Beginning the ketogenic diet can be both exciting and overwhelming. While you’re thrilled to be starting this new chapter for a healthier lifestyle, there’s a lot to learn and you might not know where to start.
We know that keto is a low-carb diet, but it’s hard to translate that to our foods. After all, which foods are low in carbs and which are not?
In our keto food list, we’ll showcase some low-carb, keto-friendly foods in the form of the recognizable food pyramid. This breakdown should help you develop your diet and help you achieve your goals.
Keto Food Pyramid
Before we dive into the categories and foods on the keto food pyramid, it’s important to understand its two basic principles: macros and whole foods.
The very first rule to the keto diet is to maintain strict measurements of your macros, which are:
These primary nutrients, known formally as macronutrients, help our bodies use energy properly and lower our overall body fat percentage.
As you probably already know, the keto diet works by limiting the number of carbs we take in each day. While carbs are a source of energy, too much of them can turn to fat. On the other hand, limiting carbs forces the body into ketosis where the body produces ketones for ample energy.
The keto food pyramid rations our macros like this:
- 70% fats
- 25% protein
- 5% carbs
Let’s move onto the second and final principle.
The danger of the keto diet is that the first principle leads many to believe that they should solely focus on their macros, which would ultimately lead to a lack of nutrients and weight gain.
The second principle advocates for the use of whole foods when on the keto diet. By focusing on whole foods, you can leverage a healthy base of protein, fat, and carbs that are not processed and very healthy.
Focusing on whole foods will allow you to maintain your keto ratios while also providing you with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs. Plus, whole foods tend to offer rich flavor and satisfying fullness.
Keto Pyramid Food List
Just like the FDA food pyramid, the keto pyramid breaks down into the main food groups. However, in this pyramid, we’ll focus on foods that fit into the keto ratios from top to bottom.
Level 1: Low-Fat Fruits
The first level of the keto pyramid includes fruits that are low in fat and keto-friendly, of course. The recommended serving of this area is simply one palmful per day. This portion is mainly made up of berries, such as:
The low-fat fruit, or berries, part of the pyramid offers natural sweetness that can help replace cravings for artificial sweeteners like candy, chocolate, or ice cream.
Level 2: Nuts & Seeds
Some pyramids will combine nuts and seeds with berries while others keep them separate. Either way, this part of the keto pyramid includes nuts and seeds like:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
Nuts and seeds offer natural, healthy fats and often help to keep you feeling full for longer. They provide long-lasting energy and are thought by many experts to help prevent disease.
Many nuts and seeds have a good amount of protein, so they can help you hit your protein ratio without added carbs.
Level 3: Full Fat Dairy
While some diets focus on low-fat dairy or no dairy at all, keto works best with full-fat dairy products. This list can include:
- Unprocessed cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, cream, blue, among others)
- Grass-fed butter
- Heavy Cream
- Sour Cream
These foods are best in moderation on the keto diet. Likewise, it’s important to note that you should opt for non-dairy milk, like almond milk or soy milk, while on the keto diet.
Level 4: Vegetables
Earlier, we discussed the benefits of low-fat fruits. But this portion of the keto pyramid calls for one to two handfuls of low-carb vegetables per meal and includes:
- Lettuce & Greens
- Spaghetti Squash
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
These vegetables provide you with some key nutrients like fiber, minerals, vitamins, electrolytes, and antioxidants – components that will help your body operate and feel great.
There are plenty of vegetables that you can enjoy on keto, so it’s easy to switch things up and keep them interesting.
Level 5: Proteins
Proteins make up the largest portion of the keto ratio, so it’s highly important to include the right ones in your diet. Consider the following keto-friendly proteins:
While you can continue to purchase your proteins from your local grocery store, it’s always best to aim for natural cuts of meat without added sugar. Fattier, grass-fed options are ideal.
Level 6: Healthy Fats
Aside from your nuts and seeds, there are several other healthy fats that you can add to your keto diet for more flavor and to meet your fats ratio. Some of the best healthy fats include:
- Grass-fed butter
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
You can also factor foods from other areas of the pyramid into your healthy fats, such as whole eggs or fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies. Cheese and whole fat Greek yogurts can also contribute to your healthy fats.
Foods to Avoid
Just like there are plenty of foods you can enjoy on the keto diet, there are also specific foods that you should try to avoid. Perhaps the most obvious of this list are grains, such as:
You should also stay away from high-carb, starchy vegetables including:
While fruits and vegetables are typically all considered healthy foods, there are a few fruits that don’t fit into the keto diet:
Finally, if you’re on this diet, you should stay away from added sugars, beans, soda, fruit juice, and most beers.