Doing a diet is never easy, not even the keto diet when you aren’t sure what you can eat. In this post, I’m going to go over the different foods to eat on the keto diet. Consider it the ultimate ketogenic diet food list.
So why is it important to understand what foods you can eat when doing keto? Because keto is a science.
While the basic philosophy is that you eat a low amount of carbs, a medium amount of protein, and a high amount of fat, it’s hard to do any of that if you don’t know what you can and can not eat.
Just because you’re on a “diet” that doesn’t mean you should load up on vegetables.
The Ketogenic Diet Food List
The foods below follow the strict 5% guideline when it comes to carbs. This is what most people use as an allowance when calculating their daily macros.
If you’re trying to find an easy way to keep track of what is allowed then this general list should help you out:
- Vegetables: Since this is what most people are going to lean on it’s important that you stick to above ground vegetables (bye bye potatoes) and if you can stick to mostly leafy greens.
- Dairy: Worried you can’t have cheese? Please. You can have cheese. Lots of cheese. Most dairy is fine and you’ll want to use the full-fat variety. The harder the cheese, the fewer the carbs.
- Fats & Oils: You want to get as many fats from natural sources as possible like meat and nuts. However, there are times when you won’t be able to reach your macro count for fats so you’ll need to supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats. These can be found in coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
- Protein: This is where a lot of people tend to mess up because it’s much easier to eat protein (meat) than it is to try and load up on fats. The reason why this is a problem is that if you eat too much protein your body simply breaks it down into glucose which is the opposite of what you want it to do.
- Nuts and Seeds: Not all nuts and seeds are created equal. A handful of almonds won’t do as much damage as a handful of macadamia nuts. Nuts and seeds are great for snacks in keto but only when taken in moderation.
- Drinks: What do you drink on keto? Water, lots of water. Many people like to start off with a bulletproof coffee and others tea. I tend to stick with flavored seltzer water or water with some Mio.
Fats and Oils
Since the ketogenic diet is all about fats it’s important to understand where you get your fats from.
The great thing about fats is that there are so many different ways to add them to your meals that you’ll feel like you’re the most creative person in the world when you decide to add butter to your eggs.
While fats are vital to our bodies they can be very dangerous if you’re consuming the wrong ones. I don’t want to scare you away from all fats because the bad fats are pretty easy to avoid when you know what you’re looking for.
Here is a quick rundown of the different types of fats:
- Saturated Fats: You want to consume these. They can be found in butter, ghee, coconut oil, and lard.
- Monounsaturated Fats: You want to consume these. These can be found in such things as olives, avocados and macadamia nut oils.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: Here is where things can get confusing to people. Naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats found in animal protein and fatty fish are great for you. Process polyunsaturated fat, like the type found in margarine, is not good for you.
- Trans Fats: There should be a skull and bones sign here because these are the fats that you want to avoid at all costs. They are what get people in trouble and give the good fats a bad name.
Why are saturated and monosaturated fats okay for people? Because chemically they are more stable and therefore cause less inflammation. These are the fats that you can find in butter, macadamia nuts, coconut oil and other awesome things.
Omega-3 and Omega-6
You’ve probably heard of these fatty acids. Because scientists like to confuse the hell out of people you would think that there isn’t much difference between them but there is.
Omega-3 is the fatty acid that you don’t want to cut back on. It’s primarily found in fish and that’s why you see people pimping out fish oil so often.
You can also find it in some plant sources like nuts and seeds. These make for great keto snacks when eaten in moderation.
The main issue with consuming too many nuts and seeds (besides some having high carb counts) is that they can also contain a high number of Omega-6 which is high-inflammatory.
Simply keeping an eye on your snacking and any desserts high in almond flour will usually help you maintain a solid balance of omegas.
If you want to read more about Omega-3 and its health benefits then check out Omega-3: A Simple Weight Loss Guide to the Healthy Fat.
Where to Find Fats and Oils
So in what foods can you find the fats and oils that you need to get the omegas into you? Great question and that’s what this post is about.
These foods are ideal for fats and oils as well as being keto-friendly:
- Animal Fat
- Fatty Fish
- Olive Oil
- MCT Oil (amazing)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Egg Yolks
- Coconut Butter
- Coconut Oil
When using vegetable oils stick to cold-pressed options if you they are available to you.
With fats out of the way, it’s time to take a look at Proteins.
Protein on Keto
Proteins are something that most people are aware of because we are drilled at a young age that we need eat protein so we can get big muscles.
Or something like that.
This can cause a lot of headaches while doing keto because often you think you should be eating MORE protein when in reality your body doesn’t need as much as you think.
In fact, too much protein just causes your body to convert the excess into glucose which can either knock you out of ketosis or keep you out of it.
