Keto diet food list – what to eat
Here’s what you should not eat on a keto diet – foods full of sugar and starch. As you can see, these foods are much higher in carbs.
Drink water, coffee, tea or the occasional glass of wine. More
Full keto diet food list
- Meat – Unprocessed meats are low carb and keto-friendly, and organic and grass-fed meat is the most healthy of all. But remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not high protein, so you don’t need huge amounts of meat. Excess protein (more than your body needs) is converted to glucose, making it harder to get into ketosis. A normal amount of meat is enough.
Note that processed meats, like sausages, cold cuts and meat balls often contain added carbs. When in doubt look at the ingredients, aim for under 5% carbs. Top recipes
- Fish and seafood – These are all good, excellent even, especially fatty fish like salmon. However, avoid breading, as it contains carbs. If you can find wild-caught fish that’s the very best. Top recipes
- Eggs – Eat them any way, e.g. boiled, fried in butter, scrambled or as omelets, whatever you want. Top keto egg recipes
- Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories on a keto diet should come from fat. You’ll likely get much of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs etc. But also use fat in cooking, like butter or coconut fat, and add plenty of olive oil to salads etc. You can also eat delicious high-fat sauces including Bearnaise sauce etc., or garlic butter (recipes).
Full guide to keto fats & sauces
Top 10 ways to eat more fat
Remember, don’t fear fat. On keto, fat is your friend. Why saturated fats are fine to eat
- Vegetables growing above ground. Fresh or frozen – either is fine. Choose vegetables growing above ground (here’s why), especially leafy and green items. Favorites include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli and zucchini.
Vegetables are a great and tasty way to eat good fat on keto. Fry them in butter and pour plenty of olive oil on your salad. Some even think of vegetables as a fat-delivery system. They also add more variety, flavor and color to your keto meals.
Most people end up eating more vegetables than before when starting keto, as veggies replace the pasta, rice, potatoes etc. Full guide to keto low-carb vegetables
- High-fat dairy – The higher fat the better. Butter is good, high-fat cheese is fine and high-fat yogurts can be had in moderation. Heavy cream is good for cooking.
Avoid drinking milk as the milk sugar quickly adds up (one glass = 15 grams of carbs), but you can use it sparingly in your coffee. Definitely avoid caffè latte (18 grams of carbs). Also avoid low-fat yogurts, especially as they often contain lots of added sugars.
- Nuts – Can be had in moderation, but be careful when using nuts as snacks, as it’s very easy to eat far more than you need to feel satisfied. Also be aware that cashews are relatively high carb, choose macadamia or pecan nuts instead or check out our full keto nuts guide
- Berries – A moderate amount is OK on keto, perhaps with real whipping cream, a popular keto dessert. Full fruits and berries guide
Try to buy organic for the most healthy option. How many eggs can you eat, considering cholesterol? Our advice is no more than 36 eggs, per day. But feel free to eat fewer if you prefer.
Finally, be aware that regularly snacking on cheese when you’re not hungry is a common mistake that can slow weight loss.
So what does keto food look like when it’s cooked and ready to eat? Feel free to check out our keto recipes for hundreds of examples. Below you’ll find a few popular options.
Shopping lists & meal plans
If planning your own meals sounds too time-consuming, we can help you avoid it.
For maximum simplicity sign up for the free 2-week keto challenge or our customizable keto meal plan service (free trial). Personalized shopping lists are included.
Alternatively, just use our free 14-day keto meal plan.
You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss could slow down a bit.
- Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), champagne, whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar. Full keto alcohol guide
- Dark chocolate: Above 70% cocoa, preferably just a bit. Full keto snacks guide
Avoid these high-carb foods
- Sugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals.
Preferably avoid artificial sweeteners as well (here’s why). Full keto sweeteners guide
- Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. Wholegrain products are just less bad.
Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs. Moderate amounts of root vegetables may be OK (unless you’re eating extremely low carb).
- Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs. But there are a few lower-carb beers
- Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy. Learn more
Be very skeptical of special “low-carb” products, such as pasta or chocolate. Unfortunately these products usually work poorly. They have prevented weight loss for loads of people. They’re commonly full of carbs once you see through the creative marketing.
There are dozens of companies trying to trick you into buying their “low-carb” junk food, full of starch, sugar alcohols, flour, sweeteners and strange additives.
One of the largest such companies was recently fined 8 million dollars for shamelessly lying about the carb content of their products.
Two simple rules to avoid this junk:
- Don’t eat “low-carb” versions of high carb stuff, like cookies, bars, chocolate, bread, pasta or ice cream – unless you are SURE of the ingredients (perhaps from making it yourself).
- Avoid products with the words “net carbs” on them. That’s usually just a way to fool you.
Also, preferably avoid margarine. It’s industrially produced imitated butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. It has no health benefits and tastes bad. It’s also statistically linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
Eat real food
How low carb is keto?
Keto is a low-carb diet, not “no carb”. So how much of carbs can you eat in a day?
The answer is that it depends. But as a rough guide stay under 20 grams per day for maximum effect, and everyone who wants some benefits of low-carb eating (like effortless weight loss) should probably aim for at least staying under 100 grams of carbs per day.
Below are three examples of how a low-carb meal can look, depending on how many carbs you eat per day. Learn about how many carbs can be appropriate for you
Keto needs to be high fat
A proper keto low-carb diet always means you get a lot more energy from natural fat (like butter or olive oil, etc.).
The body has two main sources of energy: carbs and fats. Take away most of the carbs and the body switches to burning fat for energy. This can come from your fat stores or the fat in your food.
This is why some smart people call keto diets “LCHF” (low carb, high fat).
How much fat should you eat? As much as you need to feel satisfied. Whatever else the body burns, it will take from your fat stores, as you lose weight. Eat more fat than you need to feel great, and it will slow down your fat loss. Eat too little fat, and you’ll feel tired and hungry.
So how much fat should you eat? As much as you need to feel satisfied and great. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are satisfied. Then repeat. It’s that simple.
Visual keto guides
Questions and answers
There are many common questions about keto foods, and we’ll do our best to answer them all. Feel free to check out our full keto FAQ, or choose one of the questions below:
- What can you drink on the keto diet?
- Can I have fruit on a keto diet?
- Can I eat a keto diet as a vegetarian or vegan?
- Can I have dairy on keto?
- What’s the difference between low carb and keto?
More keto recipes
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The numbers are grams of digestible carbs per 100 grams, i.e. net carbs. ↩