The Ketogenic Diet is a Low-Carb, High-Fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
While on the face of it, it can seem extremely restrictive - and some foods are indeed totally off limits - you’ll be surprised to learn just how varied a Keto Diet can be.
Foods you CAN eat on a Keto Diet
One of the most important things to consider when starting any new diet is how you will be able to make sure that all your nutritional needs are being met, so I’ve put together this list of which foods you CAN eat while following the Keto Diet so you know exactly what's allowed on your plate!
Before you start, make sure you know what your Macronutrients are: the ratios of Fat, Protein and Carbohydrate to eat each day.
This is typically:
1. Meat, including Beef, Lamb and Pork
You're embarking on a ketogenic lifestyle, but you can't eat meat all the time. In fact, eating too much of it will kick you out of ketosis - so while meat is okay in moderation, it should not be your number one staple.
Protein is important for building muscle and staying full long after meals. But let me tell you: Eating too much protein can actually knock you right out of ketosis - because when we become fat-adapted (AKA “Keto"), excess protein turns into sugar through glucogenesis, which could cause blood glucose levels to shoot back up again!
That's why I recommend sticking to no more than 15-20% of your macronutrients being protein, from meat and other sources, to ensure you meet your nutrient requirements while staying within daily macronutrient ranges.
Choose fatty cuts of meat to help you with your fat intake (more about that in a minute), like ribeye steak, brisket, ribs, pork belly, leg of lamb. Buy grass fed or organic if you can. I get a lot of my meat online from Pipers Farm, and I can get marrowbones there too, for making stock and sauces for my meat dishes. For quick and easy meat options, head for the deli section and grab a mix of charcuterie.
Oh, and BACON - LOTS OF BACON! Eating bacon can help curb those carb and sugar cravings because it is packed full of protein and fat which are both essential nutrients on the Keto Diet.
Tip: When you are cooking fatty meat or bacon, keep any fat left in the pan and toss vegetables in it, or use it for cooking in place of shop bought lard. Delicious!
2. Poultry including Turkey, Chicken and Duck
I love to pop a couple of turkey drumsticks in my InstantPot with some homemade bone stock and a couple of teaspoons of curry powder. You can thicken the stock with some Linwoods Milled Flaxseed - quick, easy and pure Keto curry. Don’t forget to save the bones for making more stock! You can just pop them in a bag in the freezer once you have stripped the meat off of them.
We love homemade burgers from turkey mince or chicken thighs. I add an egg, maybe a tablespoon of roasted peppers, or sliced onions from the freezer, some herbs and spices and chop / blend everything together in my Ninja.
3. Fish and Seafood, including Salmon, Tuna and Shrimp
Like meat & poultry, most fish and seafood is zero or very low carb and packed full of healthy fats. Salmon, tuna and shrimp are all readily available and fabulous choices, but why not be a little more adventurous?
Discover an A-Z of Keto friendly fish & seafood - from Abalone, a limpet farmed in New Zealand, to Zander, a freshwater fish known as the pike-perch - at The Fish Society.
Paired perfectly with bacon, eggs really are a staple of the Keto Diet. We eat tons of them!
Eggs are a good source of protein and many other nutrients. They also happen to be one of the easiest items to cook in your kitchen, which is why you’ll want to add them into your diet as part of your Keto-friendly meal plan. Scrambled, poached, fried, in frittata, as wraps, pancakes - you name it, I’ve cooked it. When I hear people say they get sick of eggs on Keto, I just think they are not trying hard enough! Just use Google or Instagram for ideas. Eggs are a great source of protein Keto because they're low in carbs and provide you with essential nutrients like choline, selenium and phosphorus.
Some people avoid eggs because they think that they cause high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, but this is not the case. Eggs have been shown to actually help with lowering cholesterol levels and making your heart healthier!
You may be wondering how eggs do this? Well, their choline content helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) while also increasing good cholesterol (HDL). They're also low in sodium so you won't experience any negative effects from eating them!
5. Butter, Dairy and Cheese
Fats should be a high percent of your macronutrients - around 75-80% - which can sound intimidating, but there are lots of ways to incorporate healthy fat into a Keto Diet, not just from meat, poultry, eggs and fish.
As long as you don’t have an intolerance - sadly I do - dairy can be a good source of both protein and fat, but watch the carbs! Butter has zero carbs, but whole milk can have up to 5g of carbs per 100g. Milk alternatives - oat & coconut for instance, can be even higher carb, so do pay attention to your labels!
Heavy (double) cream and most cheeses come in between 2-6g carbs per 100g, so again just watch your portion size. Cheese is beneficial to your health because it's a great source fat and protein, plus calcium, vitamins A and B12, protein, and zinc.
Shopping basket staples: Lactose free milk (lower carb than whole milk), unsweetened plain greek yoghurt, double cream, sour cream, feta, cottage cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan.
Avoid yoghurt and cheese with added fruits, because even though they’re delicious, fruit really hikes up the carb count.
I could quite literally eat (goat) butter off a spoon, but you can also cook with it, cover everything in it, even blend it into your coffee or tea.
