You’ve probably heard someone rave about their weight loss on the keto diet. The ketogenic lifestyle is sweeping the globe, thanks to its quick results for those who adopt it. Those who enjoy keto also love the wide range of low-carb tasty foods–no calorie counting required.
While it’s been used to treat childhood epilepsy for over 100 years, the diet’s fat loss power is front-and-center in modern discussion. This is because keto breaks the cycle of ingesting sugar and flooding your body with insulin, which drives inflammation and is responsible for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Lower insulin levels also seem to be important in preventing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases as well, like Parkinson’s. In fact, the keto seems to be one of the easiest and most effective methods for controlling or reversing type 2 diabetes.
With all of the fanfare over keto, there are a lot of businesses trying to sell “keto supplements”. The fact is that low carb, whole foods are still the best ketogenic medicine that exists. Therefore, selecting the best ones is critical to maintaining the diet for the long haul. We’re going to look at the 20 best foods for the ketogenic diet and why they’re so perfect for this way of eating.
Perfect keto fruits and vegetables
A well-formulated ketogenic diet avoids processed junk and instead focuses on clean, whole foods. Vegetables that are nutrient-dense, fibrous and low in carbs are ideal for this way of eating.
1 – Avocado
Green is a power color for keto plans, and avocado is the king of green. This little fruit is fatty, low in carbs, high in fiber and contains more potassium than a banana. Since keto depletes electrolytes, anything that provides sodium, potassium, and magnesium has a place in a ketogenic meal plan. Finally, there is research that correlates avocado consumption with a reduction in LDL cholesterol.
2 – Spinach
Spinach is incredibly low in carbs, high in fiber and packed with iron, magnesium and again, potassium. It makes a wonderful base for a salad. You may also cook it up and mix it with spinach and eggs for a breakfast with near unrivaled nutrition.
3 – Olives
The anti-inflammatory goodness of olive oil is simply a concentrated form of the oleuropein in whole olives. These little fruits are the perfect keto snack, full of fat, low in carbs and nutritionally dense.
4 – Onions
While slightly higher in carbs than other foods on this list, onions in moderation have potent health benefits. They fit into the ketogenic diet in small amounts, pleasantly flavoring dishes with the flavone quercetin. This flavone is a taste compound that is an angiogenesis inhibitor, which has positive impact on cancer prevention and suppression as well as modulating type 2 diabetes.
5 – Black, blue and raspberries
For the most part, you can’t really eat the fruit in ketosis, but berries are an exception. Because their carb-to-fiber ratio is almost 1:1, they can be eaten in small but satisfying amounts. These tasty little treats are packed with antioxidants as well, reducing inflammation.
6 – Broccoli
Broccoli and other brassicas are packed with phytochemicals that help lessen the impact of inflammatory conditions within the body. This is related to a suppression of chronic conditions with inflammatory origins, like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Plus everyone loves broccoli covered in a keto-friendly cheese sauce.
7 – Cauliflower
Few vegetables are as immediately related to the keto diet as cauliflower. The culinary versatility of cauliflower allows you to use it in place of rice, as a base for pizza crust and as an alternative to mashed potatoes. It’s also packed with the same phytochemicals that make broccoli and cabbage so healthy.
Fish, meat and poultry
Many incorrectly view the ketogenic diet as one in which you only eat meat. While that’s not true, proteins do offer you great nutritional benefits.
8 – Shellfish
While higher in carbs than other seafood, shellfish play an important role in the keto diet. Coldwater, deep-sea animals are filled with marine collagen that has benefits on skin, eyes, muscle and gut health. Additionally, these proteins are dense in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, both of which are woefully absent in most adults’ diets.
9 – Sardines
You might be put off at the thought of these tiny canned fish, but they’re one of the most nutritionally dense fish on the planet. Packed with omega-3, protein, selenium, and calcium, they’re a great snack if you can get past the idea of eating a whole fish.
