25 Keto Foods You Should Eat

25 Keto Foods You Should Eat

The ketogenic diet—or keto diet—is a very low-carb, high-fat diet linked to several health benefits, including weight loss and improved blood sugar control.

When following the keto diet, a person restricts their total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day to reach and maintain ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.

To do this, you’ll need to prioritize low-carb foods that are higher in fat and protein, like seafood, eggs, and low-carb produce, while restricting foods and drinks high in carbs, like grains, sugary drinks, and many fruits.

When following the keto diet, choose protein sources high in healthy fats. Seafoods like salmon and sardines contain the omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These fats have powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body and have been shown to support cardiovascular and neurological health.

Most seafood is carb-free and is rich in protein and essential vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D, all of which play critical roles in health.

For example, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D are needed for immune function, while B12 is required for red blood cell formation and neurological function.

Here are a few keto-friendly seafood choices:

  • Sardines: A 3.75-ounce (oz) can of sardines contains 0 carbs, 22.6 grams (g) of protein, and 10.5 g of fat.
  • Salmon: A 3-oz serving of wild-caught salmon contains 0 carbs, 21.6 g of protein, and 6.91 g of fat.
  • Trout: A 3-oz serving provides 0 carbs, 22.6 g of protein, and 7.2 g of fat.

Meat and poultry products, like steak, organ meats, and chicken, are common staples for low-carb diets like the keto diet.

Meat and poultry products provide an important energy source for people following low-carb diets. These foods also tend to be high in vitamins and minerals like B12 and iron.

When following a keto diet, you can eat both lean and fatty cuts of meat and poultry, such as skin-on chicken breasts and ground beef. Pair these protein sources with low-carb vegetables for a complete, keto-friendly meal.

Here are a few meat and poultry options to eat when following the keto diet:

  • Chicken breast: A 4-oz serving of skinless chicken breast provides 0 carbs, 26 g of protein, and about 1 g of fat.
  • Ground beef: A 3-oz serving contains less than 1 g of carbs, 21.8 g of protein, and 12.3 g of fat.
  • Beef liver: A 3-oz serving provides 4.36 g of carbs, 24.7 g of protein, and 4.47 g of fat.

Eggs are an excellent choice for people following the keto diet. They are very low in carbs and high in protein and healthy fats, and they’re versatile ingredients that can be used to make several keto-friendly dishes, like omelets and frittatas.

Whole eggs are the best choice for people on keto diets, as egg yolks are concentrated in vitamins and minerals. Plus, egg yolks provide a source of fat, which is important for keto dieters.

Two eggs provide less than 1 g of carbs, 12.52 g of protein, and 13.62 g of fat. Eggs are also rich in essential nutrients like B12, selenium, and vitamin A. You can pair eggs with other low-carb ingredients like cheese, low-carb vegetables, and avocados to make tasty, keto-friendly meals.

Dairy products provide nutrients that tend to be low in keto diets, like calcium, a mineral that’s essential for skeletal and heart health.

Choose unsweetened, higher-fat dairy products, like whole milk yogurt and cheeses, to reduce your carb intake and maintain a keto-friendly macronutrient ratio.

Sweetened dairy products, like chocolate milk and fruit-flavored yogurts, are higher in carbs and contain added sugar, which should be minimized while on the keto diet.

Here are a few keto-friendly dairy options:

  • Blue cheese: A 1-oz serving contains less than 1 g of carbs, 6.1 g of protein, and 8.1 g of fat.
  • Cheddar cheese: A 1-oz serving contains less than 1 g of carbs, 6.8 g of protein, and 9.5 g of fat.
  • Greek yogurt: A 6-oz serving of whole milk, plain Greek yogurt contains 6.77 g of carbs, 15.3 g of protein, and 5 g of fat.
  • Ricotta cheese: A one-half-cup serving of whole milk ricotta cheese contains 9.02 g of carbs, 9.35 g of protein, and 12.6 g of fat.
  • Kefir: One cup of whole-milk kefir provides 11 g of carbs, 12 g of protein, and 7.99 g of fat.

People following keto diets should consume at least one source of fat at every meal and snack. Since fat needs are so high on the keto diet, prioritizing fat-rich ingredients, like oils and butter, can help you reach your daily fat intake goals.

Here are a few carb-free fats to include on the keto diet:

  • Olive oil: One tablespoon (tbsp) provides 14 g of fat.
  • Avocado oil: One tbsp provides 14 g of fat.
  • Butter: One tbsp of grass-fed butter contains 12 g of fat.

Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs and high in fiber, a nutrient that’s important for digestive health. Because the keto diet is so low in carbohydrates, many keto dieters fail to hit the recommended daily fiber intake goal, which is currently set at 28 g per day.

