Comprehensive Ketogenic Diet Food List
So, you're new to keto, or perhaps just curious what can you eat on this "restrictive" diet. Is it really true you can eat fat and lose weight? Sounds like a scam right?
I hear you. I thought so too initially, after all it goes against the whole "fat makes you fat" mantra we are all taught to parrot. After a long time doing everything the "right" way - lots of fiber, whole grain etc. I was sicker and fatter, not healthier.
Out of desperation and admitedly a bit of envy towards others I'd seen being so successful, I decided to research this way of eating further. Now, all I can say is Keto combined with intermittent fasting has literally saved and changed my life.
If you are interested in seeing my personal success story and progress, it follows the diet information and food list.
What is the Keto Diet and How Does it Work?
There are some great explanations in the video below, but in short, the ketogenic diet is a very low carb diet designed to put the body into a state of ketosis, where your body learns to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose from your food. It allows you to tap into your fat reserves and burn them off more efficiently.
Ketosis Healthy or Deadly?
Dr Berg explains ketosis and the benefits and potential pitfalls. He has a lot of videos on Ketosis and is one of my go to resources on this journey. Dr. Jason Fung is also another fantastic resource I recommend for all beginners.
Keto Protein Sources Meat, Fish and Eggs
Grass Fed or Organic Beef (try to avoid grain fed and hormone injected etc)
Chicken (free range or organic if you can)
Pork (in moderation) * A lot of people refer to this as a "bacon diet" - yes, you can have bacon, but nitrites and other preservatives are not healthy. Try to find uncured bacon or purchase local from a butcher and avoid the cheap factory farmed garbage in the supermarkets. Pork is also higher in inflammatory Omega 6 and often contains starches.
Fish (in moderation) Fish is good wild caught. Avoid factory farmed fish as it tends to have high mercury content which can cause toxicity. Acceptable varieties include:
Shellfish (again, pay attention to where it is sourced and eat in moderation)
Eggs (chicken and duck)
Keto Dairy Foods
Dairy is allowed on the Keto diet. You should only use full fat products and avoid skim, partially skim as those products will have more sugar and higher carb counts.
Acceptable dairy products include:
- Whole Milk (Organic only most milk is loaded with hormones)
- Heavy Cream
- Cream Cheese (full fat)
- Whole Milk Mozzarella
- Aged Cheeses (like Swiss)
- Grass Fed Butter
- Full Fat Cottage Cheese
- Full Fat Plain Greek Yogurt (most commercial brands are loaded with sugars and are not acceptable, consider homemade)
- Sour Cream (full fat)
- Half & Half in moderation (check labels)
- Coconut Milk
- Almond Milk
- Hazelnut Milk
- Cashew Milk
Keto Friendly Vegetables
Carbs from vegetables are counted "net" you subtract the fiber content from the total carb count to get your actual carbs. Vegetables are good for you so don't fear veggie carbs. That being said you need to avoid starchy vegetables that are high on the glycemic index (potatoes, carrots, peas) and stick to those on this list.
- All leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, cabbage etc.)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Zucchini (courgette)
- Onions (moderation)
- Peppers (moderation)
- Bok Choy
- Snow Peas
Keto Friendly Fruits
Fruits are loaded with sugar. Yes, they contain many nutrients - they are nature's candy after all, but you can get all the same nutrients from vegetables and should only use the fruits on this list very sparingly.
Some fruits that have an immense glycemic load like bananas for example need to be eliminated all together. It is highly recommended to not use fruit at all until you are fully fat adapted (usually a month or more into the keto way of eating)
Enjoy fresh only and in moderation
- Lemon (the juice squeezed in water)
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are very keto friendly, but some are better than others when it comes to carb count and glycemic load. They are calorie dense, high in fat and can be used to provide satiety, but should be used in moderation if you are trying to lose weight. It can be very easy to overdo a good thing with nuts and seeds!
