The ketogenic diet is an LCHF diet, otherwise known as a “low carb high-fat diet.” With that being said, foods/food groups permissible within the ketogenic diet are rich in fat and contain minimal to no carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet prioritizes heavy fat intake (70% of all calories), moderate protein intake (25%), and minimal carbohydrate intake (5%).
The purpose of this widely talked-about diet is to induce the body into ketosis, which is a natural metabolic state characterized by the body’s preference for burning fat for fuel while ignoring carbohydrates. It’s imperative to restrict daily carbohydrate intake to 20-50g while following this diet. Any excessive carbohydrate intake will effectively delay ketosis. However, many beginner keto-dieters who are uninformed tend to make these two common mistakes:
The 25% protein-intake rule is widely dismissed by most rookie keto-dieters. It’s not uncommon for uninformed beginners to intake daily macros consisting of 50% fat and 50% proteins while under the keto diet.
This undoubtedly delays ketosis because of the fact that the body resorts to converting excess proteins into glucose when it doesn’t get enough carbs. This is why regulated protein intake is crucial for any variation of the keto diet if ketosis is to be achieved as soon as possible.
Now that ketogenic diets have become popular, much of the food industry has resorted towards manufacturing ‘keto-friendly’ or ‘low-carb’ foods designed explicitly for the ketogenic diet. The majority of these food products are desserts, pastries, pasta and other foods/food groups which are commonly avoided under the keto dieting.
They are specially made to target keto dieters who experience cravings for carb-rich foods. Many of these products are filled with various harmful additives and artificial sweetener blends that impact blood sugar levels. This not only means that they contain unhealthy chemicals, but they also cause spikes in blood sugar, ultimately delaying ketosis as well as causing sugar cravings.
Additionally, many of these products use disproportionate measurements which can trick many keto-dieters into thinking they’re low in carbs.
These food products should be avoided altogether while attempting the keto-diet.
These food groups consist of cooking oils, sauces, and other natural-fat compounds. Roughly half of your total fat intake should come from these foods, while the other half should come from fish, poultry, and dairy. Some of the foods in this food group include olive oil, full-fat butter, lard, fatty sauces and tallows among others.
These ingredients can be added to virtually any meal to help increase your fat intake while following the keto diet. They also play their part in adding flavor to the meal, which is always welcome. Another food group that’s rich in fat is fatty fish and seafood. Salmon, tuna, cod, sardines and various shellfish are chock-full of healthy fats and should frequently be consumed while keto-dieting.
All of the aforementioned foods and food groups contain natural fats, which are undeniably healthier than fats found in processed foods due to their non-inflammatory, stable chemical composition. There are actually four main kinds of fats found in the foods we eat:
Saturated Fat: The healthiest type of fat, saturated fat is primarily located in natural, non-processed foods and should be consumed the most out of all fats. This fat lowers LDL & VLDL cholesterol levels (the ‘bad‘ kind) while raising HDL-type cholesterols (the ‘good’ kind), which improves cardiovascular health.
Monounsaturated Fat: While not as chemically-stable as saturated fat, this class of fat is also considered healthy and should be consumed under the keto-diet. Foods containing these fats are olives, macadamia nuts, avocados, sunflower oil and canola oil among others.
Polyunsaturated Fat: This fat can be found in both organic and processed foods. Organic sources contain ‘stable’ polyunsaturated fats which don’t cause inflammation. The most common organic sources of polyunsaturated fats are fish and poultry.
Polyunsaturated fats in processed foods are usually subject to additives and chemical alterations which cause them to be considerably more inflammatory than their naturally-derived alternatives. Most processed low-fat dairy products and margarines contain high levels of unhealthy polyunsaturated fats.
Trans Fat: This is the unhealthiest of all classes of fats, and is typically found in salty junk food that’s been modified for longer shelf life and enhanced flavor. LDL & VLDL (the “bad” kind) cholesterol levels can skyrocket under unregulated consumption of these fats.
Many products that contain trans fats have packaging that refrains from stating it in an obvious way, which is why it’s always good to double check nutrition labels before purchasing something that’s likely to have trans-fats.
There are a good number of foods and food groups which are best avoided when attempting the keto diet:
Margarine: Margarines can stay perfectly solid at room temperature, which is a red flag for trans fats. Processed foods made of primarily fat that can remain solid at room temperature should be avoided by all means.
Fat-rich cuts of meat: Overly-fatty cuts of poultry meats are recommended within the keto diet, but eating the solid-fat parts of meats means you’re ingesting highly-concentrated fats that are chemically unstable. These fats cause inflammation and increase cholesterol, which is why it’s best to avoid them. A rule of thumb to follow in this case is to avoid the ‘white fat’ parts of meats when consuming them.
Vegetable shortening: Virtually all vegetable shortening products contain hefty amounts of trans fats. Just one tablespoon of vegetable shortening contains up to 1.7 grams of trans fats.
Low-fat dairy products: It’s better to eat full-fat dairy products than low-fat alternatives. Dairy products with low-fat quantities contain several kinds of harmful chemicals and additives as well as added carbohydrates to boost flavor and increase shelf life.
Deep-fried foods: Deep-fried foods are typically junk food, and they’re usually coated in an unhealthy batter or broadened with questionable ingredients. Most if not all restaurants will refrain from deep frying foods in healthier, non-trans fats oils, meaning that deep fried foods almost always contain staggering amounts of trans-fats.
Baked goods: Most fast food restaurants and bakery chains use a myriad of unhealthy ingredients when preparing baked treats. These can include margarine, processed vegetable oils, white flours, refined sugars and copious amounts of preservatives and additives. Baked goods are without a doubt unhealthy and pack heavy amounts of carbs within them.
Processed snack foods: This one’s a no-brainer – processed snack foods are literally junk food containing massive amounts of trans fats. They should be avoided at all costs.
Healthy Fats and Oils are Great to Cook With
Most of the recommended fatty foods are best used as ingredients for sauces or cooking oils to enhance a full meal. They all pack a punch when it comes to healthy fat intake, and they can all be used in some way to make a good meal great. Olive oil, lard, grass-fed butter, and macadamia can be used as replacements for traditional vegetable oils when frying foods.
They can also be drizzled or added onto foods directly. There are plenty of fatty oils and condiments that you can cook with under the ketogenic diet or use in creative ways to make your meals tastier and get an extra dose of healthy fats.
Fatty foods come in a vast range of different products which vary in numerous ways. When purchasing fatty food products, try to focus on organic, grass-fed variants that aren’t highly processed. The more processed a fat food product is, the more likely it contains unstable fatty acids and other unhealthy additives and chemicals.
When it comes to vegetable oils, try to look for ‘cold pressed‘ variants. Cold pressed oils are produced in a way that hasn’t burned off their healthy fats, antioxidants and other nutrients they contain. ‘Hot pressed’ vegetable oils, on the other hand, have low nutritional value.
Lards, tallows, ghee, butter and other fatty compounds primarily used for cooking should preferably be ‘non-hydrogenated.’ Non-hydrogenated fat compounds have higher ‘smoke points’ – or in other words, they burn up at higher temperatures than hydrogenated fatty compounds, meaning they’re much more likely to retain healthy fatty acids after cooking.
Protein intake must be regulated for ketosis to be achieved in the shortest time possible. It’s an essential macronutrient that should regularly be consumed to keep the body healthy, but too much of it will be converted into glucose by your body.
Protein mostly comes from poultry meats within the keto diet. These poultry meats can range significantly with varieties and sources, however organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised sources are always healthier than mass-produced meats containing steroids and additives.
The majority of uninformed keto-dieters will foolishly over-consume protein when under the keto diet and unknowingly stall their ketosis. This is partly due to poor selection of protein sources. Poultry meat products indicate their protein levels within their nutritional index, and one must always remember to check this part of the packaging before buying. There are a few standard rules that keto-dieters should follow when choosing their protein sources:
1. Choose darker meats – darker poultry meats are usually fattier than white meats.
2. Choose ‘ribeye’ steaks – Steaks are available in a variety of different cuts. The ‘ribeye’ cut is the fattiest and contains the best fat-to-protein ratio.
3. Choose fatty ground beef: Ground beef can also vary with fat-to-protein ratios. Try choosing ground beef that has a ratio of 80-85% fats to 15-20% protein when under the ketogenic diet.
Thoroughly checking nutrition labels is a must when purchasing any food products while keto-dieting.
Eating purely fat while avoiding proteins and carbohydrates will undoubtedly take its toll on your health and is not recommended. However, excess protein is also something that must be avoided under the ketogenic diet.
This is why it’s imperative to combine fat-rich ingredients with foods abundant in proteins, or vice versa, to carry out a balanced intake of both macros. Poultry meat dishes can be prepared by being cooked in fatty cooking oils or compounds (olive oil, butter, ghee, tallow, etc.) to reach an optimal protein and fat balance.
Moreover, additional ingredients can be added to the cooking process such as extra cheese, nuts for texture or an olive oil or yolk drizzle above the cut of meat you’re eating to balance out fat and protein levels. Experienced keto-dieters can find creative ways to add different kinds of ingredients in their meals to reach an optimal balance of proteins and fats.
