The Keto Diet is crazy popular right now and for good reason. One, it works. Two, once you get established and know what to eat, it’s relatively simple. Honestly. No elaborate meal prep necessary if you choose not to, and you’ll be giving your body what it needs and wants. In return, you’ll feel better, have more energy, and lose weight. So what’s on the keto food list?
It’s a bit overwhelming at first to change up your whole eating habits. Especially if you’re used to reaching for processed foods and drive-through meals. And trust me, no judgment here. I’m right there with you. But. I’ve been on a fitness/health journey for about a year and a half now and I’ve stalled. Not gaining, not losing. And I know it’s 100% due to my eating habits. So I’m giving Keto a try.
Keto Food List – What CAN you eat?
Be sure to check out these related posts if you’re just getting started in your keto journey:
So I’ll get right to the good stuff. What exactly can you eat on a keto diet? When you’re grocery shopping, you’ll be sticking to the outsides of the store. Most of that processed stuff in the middle – not keto-friendly.
- Beef – ground beef, stew beef, steak, roast
- Eggs – any way you want to cook them and you want to use the entire egg, not just the egg white
- Seafood/Fish – tuna, clams, oysters, lobster, salmon, trout
- Pork – pork loin, bacon, ham, pork chops
- Poultry – chicken, turkey, wild game
Keep in mind, you can’t sit around and eat bacon all day. And trust me, I love bacon. Your protein consumption needs to be in moderation – an appropriate amount of protein per meal. If you overload on protein, your body will have to break it down via a process called gluconeogenesis. And when this happens, in a nutshell, your body will be breaking down all those amino acids in the protein for energy instead of the fat that you’re hoping for. So – moderate portions of protein. That’s the goal.
- Bok Choy
- Brussel Sprouts
- Tomatoes (scientifically a fruit, but we’ll call it a veggie since most of us think of it that way)
- Bell Peppers
The key to your veggies while on “the keto” is to stick mainly to those veggies that grow above the ground. Not all fall in this category, but if it’s green and grows above the ground, it’s likely a keto-friendly choice.
Yes, you can have some fruit on a keto diet, but in moderation. Fruits contain natural sugar. You want to be careful not to overload on fruits because those small amounts of carbs will add up quickly. If you stick to the “berries”, they are the best choice for keto diets because they have less natural sugar than other fruits.
I’m a huge fruit lover so this one is tough for me. However, there are plenty of keto-friendly fruits that you can eat in moderation. Some of the better choices are raspberries, blackberries, and even my favorite, cantaloupe. Just be wary of how much you’re eating. For example, blueberries are a “berry” but have more net carbs than their other berry relatives. Does this mean you can never eat blueberries again? Nope – but you need to be mindful of how many you’re consuming.
Fat is an essential part of the keto diet. You need to consume fat in order to burn it. That’s why keto dieting focuses on a large number of fats in your daily allowance. It’s hard to change over to this mindset at first. For years, we’ve been told to eat low-fat, no fat and you’ll lose weight. However, if you take a look at the processed foods that are labeled as such, you’ll often find tons of added sugars and other unhealthy fillers to add flavor. Seems food manufacturers took away the fat and added in a bunch of other crap to make it taste good. Keto allows you to have the fat and flavor, without the sugars.
- Heavy cream
- Whole Milk
- Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Full fat, no sugar yogurt
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds can add to the fat content and protein allowance for a keto diet. Just be sure to check out the carb counts. Some nuts, like peanuts, cashews, and pistachios are much higher in carbs so you’ll need to limit those.
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
You can add spices to your meals for flavor on a keto diet. There are carbs in some spices, but considering how much you’ll be consuming in a meal, this is not an area I get too concerned with.
