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  • Writer's pictureLaurenWallace

Keto Diet Food List, Including Best Keto Foods vs. Worst

By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN

February 10, 2020

Original article and page source found here.

The ketogenic (or “keto”) diet is a very high-fat, very low-carb diet that has gained tons of attention lately for its weight loss benefits. The goal of the keto diet is to enter and then stay in a metabolic state called ketosis, in which you burn fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates (glucose).

In the typical diet, our bodies (brains and muscles) are fueled by glucose (a type of sugar) that we get from eating carbohydrate foods. But if those carbs stop coming in and glucose levels drop, we can use our fat for fuel.

In fact, once all our our reserved glucose/glycogen runs out after several days on a low-carb, keto diet, our bodies create compounds called ketone bodies (or ketones) from our own stored body fat, as well as from fats in our diet. In addition, researchers have discovered that ketones contain main benefits, such as fat loss, suppressing our appetites, boosting mental clarity and lowering the risk for a number of chronic diseases.

Intrigued? If so, before starting a ketogenic diet, it’s critical to get to know a properly constructed keto diet food list and also understand how much of each type of food group you consume.

It starts with limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20–30 net grams per day. “Net carbs” describes the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once consumed, simply don’t count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. So that means subtracting grams of fiber from total carb games, to give you the total net carbs.

On a standard keto diet, fats provide about 70 percent to 80 percent of total daily calories, protein about 15 percent to 20 percent, and carbohydrates just around 5 percent.

Related: Ketogenic Diet for Beginners Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide to “Keto”

What Is A Keto Meal Plan?

Here are examples of high-fat, low-carb foods that are included on the ketogenic food list:

  • Your keto diet meal plan should contain high amounts of healthy fats (up to 80 percent of your total calories!), such as olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, palm oil, and some nuts and seeds. Fats are a critical part of every recipe because fat is what provides energy and prevents hunger, weakness and fatigue.

  • Keto meals also need all sorts of non-starchy vegetables. What vegetables can you eat on a ketogenic diet without worrying about increasing your carb intake too much? Some of the most popular keto vegetables include broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, all types of leafy greens, asparagus, cucumber, and zucchini.

  • In more moderate amounts, foods that are high in protein but low- or no-carb, including grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, bone broth, wild-caught fish, organ meats and some full-fat (ideally raw) dairy products.

  • What about fruits? As you will, you’ll need to cut down on your typical fruits, as keto fruits are far and few between.

On the other hand, the types of foods you’ll avoid eating on the keto, low-carb food plan are likely the same ones you are, or previously were, accustomed to getting lots of your daily calories from before starting this way of eating.

This includes items like fruit, processed foods or drinks high in sugar, those made with any grains or white/wheat flour, conventional dairy products, desserts, and many other high-carb foods (especially those that are sources of “empty calories”).

Keto Diet Food List

If you’re new or just still learning the ropes for the keto diet food list, your biggest questions probably revolve around figuring out just what high-fat low-carb foods you can eat on such a low-carb, ketogenic diet.

Overall, remember that the bulk of calories on the keto diet are from foods that are high in natural fats, along with a moderate amount of foods with protein.

Those that are severely restricted are all foods that provide lots of carbs, even kinds that are normally thought of as “healthy,” like whole grains, for example.

The biggest shifts in your daily habits will be how you food shop and how you cook. If even if you’re accustomed to a relatively low-carb diet, keto recipes will still be even lower carb. How much can you eat on the keto diet? You will require lots of healthy fats in order to get into ketosis, create ketone bodies, and have enough energy without eating carbs. You don’t need to count calories, but rather should focus on filling up on the right types of foods.

You will be considerably more energetic and healthier when cooking your own keto-friendly food, rather than buying supposedly keto foods off the shelf. Therefore, make sure you understand the keto diet rules and start stocking up with the keto grocery list.

Related: Reverse Dieting: Does It Help or Hurt Weight Loss?

Best Keto Foods

Below you’ll find a full keto diet menu for beginners, based on food type.

