Hey, it’s Health Coach Tara. Today we’re going to talk about what you should eat on keto and I’ll tell you how to get our free keto meal plans which will help you learn how to eat on keto with actual examples of menus you could follow.
Learning To Eat Keto
Keto Food List & Tear-Off Grocery Pad
You can find my complete keto food list in a few different ways. I’m going to be referencing our tear-off pad keto grocery list that has all of the keto foods you can eat. You can purchase this 60 sheet tear-off on our store website at sustainableketo.com. It comes in two different sizes. The smaller size is 10 point font and the larger size is 12 point font. It serves as a reference and a shopping list. You can also download a free version on our homepage.
But before we talk about what we eat on a keto diet, we should talk about what we don’t eat. I developed these guidelines by reading books and published research on the keto diet, attending conferences, and speaking with doctors who utilize the keto diet in clinical practice.
What We Don't Eat On The Keto Diet
This assumes some knowledge of keto, but if you’re just getting started and learning how keto works, check out our video playlist called “Getting started”, link below.
Our Keto Goal
Our goal on the keto diet is to shift our body's fuel source from sugar to fat. When our body breaks down fats, it creates ketone bodies. For this to happen, we follow a very low carb diet. Beginners start at 20-30 carbohydrates per day.
Foods we call “ketogenic” or “keto” simply mean these foods are high in fat and low in carbs. Another goal for many on the keto diet is to reduce inflammation in the body.
This list of foods we should exclude on keto also includes foods that can be inflammatory - starting with gluten. I firmly believe that gluten has no place in the ketogenic diet. But, it’s okay if you disagree with me -- comment and we can talk about it.
Grains are also omitted on the keto diet because they are high in carbs. Beans and legumes are also omitted and any flours made from all of these things. Starchy veggies such as potatoes, corn (which is also a grain), and most root vegetables are omitted.
Finally, we omit all sugar including honey, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and any other carb-filled sweeteners.
What You'll Be Missing Out On - Hunger
Are you feeling overwhelmed? I was too when I first started researching keto after I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was worried I would miss out on my favorite foods and wouldn’t be able to stick to the diet.
Worth The Work
Eating keto does not need to be full of deprivation. In fact, we get to eat a lot of high-fat foods that have been off limits to many of us, especially those of us 40 and older, who grew up in the ‘fat free’ era. But I’m not going to tell you “Oh, it’s easy”. Because it’s not. We all have our favorite foods and I may have just listed a bunch of yours. Let me tell you that the keto diet is powerful and it is worth the sacrifice for dozens of reasons.
Keto Is Very Satiating
Plus, unlike diets you’ve been on in the past, the keto diet has a strong satiety mechanism. Satiety vs hunger. This means unlike high carb diet‘s you’ve been on in the past where you’ve been struggling for energy and dealing with hunger and obsessing about your next meal all day - a ketogenic (low carb high fat diet) will surprise you because you won’t experience hunger like you used to.
Freedom From Food
Many people report freedom from food controlling their lives. This happens because once we are in a state of ketosis our body has access to tens of thousands of calories of fat stores. You see, the average person has enough fat stores on their body to fuel them for weeks! So your body won’t be as quick to ask you to eat to provide more energy. It will simply breakdown the stored fat on your body and convert it into Ketone bodies which, in turn, provide you with energy.
Will You Take The Challenge?
Trying to look at the keto diet as a challenge. Whether you’ve been on it before or are starting again, issue yourself a personal 30 day challenge.
When I very first started keto back in early 2017, I challenged myself to eat keto for 30 days to see what would happen. I am so glad I did. Are you in? Comment below with “I’m in for the 30 day challenge!” and then grab some free resources to help you get started located on our homepage. You may even want to check out my 30 day planner that I designed to be everything I wish I had when I started keto on sustainableketo.com.
Let’s dive into the delicious foods that we can eat on the keto diet.
What You Should Eat On Keto
First on the list is dairy. We can toss out the tasteless low-fat cheese and embrace delicious cheese such as cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, blue cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, swiss cheese, and many others.
Most cheeses are low carb. The highest carb cheese is cottage cheese, one of my favorites. Just be sure to choose the full-fat version. I like to mix a tablespoon of MCT oil into my cottage cheese to boost the fat profile.
I also want to mention heavy cream which is under the dairy section. For you milk lovers out there, our hack to make dairy milk that is keto-friendly is to mix heavy cream and water.
What To Use For Coffee Creamer
Now, if you’re wondering what to use for coffee creamer, you have some options. You can use any of the drinks I’ve already mentioned, make your own using the recipes on our website here (or use the search bar at the top of this page), or you can use some of these done-for-you products.
Ready-Made Coffee Creamers
Perfect Keto has a line of MCT oil powders that mix right into your coffee and taste like coffee creamer. Vanilla and salted caramel are my two favorite flavors but they have a lot more. We like this brand because they have plated the MCT oil to acacia fiber which is a good-for-you fiber you can feel good about ingesting.
Do be careful in selecting your MCT powder and be sure it’s plated to acacia fiber. If the fiber isn’t listed, beware as it can be maltodextrin which could undo your hard work on the keto diet.
We love this brand so much that we are affiliated with them, if you’d like to save 15% use our coupon code TARAKETO at perfectketo.com.
