The ketogenic has grown in both popularity and scrutiny in recent years. You may have heard of the benefits of going keto, but struggled to figure out exactly what foods to eat. This article will explain what the ketogenic diet is and present the best ketogenic foods to eat. To make it easy to understand, ketogenic foods will be divided into different food groups.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that limits carbohydrate consumption to 50g per day.1 The aim of the diet is to reduce carbohydrate intake to a level that puts the body in a state of ketosis. When in this state, the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. There is evidence suggesting that ketogenic diets can help with fat loss and appetite control.1
A ketogenic diet can be restrictive, and it may be difficult to include enough fibre in your diet (the NHS recommends 30g a day for adults) . This ketogenic diet food list will help you follow a keto diet while helping to reduce the risk of any nutritional deficiencies.
Ketogenic Diet Food List
1. Chicken thighs
Per 100g: 295kcal; protein 23g; carbs 0g; fat 23g
Chicken thighs contain more fat than chicken breasts. This makes them a good keto option as many of your calories will need to come from fat. For those with high daily calorie requirements, fattier cuts of meat will be a good source of energy. Chicken thighs are also rich in B vitamins and selenium.
2. Pork chop
Per 100g: 774kcal; protein 32g; carbs 0g; fat 6.4g
An average-sized pork chop (112g) provides you with 35g of protein. Pork also contains plenty of essential amino acids, which are important for building and maintaining lean muscle mass.2 Pork’s also a good source of B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous and selenium.
3. Sirloin steak
Per 100g: 213kcal; protein 25g; carbs 0g; fat 13g
A good red meat option for followers of a keto diet. Sirloin steak’s high in iron, zinc and B12, which are all important for energy production.3 A protein source that’s high in essential amino acids, an average-sized steak (6oz or 170g) will provide 40g of protein and 362 calories.
Per 100g: 205kcal; protein 23g; carbs 0g; fat 13g
Salmon is an oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including the reduced risk of chronic disease. Salmon is also high in vitamin D, E and B12.
Per 100g: 283kcal; protein 20g: carbs 0g: fat 22g
Mackerel is another oily fish high in omega-3. A medium-sized fillet (80g) will provide 16g of protein and 226 calories. Mackerel is also an excellent source of B12 and selenium.
Per 100g: 136kcal; protein 13g; carbs 1.2g; fat 9g
One medium egg (57g) contains roughly 7g of protein and 77 calories. The yolk of an egg provides a wide range of vitamins, including vitamins A, E, D and B12. Eggs are very versatile and can make a wide variety of low carb breakfasts (omelette, scrambled, poached, etc.) and are a good option for a high-protein snack or boosting the protein content of a salad.
7. Greek yoghurt
Per 100g: 117kcal; protein 10g; carbs 3.8g; fat 7g
Full-fat Greek yoghurt is a good source of both protein and calcium. It’s perfect for a healthy breakfast option with some low-sugar fruit, and it also makes a good pre-bed snack due to its casein content — the slow-digesting protein that can help reduce muscle protein breakdown.5
8. Buffalo Mozzarella
Per 100g: 269kcal; protein 19g; carbs 1g; fat 21g
Mozzarella is rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12. Mozzarella is also very low in sugar — adding it to meals will help boost your protein and calorie intake while also keeping your carb intake low.
9. Cheddar cheese
Per 100g: 414kcal; protein 25g; carbs 0g; fat 35g
As with other cheeses, cheddar is high in calcium, B12 and phosphorous. An average portion size of 30g provides 124 calories, 7.5g of protein and 10g of fat.
Per 100g: 59kcal; protein 6.9g; carbs 5.4g; fat 0.5g
A good source of fibre (2.8g per 100g) and abundant in vitamin C and vitamin K1, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that’s low in carbohydrates, with only 5.4g per 100g serving.
Per 100g: 33kcal; protein 2.8g; carbs 1.6g; fat 0.8g
Spinach is very high in vitamin K1, vitamin A and vitamin C. Spinach contains a minimal amount of carbohydrates, making it a great option to include in keto-friendly meals to boost fibre and micronutrient content.
Per 100g: 27kcal; protein 1.6g; carbs 2.9g; fat 0.5g
Leeks are an edible allium, a group that also includes garlic, spring onions and onions. Leeks contain similar antioxidants to garlic and onions and are also a good source of vitamin B1, B9 and C. They’re low in calories, carbohydrates and provide 2.2g of fibre in every 100g serving.