Processed meats including cured meats usually contain a set of additional ingredients including but not limited to carbohydrates, sweeteners, additives, steroids, trans-fats and other chemicals. Not only are the majority of these chemicals detrimental to your health, but they’ll also set back your ketosis goals when keto-dieting.
Try to filter out all processed and/or cured meats such as sausages, jerky, cold cuts, salami, hot dogs and other highly-processed meats from your diet. Stick to real, whole meats preferably derived from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals. If you have to opt for cured, smoked and/or processed meats, check the nutrition label thoroughly and look out for abnormal levels of carbohydrates.
Fish & Seafood:
Fatty fish and seafood contain significant levels of proteins. Clams, oysters, lobsters, scallops, mussels as well as fatty fish like tuna, salmon, trout, and halibut are all excellent, balanced sources of fats and proteins. Try to opt for fresh/wild-caught varieties.
Whole eggs: Free range and local market eggs are unmatched when it comes to proteins. They can be added to almost any meal as a whole food or as a fatty add-on.
Beef: Lean cuts of beef have very high levels of protein in them, which is why fattier cuts are recommended when under the keto diet. Again, try to opt for grass-fed/pasture-raised sources.
Pork: Pork is fatty in general, but it also contains significant amounts of protein. Focus on grass-fed and/or pasture-raised sources if possible.
Poultry: Chicken, duck, quail, pheasant or any other wild game such as venison typically contain high amounts of proteins, and should be eaten alongside fat-rich ingredients.
Organ meats & offal: If you can stomach them, organ meats provide a powerful and balanced source of fats and proteins.
Bacon and sausage: Many of these come processed and infused with extra carbs, but organic, grass-fed varieties are also available. They can contain moderate-to-high amounts of both fat and protein.
Nut butters: Like processed meats, many nut butter products are infused with extra carbohydrates and additives. They also contain moderate levels of fat and proteins. Natural nut butters should always be chosen over processed kinds – macadamia and almond nut butters are the most recommended due to their high-fat content.
Ground beef (4 oz., 80/20 ) – Calories: 280 Fats: 23g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 20g
Ribeye steak (4 oz.) – Calories: 330 Fats: 23g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 27g
Bacon (4 oz.) Calories: 519 Fats: 23g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 20g
Pork chop (4 oz.) Calories: 286 Fats: 18g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 30g
Chicken thigh (4 oz.) Calories: 250 Fats: 20g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 17g
Chicken breast (4 oz.) Calories: 125 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 26g
Salmon (4 oz.) Calories: 236 Fats: 15g Net Carbs: 0 Protein: 23g
Ground lamb (4 oz.) Calories: 31 9 Fats: 27g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 19g
Ground veal (4 oz.) Calories: 163 Fats: 8g Net Carbs: 0 Protein: 22g
Tuna (4 oz.) Calories: 100 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 24g
Shrimp (4 oz.) Calories: 80 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 15g
Lobster (4 oz.) Calories: 109 Fats: 0.6g Net Carbs: 1.5g Protein: 22g
Liver (4 oz.) Calories: 319 Fats: 5g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 19g
Egg (1 large) Calories: 70 Fats: 5g Net Carbs: 0.5g Protein: 6g
Almond butter (2 tbsp.) Calories: 180 Fats: 16g Net Carbs: 4g Protein: 6g
These two food groups have always played a significant part in ‘healthy’ diets, however, their role within the ketogenic diet isn’t exactly simple. Fruits are sweet, therefore they contain carbohydrates, which is why almost all of them are excluded from the keto diet.
Vegetables, on the other hand, are characterized in two separate categories in this case: Starchy, ‘below ground’ veggies and leafy, ‘above ground’ veggies. The former contain significant amounts of carbohydrates and are mostly left out of the ketogenic diet. The latter, ‘above-ground’ kind is included within the ketogenic diet due to their low carb-content and nutritional value.
As was mentioned, two main groups of vegetables are discerned within the ketogenic diet. Vegetables that grow above ground such as spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, romaine lettuce, cabbage and so on contain almost no carbohydrates while being high in vitamins and minerals.
Starchy vegetables that grow below ground such as potatoes, beets, peas, corn, onions, squash and so on contain carbohydrates and should be avoided under the keto diet. These ‘below ground’ vegetables are best used as ingredients for whole meals while keto-dieting to add flavor or texture.
