Are you preparing to start a keto diet? The most common question among keto beginners is what you can eat–and what will kick you out of ketosis.
Luckily, there are plenty of yummy foods to choose from when considering your keto lifestyle. To help you plan your first grocery run, we’ve put together a comprehensive keto food list.
Your Keto Food List: Explained
If you’re feeling intimidated by keto, we get it. Starting a ketogenic diet can be more than a little overwhelming. The good news is that with a little preparation, it doesn’t have to be. And this keto food list is here to help you make the transition.
Today, we’ll break down keto-friendly foods into different categories: vegetables, legumes, fats, etc. Within those categories, we’ll talk about what to eat and how much to eat. You can eat some keto-friendly foods to your heart’s content, while others require a bit more moderation. And in the final section, we’ll go over foods that should be limited or avoided altogether.
Foods You Can Eat on the Keto Diet
Let’s kick things off with an overview of keto-approved foods by category.
Fats & Oils
If you’ve done your research, you already know that fat makes up a significant portion of the keto diet. For most people, it represents around 75 percent of their daily calories. Because of the crucial role fats play in keto, it’s critical to have some criteria when choosing them.
As much as possible, it’s best to choose minimally processed fats and oils. Instead, pick quality fats that encourage a healthy ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s. You should also try to steer clear of trans fats and hydrogenated fats.
With those criteria in mind, here are some of the top keto-friendly fats:
- Olive oil
- Grass-fed butter/grass-fed ghee
- Marrow and tallow from pasture-raised beef
- Avocado oil
- Bacon fat from pasture-raised pork
- Coconut oil
You can enjoy other fats in moderation. Animal fats, such as chicken, duck, and goose, are excellent. You can also incorporate grain-fed butter and ghee and nut oils.
Meat & Poultry
Because they’re carbohydrate-free, meat and poultry are essential staples of the keto diet. They have plenty of benefits, like a healthy dose of B vitamins and essential minerals. Not to mention, meat and poultry are full of protein, which is vital for preserving muscle mass.
However, not all options are created equal. The best choices are chicken and beef, especially if you stick to high-quality cuts. We recommend grass-fed, pasture-raised varieties if possible.
When it comes to processed meats, some are okay. Keto followers can eat things like bacon and sausage, though take care to eat them in moderation.
Fish & Seafood
A healthy keto diet can–and should–include fish and seafood. Fish has no carbohydrates, and it’s full of protein to keep you full. It’s also packed with nutrients and rich in B vitamins, omega-3s, and selenium.
Opt for two servings of fatty fish per week, such as:
When it comes to seafood, you need to pay some attention to what you choose. Most crab and shrimp contain no carbohydrates, but others do. Mussels, clams, oysters, and octopuses are good examples. Although they contain some carbs, you can still eat them–as long as you’re tracking carefully to stay within your carb limits.
You’ll have to read up on which veggies are keto-friendly and which aren’t, but the good news is that you have plenty to choose from.
Look for nonstarchy varieties, which are low carb and low cal but high in nutrients. Green leafy vegetables are an excellent place to start. Here are a few examples to incorporate into your diet.
- Salad greens: lettuce, arugula, baby spinach, escarole, frisee
- Cooking greens: kale, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens
- Herbs: parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage, and mint
You can also load up on veggies like bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms.
Other vegetables are best enjoyed in moderation. This list would include things like artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, snap peas, snow peas, and turnips.
If you can handle dairy, you have plenty of keto-friendly options to choose from.
Plenty of cheeses are low-carb. While there are too many to list them all here, some of your favorites are likely to be included. Things like goat cheese, cream cheese, feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, and provolone all make the cut.
When it comes to yogurt, you can indulge in Greek yogurt and cottage cheese now and again. Both have carbs, but they are nutritious and full of protein.
Good news if you love unsweetened plant-based milk: plenty of varieties are keto-approved. Soy, almond, and coconut milk are all fine, as long as you choose unsweetened types. The one exception is oat milk, which is high in carbs.
Eggs should also form part of the keto diet. They have no carbs and are rich in protein, minerals, antioxidants, and B vitamins. They’re a fantastic way to feel full for longer and maintain stable blood levels, so eat up!
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are appropriate for the keto diet. Their net carb content is low, and they have lots of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats–not to mention plenty of fiber to help you feel full.
When it comes to nuts, the most keto-friendly are pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and coconut. You can eat others in moderation, such as hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, and Brazil nuts.
As for seeds, feel free to experiment with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and more.
Fruit is a bit trickier to incorporate and makes up a relatively small part of the keto diet. Most have a high sugar content and throw you out of ketosis quickly.
Some fruits do fit the keto-bill, however. Avocados come to mind, as do berries. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all appropriate for keto, and you can eat coconut as well. In the moderation category, you’ll find tomatoes, lemon, lime, and melon.
Water is the best way to hydrate without worrying about carbs, but let’s face it–sometimes water is boring. Sparkling water is a keto-friendly alternative, but what if you’re looking for something more exciting?
The good news for coffee lovers is that you can still enjoy your morning cup of joe. Tea is fine as well, and so are bone broth and coconut milk.
Although coconut milk is fine, you should be careful with coconut water. A sip of coconut water is okay, but a full can is carb-laden. Similarly, you can drink vegetable juice in moderation, as well as some keto-friendly alcohol. Beer’s not on the list (unless it’s a low-carb beer), but most clear liquors and dry wines are okay.
Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet
Of course, you need to know which foods to stay away from on the keto diet. Here are some of the most critical ones to avoid if you want to stay in ketosis.
Starchy veggies are a no-go. You’ll have to stay away from things like corn, squash, beets, and peas. Root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are typically off-limits too.
What about beans and legumes? Despite being high in protein and fiber, they’re also full of carbohydrates. Some people eat small amounts of them, but the overarching recommendation is to leave them off your keto food list.
Say goodbye to grains like rice, pasta, oatmeal, bread, and cereal. All of these are high in carbohydrates and are best avoided–even whole-wheat and bean-based pasta versions. If you’re having a tough time saying goodbye to pasta, consider veggie options like spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles.
Fruits have to be listed, too, as most of them are not part of a keto-friendly diet. Avoid things like bananas, dates, mangos, pears, and apples. These fruits are full of carbohydrates and will spike your blood sugar.
Juices & Soda
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that most sugary beverages shouldn’t form part of a keto diet, which means you’ll want to stay away from sodas, juices, sweetened energy drinks, and sports drinks. Natural fruit juice is especially bad for keto. It’s high in fast-digesting carbs, which provide little nutrition and spike your blood sugar.
Traditional snack foods are also a no-no on the keto diet, and it’s not hard to imagine why. Things like pretzels, chips, and crackers have tons of carbohydrates and very little fiber.
Stay away from most of the sweet stuff, like honey, maple syrup, and regular sugar. They only provide lots of carbs without any nutrients.
Finally, you should avoid most alcohol when following a keto diet. Stay away from wine, most beers, and sweetened cocktails.
Starting the keto diet requires some preparation, but hopefully, our keto food list will get you on the right track. We also recommend that anyone considering this diet speak with a dietitian first. They can help you create a plan to ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients.