Ketogenic diet food list – what to eat

Are you not sure what to eat on a keto diet? Here you’ll find a quick food list and visual guide, showing you what to eat and avoid on keto. Let’s start with a basic overview:

In summary, eat real low-carb foods like , , , and like butter or olive oil. As a basic beginner’s rule, stick to foods with fewer than 5% carbs (numbers above1).

 

Avoid

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.

 

Drinks

Keto diet drinks

Drink water, coffee, tea or the occasional glass of wine. More


 

Full keto diet food list

Eat

    Meat

  • 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
  • Keto diet food list: fish

  • 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

  • Eggs – Eat them any way, e.g. boiled, fried in butter, scrambled or as omelets, whatever you want. Top keto egg recipes
  •  
    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.

    Fats&sauces

  • 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
  • Keto low-carb vegetables

  • 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
  • Keto dairy

  • 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.
  • Finally, be aware that regularly snacking on cheese when you’re not hungry is a common mistake that can slow weight loss.
    Keto nuts

  • 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

  • Berries – A moderate amount is OK on keto, perhaps with real whipping cream, a popular keto dessert. Full fruits and berries guide

Keto drinksDrink

  • Water – The #1 option. Have it flat, with ice, or sparkling. Sip it hot like a tea, or add natural flavouring like sliced cucumbers, lemons, or limes. If you experience headaches or symptoms of “keto flu“, add a few shakes of salt to your water.
  • Coffee – No sugar. A small amount of milk or cream is fine. For an extra hit of energy from fat, stir in butter and coconut oil for “Bulletproof coffee.” Note, if weight loss stalls, cut back on the cream or fat in your coffee.
  • Tea – Whether black, green, Orange Pekoe, mint, or herbal — feel free to drink most teas. Don’t add sugar.2
  • Bone broth – Hydrating, satisfying, chock full of nutrients and electrolytes — and simple to make! — bone broth is a great beverage to sip on the keto diet. Stir in a pat of butter for some extra energy.3

For more suggestions see our full keto drinks guide

 

Recipes

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.
 
 

 

Keto alcoholFor special occasions

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: Dark chocolate: A square of dark chocolate, with cocoa above 70% , can often hit the spot. Try some 85% gourmet chocolate shaved over whipped cream and berries. See our guide to keto treats and snacks.

Keto–Chocolate

 


 

High-carb foods to avoid

  • Avoid sugary foods on ketoSugar: This is the big no-no. Cut out all soft drinks, fruit juice, sport drinks and “vitamin water” (these are all basically sugar water). Avoid sweets, candy, cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, donuts, frozen treats and breakfast cereals.
     
    Read labels for hidden sugars, especially in sauces, condiments, drinks, dressings and packaged goods. Honey, maple syrup, and agave are also sugars. Ideally try to avoid or limit artificial sweeteners as well. Full keto sweeteners guide
  • keto-avoid-starchStarch: 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 too. Small amounts of certain root vegetables (other than potatoes and sweet potatoes) may be OK.

    Note that there are many good potential replacements for these foods, that work on a keto diet. Here are a few of them:
    Keto breads
    Keto pasta
    Keto rice
    Keto porridge

  • 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 perhaps. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy. Learn more

 

Also 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.

 
View list of things to clean out from your pantry
 

Beware!

The ketogenic diet has recently become very popular, and many food companies want to cash in by putting a “ketogenic” or “low carb” label on a new product. Be very cautious of special “keto” or “low-carb” products, such as pastas, chocolate bars, energy bars, protein powders, snack foods, cakes, cookies and other “low carb” or “ketogenic” treats. Read all labels carefully for natural low carb ingredients. The fewer ingredients the better.

Fake low-carb productsThese packaged products generally do not work well for weight loss and for correcting metabolic issues. They may have hidden carbs not declared on the label, or they may keep you attached to cravings and even addictions to the high-carb foods they attempt to replace.

Analyze the labels. Often you will see that these products are in fact full of additives, chemicals, sweeteners, sugar alcohols. They are in essence a processed junk food with a “keto” label.” And the labels may even lie. A large pasta company was recently fined $8 million for lying about the carb content of their products.

In short:

  • Don’t replace high carb junk with keto junk. Don’t swap out real sugar for fake sugar. If you want a treat, make a low carb version of a dessert or treat yourself, using our dessert or treat guide. You will likely have more life-long success on the keto diet if you adapt your palate so that you no longer want, need, or crave these sorts of foods.
  • Beware of labels that say “net carbs.” That is often a form of creative marketing to hide the true carb content.

