Thinking of starting a keto diet? Begin by overturning your fridge and pantry. The keto diet, as you may already know, is very different from what most people are used to: high in fat and low in high-carb food. But it's not all bacon and butter with keto; you need a variety of ingredients to stay healthy, nourished, and in ketosis.
Making a keto shopping list definitely helps to fill your kitchen with only the essential keto ingredients. It also saves you time and money if you do it right. To help you make a keto shopping list, follow our steps and tips below. We explain which ingredients are an absolute must have; how they contribute to your keto diet, and also provide a list of optional ingredients that make this diet more convenient.
Essential Keto Shopping List Ingredients
These ingredients are the cornerstones of the ketogenic diet. We divided them by macronutrient and food group to make navigating the list easier. You'll also learn about the health and keto benefits of each.
Butter is 80% fat while ghee (clarified butter) is almost 100% fat. Both are high in saturated fatty acids, which are types of fat that have for a long time been unfairly vilified. These days, research shows that butter and other milk fat does not increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes whatsoever .
Olive oil is the healthiest oil on the planet, so do add it to your keto shopping list. It largely consists of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), anti-inflammatory fats that lower your risk of cardiovascular disease .
Coconut oil is a valuable source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are special types of saturated fats. Your body is less likely to store MCTs as body fat and these fats also provide powerful antimicrobial action .
Bacon is 40% fat and 38% protein, so you can consider it as a good source of both macronutrients. Its fat contains mostly MUFAs and plenty of saturated fats. You also get vitamin B12 and selenium from bacon. Bacon helps add flavor and fat to keto vegetables which is why it's considered essential on a keto diet.
You can also go for lard, tallow, avocado oil, sesame oil, high-oleic sunflower oil, and any other oil or fat that you prefer. For optimal health, just make sure your choices of fat went through a minimal amount of processing. Highly-processed fats like refined vegetable oils and margarine are linked to inflammation, which is a leading driver of deadly diseases plaguing today’s world .
All meats are good on a keto diet, but it's best to go for fattier cuts whenever possible. This helps boost your daily fat intake. Fattier cuts include beef ribeye, pork ribs, chicken thighs, and ground beef. And, of course, don't forget bacon and pork belly.
As was the case with meat, also go for fatty fish like sardines, herring, wild salmon, anchovies, and mackerel. Fatty fish is rich in valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Most of us are not eating enough omega-3s while eating too much omega-6s, leading to a fatty acid imbalance which increases inflammation . Besides fish, mussels, oysters, scallops, squid, and shrimp are also great sources of protein.
Two important vegetarian sources of high-quality protein. Eggs and full-fat dairy (cheese, yogurt, and cream) contain all 9 essential amino acids in addition to important vitamins and minerals. If you don't suffer lactose intolerance or egg allergies, there's really no reason for you to skip on these two ingredients. Studies show that an egg a day boosts good, HDL cholesterol and blood antioxidant levels .
Nuts and seeds are rich in protein but also fat and fiber, making them the ideal keto food. An ounce of almonds, for example will give you 6 grams of protein, 3.4 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat. Other great options include sesame seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, flax seeds, and coconut.
Almond butter and peanut butter are two great options to boost your protein intake on a keto diet. Just make sure to add unsweetened, preferably natural butters to your keto shopping list. Nut butters are also a good source of MUFAs.
You need to eat a small amount of carbs on keto (50 grams per day) to maintain good health. The best way to do this is by eating foods low in carbs to avoid excessive carb intake while still meeting your macros. This way, you also get to enjoy plant foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, without the risk of being kicked out of ketosis.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, cabbage, arugula, watercress, bok choy, and broccoli tend to be quite low in carbs (below 5 grams per serving). Other low-carb keto veggies include eggplants, green peppers, zucchini, and asparagus.
Fruit is nature's candy, and like all candy is high in sugar. But berries tend to be lower in sugar and other carbs than most fruit, making it suitable for keto. A handful of blueberries, for example, contains only 3.4 grams of net carbs. Still, use berries sparingly to avoid dieting mishaps.
To make the keto diet more convenient, keto experts came up with a range of keto-friendly alternatives to staple kitchen ingredients like flour, milk, and rice. By adding these convenient ingredients to your keto shopping list, you can enjoy a plethora of nutritious meals on your keto diet.
Almond flour barely contains any carbs and is mostly fiber, fat, and protein. Almond flour is also gluten free. Like all nut flours, almond flour is also made through milling. Some almond flour is made from whole almonds some from blanched, and you will also find defatted almond flour. Almond flour is fairly moist, so many keto dieters like to combine it with a drier nut flour, usually coconut.
A byproduct of coconut milk extraction, coconut flour has less fat than whole coconuts as most is lost during coconut milk processing. Coconut flour is higher in fiber than almond flour, providing around 10 grams per 2 tablespoons of products. This makes it particularly dry, but that’s also why coconut flour is perfect for making keto breads and cakes.
For the lactose intolerant and those suffering milk allergies, nut milks like almond milk save the day. Almond milk has a subtle sweet taste and is fairly light, making it a perfect dairy milk substitute. It is, however, low in protein and other nutrients. Go for unsweetened almond milk fortified with vitamin D, B12, and calcium.
