Is there a Yes/No list for Keto?
People make Keto a lot more complicated than it has to be. I am going to give you the short version up front then the longer version afterwards.
The short list
- Any animal protein (the fattier the better!)
- Full-fat dairy
- Healthy fats
- Green leafy vegetables and above ground vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Sugars or processed foods containing sugars
- Grains or processed foods containing grains
- Legumes or processed foods containing legumes
- Starchy vegetables or processed foods containing starchy vegetables
- Fruit (except berries) or fruit juice
The long list
What follows is the long list of what you can eat. This list is an amalgamation of any Ketogenic list you can find in any book and any website. It is not a direct copy of any one list. If it resembles any author's list directly, that is because it is a standard and common Ketogenic foods list.
Keep in mind that if you are coming from a "Standard American Diet" or a cultural diet where you consume a lot of grains and legumes, you will probably lose weight just by cutting out the carbohydrates and sugars. However, long term, you will also want to pay attention to the following:
- Keep your carbohydrate count to the vicinity of 20 Carbs (total or net),
- Moderate your protein intake (this is not an all-you-can-eat-till-you-burst steak diet)
- Keep your healthy fats high (and healthy for Keto includes saturated fats!)
- Beef (all cuts)
- Beef deli meats (but check for the carb counts — some have sugar)
- Pork (all cuts)
- Pork deli meats (but check carb counts — some have sugar)
- Beef and Pork "snack" items such as:
- Pork rinds/skins
- Pepperoni slices
- Bacon (sugar used in the curing process will burn off but do not have sugared bacon such as maple flavored; just buy plain)
- Other meats such as venison
- Chicken (preferably dark meat with skin)
- Turkey (preferably dark meat with skin)
- Eggs (any kind)
- All Fish
- All Shellfish
- Bok Choi
- Cabbage (all varieties)
- Greens (all varieties such as beet, collard, mustard and turnip)
- Lettuce (all varieties)
- Scallions (spring/green onion)
- Dried herbs can be used but if you are using in excess of 1 Tablespoon in a recipe, be aware that the carbohydrates add up
Fibrous and cruciferous vegetables
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Celeriac (use sparingly – this is a root vegetable)
- Ginger (use sparingly — this is a root vegetable)
- Green beans (string beans)
- Jicama (use sparingly — this is a root vegetable)
- Mushrooms (warning: Shitaki mushrooms are very high carb!)
- Onions (use sparingly — this is a root vegetable)
- Snow Peas
- Sugar snap peas
- Summer squash
- Tomatoes (high carb, be careful to limit — these are actually fruit!)
- Turnip (use sparingly — this is a root vegetable)
You might ask here why some root vegetables are included and others are not. If they are on this list you still have to pay particular attention to the carb count but they are not as high in sugar the way beets or carrots are.
Use full fat ONLY and preferably raw cow, goat, sheep cheeses
- This includes hard cheeses (i.e., sliceable like cheddar, gouda)
- Semi-soft (i.e., Brie, blue, Gruyere)
- Soft (i.e., ricotta, cottage, farmers, cream)
- Do not eat processed cheese such as American, port-wine spread, etc.
Use full fat ONLY
- Heavy (whipping) cream
- Sour cream
- No half & half; no condensed or evaporated milk
Healthy Fats and Oils
Please read my FAQ on fats and oils to help you make the best choices.
- Coconut oil and coconut butter
- Lard, tallow, chicken fat, duck fat, bacon fat
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil and nut oils for cold use (they are unstable when heated)
- Bottled dressings are acceptable if the carb count is 1g per serving:
- Blue cheese
Homemade is best; if you buy Avocado or Olive Oil mayo, make sure it's not really canola or soybean oil!
Nuts and seeds and their butters
If you are going to eat nuts and seeds be VERY careful with your measurements and realize that there are also carbohydrates and proteins in these foods. If you can't control yourself then don't start with them. Even if you can control yourself be careful!
- NO bread & butter or other pickles with sugar
- Lemon and lime juice (watch the carb count! 1 TBS = 1 carb)
- Yellow mustard (or any mustard with no sugar)
- Coconut Aminos (watch the carbs!)
- Dill relish
- Sugar-free sweet relish
- Low carb or sugar-free versions of Ketchup and BBQ Sauce. There are many Keto recipes for these, or you can use the bottled brands based on your own preferences for consuming any artificial sweeteners.
Just because foods are on this list does not mean that you can eat them with abandon. At the very least, you must keep track of your carbohydrate totals. I have my own carbohydrate system, which is net carbs for avocados and green leafy and other above ground vegetables added to the total carbs for all other foods. I total these to equal 20 carbohydrates. If you are exceptionally sensitive to carbohydrates you may want to only count total carbohydrates no matter the source. See Total vs. Net Carb FAQ for my system.