A keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, focuses on consuming a high percentage of healthy fats, moderate protein (compared to other low-carb diets), and reduced carbohydrates. Ultimately, the goal is to help the body reach the ketosis state where stored fats and proteins, specifically amino acids and fatty acids, are used as the primary source of energy.
This process allows the body to work its way through any remaining carbohydrates within 3 to 4 days, allowing a natural transition towards the alternative energy sources found in fat and protein.
Similar to when you start any new eating plan, it’s important to understand the necessary restrictions and allowances within your food options. Given how dependent a successful keto diet is on the consumption of healthy fats, as well as protein, there are several mandatory foods you will want to include.
Most keto experts recommend consuming less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, with an ideal range being between 30 and 20 grams. Maintaining this ratio allows your body to formulate the fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids required for triggering a ketosis state. Overall, the ideal keto diet involves the consumption of 75% fat-rich foods, 15% protein intake, and only 5% of carbohydrates.
The following is a list of the top 10 keto-friendly foods that are high in fats, low in carbs, and contain all the essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
1. Cheese, butter, and cream
Surprisingly, cheese—along with butter and cream—is one of the most keto-friendly foods out there. These items typically contain high quantities of fats, while being free of any carbohydrates. The two most recommended types are cottage cheese and cheddar cheese.
Although a common misconception is that cheeses contain an excess amount of saturated fat, studies have shown that they may actually help prevent heart disease. High in immersed fat, cheese actually minimizes the risk of experiencing coronary illness. In fact, a connection has been found between improved body structure and the conjugated linoleic corrosive found in cheddar cheese.
High in cholesterol, eggs are an excellent option for anyone considering the keto diet. Not only are they incredibly versatile, but eggs also possess a numerous amount of nutrient-packed health benefits. The majority of the nutritious value is found within the egg yolk itself, which contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as two antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) that are known to provide eye-protection.
Although egg yolks typically have a high quantity of cholesterol, research has shown that consuming them does not raise blood cholesterol levels in most individuals. Some studies actually found that egg yolks help modify the shape of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) in a specific way, helping reduce potential heart disease.
Other benefits of consuming eggs include:
- Increased feeling of fullness
- Maintains stable blood sugar levels
- Helps decrease calorie intake for up to 24 hours
- Contains less than 1 gram of carbs (per 1 large egg)
- Fewer than 6 grams of protein (per 1 large egg)
3. Nuts and Seeds
For anyone who enjoys a crunchy afternoon snack, nuts and seeds can be a great alternative while on the keto diet. Many different nuts and seeds are low in carbs, rich in fiber, contain saturated fats, are a source of protein, and provide you with necessary vitamins.
When consumed in the correct quantities, nuts and seeds do not run any risk of increasing cholesterol levels or causing damage to the body. When eaten in moderation and proportioned properly, these superfoods align perfectly with the requirements of keto.
4. Meat, poultry, and seafood
A major staple in the keto diet involves meat, poultry, and seafood. Containing zero carbohydrates, meat and poultry are packed with B vitamins, as well as several minerals, including potassium, selenium, and zinc. Each option available also contains varying levels of creatine, taurine, carnosine, and iron (not to mention, they are all an easy source of protein).
In addition, fish and shellfish provide you with the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s. Food items such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and other fatty fish contain the highest quantity of omega-3 fats. Many studies have found a correlation between an increased intake of fish and improved mental health.
5. Olive oil
Both olives and olive oil provide multiple different health benefits. One of the most studied compounds is known as oleocanthal. Possessing similar anti-inflammatory properties as ibuprofen, olives and olive oil can help reduce bloating and other health conditions.
Keep in mind that actual olives contain more health benefits than olive oil. However, if you’re looking to minimize the intake of carbohydrates—or simply don’t enjoy olives—then olive oil is still a great keto-friendly option.
Avocados are an excellent addition to any keto diet. Containing 1.9 grams of protein, 1.9 grams of carbohydrates, and 19.7 grams of fat per 100 grams, they can easily be incorporated into your daily ratios.
In addition to containing the necessary macronutrients, they are also a source of multiple essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
While most fruits are unfortunately too high in carbohydrates to include in a keto diet, berries manage to make the cut. Often low in carbohydrates, berries act as a high source of fiber. Raspberries and blackberries contain as much fiber as other common digestible carbohydrates, making them a healthy option throughout your day.
Often recognized as a superfood, berries are also loaded with antioxidants that are known to reduce inflammation and protect against disease. If you’re unsure where to start, consider the carbohydrate count of some more common berries, per 100 grams:
- Blackberries: 5 grams
- Blueberries: 12 grams
- Raspberries: 6 grams
- Strawberries: 6 grams
8. Coconut Oil
If you’re looking for an alternative cooking oil, or simply want to add some extra flavour to your meals, coconut oil will do the trick. Considering that it is made up of 100% fat, coconut oil is an ideal food source for any keto diet.
Known as MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), the fats found in coconut oil are used by the liver to produce energy. These fats get transformed into ketones straight away.
9. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables—also known as green-leafed vegetables—typically contain fewer carbohydrates. The selection that is ideal for a keto diet are those high in plant protein and contain basic carbohydrates, as well as fat contents.
Some keto-friendly vegetables include:
- Cabbage and cauliflower
- Green beans
- Red and green peppers
Recommended vegetables to avoid while on a keto diet are:
- Sweet potatoes
10. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
Being on a diet doesn’t mean that you have to give up all the good things in life. Both dark chocolate and cocoa are excellent sources of antioxidants, making them perfect to include in any keto diet.
Not only are these selections delicious to consume, but they also contain many flavanols that help decrease blood pressure, heart disease risk, and insulin resistance. Cocoa has been proven to provide as much antioxidant activity in your body as any other fruit, including blueberries and acai berries.
Following a keto diet offers an excellent option for achieving your weight-loss goals, managing blood sugar levels, and supporting other health-related concerns. Thankfully, there are many available food items to help provide you with the necessary nutrients, while also reducing your carbohydrate intake.