The ketogenic diet is becoming quite famous recently.
Researches have found that this very low-carb, high-fat diet is effective for losing weight, diabetes and epilepsy
There’s also early evidence to show that it may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases, this has proved to be beneficial too.
Carbs are limited to 20–50 grams per day in a ketogenic diet. While this may seem challenging, various nutritious foods can easily adjust into this way of eating.
Below are 16 healthy foods to eat while on a ketogenic diet.
Fish and shellfish are foods which are very keto-friendly. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium, yet effectively carb-free
However, the carbs varies in different forms of shellfish. For example, while shrimp and most crabs have no carbs, other types of shellfish do
On a ketogenic diet these shellfish can still be included, it’s vital to take into account for these carbs when trying to stay within a limited range
Below are the carb counts mentioned for 3.5-ounce (100-gram) servings of some popular types of shellfish
- Clams:5 grams
- Mussels:7 grams
- Octopus:4 grams
- Oysters:4 grams
- Squid:3 grams
Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are quite high in omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower insulin levels and increase the sensitivity of insulin in people who are over weighted and obese
In addition, frequent fish consumption has been connected to a reduced risk of disease and improved mental health
try and aim to consume at least two servings of seafood in a week.
- Low-Carb Vegetables
Vegetables which are low in starch are also low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals.
Vegetables and other plants contain fiber, which the body doesn’t digests and absorbs like other carbs.
Therefore, digestible (or net) carb count should be looked upon, which is total carbs minus fiber.
Most vegetables are containing very few net carbs. However, eating one serving of “starchy” vegetables like potatoes, yams or beets could put over the entire carb limit for the day.
For non-starchy vegetables, the net carb count ranges from less than 1 gram for 1 cup of raw spinach to 8 grams for 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts
Antioxidants are also present in vegetables that help in protecting against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cauliflower have been connected to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease
Low-carb veggies make great replacement for higher-carb foods. For instance, cauliflower can be substituted to mimic rice or mashed potatoes, “zoodles” can be created from zucchini and spaghetti squash is a natural spaghetti substitute
Cheese is nutritious and delicious.
There are several types of cheese. But fortunately, all of them are very low in carbs and high in fat, which makes them a great option for a ketogenic diet.
One ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese gives 1 gram of carbs, 7 grams of protein and 20% of the RDI for calcium
Cheese is rich in saturated fat, but it hasn’t been shown to increasing the risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies recommend that cheese may help in protecting against heart disease
Conjugated linoleic acid is also present in cheese which is a fat that has been correlate to fat loss and improvements in composition of body
Additionally, eating cheese frequently may help decrease the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging.
A study conducted for a period of 12 weeks in older adults found that those who consumed 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta cheese per day experienced increases in muscle mass and muscle strength over the course of the study
Avocados are remarkably healthy.
3.5 ounces (100 grams), or about one-half of a medium avocado, has 9 grams of carbs.
However, 7 out of 9 of these are fiber, so its net carb count is only 2 grams
Avocados are rich in several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, a necessary mineral which many people may not get enough of. A higher potassium intake may help in making the transition easier to a ketogenic diet
In addition, avocados may help in improving the cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In a study, when people consumed a diet which was high in avocados, they experienced a decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol
- Meat and Poultry
Ketogenic diet including meat and poultry which are considered staple foods
Fresh meat and poultry carry no carbs and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals, including potassium, selenium and zinc
They’re also considered a great source of high-quality protein, which has been shown to help in preservation of muscle mass during a very low-carb diet
A study in older women found that following a diet which is high in fatty meat led to HDL cholesterol levels that were 8% higher than on a low-fat, high-carb diet
It’s best to choose meat which is grass-fed, if possible. This is because animals that eat grass and produce meat with higher amounts of omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid and antioxidants than meat from grain-fed animals
One of the healthiest and most versatile foods on the planet are eggs
A large egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs and fewer than 6 grams of protein, making eggs an ideal food for a ketogenic diet
In addition, triggering hormones that increase feelings of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable has been seen in eggs, leading to lower calorie intakes for up to 24 hours
It’s vital to eat the whole egg, as most of an nutrients are found in the yolk. This contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which help in protecting eye health
Although egg yolks are found to be high in cholesterol, their intake doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels in most people. In fact, eggs appear to change the shape of LDL in a way that decreases the risk of heart disease
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has certain properties which are unique that make it suitable for a ketogenic diet.
To start with, it has medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are not like the long-chain fats, MCTs are taken up directly by the liver and converted into ketones or used as a rapid source of energy.
In fact, people with Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders of the brain and nervous system used coconut oil to increase the levels of ketone
The major fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid which is a slightly longer-chain fat. It has been recommended that coconut oil’s mixture of MCTs and lauric acid may promote a sustained level of ketosis
In addition, for obese adults coconut oil may help lose weight and belly fat. In a study, men who ate 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil everyday lost 1 inch (2.5 cm), on an average, from their waistlines without making any other dietary changes
- Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are foods which are healthy and with high protein
While they have some carbs, they can still be involved in a ketogenic lifestyle.
5 ounces (150 grams) of plain Greek yogurt gives 5 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. That amount of cottage cheese gives 5 grams of carbs and 18 grams of protein
Yogurt and cottage cheese both have been shown to help in the reduction of appetite and promote feelings of fullness
Either one of them makes a tasty snack on its own.
