Keto Food: What to Eat, What to Avoid
What is considered keto food? And what foods do you have to avoid on the keto diet?
Here you will learn exactly what foods to eat and not to eat on the keto diet, plus when to eat and how much to eat. And you will see that it’s all surprisingly simple.
Keto food overview
A keto diet contains very few carbs and a higher proportion of energy from natural fat. The protein amount should be moderate. The diet is based on real food like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats like butter or from fatty foods like avocado, salmon or olive oil.
Avoid the carbohydrate-rich foods like sugar, sweets and starchy foods, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
A simple way to explain the difference between regular food and keto food is that you remove the large portion of carbs, rice, potatoes or pasta and replace it with vegetables prepared in fats. For example, veggies fried in butter or salads with olive oil. It can really be that simple.
How much do you eat on the keto diet?
So how much should you eat? Well, you can eat when you’re hungry until you’re satisfied. Super simple!
You don’t need to count calories, you don’t need any pills, no special products and no meal replacements on a keto diet. You only need real food.
Another important difference. Waiting until you are hungry to eat feels easy on keto, because your body can now switch directly to burning your body fat when needed. On a carb diet, you would get sugary cravings and feel tired if you don’t eat all the time. But on the keto diet, you get more energy when you’re hungry.
And once you do eat, hunger makes everything taste great! So eat when you’re hungry until you’re full and then repeat this for as long as you want, maybe your whole life. It’s as natural as can be, like breathing.
Just remember to choose food with very little sugar or starch. It’s now a common rule is to stay below 20 grams of carbs per day. And a simple beginner’s rule to achieve that is to stick to food with less than 5% carbs.
What to avoid on the keto diet
Now, let’s look at what to eat and what not to eat on keto.
When it comes to meat, just choose what you like. Beef, pork, game, poultry, bacon. The fatty parts are good for you and so is the skin on the chicken. Try to choose organic and grass-fed beef if you can. It tastes better, it’s better for your health, for the environment and for the animals.
When in doubt about processed meats like sausages, cold cuts and meatballs, just look at the ingredient list for carbs like added sugar or flour. Again look for less than 5% carbs.
Seafood is excellent. Everything is good, you can choose what you like. Fatty fish like salmon is great, but avoid breading as it’s full of carbs. And if you can find wild caught fish that’s the very best with even more healthy omega-3 fat.
How about eggs? People often eat a lot of eggs on keto, which is perfect and nutritious food. You can have them boiled, fried in butter or as omelettes, whatever you want. Try to buy organic and if you can find eggs from free-range chickens. They are the best. People often ask, “how many eggs can you eat considering the yolk’s high cholesterol content?” Well, the “eggs increase cholesterol” claim has been debunked and it’s perfectly safe to eat a few eggs every day if you want.
When it comes to vegetables, a simple rule is that all vegetables growing above ground are good as they contain very few carbs. You can probably eat a pound a day, maybe more and still stay in ketosis. Vegetables are good for you! Vegetables from below ground – tubers – should be kept to a minimum on a keto diet as they contain more carbs.
Potatoes, including sweet potatoes, should preferably be avoided. Vegetables are also a great and tasty way to eat good fat on keto. So fry your vegetables in butter, pour plenty of olive oil over your salad. You could even think of vegetables as a fat delivery system.
What fat should you eat on keto?
Use real butter and real heavy cream for cooking. Forget the old and obsolete fear of natural fat. That way the food gets tastier and you get more satisfied. You can also have rich sources like Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce or garlic butter. Coconut oil, olive oil. They’re also excellent choices.
Now it’s important to realise that while some people still fear natural saturated fats that’s actually a mistake. Modern science proves it. Natural saturated fats including butter are fine to eat. Don’t fear fat. Natural fat is your friend. Just avoid all artificial fats such as margarine and trans-fats – those are bad for you.
How much fat can you eat? Just eat until you are satisfied. And if you’re still hungry, eat more fat. Other naturally rich dairy products are also good, as well as butter, of course. You can also eat cheese – real full fat cheese.
You can also eat high-fat yogurt like Greek, Turkish or Russian yogurt. Just make sure it’s really high-fat and with no added sugar. Since dairy products like yoghurts and milk contain some milk sugar, choose the highest fat options so you get fuller sooner and therefore avoid consuming a lot of milk sugar.
Low-fat products, they don’t keep you satisfied. They taste worse and they may even be worse for your health. Worst of all low-fat yogurts often have tons of sugar added to them. They remove the natural fat (because we have been brainwashed into thinking “all fat is bad”) and instead added the same amount of calories in pure sugar. Typically a huge amount. So always avoid that.
Low-fat milk should also be avoided. It could be called white soda. Actually, you probably shouldn’t drink milk at all on keto as the carbs do add up quickly about 15 grams of sugar in one glass of milk.
So why are the high-fat alternatives the best choices? Well, it’s because they keep you full longer and therefore you’ll want to eat less which is good.
Definitely no sugary drinks
Sugar and starch that you want to avoid are primarily found in sweets and bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
The two absolutely worst things for your weight and health are soda and fruit juices as they contain a ton of sugar. The same goes for so-called sports drinks and energy drinks. They are sugar bombs.
Muffins, cookies, sweets. These are also really bad choices on keto. No surprise really. A small piece of dark real chocolate on occasion is a much better choice. Or some nuts.
Here is what perhaps surprises people the most. Fruit can make you fat! Yes, it contains vitamins and nutrients but it also contains a lot of sugar which you notice, of course, because it tastes sweet. Try to view fruit as natural candy and eat it only occasionally. Berries are better, they contain less sugar and they are great with real whipping cream. It’s a popular keto dessert.
What to drink on the keto diet?
So how about drinks? What should you drink on keto? Soda, fruit juice and beer are out. The best drink is plain water, carbonated or flavoured if you want.
Yes, sorry, you need to say goodbye to beer as it’s full of rapidly digested carbs. You’ve heard the expression “beer belly” – the cause of beer bellies is all the bad carbs. The better choice for special occasions is a glass of red wine. When it comes to alcohol there are several smart alternatives that taste good and impact weight minimally, e.g. gin, whisky, vodka, not just red wine. But be careful, you may be more sensitive to alcohol on keto.
Coffee and tea are great even with a moderate amount of milk or cream.
Keto food summary
Here is the classic keto food profile:
- Eat “real food” (basically, food you cook yourself instead of coming pre-packaged) without sugar or starch. You can eat any unprocessed meat, any unprocessed seafood.
- Eat a lot of natural fats. Avoid unnatural fats such as margarine and trans-fats. Don’t worry, fat doesn’t make you fat.
- You eat when hungry until you’re satisfied and this could be three times today. But some people only need to eat twice or perhaps even just once a day. You can choose what feels right for you.
- Avoid sugar and starch.
- Treat fruit like sweets – eat in moderation.
- Avoid beer. Other forms of alcohol are acceptable under the keto diet.