Keto Diet: Foods You Need to Eat
and Need to Avoid
By Amelia Johnson
How often do you hear about the keto diet? In recent times, this diet has become quite popular.
To complement its popularity, research suggests that a keto diet is typically a high fat, low-carb diet that has amazing outcomes in epilepsy, diabetes, as well as weight loss. Early evidence has pointed to the effectiveness of this diet in some conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers.
But Wait, What Is a Keto Diet?
This is a low-carb diet in which the body uses ketones produced by the liver for its energy needs at the expense of burning glucose.
For this diet, it is important that you strictly eat low-carb foods to minimize the amount of insulin and glucose produced by the body. When the body has glucose as the primary energy source, the body stores more fat. However, the keto diet emphasized low carb intake to place the body in the ketosis state.
Is the Keto Diet Better Than Paleo Diet?
Even though both diets may improve weight loss, keto diet is more efficacious since...
- Keto has a specific carb limit for better results. Paleo diet has no actual carb limit.
- Keto diet allows for dairy food intake.
- Keto diet works toward burning fats at the expense of carbs for fast weight loss, paleo allows for continued carb expenditure for energy needs.
For your keto diet to be efficacious, it is vital that you limit your carb intake to a range of 20 to 50 grams each day. Failure to observe strict adherence to low carb intake, the body easily gets out of the ketosis state.
This sounds like a challenging task, but I have the secret! Some foods are recommended for the keto diet which conveniently fit into the keto diet carb limit. Additionally, I also present to you the foods you need to avoid while observing the keto diet.
Let’s start with the foods you need to eat on a keto diet...
Foods Allowed in the Keto Diet
Did you know that shellfish and fish are very keto diet-friendly?
These foods have high selenium, potassium, and B vitamins contents, but still are virtually carb-free.
However, you should be informed that different shellfish types carry variant carb types. For example, you will find that crabs and shrimp have zero carbs while other shellfish types have carbs.
This does not mean that shellfish cannot be included in your keto diet, but you must account for the carbs present in them if you seek to stay within a lean carb intake.
How can you do this? Well, you need to know the number of carbs you are dealing with when serving popular shellfish types. For every 3.5 ounces of shellfish types below, find the expected carb amount in them:
- Squid – 3 grams
- Oysters – 4 grams
- Octopus – 4 grams
- Mussels – 7 grams
- Clams – 5 grams
Research justifies that fish with high-fat content including sardines, mackerel, and salmon are omega-3 fat rich. These fats play a significant role in improving insulin sensitivity and lowering insulin levels among obese and overweight individuals (source).
Also, frequent consumption of fish triggers a reduction in the risk for disease and mental health improvement.
Therefore, make it a personal goal to consume a minimum of two seafood servings each week.
2. Vegetables with Low Carbs
Vegetables cannot disappoint. They are literally in every healthy diet you can ever think of. For your keto diet, keep in mind that non-starchy veggies are low in carbs and calories, but they are laden with nutrients including several minerals and vitamin C.
Remember, like any other plants, vegetables contain fiber which the body neither digests nor absorbs like any other carb. Therefore, make sure to review your veggie net or digestible carb count (derived when you minus fiber from the total carb count).
Vegetables carry antioxidants which work to protect against the free radicals. Free radicals, as unstable molecules, trigger cell damage through oxidative activity (source).
Furthermore, by feeding on cruciferous veggies including cauliflower, broccoli, and kale you lower your risk for heart disease and cancer.
Consider replacing high-carb foods with low-carb vegetables. For example, use cauliflower to replace mashed potatoes or rice. Equally, you may adopt “zoodles” from a squash of spaghetti and zucchini as a natural spaghetti substitute.
For a complete guide on keto diet veggies, follow this link.
3. Poultry and Meat
For your ketogenic diet, poultry and meat should make a staple food for their high quality protein. Just make sure that your poultry and meat are fresh and unprocessed so that your diet is free of any carbs but rich in minerals like zinc, selenium, and potassium, and B vitamins.
Meat and poultry make an excellent source of high-quality protein. As held by research, high-quality protein is associated with the preservation of muscle mass when the body is subjected to a low-carb diet (source).
