16 Foods You Can Eat On A Ketogenic Diet

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The ketogenic diet has become popular.

Research has shown that this low-carb, high-fat diet is very effective in weight loss, diabetes and epilepsy

Early evidence suggests that it may also be beneficial for certain types of cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

To determine the long-term safety of the diet, it is necessary to conduct higher quality research

The ketogenic diet restricts carb intake to between 20 and 50 grams per day. This may seem difficult, but many healthy foods can be easily incorporated into this diet.

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These are healthy foods you can eat when following a ketogenic diet.

1. Seafood

Fish and shellfish are very keto-friendly foods. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium, and selenium, yet virtually carb-free

The carbohydrate content of different types and varieties of shellfish is variable. For example, shrimp and most crabs are free of carbs but other types of shellfish have them

These shellfish can still fit into a ketogenic diet. However, it is important to consider these carbs when trying to keep your weight within a certain range.

Here’s the list of carbs for 100-gram (3.5-ounce) shellfish servings

  • Clams4 grams
  • Mussels4 grams
  • Octopus:4 grams
  • Oysters3 grams
  • Squid:3 grams

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and other fatty fish are very high in omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in people who have overweight and obesity

A decrease in the risk of developing diseases and better cognitive health has also been linked to frequent fish consumption

The American Heart Association recommends consuming 1 to 2 seafood meals every week

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SUMMARY

Many seafoods are low or completely free of carbs. Shellfish and fish are good sources of vitamins and minerals as well as omega-3s.

2. Low-carb vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals.

Vegetables and other plants contain fiber, which your body doesn’t digest and absorb like other carbs.

Look at the digestible (or net), carb count. This is total carbs minus any fiber. Net carbs simply means carbs that the body absorbs.

Note that net carbs and their effects on the body are somewhat controversial, and more research is needed.

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Many vegetables contain very few net carbs. You could consume more than your daily carb limit if you eat one serving of starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, and beets.

Non-starchy vegetables have a net carbohydrate count of less than 1 gram per cup of raw spinach and 7 grams per cup of cooked Brussels sprouts.

Vegetables contain antioxidants which protect against unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells (19Trusted Source 20).

Furthermore, studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cauliflower are associated with lower risk of heart disease and cancer (21TrustedSource, 22TrustedSource).

Low-carb vegetables are great alternatives to higher carb foods.

Take, for example:

  • You can use cauliflower to make mashed potatoes or rice.
  • You can make “zoodles” from zucchini
  • Spaghetti squash can be used as a substitute for spaghetti

These are some keto-friendly veggies to add to your diet.

List of Keto vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • avocado
  • Broccoli
  • cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • green beans
  • eggplant
  • Kale
  • lettuce
  • Olives
  • Peppers (especially green).
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

SUMMARY

Non-starchy vegetables have a net carbohydrate content of 1-8 grams per cup. Vegetables can be nutritious and versatile. They may also help to reduce the risk of developing diseases.

3. Cheese

There are hundreds of types of cheese. Fortunately, most are very low in carbs and high in fat, which makes them a great fit for a ketogenic diet.

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One ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese provides 1 gram of carbs, 6.5 grams of protein, and a good amount of calcium

Saturated fat is high in cheese, but has not been shown to increase heart disease risk. Some studies have shown that cheese may be a good option to prevent heart disease (24TrustedSource, 25TrustedSource).

Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which is also found in cheese, has been shown to be linked with fat loss and improved body composition (26).

Consuming cheese on a regular basis may also help to reduce muscle loss and strength associated with aging.

A 12-week study in older adults found that those who consumed 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta cheese per day experienced less muscle mass and muscle strength loss over the course of the study than others

These cheeses are low in carbs and suitable for keto.

Keto cheese list:

  • blue cheese
  • Brie
  • camembert
  • cheddar
  • chevre
  • colby jack
  • cottage cheese
  • cream cheese
  • Feta
  • goat cheese
  • Halloumi
  • Havarti
  • Limburger
  • Mango
  • Mascarpone
  • mozzarella
  • muenster
  • parmesan
  • Pepper Jack
  • provalone
  • romano
  • string cheese
  • Swiss

SUMMARY

Cheese is high in protein, calcium and beneficial fatty acid, but it has very few carbs.

4. Avocados

Avocados are incredibly healthy; 3.5 ounces (100 grams), or about one-half of a medium avocado, contain 9 grams of carbs.

However, 7 of these are fiber, so its net carb count is only 2 grams

Avocados contain potassium, which is an essential mineral that many people don’t get enough of. What’s more, a higher potassium intake may help make the transition to a ketogenic diet easier

In addition, avocados may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

One study found that participants eating one avocado per day had beneficial effects for their cardio-metabolic risk factors including lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. 

