Ketogenic Diet - What foods to eat
Are you not sure what to eat on a keto diet? Here you’ll find a quick food list and visual guide, showing you what to eat and avoid on keto. Let’s start with a basic overview:
In conclusion, eat real low-carb foods like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats like butter or olive oil. As a basic beginner’s rule, stick to foods with fewer than 5% carbs (numbers above).
Food to avoid
Here’s what you should not eat on a keto diet – foods full of sugar and starch. As you can see, these foods are much higher in carbs.
Drink water, coffee, tea or the occasional glass of wine.
Complete List of Approved Keto Foods
Meat – Unprocessed meats are low carb and keto-friendly, and organic and grass-fed meat might be even healthier. But remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not high protein, so you don’t need huge amounts of meat. Excess protein (more than your body needs) is converted to glucose, making it harder to get into ketosis. A normal amount of meat is enough.
Note that processed meats, like sausages, cold cuts and meat balls often contain added carbs. When in doubt look at the ingredients, aim for under 5% carbs.
Fish and seafood – These are all good, especially fatty fish like salmon. However, avoid breading, as it contains carbs. If you can find wild-caught fish that’s probably the best.
Eggs – Eat them any way, e.g. boiled, fried in butter, scrambled or as omelets, whatever you want.
Buying organic or pastured eggs might be the healthiest option. How many eggs can you eat, considering cholesterol? Our advice is no more than 36 eggs, per day. But feel free to eat fewer if you prefer.
Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories on a keto diet should come from fat. You’ll likely get much of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs etc. But also use fat in cooking, like butter or coconut fat, and add plenty of olive oil to salads etc. You can also eat delicious high-fat sauces including Bearnaise sauce etc., or garlic butter
Vegetables growing above ground. Fresh or frozen – either is fine. Choose vegetables growing above ground, especially leafy and green items. Favorites include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli and zucchini. Vegetables are a great and tasty way to eat good fat on keto. Fry them in butter and pour plenty of olive oil on your salad. Some even think of vegetables as a fat-delivery system. They also add more variety, flavor and color to your keto meals.
Many people end up eating more vegetables than before when starting keto, as veggies replace the pasta, rice, potatoes etc. Full guide to keto low-carb vegetables
High-fat dairy – Butter is good, high-fat cheese is fine and high-fat yogurts can be had in moderation. Heavy cream is good for cooking.
Avoid drinking milk as the milk sugar quickly adds up (one glass = 15 grams of carbs), but you can use it sparinglyin your coffee. Definitely avoid caffè latte (18 grams of carbs). Also avoid low-fat yogurts, especially as they often contain lots of added sugars.
Nuts – Can be had in moderation, but be careful when using nuts as snacks, as it’s very easy to eat far more than you need to feel satisfied. Also be aware that cashews are relatively high carb, choose macadamia or pecan nuts instead or check out our full keto nuts guide
Water – The #1 option. Have it flat, with ice, or sparkling. Sip it hot like a tea, or add natural flavouring like sliced cucumbers, lemons, or limes. If you experience headaches or symptoms of “keto flu“, add a few shakes of salt to your water.
Coffee – No sugar. A small amount of milk or cream is fine. For extra energy from fat, stir in butter and coconut oil for “Bulletproof coffee.” Note, if weight loss stalls, cut back on the cream or fat in your coffee.
Tea – Whether black, green, Orange Pekoe, mint, or herbal — feel free to drink most teas. Don’t add sugar.
Bone broth – Hydrating, satisfying, full of nutrients and electrolytes — and simple to make! — homemade bone broth can be a great beverage to sip on the keto diet. Stir in a pat of butter for some extra energy.
For Special Occasions
You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss could slow down a bit.
Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), champagne, whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar. Full keto alcohol guide
Dark chocolate: A square of dark chocolate, with cocoa above 70%, can often hit the spot. Try some 85% gourmet chocolate shaved over whipped cream and berries. See our guide to keto treats and snacks.
Foods to Avoid
Sugars: This is the big no-no. Cut out all soft drinks, fruit juice, sport drinks and “vitamin water” (these are all basically sugar water). Avoid sweets, candy, cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, donuts, frozen treats and breakfast cereals.
Read labels for hidden sugars, especially in sauces, condiments, drinks, dressings and packaged goods. Honey, maple syrup, and agave are also sugars. Ideally try to avoid or limit artificial sweeteners as well.
Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. Avoid wholegrain products as well. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs too. Small amounts of certain root vegetables (other than potatoes and sweet potatoes) may be OK.
Note that there are many good potential replacements for these foods, that work on a keto diet. Here are a few of them:
– Keto breads
– Keto “pasta”
– Keto “rice”
– Keto porridge
Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs. But there are a few lower-carb beers
Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while perhaps. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy.
Margarine: It’s industrially produced imitated butter with a very high content of omega-6 fat. It has no obvious health benefits, and many people feel that it tastes worse than butter. It might be linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases, possibly because of the high omega-6 content.
How low carb is keto really?
Keto is a low-carb diet, not “no carb”. So how much of carbs can you eat in a day?
The answer is that it depends. But as a rough guide stay under 20 grams per day for maximum effect, and if you want some benefit of low-carb eating (like weight loss) you should probably aim for at least staying under 100 grams of carbs per day.
Below are three examples of how a low-carb meal can look, depending on how many carbs you eat per day.