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Are you new to the keto diet? Are you overwhelmed by which foods are allowed and what is best for you? Today, I am providing you with some basic information, along with a list of the top, HEALTHY, keto foods to choose from.
In this Article:
- What is a Healthy Keto Diet?
- Focus on Quality Keto Foods
- Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Your Keto Diet Should Focus on Good Health
What is a Healthy Keto Diet?
First, let’s go over what keto really is. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet plan where you limit your net carbs. It works to shift your body from using sugar and a fuel source and instead burn fat. When the body burns fat, it releases ketones, which provide an alternative fuel source for your body and helps you shed pounds.
While there are many different meal plans and keto diet food lists out on the Internet today, my version is slightly different. While it still focuses on the low carb and high-fat aspect, my goal is to make sure your body receives the necessary nutrients it needs while on the diet.
When you deprive your body of nutrients, as happens with many diet plans, you actually slow down your metabolism, which can result in weight gain and an unhealthy body. A ketogenic diet is beneficial when it is done right, and my plan shows you how to do that.
Focus on Quality Keto Foods
Traditional keto plans focus on the low carbs and high fat but typically leaves out any information on the nutrients you need to take in from your food. Things like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that your body needs are essential in any balanced diet. My food list shows foods that not only meet the keto guidelines but provide your body with what it really needs.
Let’s take a look at the healthy food list, along with some tips to get you going.
Make Healthy Fats Your Priority
Fats are the basis for the keto diet, and you want most of your daily calories to come from these fats. When it comes to fats, they are usually found with proteins, so you get both in one shot. But not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats help you stay feeling full and are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. When looking for fats to add to your diet, it is good to look for products labeled full-fat. This list provides you with some good fats to include in your daily diet.
- Avocado oil
- Blue cheese
- Brie cheese
- Cocoa butter
- Coconut butter
- Coconut oil
- Red palm oil
- Salad dressing
- Cream cheese
- Duck fat
- Egg yolks
- Half and half
- Macadamia oil
- MCT oil
- Olive oil
- Palm shortening
- Sesame oil
- Walnut oil
- Whole cream
Nuts and Seeds Offer a Healthy Ketogenic Snack Option
Nuts and seeds tend to get a bad rap when it comes to keto because they contain carbs. However, the majority of the carbs they contain is fiber, which does not increase blood sugar or affect ketosis. Nuts and seeds do provide you with a lot of the nutrients that your body needs, such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Now not all nuts are the same, and nuts like cashews should be avoided as they are higher in carbs. Another thing is to be careful with how many nuts you eat. Be sure to monitor the serving size and keep track of your net carbs. You need to keep yourself between 20 and 50 grams a day and it is easy to go over simply munching on nuts throughout the day. Your low carb nuts are pecans, Brazil nuts, and Macadamia nuts. This list gives you other additional nuts to consider.
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Nut butter
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Tahini (sesame butter)
Focus on High-Quality Meats For Your Protein
Unprocessed meats are great for a ketogenic diet. In addition to being low-carb, they also provide you with additional fats. But you don’t want to load up on too many proteins throughout the day, as excess protein converts to glucose and makes reaching ketosis more difficult. I recommend three to six ounces of meat a day.
When choosing meats, look for words like organic, grass-fed, or free-range. These meats are not loaded with hormones or antibiotics and are healthier for your body. Avoid processed meats, like traditional deli meats and hot dogs, when you can as they are high in nitrates and dextrose and can contain added carbs. This list gives you some good options for meats to include in your meal plan.
- Beef jerky
- Cottage cheese (look for full-fat varieties)
- Deli meat (in limited quantities because of high nitrates and dextrose)
- Hot dogs (only organic and grass-fed)
- Pork rinds
- Sausage (only organic and grass-fed)
- Wild boar
- Wild turkey
Organ Meats Pack a Nutritional Punch on a Keto Diet
Organ meats aren’t always the top choice for meats, but for keto and keeping your body healthy, they are great. Organ meats are low-carb, with the exception of liver, which is slightly higher. But each serving delivers a nutritional punch. High in vitamins and minerals, organ meats help give your body the nutrients it really needs to be healthy.
In my video, I talk about bioavailability in food. This refers to how easily your body absorbs the nutrients in the food. Organ meats, for example, have a high bioavailability of vitamin A and iron. This list below offers some healthy organ meat options.
- Bone marrow
A Healthy Ketogenic Diet Takes Advantage of Nutrient-Packed Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are great for a keto diet, as it is low-carb and rich in nutrients your body needs. High-fat fish, such as salmon, increase your fat intake as well as provide your body with omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for heart health. When choosing fish and seafood, always look for wild-caught fish as this is healthier than farm-raised. Here is a list of healthy fish and seafood options for the keto diet.
- Orange roughy
- Red snapper
- Tuna (including albacore)
A 50/50 Balance of Veggies is Best for a Healthy Keto Diet
When it comes to vegetables, I recommend seven to 10 cups per day. They don’t count toward your net carb numbers. I believe how and what vegetables you take in are important. I am often asked if veggies should be raw or cooked. I believe that a 50/50 balance is ideal. For example, five cups of leafy green salad for one meal and then the additional veggie servings of cooked broccoli, Brussel sprouts, or asparagus.
When certain vegetables are cooked, it enhances the bioavailability of certain nutrients, while eating raw increases the bioavailability of other nutrients. Mixing up your vegetable servings is a great way to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs. Below is a great list of quality veggies to include in your keto diet.
