I know it may be challenging to follow a healthy low-carb diet, especially if you are new to it. I hope this comprehensive list of keto-friendly foods will help you make the right choices. The KetoDietapproach is simple: It’s about following a low-carb diet where the focus is on eating real food, not just food low in carbs.

To help you stick with the diet, I’ve also created several FREE meal plans including some that are dairy-free and sweetener-free – check them out!

For your convenience, you can also download a PDF version of this list here!

What to Eat and What to Avoid

In short, you should eat REAL food (meat, eggs, nuts, yogurt, vegetables and occasionally some fruits). Apart from the obvious limitation of net carb content in foods, it is also recommended to avoid processed food and any food that may contain preservatives and colourings.

KetoDiet is not just about losing weight at any cost; it’s about adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Below is a list of the most common low-carb foods recommended for the ketogenic diet. If you getmy iPad app, you’ll be able to search through thousands of foods included in the KetoDiet database.

EAT Freely

Grass-fed and wild animal sources

  • grass-fed meat (beef, lamb, goat, venison), wild-caught fish & seafood (avoid farmed fish), pastured pork and poultry, pastured eggs, gelatin, ghee, butter – these are high in healthy omega 3 fatty acids (avoid sausages and meat covered in breadcrumbs, hot dogs, meat that comes with sugary or starchy sauces)
  • offal, grass-fed (liver, heart, kidneys and other organ meats)

Healthy fats

  • saturated (lard, tallow, chicken fat, duck fat, goose fat, clarified butter / ghee, butter, coconut oil)
  • monounsaturated (avocado, macadamia and olive oil)
  • polyunsaturated omega 3s, especially from animal sources (fatty fish and seafood)
  • You can find a complete guide to fats & oils in my post here. (which to use for cold use, which for high-heat cooking and which to avoid)

Non-starchy vegetables

  • leafy greens (Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, chard, chives, endive, radicchio, etc.)
  • some cruciferous vegetables like kale (dark leaf), kohlrabi, radishes
  • celery stalk, asparagus, cucumber, summer squash (zucchini, spaghetti squash), bamboo shoots

Fruits

  • avocado

Beverages and Condiments

  • water (still), coffee (black or with cream or coconut milk), tea (black, herbal)
  • pork rinds (cracklings) for “breading”
  • mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, bone broth (make your own), pickles, fermented foods (kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut (make your own) – best homemade with no additives (my recipes for home-made condiments are here)
  • all spices and herbs, lemon or lime juice and zest
  • whey protein (beware of additives, artificial sweeteners, hormones and soy lecithin), egg white protein and gelatin (grass-fed, hormone free)

Eat Occasionally

Vegetables, Mushrooms and Fruits

  • some cruciferous vegetables (white and green cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fennel, turnips, rutabaga / swede)
  • nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers)
  • some root vegetables (parsley root), spring onion, leek, onion, garlic, mushrooms, winter squash (pumpkin)
  • sea vegetables (nori, kombu), okra, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, wax beans, globe or French artichokes, water chestnuts
  • berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, mulberries, etc.)
  • coconut, rhubarb, olives

Grain-fed animal sources and full-fat Dairy

  • beef, poultry, eggs and ghee (avoid farmed pork, it’s too high in omega 6s!)
  • dairy products (plain full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, sour cream, cheese) – avoid products labeled “low-fat”, most of them are packed with sugar and starch and have little sating effect
  • bacon – beware of preservatives and added starches (nitrates are acceptable if you eat enough antioxidants)

Nuts and seeds

  • macadamia nuts (very low in carbs, high in omega 3s)
  • pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds
  • brazil nuts (beware of very high level of selenium – don’t eat too many of them!)

