One of the best things about the keto diet is that you get to eat healthy, fresh, REAL food. But navigating which foods you should eat can be downright confusing at times. That’s why I put this keto food list together!
The typical American diet is loaded with carbs. Even the USDA’s recommendations for a “healthy” diet include an emphasis on carbohydrates and sugar.
When you’re first starting keto that adjustment can be difficult to make. In many ways, it’s the exact opposite of what you’re used to and that makes it hard to figure out what you should be eating.
The general breakdown of your daily calorie intake for the keto diet is.
- 75% fat
- 20% protein
- 5% carbs
Different food groups contribute to each of these categories but high fat and low-carbs are really the cornerstones of the keto diet. That’s what gets you into ketosis and turns your body into a fat-burning machine. (For more information about how the keto diet works, check out the Ultimate Keto Guide for Beginners!)
I organized this keto food list by category and there’s also a printable at the end that you can reference when you’re meal planning.
Keto Food List To Help With Meal Planning
This isn’t an all-inclusive list but rather a list of common keto foods meant to help you with your meal planning and shopping.
There may be something you really enjoy that isn’t on here but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it! Part of the keto diet is doing your research. You will become an expert nutrition label reader.
Ready? Let’s get started! Or to jump to a particular food group click one of the links below:
How To Shop For Keto Food
A good guideline to follow when evaluating a food is the number of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber).
If a food has less than 3 grams of net carbs per 100 grams of food, that’s great! Between 3 and 6 grams of net carbs per 100 grams of food is acceptable too.
When you’re shopping for food go for natural and fresh food. If it once walked the earth, swam in the ocean, or grew in the ground that’s what you want. Grass-fed beef, seafood, veggies, nuts, and organically grown food are some examples.
Stay away from processed foods as much as possible. The chemicals added to process foods are designed to extend shelf life and not your life.
And always check the food labels. Food companies are notorious for sneaking in extra sugar or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
If you keep these tips and guidelines in mind, you’ll be well on your way to losing weight and realizing the benefits the keto diet has to offer.
Healthy Fats and Oils
The majority of your calories on the keto diet come from fat – 75%. And you can incorporate fat into your diet through meat, fish, and nuts and also with certain cooking oils.
It may sound a little crazy that to burn fat you need to eat fat, but that’s how ketosis works. It breaks down fat instead of carbs to fuel your body.
And fat is great. It tastes great, and it fills you up so you’re less hungry.
But you need to make sure you’re eating the right kind of fat on the keto diet because eating too much of the wrong kinds of fat can be detrimental to your health.
There are a few kinds of fats allowed on the keto diet:
- Saturated Fats – Saturated fats are found in eggs, butter and red meats and can help improve cholesterol levels – HDL and LDL. The majority of your fat intake on the keto diet will come from saturated fat.
- Monounsaturated Fats – Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olive oil, and sunflower oil. This type of fat has been shown to improve insulin resistance and help improve cholesterol levels.
- Polyunsaturated Fats – Be careful with polyunsaturated fats since they can also be found in unhealthy processed foods like margarine, which you should avoid. Stick to natural sources like fish, fish oils, and certain types of nuts and seeds
- Trans Fats – Stay away from trans fats unless they’re from a naturally occurring source like dairy! Trans fats are found in highly processed food and are also known as hydrogenated fats, which go through a chemical process designed to improve shelf life.
That may sound like a lot to take in but just keep in mind that if a fat is found in processed food, it’s best to avoid it. If it’s coming from a natural source like animals, fish, or nuts it’s probably safe.
For more information on fats in the keto diet, read the Essential Guide to Fats on the Keto Diet.
Fats & Oils
Here’s a list of healthy cooking oils and fats.
Sometimes it can be a struggle to get enough of the right kind of fat in your diet. If you find that you’re having trouble hitting your fat macros while still maintaining a calorie deficit (which is necessary to lose fat!) you can use MCT Oil and Powder as a supplement.
Another option would be to keep a stock of healthy keto fat bombs around. Fat bombs are like little treats that are loaded with healthy fat and very low carbs. They’re used on the keto diet to help boost your fat intake.
For a whole bunch of keto fat bomb ideas, check out the post on Keto Fat Bombs.
Fat gets a lot of attention on the keto diet. It’s a HIGH FAT, low-carb diet, after all. But protein also plays an important role.
You need protein to help build muscle but it also helps fuel the tissues that can’t use ketones, like red blood cells and parts of your brain.
Fat is the driver that helps you to lose fat but protein helps keep the train running at full capacity.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, protein should come from healthy, natural sources. Use organic and grass-fed as much as possible. It’s more expensive and if you’re trying to do keto on a budget, it’s difficult. Check out our guide on keto on a budget for tips on how to getting the best quality food without breaking the bank!
Here’s a list of your best options for protein on keto:
Vegetables are an important part of any balanced diet and keto is no different. But navigating the world of fresh vegetables can be a little tricky. There’s no nutrition label for you to check in the grocery store and there are tons of options to choose from.
There are some guidelines when it comes to choosing the best vegetables on the keto diet.
- Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes, beans, corn, and peas
- Leafy greens like kale, lettuce, and spinach are your best options
- Fiber content is important – remember it’s net carbs (total carbs – fiber) that count
- Fresh is best but if you opt for frozen or canned, check to make sure there are no added sugars
Your best options are the leafy green variety but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other vegetables. Be aware of fiber content too. If a veggie is high in carbs but has a lot of fiber too, it’s still OK because the fiber cancels out the carbs.
For example, an avocado has 9 grams of carbs per 100 grams of food, but it has 7 grams of fiber. That means the net carbs are only 2 grams per 100 grams of food! You’ll see a lot of keto recipes featuring avocados because it’s a smart choice and very versatile.
Here’s the list of vegetables, along with fiber and net carb counts.
Dairy can contain both fats and proteins but isn’t really essential to be successful on the keto diet. If you’re lactose intolerant or just don’t like dairy, don’t worry that skipping dairy in your diet is going to prevent you from losing weight.
When choosing dairy, calories are important. You still want to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight.
Choose full-fat dairy products. Lower fat options ARE NOT HEALTHIER. When fat is removed from the food it tastes like GARBAGE. Food companies will replace the fat with SUGAR to improve the taste. Then they market it as the healthier option when in reality it’s just loaded with sugar and therefore more carbs.
Here’s a list of dairy products for keto.
If you’re new to keto you might be surprised to find out that most fruits are not good choices because of the high sugar content.
Even though the sugar comes from a natural source the effect is the same as if you ate straight sugar. Fruit will cause an increase in blood sugar which raises insulin levels.
It’s not that you can’t eat fruit on keto at all but you need to aware of the carb content and limit your portions.
For example, bananas are one of the most popular fruits but contain 24g of carbs!
Stick to lower carb fruits like berries and citrus and keep portions small.
Here’s a list of fruits and their macro nutritional profiles:
A large part of reducing carbs is eliminating sugar from your diet and that’s the most difficult part for a lot of people.
When you’re starting the keto diet, that sudden lack of sugar can have quite a shock on your system. So much so you may experience flu-like symptoms. It’s called the “keto flu” and it happens as your body adjusts to a new way of finding fuel to burn for energy.
Read the post on the keto flu and find out what steps you can take to lessen the effects here.
Obviously, your safest bet is to avoid sweet foods altogether. Eventually, you’ll stop craving sugar and your body will thank you for it.
But there are times when you need something sweet. Luckily, there are a few keto-approved sweeteners you can add to recipes.
Be wary of artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet and Low. Although they may be low calorie and low glycemic, they can make insulin levels spike and could kick you out of ketosis.
Here a few sweeteners that are keto-approved:
One of the effects of a high-fat, low-carb diet is that you’re not as hungry all the time. All that healthy fat you’re consuming is filling you up and burning fat at the same time!
It’s still a good idea to have a stash of healthy snacks available for those times when you are hungry or you’re on the go.
There’s an entire post dedicated to easy keto snacks for even more ideas.
But here’s a quick list of good options for snacks on the keto diet.
Water will be your friend on the keto diet. It’s important to stay hydrated because you’ll be losing a lot of water. Water can also help lessen the effects of the keto flu and keep your electrolytes in check. Try adding lemon or lime to your water for a little flavor.
Bone broth is another great option to drink on keto. It helps with gut health and provides an immunity boost.
Try to limit your intake of diet soda, coffee, and alcohol. Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners which can trigger insulin production. And caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which can complicate your ability to stay hydrated.
I truly cannot function in the morning without caffeine of some sort. I’ve tried and it’s bad for everyone. A great option is keto bulletproof coffee. It will give you a nice dose of healthy fat, keep you in ketosis, and give you the caffeine boost you need.
Almond or coconut milk is also acceptable. Opt for the unsweetened versions which have very few carbs.
As for alcohol, there are low carb options. But you’ll find your tolerance is lower while you’re on keto so drink in moderation or suffer the consequences.
Check out the post on keto cocktails for more ideas on keto-approved drinks you can enjoy.
Here’s a list of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks for the keto diet:
A Handy Printable
Trying to remember everything about food and drinks you can have on the keto diet can be challenging so I’ve made this keto food list printable for you. Print it out and stick on your fridge or somewhere visible.
A Few Last Words
After reading this post, you might be feeling overwhelmed with all the information. Don’t!
If you stick to a few basic guidelines when choosing your food, you’ll see great success on the keto diet. Reference the keto food lists often to help guide your choices.
- Choose fresh food from a natural source as much as possible. It’s the best for you and you won’t have to worry about any sneaky or harmful ingredients that have been added.
- Cook at home. It’s a lot easier to maintain control over your macros if you’re cooking yourself. It’s more of a guessing game when you eat out.
- Always check the nutrition label. Look for weird ingredients and keep an eye on sugar AND fiber content for your net carbs.
- Enjoy your new life! You’ll feel so much better when you’re fueling your body with healthy food. You’ll have more energy and can get out there and enjoy the world!
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