With all of that being said, you want to get protein in you to maintain your muscle mass and ensure that your body has the amino acids available to produce more lean muscle.
So where do you find protein? If you’re a non-vegetarian then your best bet is going to be in pasture-raised and grass-fed meat.
Because it minimizes the bacteria and more importantly hormones that you’re consuming.
If you’re eating poultry, darker meat has more fat than white meat so if you can roll with that, do it.
Of course, you already know about the awesomeness of fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
When it comes to meat you’re pretty much free to eat whatever you want. If you’re thinking about jerky as a snack then be sure to read the nutrition label as many jerkys are loaded with sugar to help preserve the meat.
There are ketogenic jerkys out there if you keep your eyes open.
If you find yourself eating a protein-heavy meal be sure to balance it out with fatty side dishes or sauces.
Here is a list of foods that are great sources of protein on keto:
- Whole Eggs
- Other Meat
- Bacon (yum) and Sausage
- Nut Butter
As long as you consume protein in moderation you should be fine with regards to ketosis and losing weight.
If you’re a vegetarian and you’re wondering if keto is for you then check out these vegtarian keto recipes that should help give you an idea of true balance.
Speaking of vegetarian, let’s take a look at vegetables and fruits now.
Vegetables and Fruit on Keto
I love keto. I wouldn’t have started this site if I didn’t. I really do think it’s the future of eating but there is one thing that sucks about keto.
The lack of sweet and refreshing fruit.
You can find replacements for bread and pasta. However, you can’t find a replacement for an apple or watermelon! Unfortunately, some things you do have to sacrifice on keto.
After a while, you do start to lose the cravings for sweet things but even if you don’t then you always have fat bombs to fall back on.
Okay, let’s actually talk about what you can eat with regards to vegetables and fruits.
Vegetables are going to become a huge staple of your keto lifestyle. Unfortunately, you do have to be careful with regards to what vegetables you consume. Some contain a crazy amount of sugars so we need to make sure we don’t include them.
The best type of vegetables for keto are the ones that pack a ton of nutrients but minimize the carbs. These are mostly dark and leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc).
You want to try and eat vegetables that are grown above ground and are leafy and green. “Organic” has a bad reputation due to price, but if you can grab it then get it since it should contains fewer pesticides.
If you don’t want your vegetables to go bad quickly then buy frozen vegetables. They are just as good as the fresh variety.
Almost any vegetable can be consumed in moderation so you simply need to plan things out when doing your meals.
If you want to go more in-depth on keto and vegtables then check out our guide on keto vegetables.
Now we take a look at something that every keto person gets used to. Dairy.
Dairy Products and Keto
Creams and cheeses. Cheeses and creams. These things always seem to find a way into every keto recipe because dairy is commonly consumed to meet your daily macros.
You have to be careful, though. If you love yourself some dairy, you need to consume it in moderation as most of your calories should be coming from protein, vegetables, and add fats.
Don’t go walking around with a jug of heavy whipping cream.
When it comes to dairy products, raw and organic are the preferred choice. Highly processed dairies are usually packed with carbs and this can get many keto people in trouble.
You want full fat products over any fat-free or low-fat alternatives.
If you’re worried about the lactose then choose very hard and long-aged products since they contain less lactose.
So what kind of dairy is okay to eat on keto? Take a look:
- Greek Yogurt
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, etc.
- Soft Cheese
- Hard Cheese
Dairy is an awesome way to get in extra fats for your meals. Sprinkle cheese on everything. Create delicious sauces. Make creamed spinach.
Dairy is awesome…in moderation.
Nuts and Seeds on Keto
You want roasted nuts and seeds because they remove any anti-nutrients. It sounds weird but it is true.
Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. The name will trick you so if you can avoid them then do so.
If you want to add a bit of crunch to your meals then sprinkle raw nuts on them. If you’re going to snack with nuts and seeds be sure to only do so in heavy moderation as snacking can increase insulin levels preventing you from losing weight.
While nuts can be great for weight loss they are also a source of carbs so make sure you understand what you are consuming.
If you’re baking with nut flour then you also need to note the amount of protein that you are adding to your recipe as the protein count in nut flours catches many people by surprise.
In general, just be careful with nuts and seeds. Over time you’ll understand how much you can eat and what you can eat. Here are some more tips:
- Fatty, low carbohydrate nuts: Macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
- Fatty, moderate carbohydrate nuts: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pine nuts
- Higher carbohydrate nuts: Pistachios and cashews
Nut and Seed Flours
These are a great alternative to the regular flour that you are used to cooking with. If you find that one particular type of flour isn’t providing you with the texture that you’re used to then you can easily mix different flours together.
This means you will need to do some experimenting but the beauty of this is that, depending on the flour, you can actually lower the carb count of certain recipes.
The difficulty of mixing flours is understanding how each one behaves. One is not like the other.