Ketogenic Diet: 13 Foods You Should Eat On The Keto Diet
The keto diet has become extremely popular the past few years and for good reason. Studies have found that this low-carb, high-fat diet is ideal for weight loss, diabetes and epilepsy. There's also some evidence to show that it may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer's disease and other diseases as well.
A keto diet typically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day. This may seem challenging, however, many healthy foods will easily fit into this way of eating.
Here are 13 nutritious foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Both fish and shellfish are very keto-friendly foods. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium, yet pretty much carb-free. However, it important to know the carbs in different types of shellfish will vary. For instance, while shrimp and most crabs contain no carbs, other types of shellfish do. While these shellfish can still be included on a keto diet, you must account for these carbs when you're planning your meals schedule.
Here are the carb counts for 3.5-ounce (100-gram) servings of a few popular types of shellfish
Clams: 5 grams
Mussels: 7 grams
Octopus: 4 grams
Oysters: 4 grams
Squid: 3 grams
Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fats which have been proven to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese people. In addition, regular fish intake has been linked to a decreased risk of disease and improved mental health. It's highly recommended that you consume at least two servings of seafood weekly.
2) Low Carb Vegetables:
Non-starchy vegetables are generally low in calories and carbs but may be high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals. Vegetables and other plant based foods contain fiber, which your body doesn't digest and absorb like other carbs, Therefore, look at their digestible (or net) carb count, which is total carbs minus fiber. Most vegetables have very few net carbs, although, consuming one serving of "starchy" vegetables like potatoes, yams or beets could put you over your entire carb limit for the day.
The carb count for non-starchy vegetables ranges from less than 1 gram for 1 cup of raw spinach to 8 grams for 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts. Vegetables also contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals which are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage. Vegetables like kale, broccoli and cauliflower have been linked to decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
Low-carb veggies make great substitutes for higher-carb foods. For instance, cauliflower can be used to mimic rice or mashed potatoes, "zoodles" can be created from zucchini and spaghetti squash is a natural substitute for spaghetti.
Who doesn't love cheese? The best part about it is cheese is both nutritious and delicious. There are hundreds of types of cheese. Luckily, all of them are very low in carbs and high in fat, which makes them a great fit for the keto diet.
One ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese provides 1 gram of carbs, 7 grams of protein and 20% of the RDI for calcium.
Although cheese is high in saturated fat it hasn't been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies suggest that cheese may help protect against heart disease.
Cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid which is a fat that has been linked to weight loss and improvements in body composition. In addition, eating cheese regularly may help reduce the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging.
A 12-week study in older adults found that those who consumed 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta cheese per day experienced increases in muscle mass and muscle strength over the course of the study.
Avocados are not only incredibly healthy but they are tasty too.
3.5 ounces (100 grams), or about one-half of a medium avocado, contain 9 grams of carbs. However, 7 of these are fiber, so its net carb count is only 2 grams.
Avocados are rich in several vitamins and minerals including potassium an important mineral most people don't get enough of. A higher potassium intake may help make the transition to the keto diet easier. In addition, avocados may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In one study, when people consumed a diet high in avocados, they experienced a 22% decrease in "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an 11% increase in "good" HDL cholesterol.
5) Meat And Poultry:
Meat and poultry are considered staple foods on the keto diet. Fresh meat and poultry contain no carbs and are also rich in B vitamins and other minerals including potassium, selenium and zinc. They're also a fantastic source of high-quality protein which has been proven to help preserve muscle mass during a low-carb diet.
One study in older women found that consuming a diet high in fatty meat led to HDL cholesterol levels that were 8% higher than on a low-fat, high-carb diet.
If possible it's best to choose grass-fed meat because animals that eat grass produce meat with higher amounts of omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid and antioxidants than meat from grain-fed animals.
One large egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs and fewer than 6 grams of protein making them an ideal food for a ketogenic lifestyle. In addition eggs have been shown to trigger hormones that increase feelings of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable which leads to lower calorie intakes for up to 24 hours. It's important to eat the entire egg (not just egg whites) as most of an egg's nutrients are found in the yolk. This includes the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which help protect eye health.
