What can I eat on a Keto Diet?
On a ketogenic diet, you eat like royalty. In days of old (before the insanity of the low-fat diet craze), a diet that was based on grains and legumes was considered starvation food and only suitable for peasants. While the poor subsisted on rice and beans, the wealthy ate meat that was cooked in fat and topped with fatty sauces, served with a side of vegetables. Welcome to nutritional wealth! As you begin a keto diet, the question to ask yourself is “What can I eat on a Keto Diet?” and avoid the negative question of “What can’t I eat on a Keto Diet?”
What can you eat on a Keto Diet – Keep it simple.
Keto meals do not need to be complicated. At their best, they are often simple and straight forward, full of flavor because they feature satisfying fat, protein and colorful vegetables.
Our basic Keto meal template is:
- A palm sized portion of protein
- A handful of non-starchy vegetables
- At least a couple of spoonfuls of fat
Follow this basic premise but customize it to your preferences, availability and budget, and you’ll be eating keto with no trouble!
You are going to eat the best available meats which will provide you the keto-important fat as well as the actual protein to maintain your muscle mass.
You are not going to be eating lean, dry choices, either. Instead, you are going to be seeking out the fattier, full-flavored (and often less expensive) cuts.
Seek out the highest quality meat (organic, grass-fed, wild-caught) that you can afford. Such meat has more nutrition and is more satiating because of those nutrients.
Here at Advantage Meals, we promote a clean, real food approach to Keto, accept in our No Cook Keto Meal Plan which was designed to be the easiest keto meal plan available for the keto newbie. But everyone is in a different place on the journey, with different backgrounds, goals and needs.
Use these lists to help understand what food is good for getting into and staying in ketosis, while supporting your health along the way. Adjust where you need. We’ve got you covered for protein, fat, vegetables and even drinks and sweeteners!
Advantage Meals' Beginners' Guide to the Keto Diet.
Read these articles to master the Keto Diet, or jump around to the ketogenic information that you need today.
- The Rules of Keto
- Does the Keto Diet work?
- What is the Keto Diet?
- What can I eat on a Keto Diet?
- How long does it take to get into ketosis?
- What is the keto flu and how to cure it.
- The No-Cook Keto Meal Plan
Not finding the information you need? Just ask.
List of Keto Meat & Other Protein Choices
- Eggs – For our money (and yours!) eggs are one of the best, most affordable protein choices available. With both protein and fat, ease of use, flexibility, and cost, eggs are a great choice. Free-range is best, with significantly higher vitamin and mineral content than conventional eggs. Bonus points if you buy them from a local farmer at the farmer’s market!
- Fish – Especially fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna (fresh or canned), due to their high omega-3 content. Wild-caught is best. Other great sources of omega-3 that are also low in harmful mercury since they are lower on the food chain include sardines, anchovies and kippers, and they are all available very affordably in cans. Leaner fish are fine, too. You’ll just want to make sure you add fat in the form of sauce, topping, etc. Catfish, tilapia, cod and pollock, to name a few.
- Shellfish – Shrimp, mussels, crab, lobster, oysters are all on the menu. Dip them in grass-fed butter and enjoy!
- Beef – Steak, especially fattier cuts like ribeye, roast, ground beef (use the higher fat variety, such as 80/20).
- Pork – Roasts, chops, ribs, whole loin
- Poultry – Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose – they’re all good. Duck and goose tend to be fattier and more nutrient dense in general, and they render some really great fat that can be used for cooking. Dark meat has more fat and flavor, and leave the skin on when roasting! (I’ve even saved the skins and roasted them separately with a little olive oil and salt to make chips – yum!) Thighs, drumsticks, and wings are all great. Breast is fine, too, just make sure to add fat.
- Lamb – Roasts, chops, ribs
- Organ Meats – Often forgotten in modern culture, organ meats have a huge advantage over muscle meats when it comes to nutrient density. They also tend to be more affordable. Organs are the filters of the body, though, so finding clean, well-raised sources is even more important. Try liver, heart and gizzards to start.
- Processed and Cured Meats – Sausage, ham, bacon, pepperoni, salami. Almost all have higher fat content but they also often contain additives, chemicals and may include sneaky sugar. Make sure to buy carefully, read labels, and don’t make them your protein choice for every meal.
- Bone broth – Save the bones from your meats and toss them in a crock pot to make your own bone broth. High in minerals and a good source of the kinds of protein that encourage a healthy gut, along with great skin and hair. Many people find that bone broth helps with the symptoms of keto flu. If you are not in a place to make your own bone broth, then buy the highest quality that fits your budget such as those from The Osso Good Company.