Underconsuming fiber can lead to several health conditions, from constipation to colon cancer. However, there are plenty of low-carb, high-fiber vegetables you can add to your diet to increase your fiber intake.

Here are a few keto-friendly vegetables:

  • Artichokes: One cooked medium-sized artichoke provides 13.4 g of carbs and 6.91 g of fiber.
  • Asparagus: One cup of cooked asparagus contains 7.4 g of carbs and 3.6 g of fiber.
  • Mushrooms: One cup of cooked white button mushrooms provides 8.25 g of carbs and 3.43 g of fiber.
  • Collard greens: One cup of cooked collard greens contains 7.5 g of carbs and 5.59 g of fiber.

When following a keto diet, you must limit high-carb foods to reach and maintain ketosis. While most fruits are high in carbs, you can enjoy a few low-carb, high-fiber options on a keto diet.

Here are a few keto-friendly fruit options:

  • Avocados: One-half of an avocado contains 8.5 g of carbs, 14.7 g of fat, and 6.75 g of fiber.
  • Coconut: A 1-oz serving of unsweetened dried coconut meat provides 6.69 g of carbs, 18.3 g of fat, and 4.62 g of fiber.
  • Blackberries: One cup of blackberries provides 13.8 g of carbs and 7.63 g of fiber.

Nuts and seeds are generally low in carbs yet high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are in high demand while on a keto diet.

For example, the keto diet restricts many foods rich in fiber and magnesium, a mineral required for blood pressure regulation, blood sugar control, and many other critical processes.

Here are a few nuts and seeds that can fit into a keto diet:

  • Chia seeds: A 1-oz serving contains 11.9 g of carbs, 8.7 g of fat, and 9.7 g of fiber.
  • Pecans: A 1-oz serving contains 3.94 g of carbs, 20.4 g of fat, and 2.72 g of fiber.
  • Hemp seeds: A 1-oz serving contains 2.6 g of carbs, 14.6 g of fat, and 1.2 g of fiber.
  • Macadamia nuts: A 1-oz serving contains 3.91 g of carbs, 21.5 g of fat, and 2.44 g of fiber.

When you’re on a keto diet, you must restrict high-carb foods to stay within your keto macros. This means you’ll need to cut out or significantly limit high-carb foods and drinks, such as:

  • Bread and high-carb baked goods: Rolls, bagels, and tortillas
  • Grains and pasta: Rice, oats, couscous, and noodles
  • Sweeteners and sugary foods: Table sugar, agave, ice cream, cakes, and sugary cereals
  • Carb-rich snack foods: Chips, crackers, and granola bars
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash
  • Legumes: Black beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Most fruits and fruit juice: Grapes, dried fruit, pineapple, bananas, and orange juice 
  • Sweetened drinks: Soda, fruit smoothies, sugary coffee drinks, and energy drinks
  • Higher-carb alcoholic drinks: Beer and sugary mixed drinks
  • Sugary condiments: Sugary salad dressings, ketchup, and barbecue sauce 

While you need to limit these foods and drinks on a keto diet, you can still enjoy small portions of some high-carb foods as long as you stay within your allotted daily carb intake range.

If you’re interested in following a keto diet, you must monitor your overall nutrient intake and choose nutrient-rich foods whenever possible. Studies show that many people who follow keto diets fall short of their daily needs for several nutrients, including fiber, calcium, and some B vitamins.

A ketogenic diet must be carefully planned and executed to meet your daily nutritional needs and reduce the risk of keto-related side effects, like constipation. This means adding foods high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, like low-carb vegetables, high-fat dairy products, and nuts and seeds, to your meals and snacks.

If you’re new to the keto diet and aren’t sure what you should be eating, it may be best to work with a healthcare provider, like a registered dietitian (RD), to design a keto diet that’s nutritionally complete and meets your specific health needs.

Also, while the keto diet may benefit some people—like people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes—it is not appropriate for everyone. Studies have found that more moderate low-carb diets can also improve multiple health outcomes, such as weight loss and improved blood sugar control. Plus, less restrictive low-carb diets are easier to follow long-term.

If you decide to follow a keto diet, you can set yourself up for success by stocking your kitchen with plenty of keto-friendly foods, like frozen seafood, low-carb vegetables, nuts and seeds, and oils. You can also pre-plan a nutritionally complete keto-friendly weekly menu.

The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that restricts a number of foods. To reach and maintain ketosis while meeting your daily nutrition needs, you’ll need to consume a variety of keto-friendly foods that still provide essential nutrients like fiber, calcium, B vitamins, and more.

Foods like seafood, high-fat dairy products, low-carb vegetables, and healthy oils are nutrient-rich foods that can fit within the keto diet.

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