There are a few fruits which are allowed under the ketogenic diet:
Avocadoes: A single avocado contains up to 15 g of fat while only holding 2-3 g of carbohydrates. They’re also rich in antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals and can be used as ingredients in whole meals in multiple ways.
Olives: Olives, which are actually fruits, contain high amounts of fats which are mostly comprised of oleic acid. This is a fatty acid which plays a significant role in reducing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. Olives also contain antioxidants and are super low in carbs – 3.5 ounces of olives contain roughly 3g of carbohydrates while containing a whole 11g of fat. They’re also ideal snack foods, but can also be added in a large variety of meals.
Berries: Berries are sweet fruits, but their small size means they don’t have large quantities of carbohydrates. Their role within the ketogenic diet primarily serves as a snack food, usually to sate sugar cravings during nutritional ketosis. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Both raspberries and strawberries contain roughly 6g of net carbs in a 3.5-ounce serving, whereas blackberries contain 5g, and blueberries have about 12g per the same amount. These small fruits are best snacked on with a high-fat cream which will ensure you’re getting adequate fat alongside a sweet snack.
Nightshades such as tomatoes (standard and cherry), eggplants and peppers pack notable amounts of carbohydrates and are best avoided during a ketogenic diet.
Acidic citrus fruits like lemons, limes, citruses, and oranges also contain high amounts of carbohydrates. Their best use within the ketogenic diet is to add flavor to water – a squeeze of lemon, orange, citrus or lime into a bottle of water adds flavor, small amounts of carbs and some vitamins to the water. Just make sure not to ‘over squeeze.’
Cabbage (6 oz.) Calories: 43 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 6g Protein: 2g
Cauliflower (6 oz.) Calories: 40 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 6g Protein: 5g
Broccoli (6 oz.) Calories 56 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 7g Protein: 5g
Spinach (6 oz.) Calories: 24 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 3g
Romaine lettuce (6 oz.) Calories: 29 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 2g Protein: 2g
Green bell pepper (6 oz.) Calories: 33 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 5g Protein: 1g
Baby Bella mushrooms (6 oz.) Calories: 40 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 4g Protein: 6g
Green beans (6 oz.) Calories: 26 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 12g Protein: 2g
Yellow Onion (6 oz.) Calories: 68 Fats: 0g Net Carbs: 8g Protein: 2g
Avocado (6 oz.) Calories 50 Fats: 5g Net Carbs: 2g Protein: 0g
Raspberries (6 oz.) Calories 88 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 8g Protein: 2g
Blackberries (6 oz.) Calories: 73 Fats: 1g Net Carbs 8g Protein: 2g
The ketogenic diet is one of the few that allows dairy consumption, which is a food group that’s commonly labeled as ‘unhealthy.’ While dairy is permitted within a ketogenic lifestyle, only moderate amounts are allowed, preferably alongside other foods to compose full meals. Full-fat dairy is rich in fat and contains minuscule amounts of carbohydrates, whereas ‘low fat’ dairy products include plenty of added carbs.
The number one rule regarding dairy when on a keto diet is to opt for only full-fat dairy. Full-fat dairy is healthier than reduced-fat dairy because no foreign chemicals have been added to interfere or replace with its natural fat content.
Low-fat dairy products are infused with a range of additives, chemicals, and sweeteners to help boost its flavor and improve shelf life. They’re ultimately worse for your body when compared to full-fat products, so always look to choose full-fat dairy products when at the market no matter what they may be.
Milk, one of the most popular dairy products, is actually filled with carbohydrates. A single glass of it can contain up to 15 carbohydrates. Avoid all animal milk when attempting the keto diet. Unsweetened almond milk other nut milks are ideal alternatives when following a ketogenic diet.
Lactose intolerant or sensitive individuals attempting the keto diet should stay away from all ‘younger,’ softer dairy products. Semi-liquid dairy products such as yoghurts as well as soft cheeses contain high levels of lactose – the very component that makes them soft. If you’re in need of dairy intake under a ketogenic diet and are sensitive or intolerant to lactose, go for ‘harder’ or more aged dairy products such as cheddar, swiss and parmesan cheeses. Probiotic yoghurts, heavy cream, and natural full-fat butter also have low quantities of lactose.
Aside from animal milk, you’ll want to stay away from all heavily processed and/or low-carb dairy products when attempting the keto diet. Since dairy is an animal product, it’s recommended to choose organic products when shopping, preferably ones derived from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals.
Processed dairy could kick-start a variety of negative symptoms within your body while following the ketogenic diet, which it’s why it’s best avoided. Also, while cheese may be allowed under a ketogenic diet, you must make sure to practice portion control when eating it. Don’t snack on it too often if you’re trying to shed weight or reach ketosis as fast as possible.