Then you are going to add amazing veggies that are low in net carbs. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some great choices that you can find in most grocery stores. Fresh or frozen are great, but avoid canned vegetables.
Two great sources of quality meat – Advertisements.
List of Keto Vegetable Choices
When choosing Keto Veggies, you are looking for low starch low natural sugar choices. The list below include all of the vegetables that are generally considered to be good for a keto diet. If you are taking long to get into ketosis than you expected, be careful with Brussels Sprouts & Tomatoes as their carbs can add up if you have huge helpings.
- Dark, leafy greens – kale, collards, swiss chard
- Green Beans
- Cabbage – red and green
- Zucchini and Yellow Squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bell Peppers – red, green, yellow and orange
- Mushrooms – all kinds like button, portobello, shiitake
- Onion and garlic, shallots, green onions
And of course, you are going to make sure that you add more good fat to those amazing proteins and vegetables while cooking or in the form of keto dressing, sauce, or dip when you are ready to eat. The fats you use as part of your ketogenic diet need to be natural and unprocessed so your body recognizes them as fuel. Avoid fake and industrially processed fats like trans fats, hydrogenated oils, margarine, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil. We’ll cover this in much greater detail later in this article.
List of Keto Fat Choices
- Grass-fed, pastured Butter
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Avocados / Guacamole
- Avocado oil
- Coconut Oil / Coconut Milk / Coconut Butter
- Full-fat cheeses
- Rendered fat from bacon, duck or goose, beef tallow, real (not hydrogenated) lard
- Mayonnaise – the best is made with avocado oil or homemade with bacon grease!
- Good Olives
- Nuts, nut butters and seeds – Macadamias are great because they have the least amount of omega 6, which can be inflammatory. Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts are also good. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pistachios are good. Make sure all are not roasted in processed oils. Peanuts and peanut butter are good for some people – see how they work for you. Make sure nut butters do not have added sugars.
- Heavy Whipping Cream in your coffee!
You can have some fruit on a keto diet, but you have to eat small portions and pay attention. The following low sugar fruits can be enjoyed in moderation.
List of Keto Fruit Choices
For many of us who have been trying to eat right on the Standard American Diet (SAD), fruit is a shocker.
While the saying goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, the carb count in that apple will also keep you from getting into ketosis or keep you from staying it ketosis. Yes, a whole fruit is better for you then juice, but it’s still sugar even if it is natural sugar. Once you hit your goals, if you want to eat fruit seasonally, give it a try and see how your body reacts. But as you are trying to begin your keto diet, avoid all fruits expect for the following short list keto fruits.
- Berries of all kinds
- Lemons and Limes
Remember – a lot of things we think of as vegetables are actually fruits! Here are some other ‘vegetables’ that are actually great low carb fruit choices.
Some of the confusion between vegetables and fruits are so ingrained that we actually listed them in the keto veggies, those include:
- Bell Peppers
We use both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables but we avoid canned. Organic is best, but buy what makes the most sense for your budget.
There are some sweeteners you can include in a Keto diet, to sweeten your coffee or tea or to make low-carb desserts and treats. You will find in time that your taste for sweets diminishes and you will need less and less, but particularly when you first start, it is nice to have a way to still include sweet-tasting treats.
List of Best Keto Sweeteners
A little sweetness is a must for most people, at least occasionally. With that in mind, below is a list of our favorite keto sweeteners that are all near-zero or zero carb sweeteners. Each ketogenic sweeter is linked with convenient affiliate links to Amazon since many are hard to find locally.
So that ends our lists of what you can eat while following a ketogenic way of eating (“woe” for short, you’ll see it other places).
However, of course, there are some foods that you will be eliminating while following a strict ketogenic diet. This list is the not-so fun part of any diet, but as you study it, keep reminding yourself of all of the great things that you can eat on your Keto Diet!
What should I avoid on a Keto Diet?
The simple answer is carbs. On a Keto Diet you should avoid carbs. You can’t eat carbs and be in ketosis, or at least you can’t eat very much of them.
But to make is easier, let us share our Keto Diet no-no lists with you.
List of food groups to avoid or eliminate on a Keto Diet
- Starchy vegetables
- High sugar fruits
All of these food groups are high in carbohydrate, and keeping your carb intake low (between 20-50 net grams) is vital to being in ketosis. You must deprive your body of carbs so that it can make the transition to burning fat. In other words, so your body can transition from a state of glycolysis to a state of ketosis.
The following is a list of specific yet common foods that are not part of your new ketogenic lifestyle because consuming a normal serving of them will knock you right out of ketosis.
