The Ketogenic Diet is very popular these days, helped in part by the fact that several big-name celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow, are believed to be fans of the diet. However, the Keto Diet demands extreme lifestyle changes. It’s a difficult diet to follow and some experts consider it a fad and not as healthy a first thought. So, What foods can I eat on a keto diet.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet, or Ketogenic Diet to give the diet its full name, is a diet that involves extreme restrictions in the types of food you can and cannot eat and sets out specific ratios that dieters must adhere to.
One of the most amazing things about the Keto Diet is it’s high in fat. It’s also low in carbs and only moderate amounts of protein are allowed.
Carbohydrates would normally be the body’s main source of energy. When people stick to the standard Keto Diet guidelines, less than five percent of their energy requirements will be met by carbs. The resulting energy shortage within the body results in a metabolic shift and it enters a state known as ketosis.
During ketosis, the body starts breaking down fat and creating molecules called ketones. It then uses these as a source of energy in place of the glucose it would normally get from carbs.
The Keto Diet was originally used as a treatment for children with epilepsy. It’s currently being explored for its potential value in other clinical roles but the Keto Diet receives the most attention for its potential to support weight loss.
However, its value in all areas is a hotly debated issue and switching to the Keto Diet can involve negative health implications, such as bad breath, constipation, and a condition known as the “Keto Flu.”
One of the biggest problems new Keto Dieters face is knowing the best foods to fit in with the diet’s complicated restraints.
What Foods Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
A Look at Some Keto-Friendly Foods
Cheese is a high-fat food. Many varieties are over 30% fat so it’s a food that dieters normally have to try and limit or avoid. Not so with the Keto Diet. Apart from being high in fat, cheese contains zero carbohydrate so it’s a perfect option for keto dieters.
Cheese is also a good source of protein. It’s high in calcium too. However, depending on the variety, a one-ounce serving of cheese can deliver enough fat to account for around 30% of the RDA for saturated fat. So if you want to be kind to your heart you may want to keep a close eye on the portion size.
Greek Yogurt (Plain) and Cottage Cheese
Greek yogurt is another good source of protein and calcium. So is cottage cheese. Both options are also a good match for the Keto Diet’s carbohydrate constraints.
Due to their natural abundance of protein and calcium, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese have the potential to support weight loss in additional ways. Research suggests both nutrients may have the potential to reduce appetite.
Non-starchy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli, are also a good option for people following the Keto Diet. They are naturally low in both calories and carbs while also being rich in vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables also provide antioxidants. These are necessary for good health. Antioxidants purge the body of toxins and help prevent oxidative stress. In so doing they help prevent premature aging.
The other thing to remember is, most countries provide guidelines that recommend everyone eat at least five pieces of fruit and vegetable per day. Vegetables are a better match for the keto diet because fruits contain simple sugars and sugar is a form of carb.
Though they are technically fruits, bell and chili peppers are also ketone-friendly options because they provide compounds that increase metabolism and thermogenesis. By doing so they help you burn more calories per day. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10211048)
Avocado pears are famous for being a fatty fruit, but the type of fat they provide is mainly the monounsaturated kind. It’s better for the heart than the saturated fats that are predominant in cheese and meat. You will still need to go easy on avocados though. Half a medium-sized fruit generally provides 9 g of carbs.
Meat and Poultry
Fresh meat is an excellent source of protein and it does contain any carbs at all. Not surprisingly, it’s a staple of the Keto Diet. The other good thing about meat is it provides the body with potassium, zinc, and other important minerals it needs.
Meat also provides B Vitamins. This is an important consideration too because B vitamins help the body extract energy from food. Due to their high fat content, sausages, burgers, and other processed meat products are permitted on the keto diet too.
Unfortunately, the fat they provide is the saturated kind so it may be best to stick to lean cuts of fresh meat instead.
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood can also be good foods to eat on the Keto Diet. Like meat, they are high in protein and free from carbs. Certain types of fish, such as sardines and mackerel, provide omega-3 fatty acids too. This type of fat is known to be heart-friendly. It may also protect against depression and is good for the eyes. (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3#section1)
Eggs are very versatile. You can use them in a lot of different ways. They are also a high protein, almost zero carbohydrate food that is a perfect choice for anyone doing the Keto Diet.
