So you finally made the choice to start the Keto Diet!
You’re hyped, you’re excited! But all this learning about keto has got you feeling lost and confused at the point where you are questioning everything you can and can’t eat on Keto.
Beginning a new diet can be a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
To help you stay on track, we assembled a list of foods you can and can’t eat on Keto.
Keto Diet Refresher
The body can run on 2 type of fuels, its primary resource is glucose, a type of sugar that is naturally found in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes etc. Its secondary resource is fat, naturally found in eggs, avocados, meats, olive oil, butter etc.
A diet very low in carbs causes the body to resort from using glucose to using fat instead as its primary source of fuel. When this happens fat is then converted in the liver into energy molecules called ketones that are then used by the body as fuel for energy. At this point, your body undergoes a normal metabolic process called ketosis.
In order to promote ketosis you will need to:
- Minimize carbohydrate intake, this is KEY. Although the level of carb restriction depends on each individual a general safe number is 20 grams or less per day to guarantee ketosis is achieved.
- Consume plenty of healthy fats that can help boost your ketones levels, helping you achieve ketosis.
So in order to successfully achieve ketosis, you must remember to stick to foods that are high in healthy fats and low in carbs. But this certainly does not mean you can eat bacon and cheese all day!
Eat Real Whole Foods
To look and feel your best you need to focus on consuming real high-quality food. Whole foods do not come with a long list of ingredients, select food that is closest to its natural state.
Eliminate Processed Foods
Cookies, chips, cereals, bread, juice etc. is all processed food that is high in carbs, sugars, and unhealthy fats. In order to extend the shelf life of processed food, there needs to be fat that is solid and stable. This is where all the industrial oils come into play, these hardened vegetable oils give processed food life.
Eliminate Grains and Legumes
Because of the high carbohydrate content, it is best to eliminate grains and legumes from your diet. In order to maintain your body in a ketosis state, you want to be consuming less than 20g of net carbs per day.
In order to feel your best, you need to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. If it’s not water it’s important to be cautious and aware of what you are drinking because many beverages have a high number of carbs and sugars and are filled with sweeteners, fillers, and artificial flavors.
Keto Approved: water, black coffee, bone broth, tea (unsweetened), Iced tea (unsweetened), sparkling water (unsweetened & unflavored), and almond milk (unsweetened)
OK—in moderation: coconut milk (full-fat), coconut water, milk (organic & full-fat), kombucha tea (homemade)
*Alcohol –Specific types of alcohol are fine in moderation such as red & white wine, gin, vodka, and whiskey.
NO –Avoid : Juices, smoothies, lattes, milkshakes, sodas, vitamin water, and beer– also known as liquid bread.
Vegetables are known for being low-carb and the last thing that might concern you is their carb content but in reality, veggies can become the cause stopping you from getting into ketosis. Prevent this by being cautious of higher carb vegetables.
*As a general rule try to stick to vegetables that are grown above ground
Keto Approved: Alfalfa sprouts, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, asparagus, lettuce, kale, spinach, zucchini
OK—in moderation: bell pepper, carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, sugar snap peas, winter squash, pumpkin, jicama, turnip, tomatoes, tomatillos, and green beans
NO –Avoid: carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes
Fruit contains vitamins and minerals essential for everyday living, and while fruit is a whole and natural food source it is also packed with natural sugars known as fructose. Fructose can only be actively processed and metabolized within the liver, which means the liver has to take 100% of the workload. On the other hand, glucose (carbs found in bread, pasta, rice etc.) can be metabolized by any cell in the body, and the liver only has to take 20% of the workload to metabolize glucose.
This is IMPORTANT to note because to be in a state of ketosis you need the liver to be completely depleted in order for it to produce the maximum amount ketones. This basically means that the sugar contained in fruit can quickly take you out of ketosis and it causes your body a longer stretch of time to get back in a state of ketosis because fructose can only be metabolized by the liver.
Therefore, the keto only allows for a certain type of fruit in moderation.
Keto Approved: Avocado, berries, coconut, olives
OK—in moderation: lime, lemon
NO –Avoid: Any other fruit
The keto diet is high in fat and usually consists of 60-75% of total calories. This means that most of your calories need to come from healthy fat sources. Fats are a critically important part of the keto diet but you need to be super selective because some fats are very health threatening. Stick to healthy fats such as coconut oil, walnut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc. and avoid industrial fats such as vegetable oils like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil etc.
