As with any diet, the keto diet has a list of foods that you can and can’t eat. The difference is that veering away from the recommended foods in a ketogenic diet can completely derail your state of ketosis, so it’s important to be careful with your foods and portions. Below is a list of which keto diet foods are safe and how they help your body stay in ketosis to encourage weight loss.
Healthy fats are excellent keto foods and are the most important part of this high fat diet. Good fats mostly contain no net carbs at all.
You should consume 60-70% fats during your keto diet, but it’s not as simple as consuming whatever kinds of fat you come across. Too much fat is dangerous when you’re not eating the healthy kinds.
Here are some varieties of fat to choose from.
It’s recommended that you regularly switch between them and alternate among them so as to get a balanced nutritional structure and also so you can enjoy plenty of different flavors during your diet.
1. Saturated fat.
These are the most natural and healthy fats that there are and can be found in animal fats, butter, ghee, coconut oil, egg yolks, and lard.
2. Monounsaturated fat.
You can find these in avocados, olives, macadamia, and oils made from them. Egg yolks also contain monounsaturated fat.
3. Polyunsaturated fat.
Some varieties of polyunsaturated fat are good for you, and the healthy kinds are naturally occurring in fatty fish, omega-3 fatty acids, and animal protein. Steer clear of processed polyunsaturated far like margarine spreads.
It is recommended that you eat less polyunsaturated fat than saturated and monounsaturated. The latter two are known for being chemically stable and non-inflammatory, making them the healthiest options.
Here are some additional tips; when using vegetable oils like safflower, flax, olive, or soybean oils, try to opt for cold pressed options, and if you like to fry up foods, go for non-hydrogenated fat where possible as they have higher smoke points and do not oxidize as much, retaining fatty acids.
Fatty acids help provide the necessary nutrition for the core functions of your body. Omega-3 – which is a polyunsaturated fat – is an important part of any diet, so you should ensure that you consume enough of it. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in shellfish, salmon, trout, and tuna. If you don’t enjoy seafood, consider fish oil supplement. If you are allergic to omega-3, opt for krill oil.
It is ideal that your omega 6 and omega 3 intake in balanced. As such, you will want to watch out and ensure that you do not consume too much omega 6, as omega 6 can be inflammatory. Omega 6 is found in nuts, seeds, and oils and products made from them. Counteract omega 6 fat intake with fish and animal proteins.
It’s important to remember that the reason fats and fatty acids work well on a keto diet is because the diet is low on carbs and glucose. In a standard diet, eating this amount of fat can put your body out of balance. But on a keto diet, they are essential.
Vegetables are a great source of nutrition and vitamins and are an important part of any healthy diet, including a keto diet.
But not all vegetables contain the low amount of sugar – and even carbs – that you need for your meal plan, and some don’t contain enough nutrients to be worthy parts of your meals.
The best vegetables are dark, leafy green kinds that grow above ground – basically, cruciferous vegetables – that have been grown with as little pesticide as possible, so if you can, go for organic, though this isn’t necessary as scientifically, there is no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic vegetables.
Meanwhile, vegetables that grow below ground tend to have higher carbs, but you can still eat them in moderation. What’s more, they’re often easier to handle in terms of portion control and are often only used in small doses for flavoring. Onions and garlic are some examples of this.
In terms of what to limit, try to consume smaller amounts of vegetables that are nightshades (like eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes) and root vegetables (like parsnip, squash, garlic, onion, and mushrooms).
You can eat them occasionally, but do note that they tend to be quite high in carbs. Steer completely clear of vegetables with a higher starch content like potatoes.
Fruits are high in carbs and natural sugars, making them not particularly good keto diet foods.
So sadly, most fruits should not be consumed at all while you’re on a keto diet.
Fruits that you can eat are highly limited. Avocados are the only “good” keto fruit as they are high in fat and can be quite filling.
You can also consume small amounts of berries, preferably evened out with heavy cream.
You can also use small amounts of citrus in bigger meal recipes, but take care to do so sparingly, as there are plenty of great keto meals that don’t require any of them.
Protein is an essential part of any diet, but on a keto diet, your protein intake should be limited.
Eating too much protein leads to your body having more than it needs, and the excess will be converted into glucose – something you want to avoid while on a keto diet.
Be mindful of where your meat comes from. You don’t want to consume meats that have had too much injected steroids or bacteria in them, so opt for grass-fed and pasture-raised proteins.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s run through some of the options you have for protein.