See this guide about deceptive keto products.

 
 

Eat real food

Real keto foods

Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).
 
 

Folder

This folder with basic keto advice can be printed for easy reference, or given to curious friends.

Low-carb-for-beginners_folder_1803-2

 

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).

Top 10 ways to eat more 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.

Learn more about the benefits of eating fat until satisfied

 
 

 

More

14-day keto diet plan
A ketogenic diet for beginners

 

Visual keto guides

 

Questions and answers

Keto questions and answersThere 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.

 

Can I eat a vegetarian keto diet?

Yes. Especially if you eat eggs and dairy (lacto-ovo vegetarianism) it’s very easy. Vegan keto is harder to do, but you can certainly eat a lower-carb vegan diet. Learn more and find inspiration here

 

Can I eat a dairy-free keto diet?

Sure. It’s not even remotely necessary to eat dairy to successfully eat keto, in fact a dairy-free keto diet can be very effective. Learn more and find recipes

 

Can I drink alcohol on a keto diet?

Yes. But make sure it’s an alcoholic drink that is low in carbs, like wine. Check out our full guide to keto alcoholic drinks

 

More questions

More common question and answers about keto
 

 

Keto breakfasts

 
 

Keto meals

More keto recipes

 

Comments

Feel free to comment below or email me at andreas@dietdoctor.com.

  1. The numbers are grams of digestible carbs per 100 grams, i.e. net carbs.

  2. Read labels on some herbal or specialty teas to make sure it does not contain added sugars or sweeteners. Be careful of herbal teas with licorice flavouring, as these have been known to raise blood pressure, lower potassium, or cause erratic heart beats in some people.

  3. Many local butchers and health food stores are now making bone broth for purchase. In a pinch, sip commercial beef stock or chicken stock, choosing organic brands with the most natural, and shortest, list of ingredients.

1 2

63 Comments

  1. Kathy Sears, MD
    This is fantastic! Going to be handing out to my patients. Thanks, Andreas.
  2. marilyn
    this is a wonderful guide. thank you.
  3. Kim G
    Grammar nitpicking: “Fewer carbs” instead of “Less carbs”
    Reply: #10
  4. Cindy
    Easy to understand and the guide is quick to access if I've got questions or maybe unsure about a food's carb content. Thank you!!!!
  5. Cathy
    Wow, this is wonderful! Such a great reference
  6. j.e.
    In regards to chocolate - anyone familiar with Chochoperfection? Chocolate bars made with "the sweetener chicory root fiber, also known as oligofructose, which is a prebiotic fiber that has health benefits and a glycemic index of 0 to 1, does not increase blood sugar levels and helps with weight loss. " Wondering if anyone has tried these and followed BG, or ketones, or has any other thoughts related to eating these on keto diet? Thanks
    Reply: #17
  7. Annie
    Thank you for simplifying this. I’ve had so many friends ask me for a simple guide ... this is it.
  8. Britt
    Love it. Would be even more in love if there was a one page version (or 2 page version or legal paper size version) that I can print and post on the fridge. The non-ketonians in my house could benefit from just seeing this all the time.
    Reply: #11
  9. Lizette
    Absolutely wonderful! I agree with Britt, one/two page legal paper size would be very helpful. Thank you so much for your wonderful site. Recipes are the BEST.
    Reply: #12
  10. Thanks! Correct me if I'm wrong, but when referring to a percentage of carbs it seems the jury is out, and "less" can also be used. Some even prefer it.
  11. Britt,
    Thanks, we'll give it some thought how to best do that.
  12. John
    Seems like you encourage red wine while ruling out (big red X) low carb beers like Miller Lite (3.2) and Michelob Ultra (2.6).

    Arguably, wine is more typically 4 or 5 carbs (not 2) per 5 oz, vs around 3 carbs for more than twice the volume of LC beer.

  13. Toni Wilson
    Thanks for the information it helps me out a little more and I can understand it more to
  14. Anthony
    I'm going to assume your egg advice was a typo and that you meant to say 36 eggs per "week" and not "day".
    Reply: #16
  15. Nancie
    Yes, Chocoperfection tiny chocolate bars are delicious. Go for the Dark Chocolate Orange flavor or the Dark Chocolate Mint! The bars are wonderful if you were used to something sweet in the evening with a cup of coffee.
  16. Dan
    You say a maximum of 36 eggs per day? That´s three DOZEN eggs in a day and no mention of the harm that would do. Really hard to believe the rest of this when you make such an outrageously ignorant statement.
    Reply: #19
  17. What harm would that be? The point is that eggs are nutritious, natural foods and healthy to eat in any number. Also, it's VERY hard to overeat them, as they are very satiating.