Fermented soy products

  • if eaten, only non GMO and fermented soy products (Natto, Tempeh, soy sauce or paleo-friendly coconut aminos)
  • Edamame (green soy beans), black soybeans – unprocessed

Condiments

  • healthy “zero-carb” sweeteners (Stevia, Swerve, Erythritol, etc.)
  • thickeners: arrowroot powder, xanthan gum (keep in mind xanthan gum is not paleo-friendly – some people following the paleo diet use it, as you only need a very little amount)
  • sugar-free tomato products (puree, passata, ketchup)
  • cocoa and carob powder, extra dark chocolate (more than 70%, better 90% and beware of soy lecithin), cocoa powder
  • beware of sugar-free chewing gums and mints – some of them have carbs

Some Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts and Seeds with Average Carbohydrates – depends on your daily carb limit

  • root vegetables (celery root, carrot, beetroot, parsnip and sweet potato)
  • watermelon, Cantaloupe / Galia / Honeydew melons
  • pistachio and cashew nuts, chestnuts
  • Only very small amounts, better avoided completely: apricot, dragon fruit (Pitaya), peach, nectarine, apple, grapefruit, kiwifruit, kiwi berries, orange, plums, cherries, pears, figs (fresh)

Alcohol

  • dry red wine, dry white wine, spirits (unsweetened) – avoid for weight loss, only for weight maintenance

AVOID Completely: Food rich in carbohydrates, factory-farmed meat and processed foods

1) All grains, even whole meal (wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, millet, bulgur, sorghum, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains), quinoa and white potatoes. this includes all products made from grains (pasta, bread, pizza, cookies, crackers, etc.) sugar and sweets (table sugar, HFCS, agave syrup, ice creams, cakes, sweet puddings and sugary soft-drinks)

2) Factory-farmed pork and fish are high ininflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and farmed fish may contain PCBs, avoid fish high in mercury.

3) Processed foods containing carrageenan (e.g. almond milk products), MSG (e.g. in some whey protein products), sulphites (e.g. in dried fruits, gelatin), BPAs (they don’t have to be labeled!), wheat gluten

4) Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, sweeteners containing Aspartame, Acesulfame, Sucralose, Saccharin, etc.) – these may cause cravings and other issues

5) Refined fats / oils (e.g. sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, canola, soybean, grapeseed, corn oil), trans fats such as margarine.

6) “Low-fat”, “low-carb” and “zero-carb” products (Atkins products, diet soda and drinks, chewing gums and mints may be high in carbs or contain artificial additives, gluten, etc.)

7) Milk (only small amounts of raw, full-fat milk is allowed). Milk is not recommended for several reasons. Firstly, from all the diary products, milk is difficult to digest, as it lacks the “good” bacteria (eliminated through pasteurization) and may even contain hormones. Secondly, it is quite high in carbs (4-5 grams of carbs per 100 ml). For coffee and tea, replace milk with cream in reasonable amounts. You may have a small amount of raw milk but be aware of the extra carbs.

8) Alcoholic, sweet drinks (beer, sweet wine, cocktails, etc.) – you can try my healthier versions of popular cocktails and drinks.

9) Tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, banana, papaya, etc.) and some high-carb fruit (tangerine, grapes, etc.) Also avoid fruit juices (yes, even 100% fresh juices!) – better to drink smoothies if any, but either way very limited. Juices are just like sugary water, but smoothies have fiber, which is at least more sating. This also includes dried fruit (dates, raisins, etc.) if eaten in large quantities.

10) Mainly for health reasons, avoid soy products apart from a few non-GMO fermented products which are known for their health benefits. Also avoid wheat gluten which may be used in low-carb foods. When you give up bread, you shouldn’t eat any part of it. Beware of BPA-lined cans. If possible, use naturally BPA-free packaging like glass jars or make my own ingredients such as ghee, ketchup, coconut milk or mayonnaise. BPA has been linked to many negative health effects such as impaired thyroid function and cancer. Other additives to avoid: carrageenan (e.g. almond milk products), MSG (e.g. in some whey protein products) and sulfites (e.g. in dried fruits, gelatin)

And here is everything in a nutshell…

Ketogenic Food Pyramid

Net Carbs in commonly used recommended foods

Animal products

150 g / 5.3 oz  1 tbsp

Source Net Carbs (grams) Serving size
meat and fish
organ meats, liver (average) 3 150 g / 5.3 oz
prawns (cooked) 1.4 150 g / 5.3 oz
eggs 0.7 piece, large
cream (full-fat) 1.6 ¼ cup, 60 ml / 2 fl oz
butter
cheese (hard) 0.4 30 g / 1 oz
cream cheese (full-fat) 1.6 ¼ cup, 50 g / 1.75 oz