Industrialized oils come from foods that have oil in them but don’t easily release their oil. In order for these foods to release their oils, these foods have to be processed under high heat and solvents. This process not only destroys many of the antioxidants in the food it also wrecks all the molecules making them an “unnatural” food source.
Keto Approved: Avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, cacao butter, macadamia oil, MCT oil Animal fats: organic grass-fed ghee, chicken fat, duck fat, egg yolks, lard, fish oil, krill oil
NO –Avoid: Corn oil, canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, margarine, commercial dressings
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and they’re high in fats and low in carbs but unfortunately not all nuts and seeds are suitable for the keto diet.
Nuts and seeds are known for being high in fat and in low in carbs but some nuts such as cashews, chestnuts, and pistachios contain a lot of carbs. For example, 2 handfuls of cashews are enough to reach your carb intake limit. When selecting your nuts and seeds it’s also important to stay away from any added ingredients like salt and sugar, so always read the labels before making a purchase.
Keto Approved: brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
OK—in moderation: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts
NO –Avoid: cashews, chestnuts, pistachios
Proteins: Eggs, Meat, Poultry, & Seafood
It’s important to remember that the keto diet is not all cheese balls and bacon, don’t make the mistake of running on a tank full of cheese sticks and bacon wrapped sausages. You will need to avoid over-consuming protein, only 20-35% of your calories should come from protein. Consuming too much protein will kick you out of ketosis through a process called gluconeogenesis and will prevent you from going to full-blown ketosis.
Although it is not required, try to stick to grass-fed, pastured meat, naturally raised animals, and wild caught sustainable seafood. You must also only consume processed meats in moderation because of the added preservatives its best to avoid them is possible.
Keto Approved Seafood: cod, crab, halibut, lobster, mussels, oysters, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, trout, tuna
Keto Approved Meat, poultry, eggs: bacon, beef, bison, chicken, duck, whole eggs, goat, lamb, organ meats, pork, steak, turkey, veal, venison
OK—in moderation: Processed meats such as bacon, ham, pepperoni, sausages, salami
*When consuming processed meats opt for organic nitrate free to avoid added preservatives
NO –Avoid: Processed meats – although they can have space in the keto diet its best to avoid them when possible
Some dairy products are very keto friendly such as butter, ghee, and heavy whipping cream, but other dairy products like condensed milk and some yogurts contain added sugars that should be completely avoided. Dairy also contains lactose so you must also consider any lactose sensitivities if you have any, as it can cause digestive issues.
So if you must consume dairy always choose organic and full-fat dairy over low-fat and fat-free. When consuming dairy you must also be mindful of the protein content and milk sugars.
Keto Approved: butter, ghee, heavy cream, full-fat cheeses, sour cream
OK—in moderation: cream cheese, cottage cheese, greek yogurt
NO –Avoid: reduced, fat-free, and dairy products with added sugars
Spices, Seasonings, and Sweeteners
Adding condiments and spices can completely help you transform any dish but you also want to make sure these flavorings don’t add any unwanted carbs to your meal.
Keto Approved: cocoa powder, coconut amino, pure herbs, mayo, miso, mustard, nutritional yeast, pure spices, soy sauce, vinegar(s) Erythritol, inulin, monk fruit (pure), stevia(pure)
NO –Avoid: BBQ sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, sriracha, sucralose or just any packaged condiments containing added sugars
One of the sweeteners I use on a daily basis is stevia but unfortunately, most of the stevia products you see in store shelves are filled with fillers specifically dextrose. Dextrose is a filler made from sugars from corn, fruit, and honey. It is also known for causing insulin spikes so you want to stay away from this filler.
When purchasing stevia make sure you are purchasing pure organic stevia without any added sugars. I recommend the CCnature Organic Stevia Powder because it’s pure stevia without any added sugars.
MCT oil is a great source of vitamins, minerals, quality proteins, and healthy fats and it is also one of the fastest sources of energy for your brain and body. MCT oil is processed straight by the liver, so it has the ability to help you skyrocket your keto diet.
This MCT oil does not contain any palm oil and as an added benefit it contains lauric acid which is something most MCT oils don’t contain.