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Unlike other fad diets, the Ketogenic (keto) diet has been around for a significant amount of time. It is a diet in which the carbohydrates intake is replaced by fat. Thus, a low-carb-high-fat consumption. We know that carbs are essential for energizing the body to help you get through the day.
In keto, the minimization of carbs leads to your body entering into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, the body burns the fat for energy. In the liver, it turns it into ketones. Ketones provide energy to the brain.
Many studies and observations show that the blood sugar and insulin levels reduce when you are on a keto diet.
Various types of Keto Diets
The variations of the keto diet are:
- Standard Keto Diet: This variation contains 10% carbs, 20% protein, 70% fat.
- High Protein Keto Diet: This variation is similar to the standard keto diet. The only difference is it includes more protein. The diet breakup is 5% carbs, 35% protein, and 60% fat.
- Targeted Keto Diet: In this variation, you can consume carbs around workouts.
- Cyclical Keto Diet: In this variation, you follow a cycle of 5 days of standard keto followed by two days of high carb diet.
Best Things to Eat on a Keto Diet
Here are ten foods that you should consume on a keto diet:
#1 High-fat Dairy
Almost all kinds of cheese are high-fat and low-carb. Butter and heavy cream are also very ketogenic. However, avoid consuming milk as it has high carb content. A glass of pasteurized milk has 15 grams of carbs.
Regular consumption of cheese helps in avoiding muscle mass loss. Some of the most commonly used cheese in the diet are cheddar, blue cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, feta, etc.
Butter and cream have a good amount of linoleic acid, which accelerates fat loss in your body.
Fish and shellfish are rich in B Vitamins and potassium. They have minimal or carbs in them, making them very keto-friendly. The American Heart Association encourages you to have at least 1-2 seafood meals in a week.
Shrimp and crabs contain zero carbs. Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fats. The Omega-3 fats lower your insulin level and are beneficial for people who are obese or overweight.
To avoid excess mercury intake during regular seafood consumption, try eating more small fishes like herrings, mackerels, and sardines.
#3 Meat & Poultry
Unprocessed meats are low in carbs. Grass-fed and organic meat is more keto-friendly. They are also a rich protein source that helps retain your muscle mass during a carb-deficit diet.
Meats high in fat lead to good HDL levels (good cholesterol), especially in older women. Processed meats like meatballs and sausages contain additional carbs in them. However, bacon is keto-friendly.
When you are cruising through the grocery store’s processed meat section, aim for the ones that have less than 5% carbs in them.
Eggs are the go-to food for every non-vegan person. One large and organic egg contains 6 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs, an ideal setup for a keto diet. Eggs also trigger hormones that give you the feeling of being full and satiated.
Major nutrients are present in the yolk, and hence in a ketogenic diet, it is important to consume the entire egg. Antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein are essential for your eyes. Eggs also help in LDL particle reduction, thus eliminating the risk of heart diseases.
#5 Low-carb Vegetables
Non-starch vegetables are low in carbs but high in other minerals. Vegetables that are green and leafy and grow above the ground can be included in the keto diet. You can fry them in butter or toss some olive oil to get the richness of fat content.
It is a myth that keto is not meant for vegetarians/ vegans. Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, kale, lettuce, green peppers, cucumber, spinach, tomato, cabbage, etc., are all-inclusive in a keto diet.
Avocados help in improving triglyceride and cholesterol levels. They have high fiber content that keeps your gut healthy. More than 60 percent of its fat is monosaturated, making it an ideal inclusion in your keto diet.
An avocado a day helps in reducing the risks of heart ailments. Having avocados for breakfast on a toast is a staple food.
#7 Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) that converts the fat into ketones in the liver and provides instant energy to the body. Studies show that coconut oil consumption increases ketone levels in people with Alzheimer’s and other brain and nervous system disorders.
Coconut oil also helps in reducing the stubborn lower-belly fat. Consuming two tablespoons every day is ideal.
#8 Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oils are rich in antioxidants like phenols. It helps in protecting the heart against inflammation and improves artery functions. Olive oil contains zero carbs.
Olive oil is widely used in salad dressings and mixes easily with any vinegar. Some people even use it for shallow frying their veggies.
However, it is advised to use olive oil only for low-heat cooking as it doesn’t stay stable at high temperatures.
#9 Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are the best snack options in a keto-friendly diet. They contain high amounts of fat and very few carbs. Hence it is ideal if you consume them in small quantities. Nuts and seeds are also high in fiber.
Popular nuts and seeds to consume are almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
#10 Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate containing a minimum of 70% cocoa content is ideal for a keto diet. It is rich in antioxidants and very low in carbs.
Dark chocolates also contain flavanols that help lower blood pressure and eliminating the risk of heart diseases.
A Keto diet is very helpful for some people to achieve their weight-loss goals. It reduces blood sugar and insulin levels and keeps your heart healthy. It also improves your brain function and reduces the risk of certain cancers.
If you are on a keto diet, avoid eating high-carb foods like rice, bread, candies, potatoes, fruits, beer, and other sugary food. It would be great if you keep your carb intake to below 5% for better results.