- Macadamia Nuts
- Flax Seeds
- Pine Nuts
- Hemp Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Peanuts (plain not honey roasted etc)
- Cashews (extreme moderation these are the highest in carbs)
- Chia Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Sweeteners and Substitutes
As you know, sugar and grains are a huge NO on the keto way of eating. Grains and sugars lead to insulin resistance and a host of other problems that keep people fat, carb addicted and struggling with weight loss. Eliminating these foods can seem daunting at first. Although ideally you want to get away from the taste for "sweet", at first, you are looking for progress not perfection.
That being said there is a great deal of debate over the use of sweeteners, many of which are chemical laden and not good for you.
Others, like maltodextrin, despite having zero calories create a higher insulin response in the body than regular sugar. You definitely don't want that, so be sure that any sweeteners you choose to use are not blended with it.
Many products "Stevia in the Raw" for example blend this nasty maltodextrin with the stevia for cheap filler.
Stick to the following Keto approved sweeteners and flour substitutes and use in moderation.
- Stevia (a pure organic blend no fillers)
- Splenda (a source of debate, but it doesn't create an insulin response - no fillers)
- Monk Fruit
- Xylitol (be careful if you have dogs, it's poisonous for them)
- Sugar alcohols (these are found in many "low carb" products and for many they are ok, but they do create an insulin response and can even cause digestive distress in large amounts. I choose to avoid, some use them without issue)
For more information on the glycemic response of sweeteners (stick to those that are zero for best results) Check out this comprehensive guide.
Flours & Baking Goods
Are you a bread addict? I was. I understand the struggle. There are some ways to make keto breads and desserts and they are great in moderation. The goal is to rid oneself of addictive behaviors and not to simply replace old habits. That being said, I do enjoy making keto biscuits and breads at times and it's a great way to "scratch that itch" without breaking protocol. Avoid "gluten free" flour blends - they are loaded with carbs.
- Almond Flour/Meal (a staple with great texture)
- Coconut Flour (absorbs a lot of moisture, has a cornbready kind of texture when baked)
- Ground Flax (can also be used as an egg substitute)
- Psyllium Husk Powder
- Oat Fiber (not to be confused with oat bran) completely insoluble fiber adds good texture and flavor and is high in fiber.
- Unsweetened Cocoa powder or unsweetened bakers chocolate
Be very careful with these products as they can be easy to overdo.
Condiments & Extras
Condiments and extras can really jazz up any dish. It is very important to learn to read labels so that you can avoid added sugars, corn syrup etc. Look for zero carb and look for high quality ingredients or learn to make your own. That being said, there are many extras you can pick up and enjoy from the store.
- Pickles (dill not sweet or bread and butter etc read labels)
- Mayonnaise (homemade is best without the low quality oils of most commercial brands)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Coconut / MCT oil
- Avocado Oil
- Most Cream Based Dressings Ranch, Caesar etc. (check labels!)
- Hot Sauce
- Salsa (without sugar added)
- Sugar free Ketchup (in moderation - read labels! none with corn syrup or sugar)
- Sugar free Barbecue Sauce
This is my current staple list and will likely change and grow over time because I'm sure there are a few things I've forgotten.
With this variety of good foods, it's possible to create amazing meals that everyone will love. I avoid mentioning that I'm keto to people who I don't really want to have a debate with and they still love my food and recipes.
I hope if you've found that nothing else works for you that you'll give low carb or keto a try. It is a healing way of eating for many people.
The first picture is my son and I at our heaviest. He was on homecoming court his junior year. I started Keto on May 24th at about this weight. My son joined me in June to drop some pounds for Senior year and to feel better. The middle picture is his birthday on July 31st. The 3rd picture is us on September 2nd and we're still going. He lost over 30 pounds from June to September and I lost 22 pounds in my first 100 days.