Try to steer towards darker meat when it comes to poultry as it has a higher fat content. You have plenty of options here in terms of available wild game such as duck, chicken, pheasant, and quail.
Red meat is fairly simple to work around, as there isn’t much you need to avoid. Choose fattier cuts of steak, such as ribeye, and fattier ratios of ground beef, such as 85/15 and 80/20. Be wary of cured meats and sausages, however, as some may have been processed and have added sugars.
Once again, stick to fattier cuts of meat and be aware of over-processing or added sugars and fillers in bacon, cold cuts, and sausages.
Fish is a great source of both proteins and fatty acids. Wild caught fish is always a better option when it comes to your choices. Salmon, tuna, snapper, trout, mackerel, cod, halibut, flounder, snapper, catfish, and mahi-mahi are all respectable options. Fatty fish are, of course, the best options.
All shellfish are good sources of protein. Crab, lobster, scallops, clams, oysters, mussels, and squid all work.
6. Other meats
Veal, goat meat, mutton, turkey, and other wild game are all reliable sources of protein. Once again, the fattier the cut, the better. Organ meat can be beneficial as well- Heart, liver, kidney, and tongue are among some options.
Free range eggs from your local market are great sources of both protein and fat, and you can prepare them pretty much any way you like. Remember not to skip out on the yolks!
9. Nut butters
Natural, unsweetened versions of nut butter are the best, and try to opt for almond and macadamia nut butter as these have the highest fat content. Keep in mind that legumes and nuts are high in omega 6, so consume them in moderation.
If you choose to consume lean meats, then take care to eat smaller portions as they are higher in protein and can throw your diet into disarray.
Pair your protein with side dishes and sauces that are high in fat, and be wary of meat snacks like jerky which can very quickly up your protein intake. If you must eat meat snacks, pair them with cheese or other fatty foods.
In any diet, protein should be taken in moderation. The keto diet is no exception.
Diary is a fairly common part of the ketogenic diet, as it is often used to supplement extra fat content to meals.
However, dairy in itself should be far from your main source of fat and should be consumed in moderation.
This is because dairy products also contain protein, so when pairing it with other protein foods, make sure to do so in moderation. And you will want to avoid milk or lactose as the sugar content is too high.
You will want to aim for raw or organic dairy products that are full fat. Try to avoid highly processed dairy as they can have up to five times more carbs than organic or raw dairy does, while also being much less filling.
The most common dairy products you’ll use in the ketogenic diet are Greek yogurt, heavy cream, soft and hard cheese, milk, mayonnaise, and various spreadable products. Those with lactose sensitivity can opt for long-aged or hard products as they have reduced lactose content.
For some people, dairy can slow the weight loss process, especially when it comes to cheese. If you notice that you’ve hit a long weight loss plateau, try easing back on the dairy and see if that helps.
Legumes, Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are best used for adding texture to meals in a keto diet, and they can sometimes be used in a pinch if you find yourself hungry between meals, though snacking is generally frowned upon in this diet. They are decent sources of fat and sometimes can be sources of protein.
However, nuts should always be used in moderation because they contain carbs and high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory.
The protein levels they contain, especially in nut powders, also add up very quickly and can work against you in the long run.
When choosing legumes, go for fatty, low-carb varieties such as brazil nuts, macadamias, and pecans. These are good for adding fat to meals.
You can also consume moderate-carb varieties of nuts to a lesser degree, but try to use them only for adding flavor and texture and not as fat supplements. These kinds of nuts include walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, and pine nuts. Avoid pistachios and cashews as they are packed with carbs.
Nut and seed flours are commonly use as replacements for regular flour in keto diets, in both baked goods and for breading meats.
The best option in baking is to use a variety of them so that you can get different flavors and more realistic textures, and this can often lower the overall carb count. Want to use almond flour, but can’t because of a nut allergy? Substitute it with sunflower seed flour, but keep in mind the same warnings as this kind of flour has plenty of omega 6.
Sauces, Dressings, and Condiments
While sauces, dressings, and condiments are often used to add fat to keto meals, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to what is good and what isn’t. The best options are to make your own from scratch so you can be absolutely certain of what’s in them, as they often contain excess sugar and sweeteners. Try our keto yum yum sauce, keto mayo, or our sweet and spicy keto bbq sauce!
Of course, we’re aware that this isn’t always possible. There are some sauces that can be purchased pre-made that are generally low in carbs and high in fat, but the actual contents vary depending on what brand you buy, so check out the ingredient labels before making a purchase. Here are some sauces that you can buy pre-made.
