If you are new to dieting, starting on a low-carbohydrate diet can be quite challenging, especially if you have no idea of what and what not to eat on the specific diet you’re on.
On the other hand, if you are already on a diet, but find your current diet hard to maintain on a daily basis, then trying a ketogenic diet is a good option.
Following a ketogenic diet is a popular option when you want to lose weight, but still be able to eat tasty and appealing food. The approach to this diet is quite simple; you need to follow a low-carb diet and focus on eating food high in fat and moderate in protein.
The Keto Beginning is a great guide to help your body safely transition to nutritional ketosis. Nutritional ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for energy when glucose or carbohydrates are lacking.
It’s a complete beginner’s guide that will help you reduce your calorie intake without depriving yourself of nutritious and tasty food.
It offers 17 chapters of information about the ketogenic lifestyle that not only helps you lose that stubborn weight, but will also provide you with health benefits.
Basically, a strict 5% carbohydrate allowance is followed on this diet. Below is a guide on what you should include and avoid in a keto diet food list:
Fats and oils
These take up a majority of what you should include in your daily food consumption. Obtaining your fat requirements from natural sources like meat and nuts is recommended. You can also supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like butter, coconut oil and olive oil.
Fats is beneficial to our body but you should keep in mind that consuming too much of the wrong types of fats (i.e. trans fat, processed polyunsaturated fat) is dangerous for your health.
Fats and oils derived from the following food sources are ideal:
- Fatty fish
- Non-hydrogenated animal fat
- Nuts or seeds
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Peanut butter
Using saturated and monounsaturated fats like butter, avocado, egg and coconut oil is preferred for cooking because they are more stable and less inflammatory to most people.
People who are not fond of eating fish or shellfish can get their omega-3 and omega-6 by adding a small fish oil supplement to their diet.
When eating nuts or nut-based food (almonds, walnuts, sunflower oil, corn oil), avoid overindulging since they contain high levels of inflammatory omega-6.
This is also an essential part of a keto diet food list, but in moderation compared to fat consumption. For food rich in protein, consuming less is required to keep the diet ketogenic.
If accessible, meat should be source from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals as it minimizes your risk from bacteria and possible steroid or hormone consumption. Choose dark meat in poultry and for red meat, choose cuts where there is more fat (i.e. ribeye).
Although protein intake is essential, too much protein can ruin the whole diet since the body converts some of these proteins to glucose, thus lowering the production of ketones.
The following are good sources of protein acceptable in a ketogenic diet:
- Fatty fish (catfish, trout, salmon, snapper, cod, halibut, tuna)
- Shellfish (shrimp, oyster, mussels, squid)
- Whole eggs
- Meat (for beef opt for fattier cuts, veal, lamb)
- Poultry (duck, chicken, quail, turkey)
- Offal (animal organs like heart, liver, tongue, kidney)
- Bacon and sausage (not cured with sugar)
This food source is also essential in maintaining a healthy ketogenic diet. Vegetables contain nutrients that are not found in proteins and fatty acids.
However, not all vegetables are to be eaten freely since some of them are nutritious but high in carbohydrates. For this diet, eating vegetables that are grown above ground is the safest way to go.
Including dark, green and leafy vegetables in anything you prepare would be great. Vegetables grown below ground can still be used for flavor, but should be in moderation.
Veggies that are commonly found in keto diet food lists are:
- Green cabbage
- Romaine lettuce
- Green bell pepper
- Baby bella mushrooms
- Green beans
All of your nutritional requirements should come from vegetables, proteins and fats, but you can include dairy products in moderation as a source for fat and flavor as well.
If possible, choose raw or organic dairy over highly processed products since they contain significantly fewer carbohydrates. Also choose full-fat over low-fat or non-fat products.
When preparing meals with added dairy products, remember to take into account that dairy products can also be a source for protein.
Commonly used dairy products in a ketogenic diet are:
- Greek yogurt
- Heavy cream
- Cheese (mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, brie, blue cheese, feta, parmesan, aged cheddar, etc.)
Nuts and seeds
These two are good sources of fat. However, they also have carbohydrates that can add up and may work against your weight loss goals if consumed in excess. Stick with fatty, low carbohydrate nuts such as brazil nuts, macadamia and pecans to supplement fat. For flavor, you can use walnuts, almonds, hazelnut in moderation.
When you’re on a keto diet, dehydration is common when starting out because of the diuretic effect of this diet. To avoid this, drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day and more. Other acceptable beverages include coffee, tea, flavored carbonated water and broth.
Flavor is important for you to be able to maintain your diet. Herbs and spices are usually acceptable, but check the labels as most pre-mixed seasonings have sugar or dextrose in them.
Salt and pepper can be freely used. Opt for sea salt rather than table salt. Keep in mind that although carbs from spices are minimal, recipes that may use too much of them can significantly add up to your carbohydrate intake.
Spices included in a ketogenic diet are:
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
Foods to avoid
Now that you have a pretty good idea on what foods to eat, knowing which ones to avoid is also important.
- Wheat products, including whole grains
- Food with starch content like yams, potatoes, oats, etc.
- Foods high trans fats
- Fruits, in general, are usually avoided since most of them contain high amounts of sugar.
- Berries can be consumed in moderation.
- Many processed foods should be avoided but some can be included depending on its ingredients and nutrition information. Best to read the labels first.
For more information on everything and anything about keto diet, check out The Keto Beginning. It’s a complete beginner’s guide on starting a ketogenic diet.