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili Powder
Water will be your best friend. If you don’t love it plain, add a lemon slice or a cucumber slice. More importantly, can you still have that cup of coffee (or three) in the morning? Yes. Add heavy cream for your creamer instead of the processed sugar-filled creamers. You can add a sugar-free sweetener if you choose, however, I’m not a fan of these. It’s easy to think “I could never skip the sugar in my coffee”, but try it. Decrease by half every day until you get to just heavy cream.
Avoid all sodas. Here’s why: One 12 ounce Mountain Dew – 46 grams of carbs, one 12 ounces Coke – 39 grams of carbs. One soda and your carb count is busted for the day. If you’re addicted to soda, I’d recommend breaking that habit first. Give yourself a few weeks to slowly cut them down and then out for good. It’s hard. But worth it. And this will be a win for your grocery budget too – more money for good, healthy keto food, less spent on sugary drinks.
Of course, these keto food lists aren’t extensive. Just ideas to get started. If you think of it in terms of what you CAN have and not what you CAN’T have, it’s easier to picture your meals.
When you are first beginning your keto meal plans, try to base 60-75% on fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs. It feels odd at first to try to base so much of your diet on fat since we’ve been told for years that low-fat, no fat is the way to lose weight. But. That way is generally full of sugar. And sugar is what you don’t want and your body doesn’t either.
If you’re not convinced, take a trip around the grocery store and look at some of the frozen packaged meals that are marketed for weight loss. You’ll be amazed at the sugar content (check out the carbohydrates per serving), as well as anything filled with dextrose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and on and on.
One other benefit of eating a keto-friendly diet is fewer additives, preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients that our bodies don’t need. A super simple rule is the fewer ingredients listed on a package, the better it is for your body. You’ll find long ingredient lists on processed food.
Is it expensive?
I guess the short answer is it can be. But. Think of it this way: Make a healthy trip to the farmers market (if you have one available), stock up on meats during sales, and make a weekly meal plan. You’ll be skipping those trips to the drive-through and fancy coffees.
I tested this a few weeks ago. We’re on a budget like most people I know. I took both my kids for the weekly grocery shopping. At this time, I wasn’t “keto” shopping, but still attempting a relatively healthy meal plan for the week. And for reference, my kids were 10 and 7 at the time. I explained to them that we were saving money so we were going to skip the majority of the inside aisles of the store. Guess what? We saved money. We bought meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and a few other household necessities and we saved money. Those packages of cookies, crackers, frozen meals, and more really do add up.
The expense of a weekly meal plan depends on your protein sources. Meats can get pricey – we can’t eat steak every night of the week. This is where a meal plan comes in as a necessity. And don’t worry about getting all fancy. Look at the list of keto foods and start putting together some simple meals on paper.
Examples of meals from the approved foods:
Salmon and veggies, grilled chicken salad, pork tenderloin with broccoli drizzled with butter and cheese, pan-seared steak cooked in butter with salad and veggies. Nothing crazy – just adding simple ingredients with fat, protein, and very little carbs. I know this is a crazy simplified meal plan for a few days, but I’m just showing you that you don’t need elaborate recipes every day to do a keto diet. And for breakfast, try this keto friendly breakfast casserole! You can make it on Sunday and eat it throughout the week.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Part of the problem when we start a new lifestyle plan is making things too complicated. Keep it simple for a few weeks while you are adjusting to your new lifestyle. If you’re a heavy soda drinker, start with that first, or if you love sweets, start cutting back.
Too often we try to change everything in our lives all at once. We wake up one day and declare that today is the day we run 5 miles, eat only healthy foods, and set a goal to lose 50 pounds. And I’m not saying goals aren’t good for you. They are. And there are definitely people out there that can make massive changes in one day and stick with it. However, most of us need smaller goals and a few “wins” to stay motivated.
- Take your keto food list to the grocery store so you know what to buy
- Make a meal plan for the week and include snacks
- Don’t give up! It’ll be worth it and your body will thank you for it
- Get your family on board. They don’t have to participate with you on everything, but the support will be good for you
Don’t forget to check out these other Keto posts!
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