The following products will definitely provide you with essential healthy fats during your keto diet:
Ghee (1 oz.) Calories: 248 Fat: 28g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 1g
Grass-fed butter (1 oz.) Calories: 100 Fat: 12g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 0g
Heavy cream (1 oz.) Calories: 100 Fats: 12g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 0g
Sour cream (1 oz.) Calories: 61 Fats: 6g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 1g
Greek yoghurt (1 oz.) Calories: 28 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 3g
Mayonnaise (1 oz.) Calories: 180 Fats: 20g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 0g
‘Half n’ Half’ (1 oz.) Calories: 40 Fats: 4g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 1g
Cottage cheese (1 oz.) Calories: 25 Fats: 1g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 4g
Cream cheese (1 oz.) Calories: 94 Fats: 8g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 2g
Mascarpone (1 oz.) Calories: 120 Fats: 13g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 2g
Mozzarella (1 oz.) Calories: 70 Fats: 5g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 5g
Brie (1 oz.) Calories: 95 Fats: 8g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 6g
Aged cheddar (1 oz.) Calories: 110 Fats: 9g Net Carbs: 0g Protein: 7g
Parmesan (1 oz.) Calories: 110 Fats: 7g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 10g
This food group serves as a great snacking option while following the ketogenic diet. Nuts and seeds are rich in fats and protein; however, they do contain moderate amounts of carbohydrates. Their carb quantities can quickly add up while snacking, which is why it’s crucial to exercise portion control when snacking on them.
Additionally, nuts contain significant amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which can have a harmful effect on the body if not balanced out with healthy omega 3. Not only do nuts and seeds serve as a great snack food, but they can also be used to make flours, mills, and butters as well as be added whole to meals to improve their texture.
Snacking on seeds and nuts can give you a boost in fats and proteins while providing minimal carbohydrates. This is perfect for the initial keto diet phase when your body enters nutritional ketosis and starts to exhibit withdrawal symptoms for carbohydrates. Be mindful of how much you’re snacking though – uncontrolled snacking on nuts and seeds will definitely set you back from your ketosis goal. If you do plan on snacking on nuts and seeds, the best high-fat low-carb options are brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamias, pecans, chia, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.
Peanuts are legumes and are generally unhealthy regardless if you’re following the keto diet or not. Just one 3.5 ounce serving of peanuts can contain up to 16 grams of carbohydrates, which is nearly all of the daily carbohydrate allowance under the ketogenic diet.
There are many different nuts that can be snacked on under this diet, and they all range in fat and carbohydrate levels. The following classification will clarify which nuts are okay for consumption under the keto diet, which have moderate quantities of carbohydrates and which should be avoided.
Low-carb nuts: Brazil nuts, pecans, and macadamias are arguably the best nuts to eat while under the keto diet. They have high-fat levels and minimal carbohydrates.
Moderate-carb nuts: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts contain moderate levels of carbohydrates. The ratio of fats to carbs in these nuts is roughly 50-50, which is why they should be preferably avoided while under the ketogenic diet.
High-carb nuts: Cashews and pistachios are without a doubt the most carb-rich nuts in the whole food group. One ounce of cashews is roughly 8 carbs while the same amount of pistachios amounts to 6 grams of carbohydrates.
Macadamia (2 oz.) Calories: 407 Fat: 43g Net Carbs: 3g Protein: 4g
Brazil Nuts (2 oz.): Calories: 373 Fat: 37g Net Carbs: 3g Protein 8g
Pecans (2 oz.) Calories: 392 Fat: 41g Net Carbs: 3g Protein: 5g
Almonds (2 oz.) Calories: 382 Fat: 28g Net Carbs: 5g Protein: 12g
Hazelnuts (2 oz.) Calories: 356 Fat: 36g Net Carbs: 3g Protein: 9g
Chia seeds (2 oz.) Calories: 278 Fat: 17g Net Carbs: 2.5g Protein 9g
Hemp seeds (2 oz.) Calories: 161 Fat: 12.3g Net Carbs: 1.3g Protein: 9g
Flaxseed (2 oz.) Calories: 303 Fat: 24g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 10g
Since regular flour is prohibited while under the ketogenic diet due to its high carb content, nuts and seeds can be used to make low carb alternatives. These keto-friendly flours and mills can be used just like regular flour to create low-carb cakes, pastries, breading and even pizza bases. Almond flour and flaxseed mill are the two best choices when it comes to creating keto-friendly flours and mills because they have the lowest amount of carbs.
