Cutting carbs is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. More than 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese. With the diet industry booming, more diets are being introduced. Yet, not all of them can work effectively to help with this issue.
Although carb cutting is simple, those carbs must be replaced with the right nutrients in order to maintain a healthy diet. This is where the keto diet comes in and shows off its benefits. On the keto diet, carb intake is replaced with healthy fats and proteins. These substitutions offer an abundance of health benefits. Even more than weight loss.
The keto diet is easy to follow with the right food list and diet knowledge in place. Today, we are here to share with you the 13 best food groups to eat on the keto diet. These foods will help you successfully sustain a keto diet.
As well as that, we will teach you all of the top tips, foods to avoid and more:
What is The Keto Diet?
The keto diet is not a newfound diet. It has been around since the 1920’s and was then called the ketogenic diet. Some still refer to it as the ketogenic diet today. “Keto” is simply a shortened version of the original name.
The ketogenic diet was first introduced as a treatment for epilepsy. Epileptic patients found that high carbohydrate consumption worsened their side effects and increased the risk of developing epilepsy.
Since, it has been renowned for its many other health benefits. The keto diet can help with weight loss, improve heart health, reduce cholesterol, treat brain disorders and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
The keto diet is a very low carbohydrate and high fat diet. Carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced on the keto diet, which allows room for more fats and proteins. This also encourages quick weight loss. Fat and protein are great for providing energy and are also the reason for the diet being extremely beneficial for your health.
Keto suggests you should get about 80 percent of your daily calories from fat. Then, 20 percent from protein and 10 percent from carbohydrates. On the keto diet, fat is your friend. The substitution of fat over carbohydrates allows the body to burn fat instead of glucose. This fat burning process is a metabolic state known as ketosis. Ketosis is beneficial for burning fat and weight loss.
As well as ketosis, the elimination of carbohydrates with the increase in fat can help in many other ways. Eating the right foods will increase these health benefits. Thus, here are a list of the food you should eat and enjoy on the keto diet:
A List of 13 Food Groups to Eat On The Keto Diet
Although the keto diet may seem restrictive, there is an extensive list of delicious foods to eat. Once you manage to find the balance between fats, protein and carbohydrates, it will feel easier. It will also make you feel more energised and less sluggish.
High carbohydrate and sugar foods can cause fatigue and are not beneficial to your health. Whereas high fat and protein dieting offer many health benefits. Replacing your carbs with healthy fats and lean proteins will allow you to reap these benefits.
Healthy fats and proteins contribute to healthier living. They can improve heart health, brain function and weight.
=> If you don’t eat animal food, there is a Vegan Keto Diet option here
Here is a list of the 13 food groups to enjoy on the keto diet:
1 – Unprocessed low carb meats
Replace your low fat meats with high fat meats. In the keto diet, it is important to reiterate that fats are your friend. Fats are good. High quality meats offer many benefits and are those that are high in good fats. This includes grass fed beef and venison. Pork is also a good option.
But remember, you do not need too much protein. Excess protein can convert into glucose, which you do not want to occur on the keto diet. Thus, you do not and should not eat meat at every meal. Once a day is enough.
2 – Poultry
Other meats you can enjoy include poultry. This includes chicken and turkey. Any poultry is fine for the keto diet. Poultry contains less fat than red meats. It contains less calories as it is a leaner meat. Thus, if you are only eating meat once a day and need to fit in lots of high fat meat, red meat may be a better option.
But, if you wish to eat meat twice a day and not exceed the protein requirement, poultry is a good option.
3 – Fish and seafood
All fish and seafood is good to eat on the keto diet. Especially fatty fish like salmon. Salmon, among other fatty fish, contain lots of essential nutrients and vitamins. And, they are very low in carbohydrates.
Fatty fish are high in omega-3’s. Omega-3’s are packed full of health benefits. Studies show that they can help reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. This is very beneficial for diabetic patients, especially those who are overweight.
Salmon and omega-3’s fatty fish also promote benefits for mental health and reduce the risk of disease.
If you worry about toxins or mercury in large fish, there are plenty of smaller fish options. This includes herring and mackerel. Both great options for the keto diet.
4 – Eggs
Eggs are an easy way to get in protein and healthy fats. One egg contains around 7 to 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. They are also very low in carbohydrates. All of which is perfect for the keto diet,
An egg is the most nutrient dense food on the planet. Because of this, they are very filling. Studies show that eggs can help control appetite and help you feel fuller for longer. You can enjoy them at every meal. They are a great addition to toast, salads and bakes.
