If you’re not familiar, the keto diet is one that involves eating more fat and fewer carbs. It has links with weight loss in the short term.
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at which foods to potentially eat and which foods to avoid while following a keto diet.
If you’re considering a keto diet for weight loss, these food recommendations should come in handy. We’d also advise you to speak to a medical professional before making any major changes!
We’ve also written a primer to the science behind the keto diet. We recommend having a look at that, too.
FOODS TO AVOID ON A KETO DIET 🎂
If you want to jump straight to the foods you can eat on a keto diet, click here.
Keto diets involve reducing carbohydrates in favour of fat, so all of the foods in this section are high dietary sources of carbs.
At first this section will probably seem a little counter-intuitive, as many of the ingredients would traditionally be considered “healthy”.
Keep in mind that the keto diet has medical origins and wasn’t designed for weight loss (more info in our keto primer).
Quite possibly one of the most famous carbs, pasta is a favourite for athletes who are carb-loading before events. Given that you’re going for the complete opposite, trim pasta out of your diet.
Pasta is made mainly from flour and flour is about 70% carbs, so it’s easy to see why it would need to go.
If you think getting rid of a staple like pasta is tricky, then we’re sorry to report that you’ll also need to try and avoid rice, oats, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, bulgar and, yes, even freekeh.
Now, if you’re not someone who boils up grains and uses them directly in their cooking, you may be thinking “this is easy!”
Think again: grains are in a surprisingly high number of foods. So you’ll need to be extra vigilant with ingredient labels to make sure you’re truly avoiding them.
Regular bread has tons of carbs so while you’re on a keto diet it’s unlikely you can just grab a loaf from the shelf.
There are, however, tons of keto-friendly bread recipes. Just head over to Google and take your pick!
Here’s another example of how keto can feel counterproductive: losing weight by avoiding foods that feel healthy in other contexts and replacing them with fatty alternatives.
These fruity drinks are packed full of sugar though, meaning that they’re no good for a keto diet.
This popular fruit is packed full of sugar, so even though fruit feels like a healthy thing to reach for when you feel like snacking, give bananas a miss.
Check out the next section for recommendations of snacks you can eat on keto. (Sneak preview: nuts, seeds, some types of berry).
Along with grains, legumes are another diverse category that features fairly frequently in most diets.
In this list you’ll find things like kidney beans, chickpeas, all the different types of lentils, peas, and more. Cross each and every one of those off of your shopping list, as they’re not keto-friendly.
At last, something that makes sense! Not many diets let you eat cake, and with keto, you can’t have your cake or eat it either.
While there is fat in cake, there’s way more carbs inside. Flour-heavy and dense, you’ll have to do without for now.
Cow’s milk 🐄
Thanks to its high lactose content – lactose being a sugar – cow’s milk is a no-go if you’re on a keto diet.
And before you think about getting lactose free milk instead, we need to tell you that this contains just as many carbs, for the simple reason that lactose is just broken down into its constituent parts instead: the process prevents triggering lactose intolerance but doesn’t remove the carbs.
Honey is packed with sugar, meaning that a teaspoon of the stuff can contain up to 30 grams of carbohydrates. Obviously when you’re trying to avoid carbs, this isn’t much help.
So suppress your Winnie the Pooh impulses and leave the honey alone for now.
Here’s another common food you’ll have to avoid. Sometimes potatoes are obvious (fries, jacket potatoes, mash, chips etc) while other times they’re far more secretive (the filling in pasties, gnocchi, mozzarella cheese, and more).
On a keto diet you’ll have try to give all of it a miss. Potato starch is used in a lot of ingredients and recipes, so give labels a careful scan to make sure you’re not eating any sneaky spuds.
Depending on the lifestyle you lead, this will either be very hard or very easy. All alcoholic drinks are high in carbs so you’ll need to limit beer, wine, and spirits for the duration of your keto diet if you want to do it properly.
The plus side here is that avoiding alcohol brings a suite of other health benefits. You’ll feel more energised, you’ll sleep better, and that’s just the start.
Which foods are good for keto? 🧀
Remember: a keto diet favours fatty foods over ones containing carbs.
So while it’s good to know which foods to avoid, you’re probably looking for some steer on the types of typical food to eat on a keto diet.
Here are a few foods you can eat when aiming for keto.
You’ve got a lot of options here. Most types of meat contain a good amount of fat, so get creative and try some new meat recipes you’ve been meaning to get round to.
Red meat, poultry and fatty fish are your best bets: things like steak, chicken, salmon and tuna.
These tasty fruits (yes, they’re fruits!) contain just 2g of carbs per serving and are a nice, healthy source of unsaturated fats. What’s more, they go well in a huge range of dishes, making them a very versatile addition to a keto diet.
If we’re talking about versatility, then the humble egg deserves a mention. For example, did you know that chef’s hats have 100 ruffles to signify the 100 ways you can cook an egg!
If you’re planning a keto diet, the high protein to carb ratio in eggs combined with the sheer number of dishes you can use them in makes them a great choice.
The bane of our lives as kids, but brocolli really comes into its own once you realise its potential. A couple of roasted florets with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of rock salt? A thing of absolute beauty.
Broccoli is packed with fibre and low in carbs making it an ideal keto veggie.
Certain types of berry are good for a keto diet. Blueberries are an example of one to avoid, as their carb content can add up fairly quickly.
A handful of raspberries and strawberries every once in a while though, and you’re good to go.
Olive oil 🍳
This is pure fat and contains zero carbs. What’s more, it’s tasty by itself or as the base for any number of sauces and dressing. So if you’re looking for something to contribute to ketosis while making your diet dishes more delicious, look no further.
We never thought we’d see the day that cheese was not only allowed but encouraged as a diet ingredient. But with keto, the high fat content of cheese makes it a prime contender.
The carb content of different types of cheese can vary quite significantly, so take a look at the nutritional information to see whether the ratio works for you.
Almond milk 🥛
Set aside the question of how you get milk from an almond and focus on the nutritional values: an unsweetened almond milk will contain just 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per serving, while also providing other key nutrients you’ll want to get on your keto diet.
Black coffee ☕
If you’re worried about cutting out coffee on your diet, fear not. It’s what you put in coffee that you need to think about.
A cup of black coffee contains negligible fat or carbs, so in terms of keto it’s fairly neutral. Just avoid putting in milk or, if you must have milk, go for an unsweetened almond.
These popular snacks are high in fibre but low in carbs although, as with cheese, the ratio varies between different types. Whether you eat nuts as snacks in between meals or incorporate them into dishes directly, they can make a great addition to a keto diet.
Sunflower seeds 🌻
If you’re looking for a snack but don’t enjoy eating nuts, sunflower seeds may be the way forward. They’re tasty, cheap, and fun to peel.
They’re also super low in carbs meaning you can eat them on a keto diet.
Dried seaweed 🌊
One final snack recommendation for keto diets: dried seaweed. These crisp and salty sheets of green are not only delicious, but they’re packed with vitamins and almost entirely bereft of carbs.
You can use non-dried seaweed on salads, too!
There are plenty of keto-friendly foods, so you’ll still be able to cook delicious meals and avail yourself of tasty, healthy snacks.
Taking time to research the foods that do and don’t work with a keto diet is an important step towards seeing success on this diet plan.
This blog post gives you a lot of options, but the information here isn’t exhaustive. We recommend exploring further and speaking to a registered dietician to make sure you have plenty of choice!
Disclaimer: The information on the Leanbean blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be used as such. If you would like to learn more about your dietary requirements and related aspects of your health, speak with a registered medical professional.