    Worrying about eating too many eggs is simply a waste of time and energy. It's not an issue.

  18. Mirko
    Is keto diet free from any heart desease or safe for people with high blood pressure? Thanks
    Reply: #21
  19. Mirko,
    A keto diet may IMPROVE blood pressure, so be aware you may need less medication:
    https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/with-high-blood-pressure

    A keto diet improves many important risk factors for heart disease and might therefore decrease the risk.

  20. Sai
    Is keto diet is help to loss a body weight.
    Please suggest me
  21. Tobey
    Should I be taking a vitamin supplement along with this diet?
  22. Tobey
    I commented above...meant to mention i had done this diet for a few years in the past and took a multivitamin along with it.
    Reply: #25
  23. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Tobey!

    Normally you don't need to supplement because of the diet.

    I commented above...meant to mention i had done this diet for a few years in the past and took a multivitamin along with it.

  24. Tobey
    You guys rocked this website. I taught this diet for years following a company competing with the Atkins diet called Orthomolecular Nutrition out of Orlando (20 years ago). I'm super excited to start eating biologically proper again. I have not attempted this diet without a multivitamin. Do you have any information on this site I missed regarding that?

    Also, I own a fish market. Your statement that wild fish is recommended has only some merit to it and SHOULD NOT be a steadfast rule. VERY IMPORTANT: Look for 3rd party sustainability stamps of approval like "MSC Certified" for ALL fish purchased. Many many times aquacultured fish (fish farming done properly) is a better option for that particular fish and you can get the proper nutrients from the fish as they are raised in open waters where they are eating proper diets. Check out the National Geographic video on Open Blue's cobia operation in the oceans off of Panama for a great example.

    Keep up the good fight.

    Reply: #27
  25. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Tobey!

    Eating multivitamin tablets is normally not needed because of the diet. Avoiding sugar, flour and other grains do not lead to malnutrition. ;-)

    You guys rocked this website. I taught this diet for years following a company competing with the Atkins diet called Orthomolecular Nutrition out of Orlando (20 years ago). I'm super excited to start eating biologically proper again. I have not attempted this diet without a multivitamin. Do you have any information on this site I missed regarding that?
    Also, I own a fish market. Your statement that wild fish is recommended has only some merit to it and SHOULD NOT be a steadfast rule. VERY IMPORTANT: Look for 3rd party sustainability stamps of approval like "MSC Certified" for ALL fish purchased. Many many times aquacultured fish (fish farming done properly) is a better option for that particular fish and you can get the proper nutrients from the fish as they are raised in open waters where they are eating proper diets. Check out the National Geographic video on Open Blue's cobia operation in the oceans off of Panama for a great example.
    Keep up the good fight.

  26. 1 comment removed
  27. Melissa
    My husband and I are just starting Keto and are looking for information regarding working out and eating within Keto guidelines. My husband does extensive cardio and weightlifting and I have found very little info on how to modify this program for him to ensure he has adequate fuel for his body. Thanks for any info you are able to provide.
  28. Gabriela
    How about tofu?
  29. AtkinsMo
    Most excellent guide for new starters, I have shared it with my new support group, thank you.
  30. Rey
    This is an AWESOME reference! Thank you for taking the time to put it together & publish.
  31. Elizabeth
    I can’t find anywhere a guideline except for eating under 5% of carbs. What percent/grams of fats and proteins are acceptable per meal?
    Reply: #34
  32. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Elizabeth!

    Here you can find some information:
    https://www.dietdoctor.com/how-low-carb-is-low-carb

    I can’t find anywhere a guideline except for eating under 5% of carbs. What percent/grams of fats and proteins are acceptable per meal?

