This keto foods list was developed for all the people who are struggling to figure out what foods they can eat on the keto diet. When people started noticing my weight loss, the conversations usually went a little something like this:
Them: Wow! You look so good, what have you been doing?!
Me: Oh, I just cut the carbs from my diet.
Them: So… WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EAT?!
It’s the same question again and again. Keto is so different than the Standard American Diet, just figuring out what to eat really trips people up. For those first getting started, it can be a little tricky identifying which foods are keto and which ones to avoid. If you’re struggling to figure out what you can and can't eat, this guide will give you a great starting point to determine which foods are keto friendly! All foods listed here are low in carbohydrates and can easily be incorporated into a ketogenic diet. Think of these as your go-to foods!
It’s a long list of keto foods and I’m sure there are things that could be added… but this just goes to show the keto diet isn’t restrictive! If you’re on the run and want to read this as a nice little ebook, be sure to download the free guide of keto foods below.
Here it is, the keto foods list!
Meat & Seafood
Just about all meats are keto! If it used to cluck, moo, or oink… you can eat it! Red meat, poultry, pork, and seafood are all great for a ketogenic diet. The organ meats of each are fantastic as well.
- Beef Jerky (watch the sugar counts on these)
- Bison Jerky
- Bison Ribeye
- Bison Sirloin
- Bison Steaks
- Chicken Breast
- Chicken Leg
- Chicken Thigh
- Chicken Wings
- Chuck Steak
- Eggs (chicken, duck, goose)
- Ground Beef
- Ground lamb
- Hot dogs
- Lamb Chops
- Lamb rack
- New York Steak
- Pork Chops
- Venison Steaks
BUT BEWARE OF:
Breaded Meats. Breadcrumbs and batter often have flour and other carb-loaded ingredients.
Cured Meats. Honey and sugars are the main ingredients used to cure meat… watch the carb counts on these meats, they tend to add up quickly.
Glazes and Sauces. Glazes are packed with sugar and a lot of traditional sauces use cornstarch or flour as thickening agents. So many carbs!
Processed Meats. Some processed meats have starchy fillers added to stretch the product. If it’s not 100% meat, there are probably hidden carbs. Keep an eye out for this!
Vegetables are awesome on a ketogenic diet, but they can be a little tricky sometimes. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s green and leafy go for it. If it’s starchy, it’s best to avoid it when you’re first starting out.
Keto is a low carb diet, but it’s not necessarily a NO carb diet. While vegetables do have carbohydrates, a lot of that can be chalked up to fiber. Fiber is discounted when you calculate your “net” carbs, so you actually have more wiggle room to add in vegetables. They are a great source of vitamins and nutrients, so be sure to eat your veggies!
The veggies listed below are just a taste of low carb veggies. Be sure to check out my searchable, sortable keto vegetable list for a comprehensive overview!
- Alfalfa Sprout
- Banana Pepper
- Beet Greens
- Bok Choy
- Broccoli Rabe
- Brussels Sprout
- Butterhead Lettuce
- Chicory Greens
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Mung Bean
- Mustard Greens
- Red Tomatoes
- Spaghetti Squash
- Summer Squash
- Water Spinach
- Yellow Tomatoes
Certain types of dairy can be enjoyed on the keto diet! Butter, cheese, full fat yogurts and heavy cream – this is not your typical diet fare! When eating dairy, you will generally want to choose ingredients that have a lower amount of lactose. Lactose is a sugar that will spike your blood sugar. You will want to stay away from milk, as it is full of lactose (aka sugar)! And of course, if you have lactose intolerance you should avoid dairy altogether.
If you choose low fat or fat free dairy items entirely, be sure to thoroughly inspect the ingredients list on the label. These products often have tons of added sugar or other starchy fillers to make them more palatable. When you remove fat, you destroy the natural flavor and completely change the consistency. Food companies use sugar to make up for it. Fat is not inherently bad. Don’t shy away, embrace it on the keto diet!
- Blue Cheese
- Cheddar Cheese
- Colby Jack Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Feta Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Provolone Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Swiss Cheese
- Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
- Unsweetened Plain Yogurt
But BEWARE: Some people find that dairy stalls their weight loss. Dairy sensitivities are very common, so you may need to revisit how much dairy you are eating if you notice any issues.
Fats & Oils
Fats are fuel for the keto diet! Seriously, I mean it! Fats will likely be the source you obtain most of your calories from on a ketogenic diet. Think: USDA food pyramid flipped upside down for a good idea of how much fat you should really be eating once you are at your goal weight and eating for maintenance.
Your macro goals on the keto diet will focus on eating minimal amounts of carbs, adequate amounts of protein (enough to maintain your lean body mass), and the rest of your nutritional needs will be met with fat. This includes fat from your body and fat from your plate. If your goal is fat loss, the fat from your dietary fat intake will be limited a bit to create a calorie deficit so your body fat stores can be burned for energy. That’s the basis of most keto calculators!