Not all nut/seed flours and mills have the same consistency. Veteran keto dieters know all too well that different mixes react differently to water. For example, coconut flour needs twice as much water to become thick than almond flour, but if it’s mixed with almond flour, it will require less. The same principle can be applied to carb counts: A pure almond flour fix will contain more carbs than if it were mixed with flaxseed mill.
Every keto-dieter who uses nut/seed flours and mills has their own preference, which is why it’s best to experiment with different combinations when starting out.
Nut allergies are common, and nut-derived flours can trigger them just as easily as whole nuts. If you can’t resort to baking with nut-derived flours while under a keto diet due to allergies, you can always consider sunflower seed mill. Sunflower seeds are low in carbohydrates and can be milled to create consistent flours that prove to be perfect substitutes for regular wheat flour.
Almond flour (2 oz.) Calories: 324 Fats: 28g Net Carbs: 6g Protein: 12g
Coconut flour (2 oz.) Calories: 120 Fats: 4g Net Carbs: 6g Protein: 4g
Chia seed meal (2 oz.) Calories: 265 Fats: 17g Net Carbs: 3g Protein: 8g
Flaxseed meal (2 oz.) Calories: 224 Fats: 18 Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 8g
Unsweetened coconut (2 oz.) Calories: 445 Calories: 40 Fats: 8g Protein: 4g
Since the keto diet is a carb-free diet, all sugary drinks and beverages must be cut out to achieve ketosis in the shortest possible time. Unsweetened tea and coffee are fine, so long as caffeine levels are regulated. When it comes to alcohol, beer is prohibited whereas wine, and hard alcohols are allowed on occasion.
The ketogenic diet is praised for its rapid weight loss effect, however many keto-dieters make the mistake of drinking too much coffee which can counteract this. While 1-2 cups of coffee are totally fine and can even accelerate weight loss, there’s a fine line between ideal amounts of caffeine and excess, which in turn slows weight loss.
Drinking too much coffee cannot only stall your weight loss, but it can also delay ketosis too. Teas also have some caffeine in them, but it’s nowhere near the amount that pure coffee has. Fat-infused, ketoproof coffees do exist, but even they can stall weight loss if consumed excessively.
The ground rule to follow regarding caffeinated drinks during the ketogenic diet is only to have two caffeinated beverages per day.
The ketogenic diet will induce your body into nutritional ketosis after 1-2 days of minimal carb intake. This carbohydrate insufficiency doesn’t go unnoticed by your body, which reacts negatively to the absence of carbs. Once the body realizes it’s not getting enough carbohydrates, it starts to exhibit a short-lived series of withdrawal symptoms known as the ‘Keto Flu.’
One of the main symptoms of the keto flu is dehydration, prompting beginner keto dieters to drink copious amounts of water. Fluids are highly crucial for all keto dieters – about a gallon of water should be consumed daily during the beginning stages of the ketosis. Electrolytes and bone broths are also beneficial with providing your body fluids and nutrients during this grueling phase of the keto diet.
Water: The most common ‘beverage’ of all, water is highly essential for all aspects of health, and should regularly be consumed during the ketogenic diet.
Broth: Hearty broths are undeniably beneficial for the body during the initial phase of the keto diet. They increase hydration and provide electrolytes as well as nutrients and minerals.
Coffee: Coffee is allowed under a ketogenic diet, so long as it’s unsweetened and regulated to two cups per day.
Tea: There are a large variety of teas which are beneficial for different things, including mental health and promoting relaxation. While teas do contain some quantities of caffeine, it’s usually not enough for you to go overboard. Some teas contain more caffeine than others (black and green teas in particular), which is why it’s best to check the nutrition label before choosing your preferred tea.
Coconut/Almond milk: Unsweetened coconut/almond milk is one of the best low-carb replacements for regular cow’s milk.
Flavoring: Small quantities of low glycemic index sweeteners can be used to flavor your beverages. These include sucralose, stevia or erythritol. Stick to liquid forms that don’t contain additional chemicals as opposed to powder/pill forms.
Soda and diet soda: Regular sodas hold no nutritional value are pretty much 100% sugar. Diet sodas, while sugar-free, also contain no nutritional value and are typically full of questionable additives that work to enhance their flavor. These additives can affect your blood sugar levels and delay your ketosis.
Sodas are generally unhealthy and don’t really work to combat your thirst, in fact, most sodas make you thirstier!
Beer: Beers are made up of a large variety of simple sugars and contain carbohydrates. They stall weight loss and ketosis, which is why they should be avoided entirely while under the ketogenic diet.