SUMMARY

Avocados have 2 grams net carbs per portion and are rich in fiber, as well as many nutrients including potassium. They may also help to improve your heart health.

5.  MEATAND POULTRY

On a ketogenic diet, meat and poultry are staple foods.

Fresh meats and poultry are low in carbs, and high in vitamins and minerals

They are also a great source for high-quality protein. This has been proven to preserve muscle mass when eating very low carbs

One study in older women found that consuming a diet high in fatty meat led to HDL (good) cholesterol levels that were 5% higher than on a low fat, high carb diet

It’s best to choose grass-fed meat, if possible. That’s because animals that eat grass produce meat with higher amounts of omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid, and antioxidants than meat from grain-fed animals

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SUMMARY

Carbohydrates are not a part of meat and poultry. They are high in protein, as well as a variety of nutrients. The healthiest meat choice is grass-fed.

6. Eggs

Eggs are one of the healthiest and most versatile foods on the planet.

One large egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs and about 6 grams of protein, making eggs an ideal food for a ketogenic lifestyle

Eggs have also been shown to increase the feeling of fullness, satisfaction, and hunger

The yolk contains the majority of the egg’s nutrients. It is important to eat all the eggs. This includes the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect eye health

Even though egg yolks have high levels of cholesterol, most people don’t experience an increase in blood cholesterol. In fact, eggs appear to modify the size of LDL particles in a way that reduces the risk of heart disease

SUMMARY

Eggs have less than 1 gram carbs per egg and can keep you satisfied for hours. They are also rich in nutrients that may protect your eyes and heart health.

7. Coconut oil

Coconut oil has unique properties that make it well suited for a ketogenic diet.

To begin with, it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs, unlike long-chain fats and oils, are absorbed directly by the liver. They can be converted to ketones or used quickly as a source of energy.

In fact, coconut oil has been used to increase ketone levels in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders of the brain and nervous system

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Lauric acid is the main fatty acid found in coconut oil. It is a slightly longer-chain fat. A mix of MCTs, lauric acid and coconut oil may lead to sustained ketosis

What’s more, coconut oil may help adults with obesity lose weight and belly fat.

One study found that men who consumed 2 tablespoons (30mL) of coconut oils per day lost an average of 1 inch (2.5cm) from their waistlines.

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SUMMARY

Coconut oil is high in MCTs which can increase ketone levels. Coconut oil may also increase metabolism and promote weight loss.

8. Cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are healthy, high protein foods.

They can be included in a ketogenic diet in moderation, even though they do contain some carbs.

Plain Greek yogurt has 4 grams of carbs (105g) and 9 grams protein in a half-cup (105g). This amount of cottage cheese contains 5 grams of carbs, and 11 grams protein

Yogurt and cottage cheese both have been shown to reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness

Both make a delicious snack. Both can be combined with chopped nuts or cinnamon for an easy keto treat.

SUMMARY

Cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt both contain 5g of carbs per cup. They have been shown to reduce appetite and increase fullness in studies.

9. Olive oil

Olive oil provides impressive benefits for your heart.

It is high in oleic acids, a monounsaturated oil that has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors in numerous studies

Extra-virgin oil also contains phenols, which are antioxidants. These compounds also protect the heart by improving blood flow and decreasing inflammation

Olive oil is a fat-rich source and contains no carbs. It’s an ideal base for salad dressings and healthy mayonnaise.

Olive oil is not as stable at high temperatures as saturated fats, so it’s better to use it for low-heat cooking.

SUMMARY

Extra-virgin olive oils are high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. This oil is great for dressings, mayonnaise and even adding to baked foods.

10. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are healthy, high fat, and low-carb foods.

Regular nut consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, depression, and other chronic diseases (54TrustedSource, 55).

Nuts and seeds also contain fiber which can help you feel fuller and absorb less calories

All nuts and seeds have low net carbs. However, there are many varieties.

Here’s how many carbs are in 1 ounce (28g) of popular nuts and seeds:

  • Almonds2 grams net carbs (6 g total carbs).
  • Brazil nuts:1 gram net carbs (3 g total carbs).
  • Cashews8 grams net carbs (9g total carbs).
  • macadamia nuts:2 grams net carbs (4g total carbs).
  • Pecans2 grams net carbs (4g total carbs).
  • pistachios:5 grams net carbs (8g total carbs).
  • Walnuts2 grams net carbs (4g total carbs).
  • chia seeds:1 gram net carbs (12 g total carbs).
  • Flaxseeds0 grams net carbs (8g total carbs).
  • Pumpkin seeds3 grams net carbs (5 g total carbs).
  • sesame seeds:3 grams net carbs (7g total carbs).

