Top 7 Foods to eat on a Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is well known for its ability to help people achieve weight loss, blood sugar control, and other health-related goals, but many still want to know what foods to eat on a ketogenic diet. A traditional ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day which can seem very limited to beginners. While these limitations may seem challenging, many nutritious, tasty, and versatile foods options are available. Here are seven nutritious foods to eat on a balanced, healthy, ketogenic diet.
Top 7 Foods to eat on a Ketogenic Diet
1. Meat and Poultry
Meat and poultry should make up a large portion of the ketogenic diet. First, meat and poultry do not contain carbs making them ideal sources of high-quality protein. Meat and poultry contain no carbs and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals, including potassium, selenium, and zinc [ 1 ]. They’re also a great source of high-quality protein, which has been shown to help preserve muscle mass during a very low-carb diet [ 2, 3 ].
Quality Grass-fed beef and pastured poultry are the healthiest choices to make when it comes to choosing what foods to eat on a ketogenic diet. Animals fed a proper diet also contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than their grain-fed counterparts [ 4 ].
Often maligned, eggs are one of the healthiest and most versatile foods on the ketogenic diet. One Egg contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, can be cooked quickly, can be made portable if boiled, and can help keep you full for hours. Eggs are also high in several essential nutrients and may help protect eye and heart health, which is another excellent reason to have them as a staple food in your ketogenic diet. Further, eggs can trigger anorexigenic hormones that increase feelings of fullness, keeping blood sugar levels stable. These hormone signals and blood sugar stability have been shown to lower caloric intake [ 5, 6 ].
You should also eat the entire egg. The yolk contains most of the nutrients of the egg, as well as its healthy fats. While it is true that eggs are high in cholesterol, some evidence suggests that consuming the yolks does not increase cholesterol levels significantly. Some evidence suggests that eggs appear to modify low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in a way that reduces the risk of heart disease [ 7 ]!
Rich in B vitamins, potassium, and selenium, seafood contains very low amounts of carbohydrates. Fish, shellfish, and other seafood are also good sources of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the carbs in different types of seafood vary and should be considered carefully when determining what foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
The following are the carbohydrates found in some types of seafood per 8 ounces:
- Salmon: 0 grams
- Shrimp: 3 grams
- Clams: 5 grams
- Mollusks: 7 grams
- Octopus: 4 grams
- Oysters: 4 grams
- Squid: 3 grams
4. Low-Carb Fruit and Vegetables
While consuming even one serving of “starchy” vegetables or fruits like potatoes, yams, apples, or beets could offer the fiber your body needs, they can put you over your entire carbohydrate limit for the day. Therefore, the sources of fiber you choose must come from low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables to maintain a ketogenic diet.
Non-starchy fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories, but high in many nutrients and minerals, including vitamin C. The net carb count for non-starchy vegetables ranges from less than 0 gram to 6 grams of net carbohydrates per 100 grams.
- Alfalfa: 0 grams net carb
- Spinach: 1 gram net carb
- Broccoli: 4 grams of net carb
- Kale: 5 grams of net carb
- Brussels Sprouts: 6 grams of net carbs
Most fruits contain far too many carbohydrates to fit into a ketogenic diet. However, berries offer a low-carbohydrate, low-calorie alternative that can help you get fiber and nutrients, and only contain 5-12 grams of net carbohydrates per 3.5 ounces/100-gram servings making them tasty foods to eat on a ketogenic diet:
- Blackberries: 5 grams of net carbs
- Raspberries: 6 grams of net carbs
- Strawberries: 6 grams of net carbs
- Cranberries: 7 grams of net carbs
- Blueberries: 12 grams of net carbs
5. Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are healthy, high-protein foods that contain only 5 grams of carbohydrate per 150 grams, and 11 grams and 18 grams of protein, respectively. Studies suggest that plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese reduce appetite and promote fullness, making them a great addition to a ketogenic lifestyle [ 9, 10 ].
Despite decades of a bad reputation, cheese is high in saturated fat, conjugated linoleic acid which may protect against heart disease [ 11, 12 ], and rich in protein which may aid in weight loss [ 13 ]. Also, cheese is also very low in carbohydrates making it a simple addition to any ketogenic diet regimen. Cheese only contains between 2-12 grams of carbohydrates per cup:
- Cheddar Cheese: 2 grams of carbs
- Ricotta Cheese: 7 grams of carbs
- Mozzarella: 3 grams of carbs
- Provolone: 3 grams of carbs
- Gouda: 5 grams of carbs
Avocados are incredibly healthy and are perhaps the most versatile and important staple fat of the ketogenic diet. One medium-sized avocado contains 3 grams of net carbs, 9 grams of fiber, and several critical nutrients like potassium which is necessary for electrolyte balance [ 14, 15 ].
The versatility and applications of the avocado cannot be understated. Avocados make great snacks and can you can add to almost any food item imaginable. They can also be seasoned, stuffed, added to salads and soups, and can even serve as a substitute for mayonnaise, and is the base ingredient for many low-carbohydrate desserts. For this reason, avocados are one of the best foods to eat on a Ketogenic Diet and should be added as a staple.