Nuts & Seeds
The next category is nuts & seeds. I remember being afraid of eating nuts back when I thought eating fat would make me fat. Keto-friendly nuts include almonds, brazil nuts, chia seed, flaxseed, coconut, macadamia nuts, pecans, pili nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Peanuts can also be included, but they are controversial in some circles because they tend to be pro-inflammatory.
Baking is our next category and this list contains a variety of fibers, flours, and other things to use in your keto baking. We have acacia fiber, gelatin, and xanthan gum on the list.
These are all ingredients commonly used to bake keto foods because they act as a binder to hold the food together. Something has to replace the properties of gluten when we bake. The gluten in all-purpose flour is what holds together our cookies, cakes, and bread.
Flours that are keto-friendly include almond flour, coconut flour, coffee flour, flax meal, hazelnut flour, psyllium husks, pumpkin seed flour, sunflower seed flour, and newer to the market, lupin flour.
Next we come to sugar substitutes. I am not listing artificial sweeteners because I avoid those personally after figuring out they were contributing to severe, chronic migraines I suffered from in my 20’s and 30’s.
Keto-friendly sugar substitutes include allulose, BochaSweet, Monk Fruit, Stevia, and Erythritol. See Tara's Sugar Substitute Guide for more information on this topic. Each sugar substitute performs differently when cooking/baking on keto. It’s worth all little time to learn how to use these so you can enjoy delicious home-baked goods that will keep you in ketosis.
Meat & Eggs
Now for meat and eggs. A large egg has about .6 carbohydrates and is a great source of protein when on keto. Most other meats are keto-friendly. Just be careful of hidden sugars in processed meats like bacon, salami, pepperoni, ham, and sausage. Many are cured with sugar so look for low sugar options. There are a few brands out there that offer zero sugar-cured types of meat.
Otherwise, when choosing meat, choose the higher fat option. So, choose dark meat poultry instead of white meat. Purchase 80% lean hamburger instead of the super lean 93% hamburger. Choose a rib-eye instead of a sirloin steak.
There are many kinds of seafood that are keto-friendly. Anchovies, salmon, sardines, shellfish, trout, and whitefish. Be careful with crab meat when you’re shopping. Most of the crab, unless you can see the crab legs yourself, is imitation crab. Imitation crab has up to 20g of carbohydrate per serving. If in doubt, assume it’s imitation.
Next up is vegetables. Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, bell pepper, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, garlic, kimchi, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, sauerkraut, seaweed, spaghetti squash, spinach, tomatoes, watercress, and zucchini.
After vegetables, let’s talk about fruits. The lowest carb fruit options are berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.
Stick to a small amount of these berries and you can enjoy them and stick to your keto diet. Avocado, coconut, and lemon, and limes are also fruits you can enjoy on keto.
Next up is a variety of fats to include on your keto diet. We like to get a variety of different fats in our diet including avocado oil, butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, animal fat, ghee, macadamia oil, olive oil, palm shortening, and sesame oil. We use a lot of MCT oil personally.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides which are special because they are absorbed directly through the portal vein and rapidly converted to ketone bodies. This means they can provide your body with a quick energy boost.
You’ll see many people on keto using MCT oil in their coffee, but you can also cook with it and use it to drizzle on foods or salads. For more information on MCT oil, check out our blog post called What Is MCT Oil & How Do You Use It.
Herbs & Spices
Now for the miscellaneous category. When selecting herbs and spices, read your labels and look for sugar by any name. Commonly you’ll see it listed as cane sugar or dextrose. Throw out the spices with sugar in them and find sugar-free options instead.
Soy sauce contains gluten, so I have replaced it with coconut aminos instead. Other keto friendly items include coconut cream, mayonnaise, mustard (not sweet mustards), nut butter, olives, pickles, pork rinds, many salad dressings,and very dark chocolate that is 85% or darker.
When looking at condiments pay special attention to the labels and the ingredient list. The FDA allows foods to be labeled “zero-carb” if a serving has less than .5 carbs. If you pick up a container of heavy cream where the serving size is 1 tablespoon, you’ll see zero carbs on the label. But one tablespoon of heavy cream contains .4 carbs. If you whipped up half of a cup of heavy cream to put on a dessert you might think it’s zero carbs, but it’s actually almost 2 carbs.
The Keto Label
This brings me to processed foods like energy bars and shakes that are labeled KETO. Beware of this label as there is currently zero regulation around the word Keto. It is simply a marketing term. When I see keto on the label, it raises a red flag and I pay special attention to the ingredients list.
Some ingredients that large manufacturers use that can undermine your hard work eating keto and slow your results include maltitol, Isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO’s), maltodextrin, inulin, chicory root fiber, and vital wheat gluten. Avoid these ingredients for the best results with the keto diet.
You can find a list of trusted packaged foods that I have personally vetted on our Coupons and Discounts page.
If you want even more information on what to eat on the keto diet, take a look at Choosing Keto Foods At The Store, a grocery store tour where I walk through our entire local grocery store and discuss what to look for.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about what you should eat on keto. Sign up for our Free Weekly Keto Meal Plans. Once you're signed up, we’ll send a meal plan right away and then you’ll get a new one each Friday morning.