The great thing is, you eat them anyway you want. Boiled, poached, fried or scrambled. If you choose to cook them in anything other than water (i.e. if you fry them or bake with them), there are a few healthy fats to suggest.
Many cooking fats are highly acceptable on the keto diet. As it is a high fat diet, the more healthy fat you can consume the better. All cooking oils and fats you can enjoy and cook with are to follow.
5 – Natural fats
Fats are a key part of the keto diet. They are highly acceptable and the more healthy fats you can consume, the better. There are many to choose from when it comes to cooking. This includes olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and sesame oil. These are all high in natural fats which is good for the keto diet.
Natural fats are beneficial for heart health, anti-aging and inflammation. A study shows how avocado oil can reduce the risk of heart conditions such as strokes and diabetes.
As well as using them to cook, you can add oils to top your foods. Drizzling olive oil over vegetables or salads is a great way to increase your daily fat intake.
6 – High fat sauces
As well as natural fats, high fat sauces are allowed on the keto diet. Seeing as most calories on the keto diet should come from fats, adding fats to the side of each meal is ideal. But, only healthy fats.
Avoid high sugar sauces and substitute those for high fat sauces. This includes bearnaise sauce, garlic sauce, lemon butter sauce and no sugar mayonnaise. Sauces are great for low carbohydrate meals as fat helps you feel fuller for longer. Sauces also add flavour and substance to food.
7 – Condiments and spices
Talking of adding more flavour to your food. Condiments and spice are a great way to flavour your meals. Those that are accepted on the keto diet are salt, pepper and a few herbs. Those herbs include thyme, paprika, oregano and cayenne.
The reason for only a few herbs being allowed on the keto diet is because many herbs add additional sugar. Additional sugar means carbohydrates. It is important to read into the sugar content before consuming such foods as they sometimes include hidden carbohydrates.
8 – Low carb vegetables
Like herbs, vegetables can also contain hidden carbohydrates that you wouldn’t expect. Many starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and squash are high in carbohydrates. Which, you should avoid.
Low carbohydrate vegetables are typically those that grow above ground. Or, are leafy green. This includes fibers vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, cabbage and zucchini.
Many low carb vegetables, like mushrooms and bell peppers, hold impressive anti-inflammatory properties. This is ideal for reducing the risk of inflammation diseases like gut issues, heart conditions and chronic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory properties, from these low carb vegetables, can also slow down aging and improve brain function.
To make them even more keto diet appropriate, pour plenty of oil on them to add to the fat content. This will also add flavour, which can be tailored to your preference.
9 – High fat dairy
Let’s make a point here that again, fat is your friend. High fat dairy is often a food to avoid on diets. This is because people associate high fat foods with weight gain. Yet, the right high fat dairy options are very beneficial for weight loss and maintaining a healthy keto diet.
Butter, high fat dairy creams and yoghurts are ideal for the keto diet. They are also good for cooking. Both of which are also low in carbohydrates. Don’t fear fat. Add butters, yoghurts and creams to your meals to increase daily fat intake.
Studies demonstrate that high fat yoghurts, such as Greek yoghurt, have great benefits for digestive health. It can repair and maintain good gut health. It does this by fighting off bad bacterias.
More keto diet approved dairy is cheese. But, you have to be careful which cheese you choose. Some cheeses are very high in carbohydrates. Typically, crumbly dense cheeses contain more fat and less carbohydrates. The keto diet allows cheddar cheese, blue cheese and feta cheese. Sometimes full fat cottage cheese is okay in small amounts. Again, cheese is a great addition to flavour and adds fat to many meals.
Yet, not all high fat dairy is keto approved. Such as milk. Avoid too much milk as milk can contain a lot of sugar. Sugar is carbohydrates, which should be limited on the keto diet.
10 – Seeds and nuts
Seeds and nuts are great options as snacks for the keto diet. They are best to consume in moderation as they can make you exceed your daily carbohydrate limit. A handful a day of the following is fine.
Seeds accepted on the keto diet include pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
For nuts, cashews are relatively high carb. Thus, the best nut options include macadamia, pecan, almond and brazil nuts.
Studies show that nuts and seeds are beneficial for insulin sensitivity. A controlled study showed that those who consumed pecans heavily for one month saw improvements in their insulin sensitivity. They also saw a reduction in insulin levels.
Chia seeds are also great to consume daily as they hold impressive anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that chia seeds promote weight loss. They also offer anti-inflammation benefits for conditions such as heart attacks and chronic inflammation.
Remember to eat nuts and seeds in moderation to prevent overloading on carbohydrates.
11 – Berries
Fruit is nature’s candy. Most fruits are high in sugar, which can increase their carbohydrate content. Thus, not all fruits are okay for the keto diet.
