Many people forgo the idea of dieting because it’s not exactly the easiest thing to do. More often than not, the tastiest foods are the ones forbidden and most of us would try to find a wiggle room, resulting in poor choices and unachieved goals. To help you achieve your goals in health and nutrition, we’ve compiled a ketogenic diet food list that should serve as your guide.
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, is a kind of diet that focuses on low-carb, high-fat consumption, which in turn offers many health benefits.
In fact, several studies show that the keto diet not only helps you lose weight but also improves your health. Ketogenic diets are also found to have benefits against several diseases such as epilepsy, cancer, and diabetes.
What are Ketogenic Diet Foods?
The keto diet is quite similar to the Atkins and other low-carb diets, which promotes eating food that’s low in carbohydrate content and consuming more fat instead. With low-carb consumption, the body undergoes a metabolic process called ketosis.
In ketosis, the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, which is very effective when you want to lose weight, have more mental clarity, and energy. When ketosis is achieved, the body will undergo changes, such as decreased appetite, carbs changes in the urine or breath, and improved focus and energy. Usually, it will take approximately 3 days for the body to enter ketosis after starting a keto diet, but it will take several weeks before your body adapts to burning fat instead of carbs efficiently.
In general, the benefits of a keto diet plan are quite the same with other low carb diets, but the results are usually amplified. For example, not a lot of diet plans actually improve your mental focus the way keto diet does.
With the keto diet, you should expect a decrease in insulin and blood sugar levels and an increase in ketones. Among the keto diet foods you can eat belong to the food groups enumerated below:
- Fat and Oils. Fats consumed in the keto diet should come from natural sources such as nuts and meat, and paired with saturated and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, butter, and coconut oil.
- As much as possible, get your protein from grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic meat. Since meats mostly don’t have sugar content, they can be eaten in moderation. However, make sure not to consume too much or the keto diet won’t work.
- Fruits and Veggies. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer fresh or frozen, but prioritize aboveground veggies that mostly have green or leafy items.
- Choose dairy foods that are low in carb and high in fat, like harder cheeses. Always choose food items that have full-fat content.
- Seeds and Nuts. To make meals more interesting, you can incorporate seeds and nuts on your food. Choose nuts with high-fat content such as almonds and macadamias.
- Drink lots and lots of water. If you want more flavor, try some lime or lemon juice.
Full List of Ketogenic Diet Foods
Fats and Oils
Most of your calories should be sourced from fats while on a ketogenic diet. That said, you always have the choice of what you find palatable and what you don’t want to eat. You can mix and come up with many different ways to make your food more scrumptious, such as adding dressings, sauces, or using more butter than you did before.
While the body needs fats, too much of it can be dangerous especially if you get them from the wrong sources. In a ketogenic diet, there are several types you should consume, but this shouldn’t make things hard since most foods are usually a combination of different kinds of fats. Below is a brief overview to give you a better idea.
- Trans Fats. Avoid this as much as possible. These are hydrogenated fats that have been chemically processed in order to prolong the shelf life of many foods. An example of a food high in trans fats is margarine, which if consumed too much can cause heart problems.
- Polyunsaturated Fats. There are two types of these: the processed and the natural. Processed polyunsaturated fats are found in margarine spreads, while natural polyunsaturated fats are sourced from fatty fish and animal protein.
- Monounsaturated Fats. You can find these in macadamia nuts, avocado, and olives.
- Saturated Fats. You can find these in lard, coconut oil, ghee, and butter.
Below are some food choices rich in oils and fats that are beneficial to the ketogenic diet:
- MCT oil
- Macadamia oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Cocoa butter
- Coconut butter
- Ghee/ Butter
- Brazil/Macadamia nuts
- Egg yolks
- Non-hydrogenated animal fat
- Fatty fish
When it comes to vegetable oils, always go for the cold-pressed ones such as safflower, flax, soybean, or olive. If you love frying, only use coconut oil, ghee, beef tallow, or non-hydrogenated lards since their smoke points are higher compared to other oils. This means that there is little oxidation happening, enabling you to get the essential fatty acids crucial to your diet.
Keto Protein Foods List
Always go for a protein that’s sourced from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals in order to avoid steroid hormone or bacteria intake. With poultry, always choose the darker meat when you can because there contain more fats than white meat. To get essential omega 3’s include fatty fish in your diet.