  33. Ange
    Can we eat hummus on the keto diet??
  34. Lyn
    I’ve been eating like this for 14 months without realising it was ketogenic, just instinct, and I’ve lost 10 kilos. Wonderful. If you’re serious about your health, some choices just come naturally. Cholesterol and blood pressure are both low.
  35. Hos
    Hi,I've been on atkins diet several times LOL.this time Im going with keto but can I be on keto diet for more than 2 weeks?maybe for lifetime?and another thing is that why the carb counters on other websites show diffrent numbers.
    Almond 22 gr carb in 100gr
    Wulnut 18gr
    Hazelnut 17gr
    Etc.
  36. Hos
    One more question.does the left plate in the picture contain 6gr of carb or 20?
  37. Linda
    Please tell me about resistant starch in cold potayoes, pasta and rice.
  38. Rebecca Bennett
    I am eating low carb but cannot get into ketosis. I have scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast, dinner is generally a grilled meat with a vegetable (typically green beans, mushrooms or zucchini). I usually have leftovers for lunch. If I have a snack it's cheese, pickles & maybe a little peanut butter. I need help. I feel better when I eat this way but I desperately need to lose weight. I've been exercising with some weights but most walking 8,000-10,000 steps a day. Please give advise
    Reply: #42
  39. Nicole
    Is there a DOWNLOAD (PDF) of all the good & bad foods to eat on Keto, like you have above. I know its all laid out here, which is awesome, I am such a visual person...

    It would be even more awesome, if there would be a download that you could print or be able to have an easy guide PDF with me, when I am shopping or making a shopping list...

    Thanks, I love your site, such a wealth of information... I came to you via Dr. Jason Fung & researching fasting, which I have been doing, which I am going to be implementing intermittent fasting & Keto... great combination...

  40. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Rebecca!

    When you buy processed food like sausage make sure that the carb content is really low. Add extra fat to everything you eat. Try to stop snacking. Ideally eat two times a day. If this doesn't work you could try to add bulletproof coffe and eat a bit less of the other food.

    https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/bulletproof-coffee

    Good luck! :)

    I am eating low carb but cannot get into ketosis. I have scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast, dinner is generally a grilled meat with a vegetable (typically green beans, mushrooms or zucchini). I usually have leftovers for lunch. If I have a snack it's cheese, pickles & maybe a little peanut butter. I need help. I feel better when I eat this way but I desperately need to lose weight. I've been exercising with some weights but most walking 8,000-10,000 steps a day. Please give advise

  41. Char Aylor Hodgson
    Just curious how come ice tea has a rating if 32g, with no explanation. Not all ice tea is sweet tea, and 32g is 7+ tsp of sugar a glass, which is sickly sweet...
  42. Shelley
    I've seen a lot of "keto" recipes that use radishes. Are they keto approved?
  43. Kelly
    You spelled yogurt wrong.
    Reply: #59
  44. Ioana
    Electrolytes are extremely important in a ketogenic diet since it is natriuretic – it makes the kidneys dump sodium. I drink this homemade electrolyte drink every day to avoid the headaches and dizziness caused by lack of electrolytes https://www.lowcarbspark.com/homemade-keto-electrolyte-drink/
  45. Dave
    This is a good question and I would be very interested in the answer? Also what if I want to gain muscle mass whilst loosing body fat?

    Melissa
    January 2
    My husband and I are just starting Keto and are looking for information regarding working out and eating within Keto guidelines. My husband does extensive cardio and weightlifting and I have found very little info on how to modify this program for him to ensure he has adequate fuel for his body. Thanks for any info you are able to provide.

  46. James Mauldin, MD
    An outstanding intro guide to keto and healthy eating, especially for those who don't even know where to start the process of lifestyle changes. The visuals are especially helpful. I'm recommending your site to my patients!
  47. Julie A Moulton
    I am very interested in trying this life style. Right now I have a lot of either starchy or sugar loaded foods. I definitely need a food and meal over haul. I am very willing and able to give this a try. I have 1 concern. I have extremely high cholesterol. Under control means 300 with daily medication for 15 years now. I would love to stop the BP and Cholesterol medications. I am worried about the fats and oils? Should I be concerned? I love ice cream and desserts, downfall so I need something to substitute perhaps with fruit, nuts and 80% cocoa plus? Please advise, this is the very 1st time I have read up on this and I am doing this for a chronic health disease. I will shop this week and begin my new journey. I currently weigh 160 lbs and I am 5' 3" tall. I think I need to lose approx. 20 lbs without looking like a skeleton. A response would be greatly appreciated. Tyvm.
  48. Momo
    Hi I want to start this diet
    I m 230lb
    Need to loss 50lb at least
    Calculator is giving me to take 112 g fat 25 G protein and 10g carb
    1200 calories
    I think I have to take only boil eggs and meat
    Please advice me
    Thanks
    Reply: #51
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