Seasonings are a go-to for almost any home-cooked meal, and they can be used within the ketogenic diet. However, a large number of spices and herbs contain carbohydrates, and keto-dieters must be mindful of how much they use when preparing a heavily-seasoned meal.
Spices, herbs and spice mixes have carbohydrates. Spice mixes, in particular, contain added carbs for flavor.
As with every other product, keto-dieters must be wary of the aforementioned ‘hidden carbs’ and additives by thoroughly reading through the nutritional labels of the seasonings they’re choosing.
Even if the seasonings in question don’t contain carbohydrates, it’s very likely that they contain high glycemic index artificial sweeteners. That’s why it’s imperative to double-check the nutritional content of even spices when leading a ketogenic lifestyle.
Remember: Most seasonings don’t contain high amounts of carbohydrates by themselves, spice mixes do. You should only be mindful of how much seasoning you’re using if you’re preparing a heavily-seasoned meal or using a mixed seasoning product.
Plenty of condiments and sauces contain added carbohydrates to enhance flavor as well as several classes of additives to increase their shelf life. A lot of people aren’t aware of just how carb-packed most condiments and sauces can be, including uninformed keto-dieters who mistakenly eat these same products.
The ketogenic diet doesn’t prohibit condiments and sauces such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and so on, so long as they’re not filled with carbs and are preferably additive-free. With that being said, the healthiest option when it comes to these food groups is to make your own batch at home. There are several easy DIY recipes for different kinds of fat-rich condiments and sauces which contain no sugars.
The following food items are the most recommended for keto-dieters. Make sure to choose carb-free or low-carb products which are preferably additive-free, or make them yourself with natural ingredients.
Sweeteners are synthetic or naturally-derived compounds which taste sweet but aren’t technically sugars. This makes them ideal alternatives for sugar within low-carbohydrate diets. Not all sweeteners are equal, however, as they all have a different glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measurement used to determine the effect a compound has on blood sugar. Naturally, you’ll want to opt for sweeteners that have a low glycemic index and don’t affect blood sugar levels.
It’s crucial only to use sweeteners that have a low glycemic index when following the ketogenic diet. Stevia, sucralose, and erythritol are the most common low glycemic index sweeteners. Sweeteners that affect blood sugar will effectively delay ketosis as this tricks the body into thinking it’s getting carbohydrates.
A lot of sweeteners come packed in granular, powdered or pill forms, but these kinds should be avoided as they contain added binders such as maltodextrin and dextrose. These two compounds can affect blood sugar levels. Splenda is one of the most common sweetener blends that comes packaged in this form, which is why it should preferably be avoided while under the keto diet.
Sweeteners that have a high glycemic index should always be avoided. Fortunately, the nutritional label on sweetener products indicates their glycemic index which is why it’s always important to thoroughly inspect this part of the packaging before purchase. Many ‘low carb’ food products contain high glycemic index sweeteners.
Stevia – This is a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant. It has no impact on the glycemic index while being incredibly sweet. It’s the world’s most popular sweetener.
Sucralose – Another common sweetener, sucralose has no impact on blood sugar levels. It’s commonly confused with Splenda due to it usually being the main ingredient in Splenda mixes. It’s best consumed by itself if possible.
Erythritol – This sweetener, alongside stevia and sucralose, is also common and has no impact on the glycemic index.
Monk fruit – Although not as sweet as the sweeteners mentioned above, monk fruit is still a viable sugar substitute and has no impact on blood sugar whatsoever.
Various blends – There are many kinds of low-to-no glycemic index sweetener blends available which can prove to be viable alternatives to sugar. Just be sure to look for liquid-form packaging as it contains the least additives.
Xylitol – This sweetener scores 13 on the glycemic index. That’s not extremely high, but it does have an effect on blood sugar. Real sugar ranks at 100 on the glycemic index chart, so this substitute is nowhere near as potent although large quantities of it will undoubtedly affect blood sugar levels. This sweetener is best used by those who want something similar to real sugar.
Sugar is the most addictive edible substance – eating it causes dopamine receptors to activate within the brain, which release feelgood ‘reward’ chemicals throughout the nervous system. This is how sugar can become psychologically addictive and lead many to over-consume it and become unhealthy.
Additionally, psychological tolerance to sugar increases remarkably quick, meaning that you’ll need more of it each time you eat it to get the same dopamine boost. When attempting the keto diet, the number one rule is to cut off carbohydrates from the body. The body will respond negatively to this, as carbohydrates are traditionally its primary source of fuel. The brain, however, can exhibit significant withdrawal symptoms when not getting enough sugar, which can be difficult to bear when starting the ketogenic diet.
