If you've heard a lot about the keto diet and you're curious about what it all entails, the basic premise is simple. The keto menu focuses on mainly eating lots of fat, a small amount of protein, and almost no carbohydrates at all. If you're dying to learn more check out the Body Reboot book, which gives you the skinny (no pun intended) on the keto diet. If you're wondering what kind of food you can eat on the diet, the staple menu includes seafood, eggs, starchy vegetables, seeds and nuts, fats and oils, meat, and some dairy products. In regards to drinks, most keto guides recommend that it's best to stick with water and skip the diet soda, even if it's artificially sweetened.
In addition to skipping the diet soda, there are a few other items you should avoid as well. Good Housekeeping recommends staying away from the following:
While giving up soda may sound not so hard, the rest of the banned list might. Bread, rice, pasta, fruit, corn, potatoes, beans, baked goods, sweets, juice, and beer all get the axe. Basically, you have to avoid most sugars and starches. Whole grains like oatmeal don't even make the cut!
To keep a body in ketosis (which is when it's burning fat instead of carbohydrates), you should load up on the following foods:
Meat is packed full of fat and protein, which is why Men's Journal recommends eating plenty of it. However, stick with grass-fed or pasture-raised animals because they're lower in calories and contain lots of vitamins.
Meat and offal (e.g., tongue, liver, heart) from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals—it’s low in calories and contains vitamins like A and E along with tons of antioxidants.
Prevention also provides the low down on what meat, which includes lots of steak and chicken, you can eat while on the keto diet:
Lean Cuts of Steak and Chicken
Just because keto is a high fat diet doesn't mean you should rely on large portions of fatty meats to hit your daily fat quota. “It’s not about eating an 8-ounce steak,” Mancinelli says. “Instead, have a 3-ounce portion of steak with half an avocado on the side.” That’ll help you meet your fat needs without overdoing it on the protein or potentially harmful saturated fats.
According to Dr. Axe, you can eat starchy vegetables because they're high in fat and low in carbs. Starchy vegetables are staples on the keto diet, but that doesn't mean carbs can't sneak up on you, so be aware of the number of net carbs in each serving.
All leafy greens, including dandelion or beet greens, collards, mustard, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine, sorrel, spinach, kale, chard, etc. — range from 0.5–5 net carbs per 1 cup
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower — 3–6 grams net carbs per 1 cup
Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives and leeks — 2–4 grams net carbs per 1 cup
Fresh herbs — close to 0 grams net carbs per 1–2 tablespoons
Veggies that are slightly higher in carbs (but still low all things considered) include asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, wax beans, tomatoes — 3–7 grams net carbs per 1 cup raw
Healthline provides info on another keto menu staple, which is seafood. Fatty salmon makes some pretty tasty meals as does shellfish. However, just like anything you eat on the keto diet, it's still important to remember the net carbs.
Fish and shellfish are very keto-friendly foods. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium, yet virtually carb-free.
However, the carbs in different types of shellfish vary. For instance, while shrimp and most crabs contain no carbs, other types of shellfish do.
While these shellfish can still be included on a ketogenic diet, it's important to account for these carbs when you're trying to stay within a narrow range.
Here are the carb counts for 3.5-ounce (100-gram) servings of some popular types of shellfish:
Clams: 5 grams
Mussels: 7 grams
Octopus: 4 grams
Oysters: 4 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 overweight and obese people.
In addition, frequent fish intake has been linked to a decreased risk of disease and improved mental health.
Aim to consume at least two servings of seafood weekly.
Healthline also mentions that it's best not to eat a lot of fruit, and certain fruits in particular while on the keto diet, but there are some you can eat. Berries are delicious and if eaten in moderation are a tasty snack while on the keto diet.
Most fruits are too high in carbs to include on a ketogenic diet, but berries are an exception.
Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber.
In fact, raspberries and blackberries contain as much fiber as digestible carbs.
These tiny fruits are loaded with antioxidants that have been credited with reducing inflammation and protecting against disease.
Here are the carb counts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of some berries:
Blackberries: 5 grams net carbs (10 grams total carbs)
Blueberries: 12 grams net carbs (14 grams total carbs)
Raspberries: 6 grams net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
Strawberries: 6 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
Hilary Brueck, writer on Business Insider, who reviews the diet also mentions why berries are a tasty snack, in moderation, of course:
While apples are sugary, off-limits treats for strict keto-ers, a handful of blackberries has less than 5 grams of sugar and fewer than 10 grams of carbs.
It's a splurge if I'm aiming to stay under 20 total grams of carbs a day, but it's doable.
I also learned that very dark chocolate (like, 85% cocoa) is all right because it has very little sugar.
The good news was that I wasn't craving sweets as often as I normally do. I knew they were off-limits for a few days, and that was fine. Plus, my breakfasts of Ketolent were always chocolatey.
Who can live without dessert? Most people on the keto diet claim they don't crave sweets once their body is entirely into ketosis, but just in case you do, Wildly Organic has an excellent sweet tooth idea:
Cacao nibs are crunchy chocolate addition to Keto baking — without the sugar load of chocolate. While you still want to moderate your intake of cacao nibs, two thirds of the carbs in cacao nibs is dietary fiber, making their net carbs low.
If you're looking to pump up the fat and have fewer carbs in a dessert, Today mentions keto power bites are a great alternative to “normal” desserts:
You may think that depriving your body of carbs will prevent you from being able to exercise, but the keto diet is actually incredibly popular with endurance athletes. I reformulated a power bite recipe that I’ve been using for years to pump up the fat and reduce the carbs. Still, these balls are a little bit higher in carbs than strict keto adherents allow for, but if you stick to the keto guidelines the rest of the day, these nutty-chocolate bites can definitely fit in for a quick energy boost, pre- or post-workout.
There are plenty of other keto-friendly dessert ideas out there, but this is a good place to start.
Here are a few baking powder ideas from Wildly Organic:
Like coconut flour, almond flour is also low-carb and high-fiber. Using it for Keto baking makes the finished product high in fat and low in carbs. Therefore, you’ll be able to eat a smaller portion since almond flour is so filling!
Coconut flour is one of the most popular flours for Keto baking. are coconut and almond flours. It’s low in carbs and high in fiber.
Do be aware that you can’t substitute coconut flour 1:1 with wheat flour. It’s best to find some Keto-friendly coconut flour recipes and use those.
Now that you have a good idea on what you can eat, it's also essential to keep ratios in mind. Here's what the Eat This blog has to say about that:
The keto diet is all about ratios: you want to make sure that carbohydrates make up 10 percent or less of your total caloric intake, with 15-25 percent from proteins, and the remainder from fat. Eating in this manner will help your body achieve ketosis, a metabolic process that occurs when the body resorts to burning fat for fuel, which only happens when glucose reserves are depleted. In basic terms, successfully following the keto diet means cutting out all sources of sugar and most carbohydrates and loading up on foods with high-fat contents
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