- Beet greens
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Butterhead lettuce
- Dandelion greens
- Green beans
- Leafy greens
- Mushrooms (all kinds)
- Mustard greens
- Peppers (all kinds)
- Romaine lettuce
- Seaweed (all sea vegetables)
- Spaghetti squash
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Tread Lightly With Fruits and Watch Net Carbs
Since the ketogenic diet is, in a way, a low carb diet, most fruits go over the allowed amount of carbs. Lemon and limes are a great addition to water to enhance the flavor while also providing you with vitamin C. Berries are a good snack that is lower in carbs than other fruits but be sure to monitor your serving size as you can go above your daily net carbs quickly.
Adding Flavor Can Enhance a Ketogenic Diet
Herbs are a great way to add additional flavor to your foods. While many meat and seafood recipes call for breading, that breading removes the low carb benefits and doesn't fit well into a ketogenic diet. Adding spices gives your meals the flavor while still keeping the low-carb diet benefits.
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
- Curry powder
- Italian seasoning
Staying Hydrated Promotes Increased Keto Benefits
Hydration is an essential part of good health and not something that should be ignored while on the keto diet. Water is your best friend. It helps boost your metabolism. It aids in digestions and helps enhance mental and physical performance. How much water you need daily depends on a variety of factors including weight, age, and activity level.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends that you drink between 91 and 125 fluid ounces per day. Making sure you are well-hydrated throughout the day will keep you healthier and see better results on the keto diet. In addition to water, there are a few other drinks that make the healthy keto list below.
- Almond milk
- Broth (chicken, beef, and bone)
- Club soda
- Coconut milk
- Unsweetened coffee (adding full-fat cream makes this a keto-friendly option)
- Herbal teas
- Seltzer water
- Sparkling mineral water
- Lemon and lime juice (in small amounts)
- Unsweetened tea
Following a Vegan and Ketogenic Diet
If you are following a vegan diet, getting protein can be more difficult. It is even more difficult to get complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids a healthy body needs and can’t make on its own. When following a vegan keto diet, it is essential to be aware of the nutrients you are taking in to make sure you get everything you need. As some of these sources also contain carbohydrates, be sure to monitor your net carbs. Below is a list of plant-based protein sources that can add to your daily diet.
- Nut butters
- Nutritional yeast
- Seed butters
- Protein powders (pea, hemp, and brown rice)
- Seeds (sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin)
- Sprouted beans
- Tofu/tempeh (organic fermented)
Cooking and Baking On a Ketogenic Diet
This list gives some additional food options that are low carb and work with the keto diet. These foods can help provide protein, fats, and added flavor to your foods and daily meal plan and are keto-friendly. Eggs are also on this list and, as I said in my video, these should be pasture-raised and organic to receive the most health benefits.
- Almond flour/meal
- Cacao nibs
- Cacao powder
- Coconut aminos (A sauce made from coconut sap and similar to soy sauce but fits a low-carb diet)
- Coconut flour
- Cod liver oil (fish oil)
- 100% dark chocolate
- Eggs (from any animal, but pasture-raised and organic is preferred)
- Fermented vegetables
- Fish sauce
- Gluten-free tamari sauce
- Mayonnaise (made with oils from the fats list)
- Monk fruit/Lo han guo
- Hot sauce (without sugar)
- Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- Vanilla extract
Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Not All Proteins Are Keto-Friendly
Not all protein is created equal and some can include high amounts of added carbs, keeping you from hitting your low carb goal. This list provides you with some of the proteins to leave out of your daily diet and help you maintain your net carbs.
- Almond milk (sweetened)
- Meat products such as meatballs, breaded meats, or meat with a sweet sauce, such as bbq
- Coconut milk (sweetened)
- Standard hot dogs
- Kefir (high sugar)
- Processed deli meats (nitrates and dextrose)
- Sausage (unless organic and grass-fed)
- Soy milk (because of GMO)
- Yogurt (high sugar content)
Corn Packs Too Many Carbs for a Keto Diet
While most vegetables are great for the keto diet and provide you with a wide variety of nutrients, corn is very high in carbohydrates and should be avoided. This includes popcorn for snack time. Instead, grab a handful of nuts to snack on.
Fruits Are Not a Low Carb Option
While fruits do provide a variety of nutrients and are healthy for the body, they are not a great fit on a ketogenic diet as they are not low carb and a single serving could send you over your daily net carbs. These fruits should be avoided.
- Dried fruit (like raisins)
Starches Are Packed With Carbs and Not Keto-Friendly
Starches, like potatoes, are high in carbohydrates and do not fit in a keto low carb plan. Eating these foods on the keto diet will quickly take you over your daily limit.
- Sweet potato
Avoid Grains on a Keto Diet
Grains, such as found in bread and pasta, are high in carbs and will quickly take you over your daily limit. There are many recipes available for healthy, keto-friendly bread and pasta to replace in your diet, allowing you to feel like you are having carbs while still keeping your net carbs within range.
- Oats (oatmeal)
- Other grain
Avoid Most Legumes To Keep Net Carbs in Range
Certain legumes, like all varieties of beans, are also high in carbs and should be avoided. The exception for this is chickpeas made into hummus. The additional of healthy oils to make the hummus makes this an acceptable option on the keto diet.
- Beans (all varieties)
- Chickpeas (unless in hummus because of the oil addition)
Your Keto Diet Should Focus on Good Health
While keto and reducing carbs in your diet can be difficult at first, this list is designed to help you find the foods that work. Keep in mind that my list may be a little different than others you find out there because, while my focus is on keto, it is also on providing healthy options that promote a healthy body! Just because you are limiting what foods go in does not mean you should limit the nutrients. While weight loss is important, your long-term goal should always be a healthy body.