Alpha-linolenic acid(omega-3 fatty acids)
Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids)
Whey – Whey protein is popular among bodybuilders because it's easy to digest, contains all 9 essential amino acids, and studies show that it promotes muscle building .
Eggs– Most of the high-quality proteins in eggs are located in egg whites. However, don't throw away the yolks because they contain valuable fats and vitamins.
Soy– Research shows that soy proteins have the same digestibility as animal sources of protein . It's a great vegan alternative or if you have animal protein allergies.
Meat– Red meat, poultry, and fish are also sources of quality protein. Meat is also rich in important vitamins, mineral, and essential fats that you need on a keto diet.
Another protein you should definitely consider is hydrolyzed collagen, which is the supplement form of collage. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, often called "the glue that holds everything together" because it provides structure to your skin, joints, and connective tissue. Taking it in supplement form as hydrolyzed collagen protects joint health on a keto diet.
Carbs are a nutrient you also need on a keto diet but only in tiny amounts. Keto dieters divide carbs into two groups:
Total Carbs – These are all the carbs a food item has. They include sugars, starches, and fiber. When choosing keto foods, go for those lowest in total carbs like leafy greens and nuts.
Net Carbs – Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber. They're important for keto because they determine your daily carb load and they're also the ones affecting blood glucose levels. Fiber does not affect blood glucose and you can eat it freely. Fiber is also good for your gut health and blood lipids.
Most people need to keep their intake of total carbs below 50 grams and net carbs below 30 grams per day to get into ketosis. However, athletes and highly-active people can take more before workouts to get energy and protect muscles. Keto foods containing high-quality carbs are leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Most fruit and below-ground vegetables you need to avoid so you don't overload on the carbs.
Although keto is a restrictive diet, it's not a diet of deprivation. You can freely eat a wide range of delicious keto foods from almost every food group. Below, we tell you which foods from which food group you should eat on a keto diet.
Seafood– Fish, shellfish, squid, crab, shrimp, and other seafood is the healthiest type of meat you can eat. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that research shows is lacking in the typical Western diet . Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect and are essential for normal brain functioning.
Poultry – Chicken is affordable and easy to find at any store. But duck, quail, and turkey are also good. Research shows that poultry meat is safe to eat when compared to some other meats . It's also a good source of micronutrients and has easily-digestible proteins.
Pork – Pork meat is high in fat which is why it is such a keto favorite. This is especially true when it comes to bacon. However, we suggest being moderate with bacon. Bacon and other cured meat is high in sodium and health-damaging preservatives. Instead, always go for ground pork, pork chops, pork loin, tenderloin, and ham.
Beef– Beef and other red meats are great but only if eaten in moderation. Studies show that diets high in red meat increase the risk of bowel cancer. This is why medical experts recommend eating a maximum of 70 grams of red meat a day to reduce your risk of bowel cancer .
Organ Meats – Liver, lungs, tongue, and brain are examples of organ meats, also called offal. They're richer in vitamins, minerals, and fat than other cuts of meat. Most are also high in fat so do add them to your keto foods shopping list.
Note: When buying meat for your keto meals, always opt for fattier cuts like chicken thighs, T-bone steak, and ribs. Also, choose fatty fish varieties when it comes to seafood to get more omega-3 fatty acids.
Many dairy products are high in fat and moderate in protein, just like you would want it on keto. When buying dairy products, always keep in mind that the higher the fat content the better. Here are some options to add to your keto foods list.
Butter– Being 80% fat, butter is obviously a top keto food. It's low in milk proteins and also lactose-free. You can cook with it, bake with it, or use it as a spread.
Cream– Cream has a fat percentage of 12 to 60%. You can also find partially fermented cream (sour cream) which contains less lactose than unfermented cream. Go for a range of unsweetened products to enrich your keto diet.
Cheese – Go for fattier, hard varieties like swiss cheese, parmesan, gouda, or cheddar. These contain around 30% fat along with 25% protein, vitamin A, calcium, and B vitamins. Other great options are feta and brie.
Yogurt– Yogurt is lower in fat than many other dairy products (around 3% fat). Still, some brands of yogurt contain probiotics that improve digestion. Full-fat yogurt is a good source of quality protein and is low in lactose.
Milk, but especially evaporated and dry milk are not good keto foods. This is because they're high in lactose. Milk is around 5% lactose, evaporated milk 10%, and dry milk is 50% lactose. Lactose is a milk sugar that does affect blood glucose levels the same way regular sugar does. Most people are also unable to digest lactose, i.e. they're lactose intolerant , so you'd be better off not eating dairy containing high amounts of this sugar.
