There’s no denying that the ketogenic diet (keto for short) is the hottest new nutrition trend. And although it’s still controversial among dietitians, doctors, and other nutrition experts, there is some scientific research to back it up. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that following a ketogenic diet can help control hunger levels and improve metabolic rate. If you want in on these weight-loss benefits, you need to make sure you are adhering to the diet’s key principles.
First and foremost, 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.
The key to sticking to keto guidelines is focusing on what you can eat, not what you’re cutting out. If you’re unsure about what’s safe to snack on, you are in luck. We have picked out our favorite, keto-friendly foods that will make eating a fat-centric diet easy and, dare we say it, enjoyable. Keep reading to learn what grocery store items you’ll need to successfully take the ketogenic plunge—as always, consult with your doctor before embarking on a new diet plan.
If you want to make sure you are picking the most weight-loss friendly sources of protein out there, check out our list of 29 High-Protein Foods for Rapid Weight Loss.
Pass the guac! Avocados are a dream ketogenic food, thanks to their high-fat content and lack of sugar and carbohydrates. Just avoid pairing this fatty fruit with chips or toast in order to adhere to ketogenic principles—instead, enjoy it as a topping to your salad, baked with an egg inside, or as a side to your morning bacon and eggs.
Walnuts are an excellent source of fat and protein, which makes them a healthy choice for most kinds of meal plans. Their high fat content and zero sugar status make them a must for keto devotees.
Another protein-packed pick, almonds are a great choice for ketogenic dieters. The combination of fat, protein, and fiber is an ideal trio when it comes to annihilating hunger and stopping cravings in their tracks.
Whether you prefer this veggie as a mashed potato stand-in or masquerading as rice, cauliflower is an ideal substitute for many starchy meals and snacks. With just two measly grams of sugar in an entire cup, it is safe to eat with abandon.
Scrambled, boiled, poached, or fried, all varieties of eggs are welcome on the ketogenic diet. With just one carbohydrate and a healthy serving of fat and protein, the ratio of macronutrients is up to ketogenic standards.
Need more reasons to fry up some eggs? Check out our article about What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs.
Mushroom’s meaty texture makes them one of the most satisfying vegetables around. They also happen to be particularly low in sugar and carbohydrates, a dream come true for people going keto.
This tropical oil has faced some controversy in recent years, but its high fat content makes it a staple for keto dieters. Whether you use it in a salad dressing or to saute your favorite cut of steak, coconut oil is a ketogenic mainstay.
When it comes to maximizing your fat intake, hard cheeses like cheddar have an edge over softer options like goat or feta. Don’t be afraid to place a couple of slices atop your next (bun-free) burger.
A diet that welcomes bacon may sound too good to be true, but it is a reality for the ketogenic diet. With 0 carbohydrates and no sugar, feel free to enjoy this breakfast staple at all hours of the day (or night).
Pick this nut butter over the peanut variety if you’re trying to minimize your carbohydrate intake. An equal portion of peanut butter has two extra grams of carbs and not as much healthy monounsaturated fat.
Fish is a go-to for most diets and the keto diet is no exception. Stick with wild varieties of this pink-hued fish which are more sustainable and nutrient-dense than their farmed counterparts.
Want to know how salmon stacks up to other seafood? Learn more about this fish and others by checking out Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits.
Leafy greens have fewer carbohydrates than other forms of produce, a serious plus for those following the ketogenic diet. Spinach is also rich in iron, potassium, and fiber, all of which have major health benefits.
Try these tropical nuts the next time you get sick of almonds. Macadamia nuts have the same low carbohydrate content and also boast high concentrations of vitamin A and magnesium.
With no carbohydrates and more fat than most white meat, ground beef is a keto-friendly source of protein. The grass-fed variety has a greater concentration of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, and healthier omega-3 fats.
Healthy fats should be a part of any balanced diet, but they take center stage in ketogenic plans. With an abundance of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, olive oil is one of the best choices for lipids.
While most fruits are off limits on this low carbohydrate diet, tomatoes are an exception. This piece of produce is an excellent source of lycopene, a compound with some serious heart health benefits. In fact, a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that an increase in lycopene consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Unfamiliar with this fatty food? Ghee is a form of clarified butter that regularly makes an appearance in Indian food. In addition to its abundance of fat, ghee is also high in fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin D.
These mini cabbages are a winter and fall favorite that you can enjoy all year-round on the ketogenic diet. Brussels sprouts are chock-full of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and phosphorus, so don’t be afraid to dig in.
Asparagus is a low-carbohydrate vegetable that you should make an effort to incorporate into your diet, whether you are going keto or not. The stalky green is rich in glutathione, a compound with major cancer-fighting benefits. A study published in the journal Cancers found that glutathione participates in cell protection and regulation.
Caffeine-fiends are in luck: coffee is allowed on the ketogenic diet. The bad news? Sugar and milk are both off limits. If you can’t stomach the idea of drinking your coffee black, you can make bulletproof coffee, which is made by adding butter and coconut oil or concentrated MCT oil to your morning brew.
If you’re thinking that the paleo diet is more your speed, take a peek at the 14 Best and Worst Weight-Loss Paleo Foods to get an idea of what you should be eating (and avoiding).