Unprocessed poultry and meat are keto friendly as well. The healthiest of these are grass-fed and organic meats. However, since keto diet should be high-fat as opposed to high-protein, there is no need for consumption of huge meat proportions. Excessive proteins only end up as glucose which minimizes the chances of the body getting into ketosis.
It is viewed that animal proteins (for instance, as found in fish and meat) contain very low carb amounts if any. Consume these foods in moderate amounts to control your hunger. Always, settle for fattier as opposed to leaner cuts for high-quality protein. Grass-fed beef from goat, lamb, and veal as well as poultry including duck, goose, and hen are recommended.
For a comprehensive guide of the amount of protein to consume on your keto diet, follow this article.
4. Coconut Oil
What are the unique properties of coconut oil that you know of? Is there any that makes it well suited for a keto diet?
Well, coconut oil houses medium-chain triglycerides. These MCTs, as opposed to their long-chain counterparts, can directly be taken up by your liver for ketone conversion which offers a rapid energy source.
Indeed, coconut oil is vital in the increment of ketone levels in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease alongside other nervous system and brain disorders.
Lauric acid is the primary fatty acid present in coconut oil. This acid makes a somewhat longer-chain fat. A mix of this acid and MCTs from coconut makes a potent concoction which helps to enhance ketosis level sustenance (source).
Therefore, feed on coconut oil to benefit from its MTCs to improved ketone production. Coconut oil may also enhance your metabolic rate to decrease belly fat and weight loss.
Foods to Avoid in Keto Diet
There also are foods you need to avoid if you are following a keto diet. These foods make it difficult for the body to get into the ketosis state.
1. All Sugar Types
When I took up a keto diet for the first time, curbing my sugar intake was the greatest challenge. I was particularly heartbroken when I could not find fruit and candy on the keto foods to eat. But I learned that sugar was minimizing the efficacy of my keto diet.
Therefore, at all costs, avoid sugary foods albeit their irresistible taste. Maybe, you need to know that a single teaspoon of sugar carries up to 4 net grams of carbs while a tablespoon carries up to 12 units of the same.
Ensure that you eliminate confectioner’s raw, cane, white, or brown sugar. Also, avoid syrups including fruit, caramel, maple, corn, and carob. Also, any food that uses dextrose, fructose, lactose, and fructose as their ingredients must be avoided.
2. All Grains
Grains are rich in carbs, and they must be eliminated from your diet. How bad can grain be? Consider this; a small grain serving or a slice of bread has about 30 net carb grams. On the other hand, a quarter cup of cereals or cooked grains contains up to 35 net carb grams.
Therefore, ensure that the following do not appear on your keto diet.
- All rice types, pilaf, quinoa, and couscous
- All corn-based products like corn meal, grits, polenta, tortillas, and popcorn
- All flour-based products like pasta, bread, rolls, bagels, and muffins.
3. Caloric and Sweetened Drinks
Ensure that your diet is free of:
- Fruit juices
- Dairy replacements and milk
- Sweetened coffee and tea
- Alcohol including liquor, wine, and beer
4. Processed Foods
Despite their good tastes, processed foods are not good for your keto diet effectiveness. The additives are bound to increase their carb content. As a result, you need to avoid:
- All candy types
- Chips, crackers, and pretzels
- Baked breakfast foods including waffles and pancakes
- Cereals and oatmeal
- Prepackaged foods like boxed foods and canned soups
- Meal replacements including protein bars
- Foods made using artificial ingredients like flavors, sweeteners, and dyes.
The keto diet is one of the diets that have remained popular and relevant for the past one century. The keto diet finds its basis in science and physiology. It has been shown to yield positive results for most people.
You can also benefit from the keto diet, simply observe the recommended foods that make your diet and avoid those that minimize the keto diet efficacy.
Amelia Johnson is a writer/editor with an endless passion for bringing a lot of useful and trustworthy information to the community. She founded stayhealthyways.com, a blog dedicated to sharing quality articles related to health, nutrition, fitness, and beauty. As a typical introvert, Amelia is a perfectionist in work. At times of leisure, she reads, listens to music, chats with some close friends and walks with her pet.