Fruits that do work with the keto diet are typically red berries, as they contain the least sugar. Strawberries and raspberries are the lowest in sugar. As the sugar content is considerably high for such a small food, you should eat them in moderation. Around half to a full cup of berries is acceptable each day.
12 – Avocados
Avocados are considered a fruit. Although they are a fruit, they are eaten as a savoury food. They are very low in sugar, unlike most fruits. Plus, they are very high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. Making them perfect for the keto diet.
They can be eaten as often as you wish to on the keto diet. Avocados can easily be added to any meal. Or, can be eaten as a snack. They are ideal to eat around the clock as avocados are full of essential vitamins and nutrients such as folate, vitamin C and K.
13 – Drinks
As keto is a strict diet and sugars are in most drinks we consume, the drink category needs to be addressed. Many soft and alcoholic beverages are packed with sugar, which later turns into glucose. On the keto diet, glucose and sugars should be avoided as much as possible. Thus, there is a limited drink list that can be consumed on the keto diet. Yet, all are enjoyable and highly beneficial to your health.
First is water. Of course, we all know that water contains zero calories and sugars. You should consume around 2 to 3 litres of water per day to stay hydrated and reap the health benefits water offers. Such as flushing body waste, regulating body temperature, controlling appetite, delivering oxygen and much more.
Tea and coffee can be enjoyed hot or cold. They can also be enjoyed as often as you would like to, as long as they do not contain milk or sugar. It is fine to add a small amount of milk to either, but added sugar and sweeteners are not allowed on the keto diet.
Bone broth is another liquid many like to consume on the keto diet. Not only is it hydrating, bone broth is filling and full of essential nutrients and fat. This can be made when roasting meats, which means you won’t waste any meat product.
For alcohol, you should avoid it almost completely. Yet, the occasional glass of wine is fine, if it is red. Red wine is best because the red berry content means it contains the least amount of sugar. This makes it lower in carbohydrates which is best for the keto diet.
With plenty of foods on the list, there is an extensive amount of flavour to enjoy. Ensure your meals are full of fat and protein and low in carbs. Once you find your favourite foods from the list and create meals, it will be easier to sustain.
As well as foods to enjoy, there is also a list of foods to avoid on the keto diet.
Foods To Avoid
Most foods to avoid are self-explanatory and obvious. But, there are a few foods you need to avoid on the keto diet which may surprise. Thus, to ensure you are eating the right list of foods, a list of foods to avoid is below to help you successfully maintain a keto diet:
- Breaded meats, poultry and fish – crumbed meats and fish are high in carbohydrate which should be avoided on the keto diet
- Cold cuts – cold cuts of meats contain added sugars
- Milky drinks – coffees, hot chocolates and teas are all drinks that could exceed sugar allowance on the keto diet. They should be avoided at all times
- Low fat yoghurts – fat is your friend on keto. Swap low fat dairy products for high fat as you need to consume as much fat as you can
- Bread and baked goods – carbohydrates are a limited source of food on the keto diet. Thus, baked goods such as donuts, crackers and rolls should be avoided
- Rice – cooked rice contains starch which is carbohydrates
- Pasta – spaghetti and noodles are high in carbohydrates, which is not ideal for the keto diet
- Starchy vegetables – Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, pumpkin, squash are all high in carbohydrates. Swap these for above ground or leafy green vegetables to lower carbohydrate intake
- Alcoholic beverages – Beer, mixed drinks and wines are all high in sugar and should be avoided to avoid exceeding your daily limited carbohydrate intake
- Sweetened beverages – soda and juice are high in sugar and should be consumed in small amounts or avoided
- Candy – sugar, ice cream, syrups and chocolate are extremely high in sugar and therefore carbohydrates. Swap sweet treats for berries or no sugar/milk teas to satisfy your cravings
- Fruits – citrus fruits, grapes, bananas and pineapples are all high in sugar and net carbohydrates. Substitute these with a small amount of berries
- High carb sauces – barbeque sauce, sugary salad dressings, ketchup, honey mustard and dipping sauces are all very high in carbohydrates, which should be avoided. Substitute these for buttery low carb sauces
- Unhealthy fats – vegetable oils, corn oil, margarine all contain unhealthy fats. Swap these for olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil to consume healthier and more natural fats
- Processed foods – ready made meals, fast food and packaged food are all extremely high in unhealthy fats, sugar and carbohydrates
- Diet foods – any that contain added preservatives or sweeteners are these are high in carbohydrates
Eating the right foods will help you stay on track with keto and reap the health benefits it offers. To maximise results and optimise your health, here are a helpful few tips:
Tips For The Best Results
To help you achieve the best results possible on the keto diet, there are a few things to consider. As much as eating the right foods will help, these factors will also contribute to maximum results:
- Choose the right snacks: snacking between meals can help with hunger. Good snacks for the keto diet include those that are low in carb and high in fat. This includes avocados, nuts, seeds, cheddar cheese, high fat yoghurt, eggs, coconut chips, kale chips and olives. Only snack if you need to. Snacking too often can lead to weight gain.