 

Vegetables
Source Net Carbs (grams) Serving size
lettuce (sliced, average) 0.5 1 cup, 50 g / 1.75 oz
swiss chard, sliced 0.8 1 cup, 35 g / 1.25 oz
collard greens, sliced 0.8 1 cup, 35 g / 1.25 oz
bok choy, sliced 0.8 1 cup, 70 g / 2.4 oz
asparagus 2.7 150 g / 5.3 oz
green beans 6.4 150 g / 5.3 oz
summer squash (zucchini / courgette) 3.2 150 g / 5.3 oz
winter squash (pumpkin) 9 150 g / 5.3 oz
cucumber 2.2 150 g / 5.3 oz
spinach, cooked 1.2 ½ cup, 90 g / 3.2 oz
kale (Italian dark-leaf) 2.1 150 g / 5.3 oz
kale (curly) 5.4 150 g / 5.3 oz
savoy cabbage 4.5 150 g / 5.3 oz
cabbage (white) 5 150 g / 5.3 oz
cabbage (red) 7.9 150 g / 5.3 oz
celery stalk 1.6 3 medium, 120 g / 4.2 oz
peppers (green) 3.5 piece, 120 g / 4.2 oz
peppers (red) 4.7 piece, 120 g / 4.2 oz
tomatoes, chopped 4.8 1 cup, 180 g / 6.3 oz
eggplant (aubergine) 3.5 150 g / 5.3 oz
broccoli, chopped 6.1 150 g / 5.3 oz
cauliflower 4.5 150 g / 5.3 oz
mushrooms, white 3.4 150 g / 5.3 oz
mushrooms, brown 5.6 150 g / 5.3 oz
onion, white (sliced) 2.2 ¼ cup, 40 g / 1.4 oz
garlic 0.9 1 clove
Fruit
Source Net Carbs (grams) Serving size
strawberries, sliced 4.7 ½ cup, 85 g / 2.9 oz
raspberries 3.3 ½ cup, 62 g / 2.2 oz
blackberries 3.1 ½ cup, 72 g / 2.5 oz
blueberries 8.9 ½ cup, 74 g / 2.6 oz
avocado 3.7 piece, average (200 g / 7 oz)
Nuts & Seeds
Source Net Carbs (grams) Serving size
macadamia nuts 1.5 30 g / 1 oz
almonds 2.7 30 g / 1 oz
pecans 1.2 30 g / 1 oz
hazelnuts 2 30 g / 1 oz
walnuts 2 30 g / 1 oz
cashew nuts 7.6 30 g / 1 oz
pumpkin seeds 1.3 30 g / 1 oz
sunflower seeds 3.2 30 g / 1 oz
tahini (unsweetened sesame paste) 1.8 1 tbsp
chia seeds 0.4 1 tbsp
pistachio nuts 4.9 30 g / 1 oz

 

Condiments & Other

1 jigger / 1.5 fl oz

Source Net Carbs (grams) Serving size
almond milk (unsweetened) 0.3 ¼ cup, 60 ml / 2 fl oz
coconut milk 1.6 ¼ cup, 60 ml / 2 fl oz
coconut milk (creamed) 2.7 ¼ cup, 60 ml / 2 fl oz
olives 0.2 30 g / 1 oz
sauerkraut (solids only) 0.5 ¼ cup, 35 g / 1.25 oz
mustard 0.7 1 tbsp
tomato puree 5.7 1 tbsp
apple cider vinegar 0.1 1 tbsp
coconut aminos 1 1 tbsp
dark chocolate (85%) 5.7 30 g / 1 oz
coconut flour 3.2 ¼ cup, 30 g / 1 oz
almond flour 2.2 ¼ cup, 25 g / 0.9 oz
flax meal 0.6 ¼ cup, 38 g / 1.3 oz
psillium hush powder 1.4 ¼ cup, 16 g / 0.6 oz
Erythritol 0.5 1 tbsp
stevia (drops) < 0.1 ¼ tsp
wine (red, dry) 6 1 glass / 5 fl oz
wine (white, dry) 6 1 glass / 5 fl oz
spirits (sugar-free, ~ 40% vol)

Low-carb / paleo / primal sources of your daily protein

Protein is not found just in meats. There are many meat-free and plant-based sources of protein! The more fat the meat contains, the less protein is usually has.