However, both can also be mixed with chopped nuts, cinnamon and optional sugar-free sweetener for a quick and easy keto treat.
- Olive Oil
Olive oil provides benefits which are beneficial for the heart.
It’s rich in oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat that has been found to reduce heart disease risk factors in many studies
In addition to this, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants which are known as phenols. These compounds further protect health of the heart by reducing the inflammation and improving artery function
As a pure fat source, olive oil has no carbs. It’s a perfect base for salad dressings and healthy mayonnaise.
As it isn’t as stable as saturated fats at high temperatures, best usage of olive oil is for low-heat cooking or adding it to foods after they have been cooked.
- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are considered to be healthy, high-fat and low-carb foods
Frequent nut intake has been connected to a decreased risk of heart disease, certain cancers, depression and other chronic diseases.
Moreover, nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, which can help in feeling full and overall absorbing fewer calories
Although all nuts and seeds are low in net carbs, the amount of net catbs differ quite a bit among the various types.
Below are the carb counts for 1 ounce (28 grams) of some popular nuts and seeds:
- Almonds:3 grams net carbs (6 grams total carbs)
- Brazil nuts:1 gram net carbs (3 grams total carbs)
- Cashews:8 grams net carbs (9 grams total carbs)
- Macadamia nuts:2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Pecans:1 gram net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Pistachios:5 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
- Walnuts:2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
- Chia seeds:1 gram net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
- Flaxseeds: 0 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
- Pumpkin seeds:4 grams net carbs (5 grams total carbs)
- Sesame seeds:3 grams net carbs (7 grams total carbs)
Berries are an exception to most fruits as they are too high in carbs to include on a ketogenic diet
Berries are considered to be low in carbs and high in fiber.
In fact, raspberries and blackberries contain enough fiber similar to digestible carbs.
These tiny fruits are filled with antioxidants that have been credited with decreasing inflammation and protecting against disease (
Below are the carb counts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of some of the berries:
- Blackberries:5 grams net carbs (10 grams total carbs)
- Blueberries:12 grams net carbs (14 grams total carbs)
- Raspberries:6 grams net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
- Strawberries:6 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
- Butter and Cream
Butter and cream are good fats to be added on a ketogenic diet. Each carries only trace amounts of carbs per serving.
For many years, butter and cream were believed to be the cause or contribution to heart disease because of their high saturated fat contents. However, several huge researches have shown that, for most people, saturated fat isn’t connected to heart disease.
In fact, some researches recommend that a moderate intake of high-fat dairy may possibly decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke
Similar to other fatty dairy products, butter and cream are rich in conjugated linoleic acid which is a fatty acid that may promote fat loss
- Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles are a fabulous addition to a ketogenic diet.
They accommodate less than 1 gram of carbs and 5 calories per serving because they are mainly water.
In fact, these noodles are made from a viscous fiber known as glucomannan, which can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water
Viscous fiber creates a gel that slows down movement of food through the digestive tract. This can help in reducing hunger and blood sugar spikes, making it useful for weight loss and managing diabetes
Shirataki noodles come in a different types of shapes, including rice, fettuccine and linguine. They can be replaced for regular noodles in all types of recipes.
The same health benefits as olive oil are provided by olives but, only in solid form.
Oleuropein which is the main antioxidant present in olives, has anti-inflammatory properties and may help in protecting the cells from damage
In addition, studies recommend that olives intake may help in prevention of bone loss and decreased blood pressure
Olives differ in carb content because of their size. However, 50 percent of their carbs come from fiber, so their digestible carb content is quite low.
A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of olives holds 2 grams of total carbs and 1 gram of fiber. This makes out to a net carb count of 1 gram for 7–10 olives, depending on their size.
- Unsweetened Coffee and Tea
Incredibly healthy, carb-free drinks are tea and coffee
They have caffeine, which increases the metabolism and may help in improving the physical performance, alertness and mood
Additionally, coffee and tea drinkers have been shown to have a significantly decreased risk of diabetes. In fact, those with the highest consumption of coffee and tea have the lowest risk of developing diabetes
Adding heavy cream to coffee or tea is fine, but avoid from “light” coffee and tea lattes. These are typically formed with non-fat milk and carries high-carb flavorings.
- Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Delicious sources of antioxidants are dark chocolate and cocoa
In fact, cocoa has been known as a “super fruit,” as it provides at least as much antioxidant activity present in any other fruit, involving blueberries and acai berries
Dark chocolate has flavones, which may be helpful in the risk reduction of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and keeping arteries healthy
Somewhat surprisingly, chocolate can be made part of a ketogenic diet. However, it’s important to select dark chocolate that carries a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, or more.
One ounce (28 grams) of unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa) has 3 grams of net carbs. The same amount of 70–85% dark chocolate holds up to 10 grams of net carbs
The Bottom Line
A ketogenic diet can be useful in the achievement of weight loss, blood sugar control and other health-related goals.
Fortunately, a wide variety of nutritious, tasty and versatile foods can be included that allows to remain within the daily carb range.
To obtain all the health benefits of a ketogenic diet, consume these 16 foods on a regular basis.