Canned coconut milk contains up to 25% fat, 3% carbs, and 2% protein. Carton coconut milk tends to be lower in fat and other nutrients. All coconut milk has a strong, coconutty flavor, so keep that in mind when preparing your keto meals with this keto ingredient. If you're wondering why soy milk shouldn’t be on your keto shopping list, it's because it's high in carbs unlike nut milks.
Tofu is an important vegan source of high-quality protein. A ½ cup of tofu provides 10 grams of protein with all 9 essential amino acids, which is unique for a plant food. The same serving contains only 1 gram of net carbs and around 5 grams of fat. Tofu is also a good source of important minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, and selenium.
There are many other ways to get creative with keto meal alternatives. For example, you can make cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles as low-carb alternatives to rice and pasta. You use sugar-free maple syrup which is essentially maple syrup extract thickened with xanthan gum. Many dieters also use coconut aminos to replace soy sauce for in Asian dishes but tamari and fish sauce also do the trick.
Herbs, Spices, Sweeteners, and Condiments
To make your keto meals tastier, you definitely want to add some flavorings to your keto shopping list. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
Herbs & Spices
Most herbs and spices are low enough in carbs to be safe on keto. These ingredients are also used sparingly, so overloading on carbs is virtually impossible when using herbs and spices. Another good news is that herbs and spices are an excellent source of powerful antioxidants that studies show prevent even cancer . Examples of spices you can use on this diet include:
- Basil leaves
Just because you're going keto, doesn't mean you can't enjoy sweets and desserts. All you need to do is replace sugar, honey, and maple syrup with non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, sugar alcohols, and monk fruit. Keep in mind that these affect the texture and consistency of food, so a bit of tweaking will be necessary when making keto-friendly desserts.
Some condiments are high in fat while others are high in carbs. Knowing which ones you should go for will make a huge difference on your success rate. Condiments and sauces allowed on keto include:
- Sour cream
- Hollandaise sauce
- Herb butter
Avoid ketchup, sweet and sour sauce, and starch-thickened gravy. And when in doubt, check the label when buying packaged condiments.
There are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages you can enjoy on a keto diet. While water is the best, low-calorie drink out there, there's no reason you shouldn't spice things up with these drinks that should go on your keto shopping list:
- Club soda
- Sparkling water
- Flavored water
- Smoothies (sugar-free)
- Sugar-free sports drinks
- Wine– Especially dry wine and champagne. Most have less than 5 grams of carbs per glass.
- Beer– Go for light beer and avoid dark, malt beers. Still, have one serving a day as all beer is relatively high in carbs.
- Liquor– Liquor contains zero carbs and is safe on keto when drank in moderation. Examples include vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey, and gin.
When well-planned, the keto diet does not need to include supplements to keep you healthy and nourished. But supplements do help correct dieting mistakes and are a convenient way to increase your intake of nutrients that are difficult to obtain on this diet. With that said, here are some convenient supplements to add to your keto shopping list:
Psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and inulin are all fiber supplements that can help boost your fiber intake on a keto diet.
Sometimes, keto dieters find it hard to meet their daily needs for fiber which is around 25-30 grams per day. Fiber is essential for keeping you regular, i.e. your bowel movements and it also improves gut flora.
The keto diet is a natural diuretic effect, especially in the first 1-3 weeks . This can put you at risk of electrolyte imbalances. Taking an electrolyte supplement containing sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and potassium helps correct these imbalances. Alternatively, you can always drink a bullion cube, bone broth, or smoothies.
MCT oil plays a unique role in the keto diet. It is a purified source of MCTs extracted from either coconut or palm kernel oil. Studies on MCT oil show that it enhances weight loss . What's interesting about MCTs is that it's easily digestible and that your body prefers converting the fats from this oil into ketones.
Exogenous ketones have the same chemical structures as endogenous ketones – those made by your body. These supplements give you an instant dose of ketone bodies to help increase energy levels. They also come in handy for correcting dieting mishaps that could kick you out of ketosis. For the athletic types, they give long-lasting energy during workouts while sparing muscle glycogen .
Collagen peptides are the hydrolyzed form of collagen sold as supplements. They're considered a unique type of protein supplements as collagen is a protein. However, they don't provide all essential amino acids. Instead, the benefits of collagen peptides for the keto diet come from its easy digestibility and anti-inflammatory action.
When first starting a keto diet, add these ingredients to your keto shopping list. That way, you'll have everything you need for ketosis at hand. The ingredients listed here are dense in key nutrients and balanced in keto macros.
Later on, when you become accustomed to keto eating, you'll probably start adding more ingredients to your keto shopping list. The options are endless despite keto seeming restrictive at first. And what's best, keto food is delicious thanks to the abundance of decadent, fatty food.
If you want to learn more about the keto diet, we suggest taking a look at our FAQs section. There, you'll find all keto basics explained. We also suggest visiting our Keto Grocery List for a more comprehensive overview of keto ingredient. There, you can also pick and choose ingredients and have a personalized keto shopping list sent to your mail.