Eggs are also a good source of Vitamin D. Many people are short of this important fat-soluble vitamin so adding extra sources of it to the diet is always a good idea.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also contain dietary fiber and protein, yet are still relatively low in carbs. Pecans, Brazil nuts, and Chia seeds are all excellent choices. (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-nuts-for-keto#section1)
Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are also suitable options for the Keto Diet. However, when you are looking for a keno-friendly chocolate bar you need to make sure it contains at least 70% cocoa solids. The more the better.
Cocoa and dark chocolate also provide antioxidants. In fact, both options can provide a similar level of antioxidants as blueberries do. So, apart from being keno-friendly, cocoa and dark chocolate also help support good health.
A Quick Roundup of Some More Keto-Friendly Food Options
Variety is the spice of life. Nobody want’s to keep eating the same foods all the time. Fortunately, there is no need for the Keto Diet to ever become boring or bland.
Other good foods to eat on the Keto Diet include:
- Pork rinds (pork crunch / pork scratching
Low-sugar fruits are also keto-friendly.
Good options include:
Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet
Although there are plenty of foods you should seek out on the Keto Diet, there are just as many you need to avoid.
Foods you should avoid on the Keto Diet include:
Grains and wholemeal products
- High-sugar fruits
- Potatoes and other starchy vegetables
- Sweetened yogurt
- Rice and pasta
- Honey, treacle, and maple syrup
- Potato chips, popcorn, crackers, and other high-carb snacks
- Baked goods
However, although foods such as this are not keto-friendly, there is no reason to make them entirely off limits. It’s important to remember you need to be looking at your overall nutrient intake for the day.
If most of the foods you are eating are suitably keto-friendly, you should be able to eat a few non-keto friendly foods too. Moderation is the key. If your total carb intake for the day is under 20-40 grams, it should be okay.
It’s also worth being aware there is no specific level of carb deficiency you can aim for to make ketosis kick in. Everyone’s genetic makeup is unique. There is no one target to suit all. One person may need to avoid consuming more than 10 grams of carbohydrate per day, another may get away with eating 60 grams per day.
Activity levels can also have a bearing on the way things go. People who are more athletic and get plenty of exercise will be able to eat more carbs per day than people who get little or no exercise. Though, of course, no matter what kind of diet you favor, getting plenty of exercise will always work in your favor.
Alcohol and the Keto Diet: Some Sobering Considerations
If you are serious about using the Keto Diet to lose weight, you will need to avoid consuming alcohol in anything but minimal amounts, but the same can be said for any diet. Alcohol provides seven calories per gram.
Spirits and dry white wine are better options than beer, but its better if you don’t drink any alcohol at all.
Other Drink Options
Drinking unsweetened coffee and tea shouldn’t interfere with you keto aspiration, but drinking fruit juices and smoothies will. Although such options are rich in nutrients, they are also high in simple sugars that are easy to digest and may cause your blood glucose levels to spike.
Your body will respond to this by releasing insulin. This will bring your blood glucose back down but may cause it to crash. If it does, you may be hit with cravings for more sugar and carbs.
Water is arguably the best thing to drink while doing the Keto Diet but green tea offers advantages that are too great to ignore. The beverage is rich in a particular type of antioxidant that can help you to burn more fat. Green tea is also known to be very good for the heart.
Gluten-Free Is Not Carb-Free
Some people mistakenly believe gluten-free is the same as carb-free. It’s not. Gluten-free products can be just as high in carbohydrates as normal products are. They may also be lower in fiber.
What Foods Can I Eat on a Keto Diet – Summary
Some people say the Keto Diet is a fad, others swear that it works. However, eating any kind of diet that involves consuming large amounts of fat (any kind of fat) is questionable at best.
Regardless of what fans of the Keto Diet say, the best kind of diet is one that provides a sensible balance of nutrients in a low-calorie way. Governmental bodies in most countries of the world recommend a diet that allows enough carbohydrate for the body to work in the way it’s designed to do.
These recommendations aren’t just for losing weight, they are for supporting good health. Nor are they for the short-term, the recommendations are for life. People who can adhere to them, keep their calorie intake reasonable, and maintain a healthy lifestyle should be able to get their weight under control without the risk of yo-yo dieting or doing anything that may have a negative impact on their health.
In the USA, the recommendations are called Choose My Plate. It directly opposes the Keto Diet by suggesting Americans make sure half their plate consists of fruit and vegetables. If you are thinking of doing the Keto Diet the things you need to be asking yourself is, do you want a diet recommended by a few glitzy celebrities or one that’s endorsed by health experts all over the world.