You can eat vegetables indiscriminately on any standard diet, but you can't do the same on keto. The keto diet has strict rules when it comes to vegetables. This is because most vegetable foods are high in carbohydrates. However, some contain valuable nutrients and fiber that you need for normal health and functioning. Here is how to choose veggies when going keto:
Above-Ground Greens – Vegetables that are leafy, green, and grow above ground are almost always keto-approved. They're low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and contain valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Non-Starchy Vegetables – Cauliflower, zucchini, and broccoli are examples of low-starch vegetables. They won't cause blood sugar spikes and help bring fiber to your keto meals.
But to make choosing veggies easier for you, here is a list of top keto vegetables to shop for:
Cauliflower— One cup of chopped cauliflower contains just 3 grams of net carbs. But its low-carb content isn't the only reason cauliflower is a popular keto veggie. Keto dieters use it as a rice substitute.
Broccoli— One cup of broccoli contains only 3 grams of net carbs. Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous group of vegetables known for their antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties .
Spinach — Spinach contains barely any net carbs (1 grams per 100 grams of spinach) and lots of fiber. It's rich in vitamins C, A, K, and B Vitamins. Spinach is particularly high in magnesium which keto dieters struggle getting enough of, so you should definitely add it to your keto foods shopping list.
Zucchini — Another low-carb, keto food, zucchini is a veggie that definitely won't kick you out of ketosis. Keto dieters love to use zucchini to make zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles.
Mushrooms— Portobello, cremini, button, or shiitake - doesn't matter – mushrooms are low in carbs and high in fiber. Their meaty texture makes for a great vegan meat substitute. They also add loads of flavor to any dish.
Other keto veggies include snow peas, romaine lettuce, asparagus, olives, peppers, and eggplant among others. If you want more keto vegetables to include in your list, read our article covering 15 low-carb vegetables to include to your keto diet.
Most fruit is high in sugar, so you want to avoid fruit on a keto diet. We know, this isn't something you want to hear but it is essential for getting into ketosis. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:
Avocado– Avocado is 15% fat and 30% fiber, making it a perfect keto fruit. It's also an excellent source of vitamins E, C, and B6. It may not be sweet, but it is versatile, pairing well with both sweet and savory foods.
Berries– Strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries, blackberries, and raspberries are allowed as a snack on a keto diet. Most berries are lower in carbs than other fruit and they're also loaded in brain-boosting antioxidants .
Lemon– Lemon is low in sugar as evident by its sour taste. You can safely add it to your keto diet to make stevia-sweetened lemonade. It's a great source of vitamin C and you can also sprinkle it over avocado to prevent oxidation.
However, if you like to add more variety when it comes to keto fruit intake, read our list of the 7 best low-carb keto fruit. Included are recipe ideas and health and nutrition info.
Most nuts and seeds are low in carbs but high in fat and protein. This makes them a popular keto food that you definitely need more of. Nuts and seeds are usually highest in unsaturated fatty acids which studies show protect against cardiovascular disease .
Coconut– The fat in coconut meat is mostly saturated which is unique among nuts. This gives coconut-derived products like coconut oil and cream their solid texture. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is completely different from that found in animal foods  and provide unique health benefits like weight loss and antimicrobial action.
Almonds – Almonds are 50% fat, most of which is monounsaturated. They're an excellent source of a range of micronutrients, notably vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, and calcium. In fact, many call them nutritional powerhouses due to their exceptional nutrient density.
Walnuts– Walnuts are 65% fat. They're higher in omega-3s than other nuts so definitely add them to your keto dishes. Make sure to eat them within a couple weeks' time as their omega-3s content makes them prone to rancidity.
Peanuts– Tasty peanuts are also almost 50% fat and a great source or iron and magnesium. The most popular way to eat them is as peanut butter. By law in most countries, peanut butter needs to contain 90% peanuts to be labeled as such. Make sure to go for the unsweetened kind when going keto.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds contain more omega-3s than any other plant food. Around 65% of the fat in chia are omega-3s. A diet high in omega-3s prevents neurological conditions, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds have a perfect balance of both poly and monounsaturated fats. They're rich in valuable minerals like iron and magnesium. Sprinkle them over salads or stir-fries to add more fat to your diet. You can also consume them in the form of sesame paste known as tahini.
You can freely enjoy almost all nuts and seeds on a keto diet without worrying about carb intake. However, cashews and pistachios are higher in carbohydrates than other nuts, so be careful with those. Chestnuts you need to avoid completely as these are made mostly of starch and contain little to no fat. Another nut you need to eat moderately is the Brazil nut as these are very high in selenium and you may risk selenium poisoning if you eat too many.