The ketogenic diet trend shows no sign of abating and is, in fact, increasingly popular. Although this highly restrictive, ultra-low-carb diet may be difficult to follow long-term, the keto diet remains popular, as many have achieved rapid successful weight loss, as well as increased energy and improvements in blood sugar levels. The foundation of the ketogenic diet is the daily proportional regulation of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat intake. On the ketogenic diet daily macronutrient intake comprises 60-80 percent healthy fats, 15-30 percent proteins and a minimal 5-10 percent carbohydrates. A quick jump-start to weight loss appears to be the chief motivator for short-term adherence to this highly restrictive diet.
The foods to consume on a keto diet are strictly limited. The best foods for the keto diet contain less than 3 grams of net carbs (carbs minus fiber) per 100 grams of food, as well as good foods that contain 3 – 6 grams of net carbs per 100 grams of food. The list of foods below form the basis of the ketogenic diet. There are other foods that can be consumed, as well. Just be sure to keep a realistic count of the percentage of carbs and proteins in your meals in relation to fat percentage. The diet limits carbohydrate intake to a minimum of 20 grams and a maximum of 40 grams per day.
Basically, eat meat, fish, eggs, natural fats and vegetables that grow above ground. Avoid sugar, grains and starchy foods. Eat when hungry and stop when satisfied. No need to count calories or weigh your foods, but you do need to count carbs, eat protein in moderation and greatly increase healthy fat intake. Check food labels for carbohydrate and fiber counts, as well as unwanted sugars and starches. Keep in mind that one pear or one banana may account for one day’s total carb intake. Initially, it’s helpful to bring a list of keto-friendly foods when you go to the market.
Foods to eat on a keto diet:
- Grass fed beef, poultry, eggs, lamb, pork, veal, beef jerky, bacon and sausage
- Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines or Atlantic mackerel, scallops, shrimp, mussels, lobster and oysters
- Full fat plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, soft cheeses like blue or goat cheese
- Whole milk, unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
- Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
- Low-carb vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, cukes, asparagus and leafy greens, including spinach, lettuces, kale, collards, and turnip greens
- Keto-friendly, low-carb, high-fiber Japanese shirataki noodles or konjac rice, largely composed of fiber and water
- Healthy fats, such as avocados, olive, coconut and nuts oils, grass fed butter and ghee, as well as mayo, mustard, vinegar, ranch dressing and hot sauce.
- Nuts, including almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios and walnuts
- Seeds, such as chia, flax, pumpkin and sesame
- Water, plain seltzer, and hot or cold unsweetened coffee and tea
- Cacao and limited amounts of low-carb dark chocolate
- Seaweed snacks, pork rinds and parmesan crisps.
Foods to avoid on a keto diet:
- All grains, including all pasta, cereals, and breads
- All sweet and starchy vegetables, such as corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes and beets
- While not strictly prohibited, all high-sugar/high-carb fruits not listed above
- Juice and sweetened drinks
- Sugar in any form, including honey and syrup
- Sweetened yogurt
- Ice cream
- All chips, crackers and processed snacks
- All cookies and baked goods, including gluten-free baked goods
- Any products marked low-fat or fat-free
Although this is certainly a limited amount of food ingredients, surprisingly there are many healthy low-carb foods to enjoy. As well, there are lots of keto cookbooks and online recipes to help with meal planning and make the diet plan more varied, interesting and palatable. Those who are adhering to a keto diet for medical reasons, including avoidance of epileptic seizures, management or reversal of type 2 diabetes, reduction of insulin needs, and lowered fasting blood sugar and A1C levels, should work with their healthcare practitioner or licensed nutritionist before embarking on and during adherence to a ketogenic diet.
As the keto diet limits or excludes a number of foods, it can leave one deficient in key nutrients. While on a keto diet, the following supplements can help prevent nutrient deficiencies, ease initial side effects and improve the effectiveness of the diet by aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients and supporting health and weight loss goals.
- Fish oil – Twice weekly consumption of oily fish, such as salmon, sardines or Atlantic mackerel, is highly recommended to nutritionally support cardiac, brain and overall Widely advocated during ketosis for protein and omega-3 fatty acid content, those who don’t particularly like the taste of fish, can get the benefits of EPA and DHA omega-3 essential fatty acids in convenient supplement form without the worry of toxicity or fishy taste.