SUMMARY

Seeds and nuts are high in fiber and heart-healthy. They may also help with healthier aging. They contain 0-8 grams of net carbs an ounce.

11. Berries

Many fruits are too high-carb to be included in a ketogenic diet. However, berries are an exception.

Berries are high in fiber and low in carbs. Raspberries and blackberries actually have as much fiber in them as digestible carbohydrates.

These small fruits are rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against diseases (68TrustedSource, 69TrustedSource, 70TrustedSource).

Here’s the list of carbs for 3.5 ounces (100g) of some berries (71TrustedSource, 72TrustedSource, 73TrustedSource, 73TrustedSource, 74TrustedSource):

  • Blackberries11g net carbs (16g total carbs).
  • blueberries:9g net carbs (12g total carbs).
  • Raspberries6 grams net carbs (12g total carbs).
  • strawberries:7 grams net carbs (9g total carbs).

SUMMARY

Berries are high in nutrients, which may lower your risk of developing diseases. They contain 5-12 grams of net carbohydrates per 3.5-ounce serving.

12. Butter and cream

Butter and cream are good fats to include on a ketogenic diet. Each has only trace amounts.

Butter and cream have been linked to heart disease for many years due to high levels of saturated fat. Numerous large-scale studies have proven that saturated fat has no link to heart disease in most people

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Some studies have shown that moderate intake of high-fat dairy products may reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack

Like other fatty dairy products, butter and cream are rich in conjugated linoleic acid, the fatty acid that may promote fat loss

SUMMARY

Butter and cream, which are almost carb-free, can have beneficial or neutral effects on your heart health when you consume them in moderation.

13. Shirataki noodles

Shirataki noodles are a fantastic addition to a ketogenic diet. You can find them near the produce at grocery stores or online.

They contain less than 1 gram of net carbs and 15 calories per serving because they’re mainly water .

In fact, these noodles are made from a viscous fiber called glucomannan, which can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water .

Viscous fiber forms gel which slows down food movement through your digestive system. This can reduce hunger and blood sugar spikes and make it useful for weight loss and diabetes management

Shirataki noodles are available in many shapes and sizes, including rice, pasta, and fettuccine. These noodles can be used in place of regular noodles in many recipes.

SUMMARY

Shirataki noodles have less than 1 gram carbs per portion. The viscous fiber in Shirataki noodles slows down food’s movement through the digestive tract. This promotes fullness, and stable blood sugar levels.

14. Olives

Olives provide the same health benefits as olive oil, only in solid form.

Oleuropein, the main antioxidant found in olives, has anti-inflammatory properties and may protect your cells from damage

Additionally, studies in vitro suggest that olives may reduce bone loss and blood pressure. However, no human trials have been conducted (88TrustedSource, 89TrustedSource).

Due to their size, olives have different carbohydrate content. Their digestible carbohydrate content is low because half of the calories they contain come from fiber.

Ten olives (34g) have 2 grams total carbs and 1 gr fiber. This works out to a net carb count of about 1 gram depending on the size

SUMMARY

Olives are high in antioxidants, which may help to protect your heart and bones. They have 1 gram net carbs per ounce.

15. Unsweetened tea and coffee

Coffee and tea are healthy, carb-free drinks.

They are high in caffeine which can increase your metabolism and improve your mood

A significant reduction in diabetes risk has been found for coffee and tea drinkers. In fact, those with the highest coffee intake have the lowest risk for developing diabetes .

It is okay to add heavy cream to your coffee or tea, but avoid “light” tea lattes and coffee. These drinks are usually made with nonfat milk, and have high carbohydrate flavorings.

SUMMARY

Coffee and tea without sugar are free of carbs. They can boost metabolic rate and physical and mental performance. They may also lower your risk of developing diabetes.

16. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Dark chocolate and cocoa are delicious sources of antioxidants.

In fact, cocoa provides at least as much antioxidant activity as any other fruit, including blueberries and acai berries

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Flavanols in dark chocolate may reduce your risk of developing heart disease. They lower blood pressure and keep the arteries healthy

It is possible to eat chocolate as part of a ketogenic diet, which is surprising. It is important to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids. If you eat too much, this can lead to a ketogenic diet.

One ounce (28 grams) of unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa) has 3 grams of net carbs.

SUMMARY

High levels of antioxidants are found in dark chocolate and cocoa powder, which may reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

The bottom line

The ketogenic diet is a way to lose weight, manage blood sugar, and achieve other health-related goals.

It can be a variety of delicious, nutritious and versatile foods that will allow you to stay within your daily carbohydrate limit.

Consume keto-friendly food on a regular basis to reap the health benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle.

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