List of specific foods to eliminate on a Keto Diet
Common Drinks to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Soda / Soft Drinks
- Fruit Juice
Common Grains to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Hamburger buns, bread, crackers
- Wheat, rice, oatmeal, corn, quinoa
Common Sugar to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Many Salad Dressings
- Steak Sauce
- BBQ Sauce
- Fancy Coffee
- Honey, maple syrup
- Most fresh fruits
- Fruit Juice (or any ‘juice’ that taste sweet)
- Dried fruits
- Anything that has an ingredient list needs to be checked carefully – it seems like they add sugar to everything!
Common Starchy vegetables to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
Good Keto Fats vs Bad Keto Fats
Fats are very important on a Ketogenic diet, and they make up anywhere from 65-90% of your daily calorie intake. In our decade plus of experience, most people who are trying to make achieve dramatic changes average around 70%. If a third or more of your calories are coming from fat, it becomes self-evident that the source of that fat is very important.
Natural, unprocessed fats are your friend. But not all fats are created equal. Those that have been highly processed and altered are dangerous in our bodies and make it difficult to experience all of the health benefits of a Ketogenic lifestyle. Watch labels carefully for these bad keto fats. The more of these highly processed fats you can avoid, the better your results will be on your ketogenic diet.
Common Bad / High Processed Fats
- Canola Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Vegetable oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
- Many Salad Dressings
Keto Flour Alternative – Your Choices
Keto baked goods are incredibly popular, as they give people the experience and/or feeling of eating beloved favorites from their old way of eating. There are recipes all over the internet for Keto bread, pancakes, cookies and much more. These can definitely be helpful as you transition to a Keto way of eating. If your choice is to give into a craving for an old favorite or to make yourself a Keto version, we definitely support the Keto alternative! Just watch that these don’t become a staple in your diet. They are more processed than simple meat and vegetables, and they can be habit forming, just like their higher carb versions. As you adjust to Keto, you’ll find that your tastes change and you’ll crave them less and less.
When you want a treat, you’ll probably find these flour alternatives in a lot of recipes.
What are my Keto Drinks?
This is often one of the hardest things for people to adjust to, because the most common drinks in a Standard American Diet (SAD) are keeping you in a constant glycemic state and will absolutely keep you from transitioning to ketosis unless you entirely eliminate them.
Common drinks that must be eliminated in a Keto Diet
However, there are so many other keto drink options!
Good ketogenic drink options
- Iced Tea
- Hot Tea
- Sparkling Water – Sugar Free
Sparkling waters are nice because they have carbonation and a little bit of flavor. Make sure there is no sugar added – some brands do but many do not.
Coffee is fine, as long as you don’t add sugar to it. Most creamers are full of additives and, you guessed it, sugar. So if there are carbohydrates included on the nutrition label, avoid it and go for the good stuff…real heavy whipping cream.
Hot Tea is great. Iced Tea is too. Sweet Tea is not ketogenic.
If you must have sugar free soda, do it. We don’t think you are doing your health any favors with the artificial sweeteners, but most won’t keep you from being in ketosis.
Keto Adult Beverages and Keto Cocktails
As long as your adult beverage choices are low carb, you are good to go. Some good choices include:
- Dry Red Wine
- Dry White Wine
Keep in mind that the dry wines still have some carbs. Most dry red wines have about the same carbs as a low-carb beer (see below). Dry white wines are slightly lower, but not zero carb like the hard alcohols on the list above.
What about Keto Beer?
Regular (Non-Light) beer is a definite NO during a keto diet. However, there are some pretty decent low-carb beer options out there. If you go this way, just make sure to do so in moderation. Alcohol also lowers your impulse control, so be vigilant about avoiding old eating habits if you choose to have a drink.
Best Keto Beers for Low Carb Diet
- Budweiser Select 55 Lite Lager – 1.9g Carbs, 2.4% ABV
- Miller Genuine Draft 64 Light Lager – 2.4g Carbs, 2.8% ABV
- Michelob Ultra – 2.6g Carbs, 4.2% ABV
- Beck’s Premier Light – 3.2g Carbs, 2.3% ABV
Everyone reacts a little differently to alcohol, so use moderation and check your ketone level the next day to see how it affected you.
“What can I eat on a Keto Diet?” – Sum It Up
There is so much that you can eat and enjoy on a Keto Diet! We encourage you to focus on the wonderful foods that you can eat while supporting your decision to better your health with Keto. Keep your goals in mind when you choose what to eat and drink. And revel in the fact that heavy whipping cream, butter, steak and bacon are not just allowed on your keto diet, but are encouraged as keto super foods!
Keto On! You got this, and we got your back. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
What are your favorite foods on a Keto Diet?
Do you have a go-to Keto Meal?
Leave us a note in the comments!