Q: What can you eat on a Keto diet?
A: The Ketogenic - or Keto - diet is a low-carb, high-fat meal plan which involves dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.
The drastic reduction in carb consumption forces the body into a state of ketosis, a metabolic function which increases the body’s ability to burn fat more efficiently.
A ketogenic plan usually limits carbs to between 20 and 50 grams per day, and centres on eating foods such as seafood, cheese, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
While the jury is still out on long-term benefits, studies have found a link between the keto diet and significant weight loss, diabetes management and improvements in epilepsy.
New Idea has created a handy beginners guide to the keto diet plan, including keto recipes, keto snacks and a keto friendly shopping list.
What can I eat on a Ketogenic diet?
Let's put together a food list for your next grocery shopping trip!
1. Low-carb, non-starchy vegetables
While all vegetables contain life enhancing nutrients, not all vegetables are made equal - which means some of them are not allowed within the Keto meal plan.
Non-starchy vegetables - scientifically known as cruciferous vegetables - like kale, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are excellent Keto foods thanks to their low calories, high nutrient content.
Cruciferous veggies are rich in Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, and have long been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease and many cancers.
Keto diet recipes often use low-carb vegetables as a substitute for starchy carbohydrates.
For example, cauliflower is now widely used instead of rice; zucchini is also used in place of potatoes and pasta to create zoodles, a great natural substitute for noodles or spaghetti.
Avocados are arguably the best source of Keto-friendly healthy fat for the human body, with 100 grams - the equivalent of half a medium avocado - containing just 9 grams of carbohydrates, 7 of which are fibre!
Avocados are also naturally rich in potassium which is an excellent metabolic booster making it ideal for Keto dieters.
Avocados have also been found to reduce cholesterol and improve heart health.
Eggs are a Keto dieters best friend thanks to their taste, versatility and low-carb content.
According to Healthline, one large egg contains less than a single gram of carbohydrate and just under 6 grams of protein making it perfect for Ketogenic adherents.
Eggs help you to feel fuller for longer, and also regulate blood sugar in a natural way.
Ketogenic meal plans must include the whole egg - including the yolk - as this part contains the most antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which help protect eye health.
KETO RECIPE: KETO BREAD
Try this Diet Doctor recipe for Keto-friendly bread, and smear it with lashings of full fat butter for ultimate effect.
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 5 tablespoons ground psyllium husk powder
- 1 and a quarter cups of almond flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 3 egg whites
Made in hundreds of different forms, cheese is high in fat and low in carbs which makes the vast majority of types suitable for the Ketogenic lifestyle.
While cheese is high saturated fat it hasn't been linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease in any way, and also contains conjugated linoleic acid which is connected to rapid fat loss and improvements in muscle mass.
Great news for cheese loves, cottage and ricotta cheese are both highly recommended for inclusion on your Keto shopping list.
KETO RECIPE: KETO-FRIENDLY PIZZA
This Diet Doctor Keto meal is delicious and will satisfy your junk food cravings, without the extra calories!
You will need:
- 5 and a half oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- Three quarters of a cup of almond flour
- 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
- 1 egg
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Olive oil to grease your hands
- 8 oz fresh Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon full fat butter
- Half a cup of unsweetened tomato sauce
- Half a teaspoon of dried oregano
- 4 and a half oz shredded mozzarella cheese
5. Meat and Poultry (aka Chicken)
While more and more people are turning towards vegetarian and vegan diets, meat and chicken are considered core components of the Keto diet and are present in almost all Keto recipes.
Fresh, unprocessed meat and poultry contains zero carbohydrates and plenty of vitamins and minerals such as potassium - the excellent metabolic booster we mentioned above - selenium, and zinc.
Eating large volumes of meat helps to build muscle mass and trim down body fat.
Grass-fed meat is he preferred choice on the Keto shopping list for a healthy diet.
6. Fish and Seafood
Shellfish and fish are both fantastic foods for the Keto diet.
Salmon, sardines, clams, oysters, crab, prawns, mackerel, octopus and squid are all excellent sources of vitamins and minerals such as omega-3, while also being low-carb or virtually carbohydrate-free!
Shellfish consumption has been linked to improvements in mental health and concentration.
Numerous health publications recommend consuming at least two servings of seafood per week.
7. Coconut and Olive Oil
Olive oil has been proven to improve overall heart health and contains many antioxidants - known as phenols - which work to reduce inflammation with the body.
Inflammation is linked to myriad diseases from cancer to multiple sclerosis.
Olive oil is a pure source of fat, which means it is completely carbohydrate free so next time you're frying bacon or eggs, no need to spare the olive oil!
Likewise, coconut oil is an excellent addition to the Keto diet as it is made up of a fatty substance called lauric acid which has been suggested to boost the speed of ketosis.
Coconut has been linked to rapid reduction in belly fat, the trickiest area of the adult body to shed weight from.
8. Berries and Dark Chocolate
While most fruit is out of bounds on a Keto meal plan, berries are the exception to the rule thanks to their high fibre, low-carb content.
Raspberries and blackberries are particularly Keto-friendly and are jam packed with anti-inflammatories and antioxidants which protect against chronic disease.
Blueberries contain the highest net carbs (12 grams for every 100 grams of berries) while blackberries contain the least (5 grams per 100 grams).
Add strawberries, blackberries, acai berries and raspberries to your Keto shopping list and incorporate them into Keto-friendly desserts along with dark chocolate and cocoa powder, other Keto suitable treats!
Just be sure the chocolate contains at least 70 percent cocoa solids - preferably more.
9. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are both excellent high-fat, low-carb food stuffs.
Scientific studies have linked high and frequent nut consumption with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and depression.
Nuts and seeds are both rich in fibre which helps keep you fuller for longer thereby reducing hunger cravings and the likelihood of bingeing.
Brazil nuts, pecans, chia seeds and flaxseeds are all excellent Keto-friendly ingredients to add to your shopping list.
10. Butter and Cream
While most traditional diets tell you to steer clear of butter and full fat milk the Ketogenic meal plan turns this belief on its head.
Butter and cream contain only trace amounts of carbs and are extremely high in saturated fat.
High fat dairy products are also rich in conjugated linoleic acid, which - as we mentioned - boosts fat loss rapidly.
What can I drink on a Keto diet?
Plain coffee and tea are carb-free drinks meaning they are permitted on the Keto diet.
Both contain caffeine which increases your metabolism and temporarily improves mental clarity, alertness, stamina and performance.
Black coffee drinkers have also shown a significantly reduced risk of diabetes.
However, it's important to remember that while unsweetened, black coffee or tea is perfectly acceptable as part of a Keto meal plan, drinking "light" or flavoured versions of either will add a lot of carbs to your intake and throw your diet off track.
Water can be consumed in any quantity on the Keto diet, while diet soft drinks and red or white wine can be drunk in small amounts.
KETO RECIPE: BULLETPROOF COFFEE
Try making this butter and oil rich coffee from Diet Doctor which will fill you up for hours and set you up nicely for the day ahead!
Simply combine all ingredients in a blender and serve piping hot.
You will need:
- 1 cup of coffee, freshly brewed
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
What can you NOT eat on a Keto diet?
Foods full of starch and sugar are extremely high in carbs making them unsuitable for Keto meals.
Major danger foods which should be avoided at all costs include fizzy drinks, processed fruit juices, milk and white chocolate, candy and jellies, donuts, rice, pasta, potatoes, beer and most fruits (except berries).
According to Diet Doctor, full sugar sodas and frappuccinos are the the worst beverages you can drink on the Keto diet.