size of your hand, as pictured above, or about 1/2 cup cooked. See below for list:

  • Bread (whole wheat, multi-grain, corn, white, rye, etc.)
  • Bagel
  • Rice
  • Tortilla
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Flour (whole wheat, corn meal, white, rye, etc.)
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Bulgar
  • Barley
  • Farro

1 Serving of starchy veggies is the size of your hand, or about 1-2 cups cooked.

  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Taro
  • Yam
  • Beans, lentils, black eyed peas

Starch Free Foods

Non Starchy Carbohydrate Foods

They are lower in calories and carbs, allowing you to eat more. They are loaded with fiber and essential vitamins.

I recommend about 1-2 cups of non-starchy veggies at meals.

They are also packed full of water (about 90-95%), which is great for keeping you hydrated.

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • And so much more!

Many women with PCOS and Hypothyroidism do well to opt for gluten-free starches on keto.

Take my carb sensitivity quiz below to see if you’d benefit from limiting your starches and overall carb intake!