- Minimise carbohydrate consumption: if you consume more than the daily recommended carbohydrate intake of 30 grams per day, the results may be impacted to decline. Staying on track with your daily intake will also help your body get used to the diet.
Slowly decrease your carbohydrate intake over a week or so to ease yourself into the diet. It is advised to ease into it so that your body does not go into shock. This will also allow time for your body to begin the ketosis process and use fat for fuel instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
- Increase your healthy fat intake: remember that fats are your friend on the keto diet. Eating the right fats is ideal to reap the benefits. These include avocados, fatty fish, olive oil and no sugar sauces. Healthy fats contribute to good heart health, brain function and insulin balance.
- Increase physical activity: if you are trying the keto diet to lose or maintain weight, it is recommended to increase your physical activity. High intensity interval training, weight sessions and cardiovascular activity are all ideal for this diet. The high fat and protein intake will help you sustain energy for high performance workouts.
With those in mind, you may still have concerns on the keto diet. Below are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about what to eat on the keto diet:
What is a typical keto breakfast?
A typical keto breakfast should include high fat, lean protein and no carbs. Any type of eggs are ideal for a keto diet. For example, omelettes are a good option. These can be loaded with low carb vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, kale, peppers and spinach. Or, a cooked breakfast that includes eggs, avocado, tomatoes and bacon is a good option.
⇒ Read more about our Vegan Keto Breakfast Recipes
Is peanut butter keto?
Peanut butter is acceptable on keto. But, only if it is a natural peanut butter. As those are relatively low carb. All peanut butters are high fat due to the peanuts inside. Yet, some can contain added sugars. Thus, always opt for natural peanut butters to avoid excess carbs.
Can you eat bananas on keto?
Bananas are very high in carbs for such a small piece of food. One medium banana contains around 24 grams of carbs. Thus, should be avoided. For a fruit serving, red berries are a better option. They contain around 5 to 7 grams of carbs per half or full cup.
Can you drink alcohol on keto?
You can drink one glass of red wine and stay in ketosis. Yet, if you do this often it can slow down progress and results. Beers and mixed sugary drinks are high in carbs and should be avoided.
Can you drink Coke Zero on keto?
Coke Zero does not contain carbs or sugars. Thus, it should not affect ketosis. But, if it is consumed frequently it can slow down progress and also has knock on results for your health.
Can I have cheat days on keto?
A cheat day is not accepted on a keto diet. Cheat days will spike your blood sugar and decrease your progress. If you feel the need to give into your cravings, opt for keto accepted foods.
Can I snack on keto?
There are many snacks that are keto accepted. This includes high fat low carb snacks such as kale chips, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, low carb vegetables, eggs and yoghurts. Avoid sugary snacks such as candy and high carb fruits.
Can you stay on keto forever?
Keto dieting is good for the long term, but maybe not forever. This is due to the high fat content of the diet. Although healthy fats offer numerous health benefits, eating them consistently forever may have a knock on effect. There is not enough evidence to say that staying on keto forever is good or bad. It may be better to dip in and out of the keto diet if you want to sustain it forever.
What colour is your pee in ketosis?
A change of colour in your pee can sometimes occur on the keto diet. This is because the ketosis process may make you dehydrated, which can cause your pee to turn yellow. Stay hydrated to prevent this.
With those answers in mind, let us share our final thoughts:
So long as you stick to the daily nutritional intakes, you will successfully sustain the keto diet. This should not exceed more than 70% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein and 10% from carbohydrates. Tracking your carbohydrate intake is very helpful and ensures you do not exceed 30 grams per day limit.
Substitute carbohydrates for high fat foods such as meat, dairy and low carb vegetables. Healthy natural fats are a great addition to any meal and are an ideal way to increase your daily fat intake.
With this food list and top tips, it is easier than ever to start and maintain a keto diet. One that offers numerous health benefits and encourages you to sustain the diet as a lifestyle to continue reaping the benefits.
Use this as a guide and a shopping list to begin the keto diet and transition into a low carb, high fat diet. If you have any more questions or comments, please do share them with us.