Are you not sure what to eat on a
keto diet? Here you’ll find a quick food list and visual guide, showing you what to eat and avoid on keto. Let’s start with a basic overview:
In summary, eat real low-carb foods like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats like butter or olive oil. As a basic beginner’s rule, stick to foods with fewer than 5% carbs (numbers above
Here’s what you should not eat on a keto diet – foods full of sugar and starch. As you can see, these foods are much higher in carbs.
Drink water, coffee, tea or the occasional glass of wine. More
Full keto diet food list
Meat – Unprocessed meats are low carb and keto-friendly, and organic and grass-fed meat is the most healthy of all. But remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not high protein, so you don’t need huge amounts of meat. Excess protein (more than your body needs) is converted to glucose, making it harder to get into ketosis. A normal amount of meat is enough.
Note that processed meats, like sausages, cold cuts and meat balls often contain added carbs. When in doubt look at the ingredients, aim for under 5% carbs. Top recipes
Fish and seafood – These are all good, excellent even, especially fatty fish like salmon. However, avoid breading, as it contains carbs. If you can find wild-caught fish that’s the very best. Top recipes
Eggs – Eat them any way, e.g. boiled, fried in butter, scrambled or as omelets, whatever you want. Top keto egg recipes
Try to buy organic for the most healthy option. How many eggs can you eat, considering cholesterol? Our advice is no more than 36 eggs, per day. But feel free to eat fewer if you prefer.
Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories on a keto diet should come from fat. You’ll likely get much of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs etc. But also use fat in cooking, like butter or coconut fat, and add plenty of olive oil to salads etc. You can also eat delicious high-fat sauces including Bearnaise sauce etc., or garlic butter (recipes).
Remember, don’t fear fat. On keto, fat is your friend. Why saturated fats are fine to eat
Vegetables growing above ground. Fresh or frozen – either is fine. Choose vegetables growing above ground (here’s why), especially leafy and green items. Favorites include cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli and zucchini.
Vegetables are a great and tasty way to eat good fat on keto. Fry them in butter and pour plenty of olive oil on your salad. Some even think of vegetables as a fat-delivery system. They also add more variety, flavor and color to your keto meals.
Most people end up eating more vegetables than before when starting keto, as veggies replace the pasta, rice, potatoes etc. Full guide to keto low-carb vegetables
High-fat dairy – The higher fat the better. Butter is good, high-fat cheese is fine and high-fat yogurts can be had in moderation. Heavy cream is good for cooking.
Avoid drinking milk as the milk sugar quickly adds up (one glass = 15 grams of carbs), but you can use it sparingly in your coffee. Definitely avoid caffè latte (18 grams of carbs). Also avoid low-fat yogurts, especially as they often contain lots of added sugars.
Finally, be aware that regularly snacking on cheese when you’re not hungry is a common mistake that can slow weight loss.
Nuts – Can be had in moderation, but be careful when using nuts as snacks, as it’s very easy to eat far more than you need to feel satisfied. Also be aware that cashews are relatively high carb, choose macadamia or pecan nuts instead or check out our full keto nuts guide
Berries – A moderate amount is OK on keto, perhaps with real whipping cream, a popular keto dessert. Full fruits and berries guide
Water – The #1 option. Have it flat, with ice, or sparkling. Sip it hot like a tea, or add natural flavouring like sliced cucumbers, lemons, or limes. If you experience headaches or symptoms of “keto flu“, add a few shakes of salt to your water.
Coffee – No sugar. A small amount of milk or cream is fine. For an extra hit of energy from fat, stir in butter and coconut oil for “Bulletproof coffee.” Note, if weight loss stalls, cut back on the cream or fat in your coffee.
Tea – Whether black, green, Orange Pekoe, mint, or herbal — feel free to drink most teas. Don’t add sugar.
Bone broth – Hydrating, satisfying, chock full of nutrients and electrolytes — and simple to make! — bone broth is a great beverage to sip on the keto diet. Stir in a pat of butter for some extra energy.3
For special occasions
You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss could slow down a bit.
Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), champagne, whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar. Full keto alcohol guide
Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate: A square of dark chocolate, with cocoa above 70% , can often hit the spot. Try some 85% gourmet chocolate shaved over whipped cream and berries. See our guide to keto treats and snacks.
High-carb foods to avoid
Sugar: This is the big no-no. Cut out all soft drinks, fruit juice, sport drinks and “vitamin water” (these are all basically sugar water). Avoid sweets, candy, cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, donuts, frozen treats and breakfast cereals.
Read labels for hidden sugars, especially in sauces, condiments, drinks, dressings and packaged goods. Honey, maple syrup, and agave are also sugars. Ideally try to avoid or limit artificial sweeteners as well. Full keto sweeteners guide
Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs. But there are a few lower-carb beers
Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while perhaps. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy. Learn more
Margarine: It’s industrially produced imitated butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. It has no health benefits and tastes bad. It’s also statistically linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
View list of things to clean out from your pantry
The ketogenic diet has recently become very popular, and many food companies want to cash in by putting a “ketogenic” or “low carb” label on a new product. Be very cautious of special “keto” or “low-carb” products, such as pastas, chocolate bars, energy bars, protein powders, snack foods, cakes, cookies and other “low carb” or “ketogenic” treats. Read all labels carefully for natural low carb ingredients. The fewer ingredients the better.
These packaged products generally do not work well for weight loss and for correcting metabolic issues. They may have hidden carbs not declared on the label, or they may keep you attached to cravings and even addictions to the high-carb foods they attempt to replace.
Analyze the labels. Often you will see that these products are in fact full of additives, chemicals, sweeteners, sugar alcohols. They are in essence a processed junk food with a “keto” label.” And the labels may even lie. A large pasta company was recently fined $8 million for lying about the carb content of their products.
- Don’t replace high carb junk with keto junk. Don’t swap out real sugar for fake sugar. If you want a treat, make a low carb version of a dessert or treat yourself, using our dessert or treat guide. You will likely have more life-long success on the keto diet if you adapt your palate so that you no longer want, need, or crave these sorts of foods.
- Beware of labels that say “net carbs.” That is often a form of creative marketing to hide the true carb content.
See this guide about deceptive keto products.
Eat real food
Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).