Most people struggling with weight loss know all about keto foods and ketogenic diets. Unlike regular weight loss supplements or prescription medication, keto diet foods set you on a natural course for weight loss. All you have to do is consume these foods while combining them with appropriate exercise routines.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb diet. Although carbohydrates are the body’s most preferred energy source, keto diets use fewer carbohydrates for a reason. The low-carb diet puts your body in a metabolic state known medically as ketosis. The aim of putting your body in ketosis is to help it break down stored fat for energy use. Thus, you will naturally experience a weight reduction when your body continually breaks down stored fats into these molecules known as ketone bodies. A good advantage of low-carb keto diets is that they provide enough energy to make up for your blood sugar levels; as such, you can lose weight while also avoiding diabetes.
Before its discovery in the fitness industry, ketogenic diets were used traditionally to help with epileptic seizures in children. Nowadays, its discovery has put aside other artificial means of losing weight. Additionally, eating keto-approved foods also helps you with other medical conditions. Such conditions include cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol levels. Keto foods also help against neurological disorders and obesity. For females, there’s also weight loss supplements for women that can be used as an alternative.
Although you may know the importance of low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diets, it can get confusing to figure out the best meals to eat. Here, we will inform you about the ideal keto diet to use and the foods to avoid to ensure the best results.
Foods You Can Consume While on a Ketogenic Diet
There are low-carb keto-friendly foods you can consume while on a ketogenic diet. Such foods help to regulate your net carbs and blood sugar levels. Some foods you can consume for a proper keto diet include:
- Low-carb vegetables
- Cream cheese
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
- Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
- Coconut oil and nuts
- Seeds and other healthy oils
- Fish and seafood
Non-starchy vegetables have low carbs and calories, and these veggies are rich in vitamin C and other minerals. Additionally, non-starchy vegetables also contain antioxidants that protect your body against free radicals that damage your body.
It is essential to consume some vegetables when opting for a low carbohydrate lifestyle. However, eating too many vegetables, especially starchy ones like potatoes and peas, can undermine your efforts towards weight loss. You can also try weight loss pills to achieve the results.
Always try to remember the keto rule of thumb when planning your meals. The rule suggests that the best vegetables usually grow above the ground. Hence, keto dieters should avoid root veggies because they contain a lower carb count. Although it is imperative to avoid starchy vegetables, you can consume organic vegetables with a slightly higher carb count.
Here are some approved vegetables you can consume. These vegetables have acceptable carb counts based on their net carbs/100g serving size:
- Spinach: 2g
- Asparagus: 1g
- Swiss chard: 2g
- Lettuce: 2g
- Cabbage: 3g
- Celery: 2g
- Green olives: 3g
- Cauliflower: 3g
- Tomato: 3g
- Zucchini: 3g
- Green pepper: 3g
- Red pepper: 4g
- Brussels sprouts: 5g
- Green beans: 5g
Other veggies with total regulated carbs include broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, and zucchini.
Vegetables to Avoid While on a Keto Diet
While it is pretty uncommon to hear anyone advise people to avoid vegetables, it is necessary for people on a low-carb keto diet to avoid some veggies. Root vegetables do not make the cut for keto vegetables because they are high in carbs.
Other vegetables you should avoid in your keto food list include:
- Artichoke: 6g
- Rutabaga: 6g
- Onion: 8g
- Celeriac: 6g
- Peas: 9g
- Butternut squash: 10g
- Beetroot: 7g
- Parsnip: 13g
- Corn: 16g
- Potato: 15g
- Cassava: 36g
- Yam: 24g
Onions are typically used in several seasonings and may not get consumed in large quantities. However, it would be best if you avoided grilled, caramelized, or sautéed onions since you will likely consume them in large amounts.
Another good tip is to use your approved veggies to prepare keto meals. You can prepare keto red bell pepper filled with spinach and creamy eggs. Another meal you could try out to improve your keto diet is the air fryer zucchini fritters or keto asparagus wrapped in chili spiced bacon.
Since the veggies you eat can play a vital role in the realization of your diet goals, it is crucial to avoid high-carb veggies at all costs.
Seafood and Fish
Fish has high quantities of vitamin B, selenium, protein, and potassium. Additionally, fish does not contain carbohydrates. All seafood, including shellfish, provides good meal options on the keto food list. Salmon is one of the best fish you can consume on a keto diet. It is also vital to consume wild fish rather than farmed fish because the latter is prone to diseases when cultivated in a farm environment.
It would help if you consumed seafood because most seafood contains high omega-3 fatty acids, which impact your general health. These acids play a vital role in your cardiovascular system. One of the best ways to get the net carbs you need is to consume wild-caught salmon, which lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. Also, wild salmons help to reduce your triglyceride and blood pressure levels.