Per 100g: 42kcal; protein 2.9g; carbs 3.6g; fat 1.3g
Sprouts are high in vitamin K1, potassium and vitamin. They’re also a good source of fibre, with 2.6g in every 100g (roughly five sprouts). Sprouts are also rich in phytonutrients such as glucosinolates, phenolics, and isoflavone and have been shown to increase the bio-accessibility of minerals.6
Per 100g: 34kcal; protein 1.9g; carbs 3.5g; fat 0.9g
A member of the brassica family, cauliflower contains many health-promoting phytochemicals, including polyphenols, carotenoids and flavonoids.7 Cauliflower also contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, B vitamins and potassium.
Grilled Peaches With Protein Yoghurt | Healthy Dessert Recipe
The perfect sweet treat for a summer afternoon.
Per 100g: 21kcal; protein 2.5g; carbs 3g; fat 0g
Mushrooms are high in minerals such as selenium and potassium. Some mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D, which can be difficult to obtain in your diet. Mushrooms also act as prebiotics and stimulate the growth of gut microbiota, important for maintaining a healthy gut.8
16. Iceberg lettuce
Per 100g: 14kcal; protein 1.2g; carbs 1.4g; fat 0g
Lettuce is high in vitamin K1. Iceberg lettuce works well as the base of your salad for a low-calorie source of fibre.
Per 100g: 16kcal; protein 1g; carbs 1.3g; fat 0g
Like lettuce, cucumber is a low-calorie way to boost your daily fibre content and increase the volume of meals. Cucumber is also a source of vitamin K1, potassium and B5.
Per 100g: 18kcal; protein 0.9g; carbs 0.7g; fat 0g
Rhubarb is high in fibre (2.2g per 100g), and research has shown it can aid the health of the gut by helping to protect the intestinal barrier and maintaining the balance of healthy gut bacteria.9 Rhubarb is also a source of potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamin C.
Per 100g: 46kcal; protein 1.4g; carbs 4.6g; fat 0g
Raspberries are high in antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins and ellagitannins.10 An excellent source of fibre, with 6.7g per 100g, raspberries are also a source of potassium, magnesium, manganese and vitamin C.
Per 100g: 45kcal; protein 0.9g; carbs 9.1g; fat 0g
Blueberries get their distinctive blue colour from anthocyanin pigments, a potentially health-promoting phytochemical. 10g of blueberries (roughly 15 blueberries) contains 1g of carbohydrates; add them to smoothies and yoghurt for a keto-friendly snack.
21. Apricots (fresh)
Per 100g: 39kcal; protein 0.9g; carbs 8.2g; fat 0g
One apricot weighs approximately 35g, containing 3g of carbohydrates and 0.6g of fibre. Apricots are packed with carotenoids, the antioxidant that gives them their orange colour, that can be beneficial for eye health.11
Fats and Oils:
22. Almonds (flaked)
Per 100g: 640kcal; protein 24g; carbs 6.9g; fat 56g
As with most nuts, almonds are high in healthy fats — monounsaturated and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Almonds are high in fibre and provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin E and B vitamins.
Due to their impact on satiety, almonds have been shown to be a helpful snack for weight management.12 A 10g portion of almonds (roughly 10 almonds) provides 62 calories, 5g of fat, 2g of protein, 1.6g of fibre and 0.7g carbs.
23. Walnuts (kernel only)
Per 100g: 710kcal; protein 17g; carbs 3.1g; fat 69g
Like other nuts, walnuts are high in calories and provide a range of potential health benefits. Regular consumption of nuts has been linked to benefits on a range of health outcomes.13 Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3 and omega-6 and contain magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, iron and vitamin B6.
24. Olive oil
Per 100g: 900kcal; protein 0g; carbs 0g; fat 100g
Olive oil is fat source high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil is also high in polyphenols, antioxidants believed to have a range of health-promoting properties.14
Per 100g: 230kcal; protein 2g; carbs 9g; fat 20g
Half an avocado is approximately 70g, providing 160 calories, 14g of fat, 6.3g of carbohydrates and 3.5g of fibre. High in monounsaturated fat, avocados are also a source of vitamin E, B6 and potassium.
Take home message
A ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. Because carbohydrates are restricted to less than 50g per day on the diet, it’s important to make sure energy and nutrients are consumed from other dietary sources.
If you’re interested in following a ketogenic diet, consider eating some of the foods listed in this article to make sure you consume a range of vitamins and minerals as well as adequate amounts of protein and fibre.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
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Liam is a certified sport nutritionist with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and is enrolled on the British Dietetics Association’s Sport and Exercise Nutrition register. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and is graduate of the ISSN Diploma in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition.Liam is an experienced personal trainer, helping clients reach their health and fitness goals with practical, evidence informed exercise and nutrition advice. In his spare time Liam has competed in numerous powerlifting competitions and enjoys hill walking, football and expanding his recipe repertoire in the kitchen.
Find out more about Liam's experience here.