My Keto Journey
Here is a bit about my experience so far with the Keto diet. Initially, I started doing Intermittent Fasting in March, 2017. Perimenopause, some health issues and stress caused me to pack on fifty extra pounds over the past few years. I was depressed, feeling hopeless and constantly feeling ill and tired.
I read about intermittent fasting helping to ease conditions like insulin resistance and started initially just doing that. I ate for 8 hours out of the day, fasting for 16.
This started the healing process. I noticed that my hiatal hernia wasn't causing me pain, reflux was greatly reduced and I was less dependent on caffeine to get through the day, but the weight was resistant and I still dealt with strong mood swings, hot flashes, high blood pressure and other issues. I only lost 7 pounds while counting calories and obsessing over food. I began to feel overwhelmed again and so I decided to challenge myself to overcome my carb addiction once and for all.
From March to May I lost 7 pounds which is respectable, but I was still feeling bad and thinking about having another 50 to go made me feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed when you are a carb addict and stress eater is a recipe for disaster, so I decided to challenge myself to overcome my carb addiction and get my butt in gear once and for all.
I've suspected for many years that gluten and sugar were problematic for me. I'd cut them for a bit, feel good, but gradually they'd worm their way back into my daily life, setting me back up for the binge stress eating. This never-ending cycle resulted in spikes and crashes in insulin which created insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and the myriad of other health problems on my rise to obesity.
On May 24th of this year (2017) I added a 100 day Keto challenge to my already established Intermittent Fasting (IF) protocol.
The results have been nothing short of miraculous. My life has changed in so many ways that I struggle to find words for it. All the obsessing, counting, running and other stuff I hated never gave me the health benefits and weight loss results I am gaining while on Keto. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my body could heal this quickly.
* I recently finished this challenge and I am now dedicated to low carb for life. Here is what has happened in only 100 days.
- My blood pressure is consistently normal and often lower than when I was a runner
- No more hot flashes
- I am no longer on medication for GERD/Hernia issues
- I am no longer insulin resistant
- My IBS-C is under control, no meds, no pain, no bloating, no discomfort
- I have all day energy without constant caffeine
- My anxiety has dropped from an 8 out of 10 to a 2 or less every day (My sons too he's a new person - confident, no attention problems etc.)
- I feel ambitious, energetic, and adventurous - no more sad sack couch potato here. I get things done every day now and feel accomplished.
- My brain is fog free. I don't walk into rooms constantly and forget why. I am able to get focused and maintain it.
- My asthma has improved by 80 percent
- I haven't taken an allergy pill in 45 days
- The pleasant side effect - I have lost 22 pounds in 100 days as a perimenopausal woman - and seven inches off of my belly! 6 inches off my hips and I no longer have a double chin.
- No joint pain or other aches and pains due to chronic inflammation
- No more migraines/headaches
- I have not taken an OTC pain killer in 50 days and I used to eat them daily for my assorted aches and pains.
- I feel more energetic and "frisky" than I did in my 20's and 30's, even when I was thin and thought I was healthy before!
Now, I won't say a ketogenic diet is the answer for everyone, but it was the answer I've been looking for all these years and it goes against a LOT of the standard teachings that I learned previously when I worked in the health industry.
So, you think you could learn a new way of eating for 30 days if it promises to help your body start healing? If the answer is yes, then go back up and find out how the keto diet works and all the kinds of foods you can enjoy.
USDA Food Composition Database: Apps like MyFitnessPal are good, but sometimes they are updated with incorrect information. If you really need to see a foods makeup, the USDA database is the most accurate source of information.
Diet Doctor: This website is an absolute blessing for those new to the low carb and keto lifestyle. It provides all sorts of information, diet plans, pictoral guides to serving sizes, and is just a thorough, amazing wealth of information.
Facebook groups can be an amazing source of support and encouragement if you get in the right ones. There are some that are militant and mean spirited, but others like the ones I'm listing below are very good and they don't tolerate abuse, snark, whining etc.
© 2017 Christin Sander