What to eat on a keto diet
What’s on and off the menu to put you on the fast track to ketosis
The ketogenic diet isn’t simple. You want to load up on fats and protein and keep your carb intake low – but all fats and proteins aren’t alike, and there are some veggies higher in carbohydrates than others. Oh, and fruit is pretty much banned. But don’t worry: we’ve put together the best and worst of each category so you can go keto with confidence.
EAT THIS Meat and offal (kidneys, liver, heart) from grassfed or pastureraised animals contain vitamins A and E along with tons of antioxidants. Wild-caught and sustainably harvested seafood is higher in omega 3 fatty acids (and better for the environment than farmed fish). Freerange, organic eggs contain higher levels of vitamin A and E, betacarotene, and omega 3 fatty acids than the caged variety.
NOT THAT Factoryfarmed animal products and seafoods, which are lower in nutrients than their healthier counterparts; and processed sausages and hot dogs, which, more often than not, have preservatives called nitrates that have been linked to cancer.
EAT THIS Dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and lettuce, and cruciferous veggies, like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. You can also have lowercarb veggies such as cucumber, celery, asparagus, squash, and courgette as well as nightshades (aubergine, tomatoes and peppers). Also fine are root vegetables, like onion, garlic, and radishes, and sea veggies, like nori and kombu. The guidelines are simple: focus on dark, leafy greens, then anything else stuff that
grows above the ground, then root vegetables. NOT THAT Starchy, highcarb vegetables and legumes like potatoes, yams, corn, parsnips, peas, beans are great, nutritious whole foods that work well in the regular diet of a guy looking to get healthy and fit. But their high carb levels make them a no-go for achieving ketosis.
EAT THIS Saturated fats including coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, duck fat and lard, are all essential for a healthy immune system, dense bones, and proper testosterone levels. Monounsaturated fats like almond, macadamia, olive and avocado oils boost heart health and provide vitamin E, important for vision and a strong immune system. Polyunsaturated omega 3s, as found in wild-caught salmon, sardines, and sustainably harvested seafood, help prevent heart disease and stroke and reduce blood pressure. Finally there’s mediumchain triglycerides (MCTs), fatty acids that are easily absorbed and used for energy. They help weight loss by increasing satiety and revving up metabolism. Coconut oil’s a source, but you can buy a concentrated form of MCT oil.
NOT THAT Refined fats and oils like sunflower, rapeseed and corn oils, which have been processed at high temperatures, creating free radicals that can damage cells. Trans fats, found in margarine and other spreads as well as processed foods like biscuits, contribute to weight gain and increase stroke risk.
Full-fat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream and sour cream. Dairy should be eaten sparingly, but when you do eat it, stick with full-fat because it’s more filling and nutritious.
NOT THAT Milk is off the list because it contains a lot of lactose, a form of sugar, which makes it high in carbohydrates. When cheese is made, all the sugar is eaten by bacteria and turned into lactic acid, cutting the carb content way down. Lowand reduced-fat dairy products are to be avoided as they’re highly processed, which strips out nutrients like the fatty acids that make you feel full. Plus, sugar is often added to make up for a loss of flavour and texture, so some actually have more sugar than full-fat dairy. Avoid pregrated cheese, which contains a carby potato starch that keeps it from sticking together.
NUTS AND SEEDS
EAT THIS Macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds. Be careful when eating nuts, because they’re calorie-dense and can easily put you over your carb limit for the day.
NOT THAT Cashews, pistachios and chestnuts are on the higher end for carbs in nuts, and should be avoided.
EAT THIS Avocados are low in carbs and have great fat and fibre content, and berries are OK since their carb content is negligible.
NOT THAT Fruits in general, dried or otherwise, are forbidden since most have high sugar and carb content.
DRINK THIS Water, sparkling water, black coffee, unsweetened and herbal teas and unsweetened nut milks. Caffeinated drinks are fine for most people – just don’t go pouring in sugar or milk. Lower-carb alcohol like wine and spirits in moderation is OK, especially if you’re at the point where you’re just trying to maintain weight.
NOT THAT Soft drinks, fruit juices, sweet wines, most beers and flavoured spirits are filled with way too much sugar and/or carbs to be allowed if you’re serious about keto. Some people will drink diet and zero-sugar soft drinks, but avoid them if you can because the citric acid and aspartame often found in them may derail your trip to ketosis.