Not sure what to eat on a ketogenic diet? Here’s a quick food list for you to reference.
Below you’ll find a brief overview of what you can eat. Scroll further down to see more details on each section.
Being on a diet isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially when you don’t know what you should eat. We’ve put together this ketogenic diet food list to help people out there make decisions on what they are eating and shopping for.
Below you can find a quick visual guide to what to eat on a ketogenic diet. Let’s go over some of the commonly identifiable items that people use on keto:
All of the food above sticks to the strict 5% carbohydrate allowance that we use on keto. In general, you can eat from the following food groups:
- Fats & Oils. Try to get your fat from natural sources like meat and nuts. Supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
- Protein. Try to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat where possible. Most meats don’t have added sugar in them, so they can be consumed in moderate quantity. Remember that too much protein on a ketogenic diet is not a good thing.
- Vegetables. Fresh or frozen doesn’t matter. Stick with above ground vegetables, leaning toward leafy/green items.
- Dairy. Most dairy is fine, but make sure to buy full-fat dairy items. Harder cheeses typically have fewer carbs.
- Nuts and Seeds. In moderation, nuts and seeds can be used to create some fantastic textures. Try to use fattier nuts like macadamias and almonds.
- Beverages. Stay simple and stick to mostly water. You can flavor it if needed with stevia-based flavorings or lemon/lime juice.
Fats and Oils
Fats will be the majority of your daily calorie intake when you are on a ketogenic diet, so choices should be made with your likes and dislikes in mind. They can be combined in many different ways to add to your meals – sauces, dressings, or just simply topping off a piece of meat with butter.
Fats are vital to our bodies, but they can also be dangerous if you are consuming too much of the wrong types of fats. There are a few different types of fat that are involved in a ketogenic diet. Different foods usually have various combinations of fats, but the unhealthy fats are easy to avoid. Here’s a brief overview:
- Saturated Fats. Eat these. Some examples of these are butter, ghee, coconut oil, and lard.
- Monounsaturated Fats. Eat these. Some examples of these are olive, avocado, and macadamia nut oils.
- Polyunsaturated Fats. Know the difference. Naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats in animal protein and fatty fish are great for you, and you should eat these. Processed polyunsaturated fats in “heart healthy” margarine spreads are bad for you.
- Trans Fats. Completely avoid. These are processed fats that are chemically altered (hydrogenated) to improve shelf life. Avoid all hydrogenated fats, such as margarine, as they’re linked to heart disease.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats such as butter, macadamia nuts, avocado, egg yolks, and coconut oil are more chemically stable and less inflammatory to most people, so they are preferred. Below, you can see some common ways to increase the amounts of fat you eat on a ketogenic diet.
You also want to have a balance between your omega 3’s and omega 6’s, so eating things like wild salmon, tuna, trout, and shellfish can help provide a balanced diet of Omega-3’s. If you don’t like fish, or just prefer not to eat it, we suggest taking a small fish oil supplement. You can also take krill oil for omega 3’s if you are allergic.
Keep an eye on your intake for nut or seed based foods, as they can be quite high in inflammatory omega 6’s. These include items like almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower oil and corn oil. Eating fatty fish and animal meat, keeping snacking to a minimum, and not over-indulging in dessert items that are dense in almond flour is usually enough to keep your omega’s at normal ranges.
Essential fatty acids (the omegas) provide core functions to the human body, but they are often times out of balance when on a standard diet. On keto, with a little bit of preparation, your omega fatty acids are easily manageable. If you want to know more about essential fatty acids, omegas, and how they interact with our body on a ketogenic diet.
Some ketogenic diet foods that are ideal for fats and oils (organic and grass-fed sources are preferred):
- Fatty Fish
- Animal Fat (non-hydrogenated)
- Egg Yolks
- Macadamia/Brazil Nuts
- Coconut Butter
- Cocoa Butter
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Macadamia Oil
- MCT Oil
Below, you’ll find a visual list of proteins that are commonly consumed on a ketogenic diet. Note that the higher the amount of protein, the less you will want to consume.
Your best bet when it comes to protein is choosing pasture-raised and grass-fed. This will minimize your bacteria and steroid hormone intake. Try to choose the darker meat where possible with poultry, as it is much fattier than white meat. Eating fatty fish is a great way to get omega 3’s in as well.
When it comes to red meat, there’s not too much to avoid. Cured meats and sausages can sometimes have added sugars and added processed ingredients. If you eat steak, try to choose fattier cuts like ribeye. If you like hamburger meat (ground beef), try to choose fattier ratios like 85/15 or 80/20 in some cases.
One thing you do need to be careful of when dealing with meat is your protein intake. Too much protein on a ketogenic diet can lead to lower levels of ketone production and increased production of glucose. You want to aim for nutritional ketosis, so you must not over-consume on protein.
Try to balance out the protein in your meals with fattier side dishes and sauces. If you choose to eat lean beef, you have to be especially careful with the portioning of protein. Jerky and other beef snacks can add up in protein very fast, so make sure to pair it with something fatty – like cheese!