It would be best if you consumed your fatty fish with lots of vegetables to optimize your health. Other crustaceans to consider include shrimp, langoustine (squat lobster), lobsters, crabs, and crayfish. Shellfish remain the most popular keto diet food option at the moment when considering seafood. However, in terms of minerals, lobster has selenium, copper, zinc, vitamin B12, magnesium, and vitamin E. Lobster also contains high omega-3 fatty acids. A cup of lobster has 1.25g of fat, 129 calories, a 0g carb count, and 55 grams of protein.
Crab, on the other hand, is an excellent option for folate and vitamin B12. In addition, crabs contain high phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and calcium content. One cup of crab meat has 0.9g of fat, 105 calories, 0g of carbohydrates, and 23g of protein.
Shrimps are a good source of B vitamins, protein, zinc, and selenium. One cup of shrimp contains 2.5g of fat, 173 calories, 33g of protein, and 2.2g of carbohydrates.
Frequent fish intake reduces the chances of chronic diseases while improving your mental health. Additionally, you can regulate your blood sugar levels while increasing insulin sensitivity. Always aim to consume at least two three-ounce servings of fatty fish per week.
Cheese is another item to include on your ketogenic diet food list. Interestingly, cheese has a high-fat content and zero carbohydrates. Furthermore, cheese has high calcium and protein. An ounce slice of cheese offers about 30% of the daily requirements for saturated fats. Fat burners are another thing that would help your weight loss.
You may wonder why you need cheese on a keto diet? Cheese contains high fat and low carb counts. But, you need to note that some cheeses still are not cut out in any keto diet food routine. One of the cheeses you should consider is cheddar cheese.
Cheddar cheese contains several flavors that range from mild to sharp. Thus, you will likely find the flavor that suits your taste preferences. A slice of mild cheddar cheese contains 9g of fat, less than 1g of carbs, and 7g of protein per 1-ounce serving (28g). The nutrient value makes the cheese suitable for any keto diet.
Gouda cheese also provides a good source of high-quality protein. The slightly sweet, yellowish, and creamy cheese comes from cow’s milk. Gouda cheese contains 7g of protein, 1g of carbs, and 8g of fat per one-ounce (28g) serving, which makes it perfect for any keto diet.
Goat cheese (chevre) is another viable option you can use if you want to enjoy cheese without issues. A serving (one ounce) of chevre contains 7g of protein, 9g of fat, and low carbs, which make it an excellent choice when following a keto diet. Additionally, goat cheese contains less lactose than other kinds of cheese. Thus, people with lactose intolerance can better digest this type of cheese.
Another cheese option you could consider is blue cheese. Blue cheese is unique because it comes from cultures of some specific mold. The mold gives the cheese its characteristic texture and flavoring. Blue cheese contains 6g of protein, 8g of fat, and 1g of carbs per serving (28g).
Another thing you should consider when picking your cheese content is that a ketogenic diet focuses on foods with low net carbs and high-fat amounts. Hence, it is best if you avoid low-fat cheese options. Also, you must avoid processed cheeses if you intend to follow a ketogenic diet. Such varieties you must avoid include spray-can cheese, American cheese, and other products with non-cheese and cheese ingredients. Such products may also contain artificial sweeteners and flavorings, which may not go well with you. The problem with such cheeses is that they may end up increasing blood pressure values in consumers.
Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
Plain yogurt and cottage cheese contain high calcium and proteins. Five ounces of plain Greek yogurt gives you 12g of protein and 5g of carbs. Since both calcium and protein tend to decrease appetite while promoting fullness, plain Greek yogurt may help you keep up with your ketogenic diet.
Half a cup of full-fat cottage cheese contains 14g of protein, 5g of carbs, and 5g of fat. Although not particularly high in carb counts, small quantities tend to add up quickly. Thus, you can eat cottage cheese but in regulated quantities.
Note that you should not consume any full-fat dairy cheese with low keto fats as it will kick you out of ketosis and cause weight gain.
You can consume a high-fat diet with avocados since they contain high monounsaturated fats rather than polyunsaturated fats, which tend to cause issues. Avocados also have high minerals lacking in many American diets. You will not find too much protein when consuming avocados because they only have 2g of total carbs minus fiber. Additionally, exchanging animal fats for plant-based fats helps to lower your body’s triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels.
Meat and Poultry
Meat is considered a staple source of lean protein in a ketogenic diet. Fresh poultry and meat contain zero net carbs and high B vitamins. Additionally, meat and poultry contain different minerals like potassium, selenium, and zinc. Ground beef and processed meat like sausage and bacon may make it to the ketogenic diet list. However, these meats do not contain monounsaturated fats like fish, chicken, and beef.