Healthy Fats

Most healthy fats contain zero net carbs, especially the kinds listed below, which also have other health advantages. Fats should be included in high amounts with every meal throughout the day.

  • Healthy keto fats include saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and certain types of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), especially omega-3 fatty acids. It’s best to include all types in your daily regimen, with an emphasis on saturated fats, especially compared to PUFAs.

  • MCT oil, cold-pressed coconut, palm fruit, olive oil, flaxseed, macadamia and avocado oil — 0 net carbs per tablespoon

  • Butter and ghee — 0 net carbs per tablespoon

  • Lard, chicken fat or duck fat — 0 net carbs per tablespoon

  • Organic cocoa butter — 0 net carbs per tablespoon


Animal proteins (meat, fish, etc.) have very little, if any, carbs. You can consume them in moderate amounts as needed to control hunger.

It might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to lose weight, but you want to choose fattier cuts of meat rather than leaner types. For example, chicken thighs and legs are preferable to chicken breasts because they contain much more fat. We’ve got quick keto diet chicken recipes to help.

  • Grass-fed beef and other types of fatty cuts of meat (try to avoid antibiotics in beef) , including lamb, goat, veal, venison and other game. Grass-fed, fatty meat is preferable because it’s higher in quality omega-3 fats — 0 grams net carbs per 5 ounces

  • Organ meats including liver — around 3 grams net carbs per 5 ounces

  • Poultry, including turkey, chicken, quail, pheasant, hen, goose, duck — 0 grams net carbs per 5 ounces

  • Cage-free eggs and egg yolks — 1 gram net carb each

  • Fish (especially fatty fish), including anchovies, bass, flounder, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, etc. — 0 grams net carbs per 5 ounces

Non-Starchy Vegetables

  • All leafy greens, including dandelion or beet greens, collards, mustard, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine, sorrel, spinach, kale, chard, bok choy, etc. — range from 0.5–5 net carbs per 1 cup

  • Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower — 3–6 grams net carbs per 1 cup

  • Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives and leeks — 2–4 grams net carbs per 1 cup

  • Certain fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, dairy or coconut kefir (also beneficial for gut health) — 1–2 grams net carbs per 1/2 cup

  • Fresh herbs — close to 0 grams net carbs per 1–2 tablespoons

  • Veggies that are slightly higher in carbs (but still low all things considered) including asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, wax beans, tomatoes — 3–7 grams net carbs per 1 cup raw

Fat-Based Fruit

What fruit can you eat on keto? Your number one fruit choice should be avocado (yes, it’s a fruit). In small quantities, berries can also be consumed.

  • Avocado — 3.7 grams net carbs per half


  • Bone broth (homemade or protein powder) — 0 grams net carbs per serving

  • Beef or turkey jerky — 0 grams net carbs

  • Hard-boiled eggs — 1 gram net carb

  • Extra veggies (raw or cooked) with homemade dressing — 0–5 grams net carbs

  • 1/2 avocado with sliced lox (salmon) — 3–4 grams net carbs

  • Minced meat wrapped in lettuce — 0–1 grams net carbs

  • Shirataki noodles (97 percent water!) — 0–1 grams net carbs

  • A few pieces of dark chocolate (higher the cocoa % the better) — 3-4 grams net carbs


  • Spices and herbs — 0 grams net carbs

  • Hot sauce (no sweetener) — 0 grams net carbs

  • Apple cider vinegar — 0–1 grams net carbs

  • Unsweetened mustards — 0–1 grams net carbs

  • Poppy seeds — 0 grams net carbs


  • Water — 0 grams net carbs

  • Unsweetened coffee (black) (see our keto coffee recipe) and tea; drink in moderation since high amounts can impact blood sugar— 0 grams net carbs

  • Bone broth — 0 grams net carbs

Foods to Limit

These are the keto foods to eat only occasionally in order to stay in ketosis:

Full-Fat Dairy

Dairy products should be limited as well, to only “now and then” due to containing natural sugars. Higher fat, hard cheeses have the least carbs, while low-fat milk and soft cheeses have much more.