Meat, Fish and Seafood
Source Grams of protein Serving size
turkey / chicken breast 37 150 g / 5.3 oz
chicken thighs 29 150 g / 5.3 oz
beef, lean steak 31 150 g / 5.3 oz
beef steak, ribeye 28 150 g / 5.3 oz
pork loin (chops) 31 150 g / 5.3 oz
venison steak 32 150 g / 5.3 oz
lamb chops 28 150 g / 5.3 oz
duck (meat only) 30 150 g / 5.3 oz
duck (meat and skin) 17 150 g / 5.3 oz
bacon 12 3 slices / 90 g / 3.2 oz
chorizo salami 22 90 g / 3.2 oz
salmon 32 150 g / 5.3 oz
tuna 37 150 g / 5.3 oz
cod 27 150 g / 5.3 oz
sardines 30 150 g / 5.3 oz
mackerel 28 150 g / 5.3 oz
sea bass 28 150 g / 5.3 oz
sea bream 36 150 g / 5.3 oz
prawns, shrimps, mussels, clams 22 150 g / 5.3 oz
octopus 19 150 g / 5.3 oz
squid / calamari 23 150 g / 5.3 oz
lobster 25 150 g / 5.3 oz
gelatine 6 1 tbsp

For vegetarian options, these are the main sources of protein:

Eggs and Dairy
Source Grams of protein Serving size
eggs, chicken 6.3 piece, large
eggs, duck 9 piece, large
cream (heavy whipping) 1.1 ¼ cup
cream (soured) 1.2 ¼ cup
cream cheese 3.5 ¼ cup
hard full-fat cheese (e.g. cheddar) 14.2 60 g / 2 oz
mozzarella 13.8 60 g / 2 oz
feta 8.1 60 g / 2 oz
mascarpone 3.6 ¼ cup
ricotta 6.9 ¼ cup

You can always boost your protein intake with high-quality whey protein powders. There is a good overview of other protein powders here (includes vegan options).

Apart from legumes (peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) and quinoa, which are not a part of the paleo diet, these are the main sources of protein for vegan-friendly diets:

Nuts and seeds
Source Grams of protein Serving size
almonds 6 30 g / 1 oz
walnuts 4.3 30 g / 1 oz
pecans 2.6 30 g / 1 oz
hazelnuts 4.2 30 g / 1 oz
macadamia nuts 2.2 30 g / 1 oz
cashew nuts 5.2 30 g / 1 oz
pistachio nuts 5.7 30 g / 1 oz
brazil nuts 4.1 30 g / 1 oz
pine nuts 3.9 30 g / 1 oz
pumpkin seeds 8.6 30 g / 1 oz
sunflower seeds 5.9 30 g / 1 oz
sesame seeds / tahini paste 5 30 g / 1 oz
Vegetables, fruits and other
Source Grams of protein Serving size
broccoli 2.6 1 cup, chopped
broccoli raab 1.3 1 cup
sugar-snap peas 1.7 1 cup
green beans 1.8 1 cup
bean sprouts 1.5 1 cup
spinach 5.3 1 cup, cooked
kale 2.2 1 cup
artichoke 4.2 medium piece
asparagus 2.9 1 cup
cauliflower 2.1 1 cup, chopped
mushrooms, average 1-2.5 1 cup, sliced
coconut 1 ¼ cup, shredded
coconut milk 1.1 ¼ cup
avocado 4 piece, average
tempeh (fermented soy – paleo if non-GMO) 7.7 ¼ cup
sun-dried tomatoes 1.4 ¼ cup
seaweed (e.g. wakame) 10 1 cup

 

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