- Potassium and magnesium – Extreme carb restriction eliminates many sources of dietary magnesium. During the first few weeks of carbohydrate restriction, depletion of body’s glycogen stores results in a rapid loss of body fluids or water weight, often leading to an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, calcium, phosphate and potassium are necessary for critical functions, including muscle contractions, heartbeat regulation, energy production and neurological functions.
- MCT oil – Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are unique fatty acids that are quickly metabolized by the liver, bypassing the digestive tract and supplying an instant source of brain fuel and cellular energy. In the high-fat keto diet, MCTs can be consumed as part of the daily fat intake to achieve the intended ratio of fat in the diet.
- High quality full spectrum multivitamin – Even when not dieting, many individuals would benefit from a daily multivitamin supplement. A multivitamin will ensure that at least the minimum, but not necessarily optimal, amount of micronutrients is met.
- Digestive enzymes – Lipase is the primary digestive enzyme that breaks down triglycerides, oils and fats into smaller fatty acid components. A smart addition to the high-fat ketogenic diet, lipase enzymes relieve the burden on the pancreas, which must produce a high amount of lipase to handle the increased intake of dietary fats. As protease is the enzyme that breaks down proteins into the essential amino acids used to build and maintain muscle, cells and tissues, a digestive enzyme supplement that contains lipase and protease may be an ideal adjunct for the keto diet.
- Keto-friendly fiber – As this diet eliminates whole grains and many fiber-filled fruits and vegetables, a keto-friendly, sugar-free fiber supplement can help avoid constipation and keep the digestive tract working efficiently. Be sure to hydrate well by drinking sufficient water daily.
- L-theanine – Difficult to obtain through diet, L-theanine is sourced from green and black tea. Studies show L-theanine supports healthy sleep quality, decreases anxiousness and helps improve daily mental focus. Those who experience mental fogginess as they transition to the keto diet may find L-theanine particularly helpful for steady concentration.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high-quality supplements in support of healthy overall nutrition:
Dr. Formulated Keto Meal Chocolate or Vanilla by Garden of Life: This convenient powdered keto meal replacement shake is specifically crafted for ketosis, weight loss and associated health benefits. This delicious shake provides 70% fat, 23% protein and 7% carbs in the proper nutritional balance for the keto dieter. Formulated with organic grass-fed butter and whey, probiotics, electrolyte minerals and organic fair-trade cacao this formula is compliant to keto guidelines, containing 11 g of fat, 4 g of fiber, I g of net carbs and 16 g of protein. Organic ingredients, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified NSF Gluten-Free, Keto Certified, Paleo friendly. Free of soy, fillers added sugars and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.
Digest Keto by Enzymedica®: Digest Keto provides high potency lipase and protease digestive enzymes to aid the breakdown and absorption of fats and proteins. Specifically designed for the keto diet, this formula supports quick digestion and relief of occasional constipation and disruptive bowel function that may result from the keto diet.
Keto Metabolic™ by Douglas Laboratories®: This formula offers a blend of ketogenic mineral compounds to support exogenous ketone production for athletic endurance, healthy brain function and weight management. Natural strawberry- lemonade flavor. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
MCT Oil USP™ by NuMedica®: Medium chain triglycerides sourced from coconut oil provide unique fatty acids that are quickly and efficiently absorbed and metabolized for cellular energy. MCTs promote fat burning and contribute to an enhanced metabolism. Odorless, tasteless, and convenient, this formula helps increase fat intake during a keto diet. Free of gluten, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, wheat, soy and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.
L-Theanine by Integrative Therapeutics®: Each serving provides 100 mg of L-theanine as Suntheanine® to promote a natural, relaxed state without diminishing daytime alertness. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, ingredients of animal origin and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
Complete Keto Diet Food List: What You Can and Cannot Eat If You’re on a Ketogenic Diet. http://www.eatingwell.com/article/291245/complete-keto-diet-food-list-what-you-can-and-cannot-eat-if-youre-on-a-ketogenic-diet/
Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089