6. Healthy Oils
All plant-based oils have zero carbs and protein, making them the best option when it comes to fats on Keto. But not everything in the cooking oil aisle is a good for your Keto lifestyle.
Olive oil is a great addition to any ketogenic diet, providing some amazing benefits! Olive oil will not only bring out flavour when used as dressing or added into cooking but has been shown through research studies that extra virgin olive oils have many properties including anti-inflammatory effects among other things. It’s also very versatile, for everything from salad dressing to high heat applications such as frying and baking.
Refined coconut oil can be used for high temperature needs - like roasting - but choose healthier Unrefined, Extra virgin coconut oil for lower temperature baking, desserts and fat bombs.
While we are talking about coconut oil, you’ve probably heard about MCT Oil, which is derived from coconut oil. It’s not an oil for cooking, you can use it for salad dressings and in desserts, but you typically take it as a supplement or blend to into coffee - Bulletproof Coffee.
Look for Pure MCT Oil that is labelled as being mainly C8 (caprylic acid) or blended with C10 (capric acid). MCT Oil is known for its fat burning benefits and use during intermittent fasting / eating 16:8.
Avocado oil makes for a great salad dressing, but also has a much higher smoke point than Olive oil, making it a great - but expensive! - choice for roasting and frying.
Seed oils - sunflower and safflower - contain beneficial fats, but be sure to look for the High-Oleic versions. Regular versions contain fatty acids that increase inflammation when oxidised through cooking.
Sesame seed oil tastes amazing and can be good in moderation, but breaks down rapidly with heat and can also cause inflammation.
If you are looking for a real burst of flavour, macadamia oil is rich, smooth and buttery - and also tolerates heat.
6. Low-Carb Vegetables like Broccoli, Cauliflower and Spinach.
Last but not least, vegetables are a crucial part of the Keto Diet. Even though it’s vital to keep carb intake low, around 5% of your macronutrients, there are still plenty of delicious, and versatile, choices.
The 2 most popular Keto vegetables are cauliflower and celariac. You only need to glance on any Keto page on social media and you’ll be flooded with recipes made with cauliflower that you just would not believe possible! From pizza based to popcorn!
Celeraic is a vegetable that is perfect for all diets. The health benefits of celeriac are vast and it's been proven to be beneficial to those who are on the Keto diet! It's is low in calories, high in fibre, has no fat or cholesterol and can satisfy any appetite.
The best way to eat celery root? Try it raw with dip like guacamole or hummus! You can also roast your celery root if you want a change from steamed veggies. Boil it until fork tender then add butter, salt and pepper for a mash potato substitute or air-fry to make crispy chips!
Leafy greens - kale and spinach - with their lower carbs, higher fibre, and abundant vitamins and minerals, are the perfect addition to any Keto Diet, but they're not just good for your health - they also taste amazing!
Whether you like them raw or cooked, these greens have so many nutrients packed in and can be used in dishes like salads, chilis and soups. Leafy greens are also loaded with protein - 100g Kale has 4.3 grams of protein! You'll never have to feel deprived again when adding these healthy additions to your meals. Lettuce and cabbage are slightly higher in carbs, so eat these sparingly.
Raw is always better than cooked, where possible, but if you haven’t tried roasted kale, you must! It’s just like crispy fried seaweed.
We also enjoy asparagus, courgette, broccoli and mushrooms regularly. With so much choice, you can easily mix it up to stop you getting bored!
Fruits are really a no-no for a Keto Diet, but on occasion you can enjoy the odd strawberry, a couple of raspberries, or a few blueberries. Just please do keep these as a treat and really do only have a taste.
The only exception is avocado. Eating an avocado a day is good for your health!
Did you know that avocado consumption has skyrocketed in the last two decades, to more than double what it was 20 years ago! Avocados are becoming part of our daily routine now and I'm not surprised - they're delicious and healthy at the same time!
Avocados are a nutrient-dense, high fat, versatile fruit. They're great as a healthy snack on their own or they can be added to your favorite dishes like guacamole. They also make a perfect addition to any breakfast dish such as an omelette with feta cheese and spinach!
The ketogenic diet is all about eating more fat while moderating protein and carbs and this fruit is the perfect way to do just that! If you find yourself craving something sweet after dinner, avocados also work well as dessert because of their naturally low sugar content. You could even top them off with some dark chocolate chips for an extra special treat!
You should now have an idea of what to eat on a Ketogenic diet, can see just how varied and exciting it can be, and that it’s not restrictive at all.
It’s not about feeling deprived because you no longer eat certain foods, but about enjoying the possibilities of things you’ve never tried before, or thought you might hate.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that before Keto I would run from anything green. I was a chocoholic who loved cakes & cookies, and would snack while cooking dinner! These days I’m all about the broccoli, crave crispy Kale (I’m having it tonight!) and Avocados are my best friend.
• A Keto Diet can be a customisable and sustainable diet plan, perfect for anyone
• Choosing the right foods allows you to make sure your body is efficiently burning fat by providing the right amount of macronutrients
• Get good Keto things like fats, proteins and leafy vegetables into your system in order to kick some major Keto butt!