One of the best strategies to practice when attempting the ketogenic diet is to clear your surroundings of all high-sugar sources. Sweet snacks, chocolate, candy and other carb-filled treats must not be within reach, because the withdrawal could likely make it hard not to eat them. It takes up to 30 days to break the sugar addiction, which is why it’s best to avoid all sweet food (be it sweeteners or otherwise) for a full month before you can adapt to your new ketogenic lifestyle.
Cravings for foods besides sugars are also common whether following the ketogenic diet or not. Sugar may be the most psychologically addictive edible substance, but the brain is perfectly capable of triggering urges for certain kinds of food. Your brain can often exhibit urges for a specific unhealthy food or food group to get its dopamine, but those cravings can easily be countered by providing your body with certain vitamins/minerals commonly found in the foods your brain’s craving for.
For example, when you feel a strong urge to eat chocolate, it’s possible that the body just requires some magnesium. Getting magnesium from other sources, such as nuts and seeds, can stop the chocolate craving altogether.
Cravings for sugary foods are also quite common in many individuals. The brain will exhibit a strong desire for sweet foods to get a boost of dopamine, but there is a healthy way to counteract this.
Sugary foods commonly contain chromium, carbon, phosphorous, sulphur and tryptophan – eating foods containing these compounds could satisfy the craving altogether. Some of the foods rich in these compounds are broccoli, chicken, and cheese – much healthier alternatives to sugary foods.
Bread, pasta and other foods with high simple-carb contents will likely be craved after when entering nutritional ketosis. The psychological craving for these foods can quickly be taken care of by eating foods rich in nitrogen, such as meats, one of the staple food groups of the ketogenic diet.
Fatty and oily foods are the primary food group allowed under the ketogenic diet. However, people can regularly exhibit strong urges for exceedingly oily and overly-fatty foods regardless if they’re under the ketogenic diet or not. Providing your body with calcium from healthier sources such as full-fat dairy, broccoli or spinach is a great way to combat the psychological urge of fatty foods.
Salty junk foods are one of the most common food cravings experienced by many individuals worldwide. Some of the primary compounds in exceedingly salty foods are chloride and silicon, which can typically be found in high quantities within fish, seeds, and nuts. Next time you have an urge for super-salty foods, try to get some fish or seeds and nuts in you instead of something full of trans-fats.
The keto food pyramid shows to what extent which food groups should be consumed while following the keto diet. It’s purposely inverted as opposed to the classic food pyramid, in order to more clearly illustrate its point.
Healthy fats & oils:
Healthy fats and oils, which don’t include protein-rich poultry meats and fatty fish, should make up for 50% of all your fat intake within the ketogenic diet. These food groups include olive oil, fatty sauces, organic butter, lard, tallow and other fatty compounds which can be used as cooking add-ons or added to meals. Use generous amounts of fatty cooking oils, sauces, and other fatty-add-ons to your foods when following the keto diet.
Animal proteins & fatty fish:
Poultry meats, fish, and eggs among other whole animal-derived foods should be in all large meals when keto dieting, preferably cooked in fatty oils and/or sauces. This food group will also take care of your protein needs. Try to choose grass-fed and organic varieties to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and additives.
Leafy green vegetables:
Nutritionally-rich vegetables that grow above ground should also be a staple food group of every large meal while under the keto diet. Be sure not to choose starchy, ‘below ground’ vegetables because they contain carbohydrates.
This food group can be added sparingly to full meals for an extra dose of fat or be snacked on to sate hunger. Full-fat dairy products contain almost no carbs and are full of essential fatty acids that contribute to the ketogenic diet. Always avoid low-fat dairy products as they are infused with extra carbohydrates.
Nuts, seeds, and Berries:
These food groups work as typical snack foods while under the ketogenic diet. They do have some carbohydrates in them but not enough to break ketosis progress so long as they’re eaten in moderation. Nuts and seeds can also be used to create flours or mills that can substitute wheat flour, or be added to full meals to improve texture.
The ketogenic diet requires determination and dietary discipline. All carbohydrate-rich foods are prohibited under it, and you must make sure you’re getting enough fat and moderate amounts of proteins to reach your ketosis goal. However, as rigid as it may sound, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make the experience enjoyable and even fun.
There are countless delicious pro-keto recipes online that not only satisfy your taste buds but also keep you full and help you shed weight. The most satisfied keto-dieters are those who experiment in the kitchen with pro-keto recipes and alternative cooking methods, so try your hand in some gastronomical tinkering in order to get the best out of your keto diet.