2. Hot sauce
4. Worcestershire sauce
5. Ketchup with low or no added sugar
6. Sauerkraut with low or no added sugar
7. Relish with low or no added sugar
8. Mayonnaise, preferably with avocado oil and from cage-free sources
9. Salad dressings of a fattier variety, like Caesar, ranch, or vinaigrettes without sweeteners
10. Some flavored syrups made from sweeteners that can be used in the keto diet
Keep in mind that consuming an excess of sauce is not recommended in pretty much any diet. They’re meant to supplement the food, not overpower it.
Spices and Seasoning
No one wants a bland meal, which is why you may want to use spices when preparing your keto meals.
The issue here is that this is a very gray area in the keto diet and that many condiments and seasoning products use sweeteners with a very high glycemic content, and even natural spices have carbs, with pre-made mixes often having added sugar too.
Even table salt tends to have powdered dextrose mixed in!
Be sure to read ingredients when purchasing spices and seasoning, and try to completely avoid ever using mixes with added sugar.
Of course, the best and most carefree seasoning options you have are basic salt and pepper, which you can happily use without worrying about nutritional information.
For other herbs and spices, even ones commonly used in the keto diet, remember that they all have a carb content that you need to note down. Adjust your meal plans accordingly based on what you use.
Yes, herbs and spices have a very small carb content, so you don’t have to go overboard when trying to moderate yourself. Just keep in mind that the amount will add up if you’re using a lot of spices.
Sweeteners are almost always a no-go on a keto diet. You’re meant to completely abandon sweet foods as this can help you manage and even prevent cravings, and low sugar is crucial to a keto diet.
But if you do want to add some sweetness to your meals sometimes – and very rarely – then it’s a good idea to be informed about what you can use.
Firstly, don’t use regular or artificial sugar at all. When it comes to sweeteners, you can use alternative or natural liquid one as they often don’t make use of binders like maltodextrin and dextrose, which are packed with carbs.
Instead, opt for options that have low glycemic indexes, instead of high glycemic ones like maltitol. Low glycemic index sweeteners don’t spike your blood sugar nearly as much. Here is a list of 0 GI sweeteners that you can use.
1. Stevia. This very common sweetener should be used in liquid form.
2. Erythritol. This sweetener is great because the body doesn’t digest it, so it passes through the system and out of the body without any carbs being absorbed. Swerve is a brand name of erythritol.
3. Sucralose. Opt for the liquid form.
4. Monk fruit. This is a relatively balanced sweetener and can be used well with others to make your own blends.
5. Other sweetener blends. Feel free to look through the sweetener aisle at a grocery store and read the ingredients on various different kinds of sweetener blends to see if there’s one you prefer.
6. Xylitol. This sweetener is the closest to sugar, making it great if you really want a perfect sugar substitute. Note that it does have a small glycemic index and can raise insulin levels by a small amount, so don’t use too much of it.
There is a long list of drinks that you can choose from when you need a refresher. As always, you’ll want to avoid drinks with a high sugar content, but here’s a list of keto friendly beverages to make things easier.
This is the best, healthiest, and most important liquid to consume – not just when you’re on a keto diet, but just in general for your health. Note that dehydration is a common side effect in the first one or two weeks of the keto diet, so try to drink a gallon of water daily.
Black or green tea is healthy and can improve focus, and it is said to promote weight loss to some degree. Adding cream, milk, or other fats to your tea can help with your fat intake.
Like tea, this drink is great for focus and can also help speed up weight loss. You can also cream, milk, and other fats to this drink.
This is great for replenishing electrolytes and helping to improve your energy levels, and it’s a great source of vitamins and nutrients.
5. Nut Milk
Unsweetened coconut and almond milk are great for replacing other dairy options.
If you’re going to drink alcohol, go for champagne, dry wines, light beers, and hard liquor, but stay away from beer.
Stay away from sodas, juices and other drinks with a high sugar content as these can increase cravings and spike your blood sugar, slowing the weight loss process. In addition, while caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea are keto safe, try to limit your intake to two cups daily.
Remember, water is your best option when it comes to beverages – it has no calories, no sugar, no processing, and is great for you!
Now you now the types of keto diet foods that are best for you while on this new diet journey- are you ready to get started with the keto diet? Are you ready to change your lifestyle and eating habits?
It’s not always easy to take that first step towards change, but I can promise you that if you actually give it a try, you will see your body start to change for the better. It is such an exciting journey and one we are here to help you with!