Below are some food choices rich in protein beneficial to the ketogenic diet:
- Poultry. Pheasant, quail, duck, chicken, and other wild game.
- Pork. Choose fattier cuts when buying ham, tenderloin, pork chops, pork loin, and ground pork. Be careful with added sugars.
- Beef. Again, choose fattier cuts when buying stew meat, roasts, steak, and ground beef.
- Whole Eggs. Your local market should have free-range eggs. Prepare them in any way you can, be it scrambled, poached, boiled, deviled, or fried.
- Shellfish. Squid, mussels, scallops, crab, lobster, oysters, and clams.
- Fish. The fattier the fish, the better for the keto diet. Your choices include tuna, trout, snapper, salmon, mahi-mahi, mackerel, halibut, flounder, cod, catfish, and other fish that are caught wild.
- Organ/Offal. Offal is rich in nutrients and vitamins, as well as tongue, kidney, liver, and heart.
- Other Meat. Fattier cuts still apply. Your choices include turkey, lamb, goat, and veal.
- Sausage and Bacon. Avoid anything with extra fillers and those cured in sugar. Nitrates shouldn’t be a problem.
- Nut Butter. Be wary of legumes since they are rich in omega 6’s, but feast on unsweetened fats that are high in fat like macadamia nut butter and almond butter.
Keto Friendly Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an essential aspect of the keto diet, but be wary of certain kinds that are high in sugar. You should be able to identify them in order not to make the mistake of destroying your diet.
Always go for low-carb veggies but are high in nutrients. They’re pretty easy to identify since most of them are leafy and dark. In fact, if you can find a vegetable that looks similar to kale or spinach, include them immediately in your diet.
Make sure you get the adequate amount of:
- Citrus Fruits. These include orange, lime, and lemon.
- Berries. Whether it’s blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, they’re all good.
- Nightshades. Eat a healthy amount of peppers, eggplant, and tomato.
You can still eat vegetables that are high in carbohydrates, but make sure to limit your intake. Your options are squash, mushrooms, garlic, parsnip, and onion. Meanwhile, you should stay away from huge fruits and starchy vegetables like bananas and potatoes.
Dairy products should be consumed along with the other food groups included in the keto diet, but as always, moderation is key. Make sure most of your meals consist of oils and fats, protein, and vegetables.
For people having trouble consuming dairy products, go for long-aged and very hard dairy products since they contain less lactose. Some examples are:
- Mayonnaise and mayo alternatives
- Hard cheese such as Swiss, feta, parmesan, and aged cheddar
- Soft cheese such as Monterey Jack, Colby, blue, brie, and mozzarella
- Spreadables such as creme fraiche, mascarpone, sour cream, cream cheese, and cottage cheese
- Heavy whipped cream
- Greek yogurt.
Keto Seeds and Nuts
To get rid of the anti-nutrients, seeds and nuts should be roasted first before eaten. Try to avoid peanuts at all cuts, since they belong to the legume family and do not comply with the ketogenic concept.
A lot of people use raw nuts to add texture or improve the flavor of their meals. Some even love to snack on them, which can be satisfying but don’t exactly contribute to your weight loss goals. In fact, snacking will only raise the levels of insulin in your body, which slows down the pace of weight loss.
If you’re craving nuts, at least choose those that are beneficial to the keto diet, such as:
- Pine nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Remember to eat in moderation, as nuts have carbohydrates. In fact, some nuts are high in them, including cashews and pistachios. If you are allergic to nuts, you can instead consume sunflower seed flour as a replacement for almond flour, and remember to keep a lookout for omega 6 fatty acids.
It should be noted that drinking water is essential and not just for those on a keto diet. However, this kind of diet can be diuretic, so drinking lots of water is important to keep the body hydrated, especially if you’re prone to bladder pain or urinary tract infections.
Remember how we’re always reminded to drink eight glasses of water each day? Continue doing that, but add some more — lots of it, in fact. If you can drink a gallon of water every day, the better. This is to make sure that you don’t experience the “keto flu,” which is due to the lack of electrolytes and dehydration especially in the first few days of the keto diet. Drink plenty of fluids in order to replenish your electrolytes, which should be easy since these aren’t limited to water alone. You can also drink sports drinks and bone broth once in a while.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to keto diet-friendly drinks, such as:
- Water. Your primary source for hydration. Always keep a bottle beside you and always refill, refill, and refill.