It is best to limit the processed meat you consume. These meats put you at a high risk of developing cancer if consumed excessively. You must choose beef, fish, and chicken more often if you want to improve the unsaturated fats in your body. Also, you need to favor grass-fed livestock over those that were fed non-organic food.
Eggs are nutritious foods that have high antioxidants, proteins, minerals, and B vitamins. Two eggs contain zero net carbs and 12g of protein, and eggs tend to trigger the hormones that make you feel full. Thus, you can remain in control of your ketogenic diet when consuming eggs.
Another good thing is that these eggs keep your blood sugar levels stable while providing antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein. These antioxidants help to protect your eyes. Furthermore, you will not find any saturated fat when eating eggs, making them the best source of proteins for your ketogenic diet plans.
Healthy Oils, Nuts, and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain several polyunsaturated fats, protein, and fiber. Also, nuts and seeds have low net carbs and high monounsaturated fats.
The most recommended oils you should add to your ketogenic diet include coconut oil and olive oil. Olive oil contains high oleic acid and helps to lower any risk of heart disease. On the other hand, coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which tend to increase ketone production.
MCTs may also promote weight loss and increase ketone production and belly fat. Females can also try fat burners for women for effective weight loss. MCTs would help if you consumed nuts and seeds in the following values:
- Brazil nuts: 3g net carbs (6g total carbs)
- Almonds: 3g net carbs (6g total carbs)
- Cashews: 8g net carbs (9g total carbs)
- Pecans: 1g net carbs (4g total carbs)
- Macadamia nuts: 2g of net carbs (4g of total carbs)
- Pistachios: 5g net carbs (8g total carbs)
- Chia seeds: 2g of net carbs (12g of total carbs)
- Walnuts: 2g net carbs (4g total carbs)
- Pumpkin seeds: 2g of net carbs (4g of total carbs)
- Flax seeds: 0g net carbs (8g total carbs)
- Sesame seeds: 4g net carbs (7g total carbs)
Berries help to reduce inflammation and contain high levels of antioxidants that protect against diseases. Moreover, berries contain high fiber and low carb content. Half a cup of these berries contains the following number of carbs:
- Blackberries: 3g net carbs (7g total carbs)
- Blueberries: 9g net carbs (11g total carbs)
- Raspberries: 3g net carbs (7g total carbs)
- Strawberries: 3g net carbs (6g total carbs)
Unsweetened Coffee Tea
Tea and plain coffee are other viable options to add to your keto food list. These products contain zero grams of fat, carbohydrates, or protein. Hence, you can use them easily for your ketogenic diet.
Coffee helps to lower the risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while tea is rich in antioxidants. Also, tea does not contain much caffeine compared to coffee. You may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by drinking tea. Tea could also help with weight loss while boosting your immune system.
Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
The amount of carbs in cocoa powder and dark chocolate depends on the type of product you purchase. Also, the quantity you consume matters when considering its effects.
Cocoa is a super fruit because it contains antioxidants. At the same time, dark chocolate has flavanols which help to reduce the heart disease risk by keeping your arteries healthy and lowering your blood pressure.
List of Foods You Should Avoid on the Keto Diet
- Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits
- Honey, syrup, or sugar in any form
- Baked goods, including gluten-free baked goods
- Sweetened yogurt
- Chips and crackers
Keto Knowledge LLC, in collaboration with dietitians like Stone and Laura Dority, M.S., R.D., L.D., informs the public that no food is off limits for people on the keto diet. It boils down to the body’s total carbohydrate intake and how you spend your crabs.
They advise that you generally stay within the range of 20 to 40 grams of carbohydrates or under per day. However, the exact amount needed to achieve ketosis varies from individual to individual. Carb prescriptions range from 10 to 60 grams per day. According to Stone, the total for net carbohydrates is total carbohydrates minus fiber.
Dority supports that active people can consume more carbohydrates, aiming more for the 40-gram level compared to someone who rarely does any physical work.
High-Carb Foods That Most People Avoid on the Keto Diet
There are several high-carb foods that you should avoid to maintain your diet goals. These foods include:
Foods like crackers, pasta, cereal, bread, and beer have high carbohydrates in them. Whole-wheat pasta and the new bean-based kinds of pasta on the market are also high in carbohydrates. It would help if you considered switching to alternatives like spiralized vegetables or shirataki noodles, and these noodles are healthier low carbohydrate options for you.
Stuff like sugary breakfast cereals and healthy whole grain cereals have high concentrations of carbohydrates and should also be avoided, or you can tune the intake down a notch. A slice of bread contains 11 grams of carbohydrates on average, so that you could have a piece per day.