Although egg yolks are high in cholesterol (good cholesterol) consuming them doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels in most people. In fact, eggs appear to modify the shape of LDL in a way that reduces the risk of heart disease.
7) Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil has very unique properties that make it beneficial for the keto diet.
To begin with coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike long-chain fats, MCTs are taken up directly by the liver and converted into ketones or used as a rapid source of energy. Coconut oil has been used to increase ketone levels in people with Alzheimer's disease and other disorders of the brain and nervous system.
The main fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, a slightly longer-chain fat. It has been argued that coconut oil's mix of MCTs and lauric acid promote a sustained level of ketosis. Coconut oil may also help obese adults lose weight and shed belly fat. In one study men who ate 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day lost 1 inch (2.5 cm) on average from their waistlines without making any other dietary changes.
8) Plain Greek Yogurt And Cottage Cheese:
Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are very healthy high-protein foods. Even though they contain some carbs they should still be included in a ketogenic lifestyle.
5 ounces (150 grams) of plain Greek yogurt provides 5 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. That amount of cottage cheese provides 5 grams of carbs and 18 grams of protein.
Both yogurt and cottage cheese help decrease appetite and promote feelings of fullness which prevent you from over eating. The best part is either one makes a tasty snack on its own or can also be combined with chopped nuts, cinnamon and optional sugar-free sweetener for a quick and easy ketogenic diet treat.
9) Olive Oil:
Olive oil provides impressive benefits for your heart.
It's high in oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat that helps to decrease heart disease risk factors in many studies. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants known as phenols. These compounds further protect heart health by decreasing inflammation and improving artery function.
10) Nuts And Seeds:
Nuts and seeds are very healthy, high-fat and low-carb foods which work well on the keto diet.
Frequent nut consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, depression and other chronic diseases. Nuts and seeds are also high in fiber which will help you feel full and absorb fewer calories overall.
Here are the carb counts for 1 ounce (28 grams) of some popular nuts and seeds:
Almonds: 3 grams net carbs (6 grams total carbs)
Brazil Nuts: 1 gram net carbs (3 grams total carbs)
Cashews: 8 grams net carbs (9 grams total carbs)
Macadamia Nuts: 2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
Pecans: 1 gram net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
Pistachios: 5 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
Walnuts: 2 grams net carbs (4 grams total carbs)
Chia Seeds: 1 gram net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
Flaxseeds: 0 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
Pumpkin Seeds: 4 grams net carbs (5 grams total carbs)
Sesame Seeds: 3 grams net carbs (7 grams total carbs)
Typically fruits are too high in carbs to include in the keto diet but berries are an exception. Berries are low in carbs and high in fiber. In fact, raspberries and blackberries contain as much fiber as digestible carbs and these tiny fruits are loaded with antioxidants that have been credited with reducing inflammation and protecting against disease
Here are the carb counts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of some berries:
Blackberries: 5 grams net carbs (10 grams total carbs)
Blueberries: 12 grams net carbs (14 grams total carbs)
Raspberries: 6 grams net carbs (12 grams total carbs)
Strawberries: 6 grams net carbs (8 grams total carbs)
12) Butter And Cream:
Butter and cream are nearly carb-free and have neutral or beneficial effects on heart health when consumed in moderation. Many studies suggest that a moderate consumption of high-fat dairy may possibly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. For many years, butter and cream were believed to cause or contribute to heart disease due to their high saturated fat contents, However, several large studies have shown that for most people saturated fat isn't linked to heart disease at all.
13) Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder:
Dark chocolate and cocoa are delicious sources of antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains 3–10 grams of net carbs per ounce, is high in antioxidants, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Somewhat surprisingly, chocolate can be part of the keto diet. However, it's important to choose dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 70% cocoa solids. (preferably more)
One ounce (28 grams) of unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa) has 3 grams of net carbs. The same amount of 70–85% dark chocolate contains up to 10 grams of net carbs.
Here Is The Bottom Line:
The keto diet can be used to lose weight loss, blood sugar control, and other health-related goals. One of the best parts about the keto lifestyle is the ketogenic diet can include a wide variety of nutritious, tasty and versatile foods that allow you to remain within your daily carb range. In order to reap all the health benefits of a ketogenic diet consume these 13 foods on a regular basis.
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