10 – Wild-caught salmon
Wild-caught is a must with most fish, as farmed fish have a dramatically different fat profile, higher in inflammatory omega-6 fats, which you want to avoid. That said, cold water, wild-caught salmon (and other fatty cold-water fish) are high in omega-3 and quality protein.
11 – Grass-fed beef
Like with farm-raised fish, grain-fed beef has significantly more omega-6 and simply doesn’t taste as good as grass-fed animals. Because of the higher omega-3 profile and the care that goes into raising them, this beef is often more expensive but it’s worth the cost. It tastes better, is far healthier for us, and it promotes a better environment for the animal to grow in.
12 – Bacon
Probably the poster-child of keto, bacon is one of the most flavorful meats on the planet, as well as one of the most versatile. You can use bacon to add great taste to vegetables. And, you’ll enjoy serving it at breakfast, lunch, or dinner (and it makes a great snack, too).
13 – Chicken
Poultry is accessible, easy to cook and relatively cheap. Chicken, especially, has such a broad range of culinary applications across all cultures such that it is a staple in most diets, keto or not. For low carb dieters, in particular, special attention should be paid to chicken thighs, as they are the cheapest, fattiest and most flavorful selections on the bird.
14 – Eggs
Though they’ve been wrongfully demonized for years, eggs are actually one of the most perfect foods on the planet. Full of everything you need nutritionally, from protein to fat and a slew of vitamins and minerals, eggs really are one of the most basic keto diet staples.
Cheese, dairy and other fats
Fat is obviously a main component of keto, but getting the right ones in your diet is crucial. Certain fats like canola oil are full of omega-6, which can be inflammatory and detrimental to your health.
15 – Nuts and seeds
Like eggs, nuts are a nutritionally complete food, full of fat and phytonutrients that are highly beneficial to humans. Walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts on the keto diet, packed with omega-3 and appear to have neuroprotective benefits, particularly in elderly people. Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of dietary magnesium and are so high in fiber that they make a great snack.
16 – Coconut oil
Another very visible component of the keto diet, coconut oil high in medium-chain triglycerides. These fats turn almost immediately into ketones, fueling your body and providing extreme mental clarity.
17 – Cocoa powder and dark chocolate
While eating sugar is not keto-friendly, you can combine dark chocolate with non-sugar sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia fits. You’ll create an occasional treat that fits into the keto lifestyle quite well. Because cocoa powder is high in magnesium, fiber and fat, it’s a great mix-in for keto smoothies or coffee.
18 – Coffee
Coffee has liver-protective benefits, as well as creating a small thermic effect, boosting metabolism and burning more fat. Naturally, it also is full of caffeine which boosts mental awareness and essentially is the reason offices and schools even function in the morning.
19 – Butter
Butter is accessible and delicious, great as a cooking medium or as an addition to veggies. Grass-fed butter is ideal, as it has a better omega-3 profile, but any butter is preferable to vegetable oils. Some people have even begun adding it to their morning coffee, in a ritual known as “keto coffee.”
20 – Cheese
Nothing makes keto easier to adhere to than the melty goodness that is cheese. Low in carbs, high in fat and utterly delicious, you can make cheese into chips, melt it over literally anything or mix it into eggs to boost the taste of your breakfast.
Final Thoughts: Whole food delivers the best nutrition
No matter what you eat, whole foods are always going to be the healthiest option, and the keto diet is no exception. Getting your fats, fiber, protein, and carbs from whole-food sources will dramatically improve your health in almost every conceivable marker. The very fact that we’ve based 50+ years of nutrition protocol on the idea that we could make foods “healthier” than they already come from nature is unfortunate and has likely caused significant harm.
The ketogenic diet has a tremendous amount of health benefits, from lowered blood sugar and insulin levels to improved cardiovascular health, bone density, and mental clarity. Finally, the weight loss that cutting carbs provides is often enough to make people adhere to the diet and reap the health rewards beyond just weight loss.
The above 20 foods, when eaten in healthy amounts and with exercise, can create tremendous, lasting, positive improvements in the health of keto adherents.