- Tea. Not just any tea. Choose green tea or black tea.
- Coffee. Coffee is rich in antioxidants, has some weight loss benefits, and enhances your mental focus.
- Broth. Broth easily replenishes your electrolytes. It’s also rich in vitamins and nutrients and tastes great to boot.
- Almond or Coconut Milk. Replace your favorite dairy drink with almond milk or coconut milk, but make sure to get the unsweetened version from the store.
If you’re craving for soda, choose the diet version. If you can, it’s best to avoid it before you lose complete control of yourself. Sodas are high in sugar, which causes a spike in insulin and not good for your weight loss goals.
You can also drink alcohol once in a while, but maybe get rid of wine and beer and choose hard liquor. Beer and wine are both high in carbs, so if you don’t want to gain more weight, avoid them at all cost.
Other Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
How the keto diet came to be is actually interesting. Back in the 1920s, it was known as a treatment for epilepsy and other neurological disorders. With that fact, it’s not surprising why the keto diet has valuable contributions to health.
Studies have revealed that this kind of diet has benefits for many health conditions:
- Acne: Eating less processed foods, sugary foods, and lower insulin levels may help inhibit the growth of acne.
- Brain injuries: The keto diet can make recovery faster after brain surgery, as well as reduce concussions.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: With reduced insulin levels in the body, the risk of getting polycystic ovary syndrome can be reduced.
- Parkinson’s disease: Research has shown that keto can help keep Parkinson’s disease at bay.
- Epilepsy: As mentioned, this disorder was the reason why the keto diet was developed.
- Alzheimer’s disease. The keto diet may prevent Alzheimer’s disease from progressing.
- Cancer: There are studies indicating that the keto diet might be able to slow the growth of tumors, and treat several types of cancer.
- Heart disease: Risk factors are eliminated in the keto diet, which includes blood sugar, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol levels, and body fat.
It’s important to note that research into many of these areas is far from conclusive.
Foods to Avoid
Since we have already discussed what food groups you should dig into while on a keto diet, it’s time to layout those that you should avoid. Before we proceed, make sure to go over the list above again in order to build a mental image around the type of meals you should prepare to allow the ketogenic diet to do its wonders.
Obviously, not all food items are good for you. To make sure you succeed in your weight loss goals, avoid the food items below or keep them in moderation.
- Low-fat foods. When doing your groceries, develop the habit of reading the labels of everything you buy. Avoid buying items high in sugar and carbs as they tend to be low in fat. Always go for full-fat versions.
- Large fruits. Unfortunately, you may want to say goodbye to bananas and apples. These fruits are extremely high in sugar, which is not good for your keto diet. Berries are fine but don’t overeat as well.
- Trans fat. Hydrogenated fats are bad, so avoid giving into your margarine cravings or any spreadable other than butter.
- Starch. You might want to get rid of the muesli and oats in your cupboard and say goodbye to yams and potatoes. You can eat some root crops, but keep it light.
- Grains. Whole grains and wheat products should not be a part of your diet. These include quinoa, buckwheat, barley, rye, wheat, which in food items translate to corn, rice, pastries, cakes, cereal, pasta, bread, and beer.
- Sugar. Basically, anything sweet you can think of should be avoided. It’s a little sad, but you won’t be able to eat ice cream, chocolate, candy, juice, and soda. You can take a tiny bit, just to taste, and nothing more.
An Important Keto Diet Advice
The ketogenic diet has become extremely popular in recent years. While it’s a good thing, this has also resulted in many companies wanting to cash in by labeling their products “low carb” or “ketogenic.” For this reason, you should always read all labels and be familiar with ingredients that are naturally low carb. A tip: the fewer ingredients, the better.
Not everyone metabolizes fats efficiently enough to experience the benefits of the ketogenic diet. A DNA health test can tell you how efficiently you metabolize fats and if the ketogenic diet is right for you.
Some packaged products found are in no way beneficial in terms of correcting metabolic issues. If you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t fall so easily with anything that’s labeled “ketogenic.” More often than not, these products are high in carbohydrates, and the worst thing is, some companies don’t even declare this on the label.
To be safe, simply go for “real food.” Stop buying “instant foods” or anything that’s processed, and cook your own meals from scratch if you can. Remember that your goal is to lose weight. If you want to achieve that, make sure that your food choices fit within the ketogenic diet.