So, you’ve decided to try the Ketogenic diet. Now, where do you start? Choosing foods for your Keto journey can be challenging since it requires you to limit your carbohydrate intake to only 5-10% of your total calories daily. In comparison, a standard diet consists of 45-65% of your total calories from carbohydrates. Following a more restrictive diet can lead to burnout due to a lack of variety and even lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Luckily, there are still many foods that are Keto-approved and easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Here are the top 10 recommended Keto-friendly foods that you can find at your local grocery store:
Fish & Seafood
Not only are fish and seafood Keto-friendly due to their high fat/protein and low carbohydrate profile, but they also are packed full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
However, do keep in mind that not all fish and seafood are created equally. Some shellfish contain more carbohydrates that the Keto diet recommends, and certain seafood products may contain hidden sources of carbohydrates, such as crab cakes or salmon patties. Here are your best Keto-approved seafood options:
- Crab (3 oz): 0 grams carbs
- Catfish (3 oz): 0 grams carbs
- Salmon (3 oz): 0 grams carbs
- Shrimp (3 oz): 0 grams carbs
- Tuna (3 oz): 0 grams carbs
Although vegetables are lower in fat and protein content, they are also very low in carbohydrates AND are rich in the micronutrients we need, such as Vitamin A, C, E, Calcium, and Iron! In addition, they are high in fiber, which can be beneficial in preventing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Make sure to add some of these Keto-friendly vegetables into your daily diet:
- Celery (4 small stalks): 4 grams carbs
- Spinach (1 cup): 1 gram carbs
- Asparagus (6 small spears): 3 grams carbs
- Cauliflower (1 cup): 5 grams carbs
- Tomato (1 small): 4 grams carbs
Avocados can add a great flavor, creamy texture, and provide beneficial unsaturated fats, which can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol. They also contain a large variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So be sure to add these to your eggs, salad, or mix with mayonnaise for a creamy dip!
- 1/3 medium avocado: 4 grams carbs
Chocolate on the Ketogenic diet?? Yup, you heard right! Not only can dark chocolate satisfy your sweet tooth on a keto diet, but it also may provide anti-inflammatory effects due to the flavonoids found within cocoa beans. Just make sure to select dark chocolates with at least 75% cocoa to limit daily carb intake and reap these additional health benefits.
- 85% cocoa dark chocolate bar (1 oz): 9.7 grams carbs
Nuts and Seeds
Although nuts and seeds are a slightly higher source of carbohydrates, their high fat content allows for early satiation. Similarly, to avocado and fish, nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which the body needs but cannot generate on its own. The carbohydrate content can vary greatly between different types of nuts and seeds, so choose the low carb, keto-friend nuts and seeds:
- Brazil nuts (1 oz): 3.5 grams carbs
- Sunflower seeds (1 oz): 2.8 grams carbs
- Walnuts & Pecans (1 oz): 3.9 grams carbs
- Pumpkin seeds (1 oz): 3 grams carbs
Since we are already riding the healthy omega-3 fatty acid train, lets talk about olive oil! This oil, unlike butter and coconut oil, is rich in the healthy unsaturated fat our heart is looking for! This can be used for cooking, as a salad dressing, or to replace unsaturated oils in recipes. On top of that it contains zero grams of carbohydrates!
“You can have some fruits on the Ketogenic diet??” Yes, you really can!!
Most fruits contain too many grams of carbohydrates for the Keto diet. However, berries are much lower in sugar content and can be consumed in moderation when following this meal plan. Berries are rich in powerful antioxidants, which have been found to improve memory and learning!
- ½ cup strawberries: 5.5 grams carbs
- ½ cup blackberries: 4 grams carbs
- ½ cup raspberries: 7.5 grams carbs
- ½ cup blueberries: 10.5 grams carbs
Black Coffee and Tea
Yay for caffeine! Plain black coffee and tea are both carbohydrate-free beverage options. However, you will have to make sure to skip the creamer or sweetener and go for the au naturel version. If you want to add a little extra fat, you can add some heavy cream, which contains 3 grams of carbs per 1 ounce. As an added bonus, black coffee and tea may also curb your appetite and improve weight loss results.
Animal proteins are a ketogenic staple since they contain zero grams of carbohydrates. In addition, these high protein foods promote satiety and make you feel full for longer. Just like fish and seafood, animal protein can vary in the amount and type of fat and protein. Aim for very lean and lean protein sources most of the week and medium and high-fat protein sources 2-3 times per week due to their high saturated fat content. Below is a breakdown of each animal protein based on their leanness:
- Very lean protein: chicken or turkey breast without skin, canned tuna in water, white fish, egg whites
- Lean protein: chicken or turkey dark meat without skin, salmon, low fat cheese, beef (round, sirloin, flank)
- Medium-fat protein: chicken or turkey with skin, canned tuna in oil, beef (chuck T-bone)
- High-fat protein: beef (ribs), pork (sausage, bacon), regular cheese
Bone broth has been a hot topic due to its low carbohydrate, high protein profile. One cup of homemade chicken or beef broth contains 2-6 grams of protein and only 0-3 grams of carbohydrates. Although most of its benefits have only been studied in animals, the results indicate that it may provide beneficial effects for bone healing and as a sport recovery beverage for rebuilding muscles.
Consume these 10 healthy keto foods on a regular basis to reap all more benefits of a ketogenic diet! Focus on choosing low-carb, high fiber nutritious sources of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of high quality, good for you fat sources from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bon appetite!
About the Author
Maggy Doherty is a Registered Dietitian and owner of her own nutrition private practice, Doherty Nutrition.
As a UCLA student-athlete on the Women’s Diving team, she learned how to use food to take her health and performance to the next level.
She earned her Master of Science in Nutrition at the University of Illinois and has practiced as a clinical dietitian at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.