When you are first starting out with the ketogenic diet, the first concerns that may arise can be related to constant hunger feeling, a small variety of foods and overall stress which often comes as a by-product of dietary foods. If this is something you have faced then you are in the right place as the ketogenic diet is a whole new world when talking about diets. The list of ketogenic diet foods is actually pretty long and almost everyone can find something suitable from there. Oh, and don’t worry, you do not need to suffer hunger feeling anymore. Thanks to a high percentage of fat in your menu, which is very filling and stable source of energy.
Ketogenic diet in a nutshell
So, the ketogenic diet by its nature is very simple, it’s a very low carb diet and by very, I mean very. More precisely high fat, adequate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. At the end of the day, it’s difficult for your body to burn body fat if you keep feeding it with sugar and starch at every possible moment. Removing carbohydrates from the daily menu will force the body to start finding new sources of energy. Cutting out the carbs from daily intake will force your body to go into a metabolic state called ketosis. When you are in ketosis your body starts using fat for the primary source of energy – you will become a fat burning machine, literally.
For more precise tear down of ketogenic diet and ketosis check out – Ketosis 101: What is the ketogenic diet?
New way of thinking
Eating a ketogenic diet does introduce new ways to think about the food that you are putting into your mouth. Like every new beginning can be a lot to grasp in the beginning, the ketogenic diet is no different. When thinking about foods you should start tearing them down into fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This is the easiest way to start out with the keto diet. Once you already know what foods are low carbs – YAY, and what are higher carbs – NAY then it is way easier to start making better choices and testing.
When I first started out, I really suffered from ignorance of what to eat and not to eat. I even accidentally added some fruits into my menu, which didn’t have very positive effect on getting into ketosis – no you cannot eat banana when doing keto diet. Finding a comprehensive list of keto foods can be problematic, that is why I created this list for myself as a reference and for you as a good starting point. The ketogenic diet can be way less frightening if you know exactly what you can eat and what not.
Let’s be honest, ketogenic diet is very simple but can feel very overwhelming at times. So, I will give u an overview of delicious foods you can eat during ketosis. The simplest rule of thumb is that you should eat real foods. You need to understand that although you should avoid eating any kind of carbs, you can also overeat very easily your carb limit from greens and berries. Severely are restricted all foods that provide loads of carbs, even foods that usually are referred as health foods like whole grains. So, try to remain in the 20-gram carbohydrate limit per day.
When you eat fewer carbs, your body starts using fat as a primary energy source and generates lots of ketone bodies in the process which are used for energy, as a matter of fact, some of your body’s organs such as heart, diaphragm, and kidneys, actually prefer ketones to glucose.
Eat this: Ketogenic diet foods to eat
At the end of the day I cannot write down every possible ingredient out there, but this blog post hopefully is a good starting point. This post is divided into three main parts – macro nutrients (fats, proteins, and carbs) – what you can eat. Following with some additional things to look out for and what not to eat.
Keep in mind that although many of these foods consist a mix of macronutrients, they are categorized based on their predominant macronutrient. Also, the nutritional facts can and will vary in some length between manufacturers, quantities, and countries.
The list of carbohydrates in the ketogenic diet is rather lengthy, but that doesn’t mean that you should or will be able to consume all of them. As the suggested carb limit per day is up to 20 grams, you should be very conservative when it comes to carbs. Seemingly healthy foods can often include more carbohydrates than we first can think of (e.g. carrot – 10g carbs per 100g vs cucumber – 3,6g carbs per 100g). These numbers quickly add up, and what first was a simple goal of 20 grams can quickly remove any hopes of getting into ketosis. Keep in mind that you should eat things below in controlled quantities.
The simplest rule you can follow is to prefer vegetables that are grown above the ground – e.g. leafy greens. Other vegetables can also be okay but in very moderate quantities.
- High carb veggies – mostly root vegetables. Although can be a healthy choice in everyday life, some veggies are not suitable for the keto diet.
- Usually, leafy greens contain the lowest amount of carbs, so you can eat them more. Keep an eye on quantities you are eating.
Although ketogenic diet is strongly tilted towards fat, then your body still needs protein, but only in moderate amounts. Proteins are still essential for the body as it consists of amino acids which are the essential building blocks for the body. It’s vital to follow the moderate protein rule, why? Well eating too much protein can kick you out of ketosis as the body will start converting excessive protein to glucose.
There is definitely a place for proteins in your ketogenic menu but in moderate quantities.
|Fish & Seafood
- Breadcrumbs. Mostly based on flour and other high carb ingredients.
- Sauces. Often filled with sugar and flour.
- Processed meat. Sometimes filled with high carb ingredients as fillers to add mass and flavour. Prefer lean meat.