However, Dority reinforced that you would be spending all your day’s carbohydrates on poor nutrition sources, so she does not recommend bread. Instead, you could opt for lots of veggies.
You could also enjoy beer moderately accompanied by a low-carbohydrate diet, but compared to dry wine and spirits, you should opt for the latter. You should never forget to limit all forms of alcohol if you are to enjoy the benefits of this diet.
Starchy Vegetables and High-Sugar Fruits
Starchy vegetables should be consumed on a limited level on the ketogenic diet as they contain more digestible carbohydrates compared to fibers. Examples of starchy vegetables include corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and beets. You are encouraged to limit high-sugar fruits as they tend to spike your blood sugar levels a lot quicker than berries, and generally, they have more carbohydrates.
Below are some high carbohydrate fruits that also count for high sugar fruits:
- Banana (1 medium): 24g net carbohydrates (27g total carbohydrates)
- Pear (1 medium): 21g net carbohydrates (27g total carbohydrates)
- Raisins (1oz/28g): 21g net carbohydrates, 22g total carbohydrates
- Mango (1 cup, sliced): 22g net carbohydrates (25g total carbohydrates)
- Dates (2 large): 32g net carbohydrates (36g total carbohydrates)
Below are some starchy vegetables:
- Corn (1 cup): 32g net carbohydrates (36g total carbohydrates)
- Beets (1 cup, cooked): 14g net carbohydrates (17g total carbohydrates)
- Potato (1 medium): 33g net carbohydrates (37g total carbohydrates)
- Sweet potato (1 medium): 20g net carbohydrates (24g total carbohydrates)
It would help if you stuck to plain yogurt so you will limit added sugars and carbohydrates. Greek yogurt has higher protein levels and lowers carbohydrate levels compared to regular yogurt. Also, avoid processed yogurts at all costs.
Water is encouraged over juices, natural fruit juice or not. Juices are generally high in fast-digesting carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar levels.
Honey, Syrup, and Sugar in Any Form
You are strongly advised to avoid sugar, maple syrup, honey, and other forms of sugar content that are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. These kinds of sugars will only end up increasing your blood sugar levels which may affect your health and diet goals.
Chips and Crackers
Steer clear of crackers, chips, and other processed snack foods that are grain-based, high in carbohydrates, and low in fiber. These products will increase your weight and put a dent in your ketogenic diet goals.
Gluten-free Baked Goods
Gluten-free foods do not equal carbohydrate-free foods in any way. A lot of gluten-free muffins and bread are as high in carbohydrates as traditional baked goods, and they also lack a good amount of fiber. Hence, you need to avoid such foods at all costs since they tend to increase carbohydrate intake. The main aim of a keto food list is to help you to reduce carbohydrate intake so your body can burn fats naturally. Using these products will kick your body out of ketosis.
Foods and Drinks You Can Sometimes Have on the Keto Diet
Technically speaking, you can ingest any food on the keto diet once it falls within the daily carbohydrate limit you’ve set for yourself. However, the foods on the keto diet fall in between high carbohydrate and low carbohydrate.
Milk is an excellent source of vitamin B complex, calcium, and potassium. A cup of milk contains 12 grams of sugar or lactose, so go for coconut or any other low-carbohydrate milk instead.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes have high fiber and protein content; they are also a part of a healthy diet but contain high levels of carbohydrates. You may include them in minute quantities for an effective ketogenic diet. It is, however, recommended to avoid beans and legumes on a broad scale.
Pros of the Ketogenic Diet
Individuals with epilepsy who have drug-resistant seizures can benefit significantly from using a ketogenic diet. There is solid evidence that supports that a ketogenic diet helps epileptic patients.
According to Dority, recent research is showing promise in disorders like traumatic brain injury, migraines, brain tumors, autism, and Alzheimer’s; the list goes on.
Ketogenic diets are also having success in type 2 diabetes reversal in areas such as reducing insulin needs, lowering A1C, and fasting blood sugar levels. People who have followed this diet have also reported weight loss.
Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet, like other highly restrictive diets, makes it challenging to meet the body’s nutritional needs. The diet often comes with uncomfortable side effects like the “Keto flu” and constipation. Furthermore, the long-term effects of the diet are not entirely understood yet.
The Bottom Line
We have outlined the best foods to add to your keto foods list. Dieting is not a one size fits all prescription; you must work with a diet that gives you the required nutrients your body needs while maintaining ketosis. It is worth noting that these foods tend to help individuals burn fat naturally. Thus, you may not need to use weight loss supplements once you get your diet right.
The ketogenic diet is showing great promise in various conditions; however, specific individuals cannot keep it up for the long term. If you ever decide to go with this diet option, work closely with a dietitian to help you create a healthy plan.