Probably the biggest benefit of ketosis is that it utilizes our fat stores the way it was meant to be used – for energy. The very basis of the ketogenic diet. For the keto diet to be effective and you to be in ketosis, then 70% of your calorie intake should be fat. Now, probably the best part of the ketogenic diet, the abundance of delicious, satisfying fats you can eat – this is what makes this diet so enjoyable, and more importantly, sustainable.
At first, the idea of eating fat for fat loss may be little unusual but you will get used to it quickly. However, you should be eating the right kind of fats (including omega 3 and omega 6). For example, saturated fats like potato chips and cookies are no go. It’s a good idea to include all types of healthy fats to your keto diet.
|Nuts & Seeds
|| Dairy products
- Dairy. Some dairy products often stall the weight loss process, thats you should not exaggerate with dairy.
Okay, so by now we have covered all main macronutrients – carbs, proteins, and fat. But that’s not the end of this guide. Most of our daily menus contain in addition to main macro nutrients additional sauces, sweeteners, and drinks. Often can these be deal breakers when following different diets as they may have or not additional sugar or carbs are hidden in them.
||Sauces & Condiments
- Everything with added sugar. Most of sauces and beverages include hidden sugar.
Don’t eat this: Foods to avoid during the ketogenic diet
By now, we have covered the main foods what you should eat during the ketogenic diet. As the list has been comprehensive – everyone should be able to pick something acceptable for them. As during life is not always so black and white as described above, sometimes we encounter in situations where we are not sure if one or another food is suitable for keto or not. The reason why you should very precisely follow what you eat is that this will make or break your ketosis journey – as eating more carbs than supposed to will bring you out of ketosis very quickly and slow down your body’s fat burning capabilities. Now I will go through a list of foods that you should avoid at any cost.
Avoid any kind of products labeled “low-fat, low-carb, zero-carb” or similar. These products are often high carbs or contain artificial additives. Also, keep in mind that some sugar-free chewing gums can include carbs. Foods containing artificial ingredients like artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, etc.), dyes and flavors.
Any kind of sugar
Sugar is essentially sweet, soluble carbohydrate – which is found everywhere, and in the context of the ketogenic diet, none of them are suitable. Avoid white, brown, cane, raw and confectioner’s sugar, syrups like maple, carob, corn, caramel and fruit, honey and agave. Essentially any food made with ingredients such as fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, and lactose. All types of candy
Different grains can have a different impact on diets. Whole grain foods are often considered as a healthy choice – which they definitely are in some other menu but there’s no room for grains in keto diet. Slice of bread can have anywhere from 10-30 grams of carbs which can be already our daily limit. Avoid wheat, oats, all rice (white, brown, jasmine), quinoa, couscous, pilaf, etc. Corn and all products containing corn, including popcorn, tortillas, grits, polenta and corn meal. All types of products made with flour, including bread, bagels, rolls, muffins, pasta, crackers, chips, pretzels, Oatmeal and cereals, granola bars, most protein bars or meal replacements, etc.
Although flour is mostly based on grains it deserves its own paragraph as our food table consist so many foods based on flour. Avoid cookies, cakes, pies, pancakes, waffles and other baked breakfast items, all desserts
This is often a deal breaker. As people, often are not willing to sacrifice sweet drinks and alcohol. Some drinks can consist even more carbs than foods, that’s why you should avoid fruit juices and yes even 100% fresh juices and smoothies. The second part of this equation is alcohol – which can play a big role in your diet. Alcohol will slow down your fat burning process and can kick you out of ketosis. Also, many alcoholic drinks have often hidden carbs, so try to ignore beers, cocktails, flavored syrups, sodas, sweet wines and flavored liquors. Addition to alcohol, avoid sweetened teas and coffee drinks.
One of the biggest reasons why my first attempts of ketogenic diet failed was that I was still eating fruits during keto diet – banana was supposed to be healthy right? Although they are healthy they often include a lot of sugar – why do you think they taste so sweet? Most fruits include a lot of carbs, especially tropical fruits. Avoid dragon fruit, peach, nectarine, kiwi, grapefruit, apple, orange, plums, cherries, pears, pineapple, mango, banana, papaya, fruit smoothies, fruit syrups, fruit concentrates. This also includes dried fruit like dates and raisins.
By now we have gone through most of the good and bad when it comes to ketogenic diet foods. Keep in mind that all the foods can vary between individuals – some endure dairy some don’t. Key takeaways from this article would be: eat real foods and healthy fats, avoid processed foods and any kind of sugar. Oh, and whatever you do, do not eat more than 20 grams of carbs per day.
-Body in ketosis is a happy body