(Check out my post What Are Macros? for more information about how dietary fat plays a role in the keto diet.)
So this means you don't need to go around drizzling bacon fat on everything you eat. You definitely can if you have a burning desire to do so and it fits into your macros… but it’s not at all necessary. It's actually pretty easy to get adequate amounts of fat in your diet without going out of your way to do so. Contrary to popular belief, fat bombs, bulletproof coffee and the like are not fundamental for a ketogenic diet. They can be nice treats or occasional meal replacements if you like them, but they are often calorie bombs you don’t need in addition to balanced keto meals. While you certainly want to eat fat on the keto diet, calories still matter.
- Animal Fats
- Avocado Oil
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Hemp Oil
- Macadamia Oil
- Olive Oil
- Palm Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Red Palm Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Tea Seed Oil
- Walnut Oil
Avoid processed vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fatty acids as they can be damaging to your health.
Water and broth are best, hands down. You need to stay hydrated and manage your electrolyte balance when getting into ketosis or you will not feel very good. Water and broth will help you do this! I would recommend sticking to water and broth to start with and gradually adding in other drinks when you need variety.
While coffee, diet pop and booze are all low in carbs, caffeine and alcohol are known diuretics. If you choose to drink these, it may be more challenging to stay hydrated.
When you do choose to drink alcohol, beware that the keto diet significantly lowers your alcohol tolerance level. Stick to one or two drinks tops! Even if you could drink someone under the table before, you will severely regret overdoing it while in ketosis. Consider this your warning! I’m trying to save you from the ultimate hangover from hell!
- Club Soda
- Diet Soda
- Dry Wines
- Hard Alcohol
- Herbal Tea
- Seltzer Water
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Unsweetened Tea
Yes, you can have fruit on the keto diet. No it is not a “free” food you can eat unlimited amounts of. Fruit is naturally sweet and that means it has carbohydrates that need to be accounted for. If and when you choose to eat fruit, measure your intake before you grab a handful and shove it into your mouth.
Just like veggies, starchy fruits should be avoided. I’m looking at you, bananas!
Still iffy about certain fruits? Double check the carbohydrate counts in a nutrition database to make sure your fruit of choice is not too sugary. The carb counts can really creep up on you if you don’t track and measure. Be careful! Don’t let your sweet tooth take over your portion control or you will kick your cute little butt right out of ketosis.
Limited amounts of:
- Honeydew Melon
Absolutely NO FRUIT JUICE!
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are low in carbohydrates and can be a wonderful addition to a ketogenic diet. You do need to be careful with your intake, as the carb count quickly adds up. Since they are such a delicious and easy snack food, it’s super easy to zone out and mindlessly eat. If you’ve ever gotten a hold of a can of Pringles, you know just what I mean. Like all the other foods, you’ll need to measure and track if you want to be successful with this way of eating.
There are quite a few flours out there made from nuts and seeds that can be used to substitute wheat flour. Gravies, sauces, low carb baked goods… it’s absolutely insane how creative people have gotten with low carb flours. Breads, cookies, you name it. I would recommend sticking to whole foods and wait to venture into baked goods territory. Get comfortable with what you can and can’t eat, get into ketosis, and then start experimenting with ketofied versions of your favorite foods.
- Almond Butter
- Almond Flour
- Almond Meal
- Brazil Nuts
- Cashew Butter
- Coconut Flour
- Hemp Hearts
- Macadamia Butter
- Peanut Butter
- Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Soy Nuts
- Soy Nut Butter
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Sunflower Seed Flour
The “Other” Stuff
Notice I've only touched on real, whole foods in the keto foods list. There’s a reason for that: you’ll do just fine with the foods above! You can make delicious, satisfying, healthful meals without overcomplicating things. Pinky promise.
I wholeheartedly believe that the best thing you can do to improve your health is to start cooking at home. Skip the takeout with questionable ingredients. Ditch the processed foods. Nourish your body the way nature intended!
You don’t need to rely on processed foods and restaurants to hit your macros and reach your goals. Stick to the basics, especially when you are first starting out.
When in doubt, check the nutrition label. Focus on limiting carbs. Total carbs - fiber = net carbs. Come back to the foods list as you need it and be sure to download the free guide so you always have it handy.
Once you feel confident you have successfully kicked your carb addiction, subdued your inner fat kid, and have started to see progress… by all means, play around with low carb sweeteners and ketofied foods. Test the waters, see how you do with it, and go from there. But in the words of Ice Cube, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Be sure to download your free keto foods list guide!
And don't forget to Pin it!
Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published cookbook author.
Thanks for the info as I start this journey
Thank you for the email. Love your website.
This diet WORKS... have tried others and failed!!! Have lost 10 lbs in 3 months with a few "cheats" including a few Michelob beers (2.6 cals per beer) but truly once you start its not hard to follow.
correction michelob ultra lt is 2.6 CARBS per beer
Looking for a drink that I LIKE AND CAN drink with this diet besides just water. I've picked up the New BODY ARMOR SUPERDRINK
. can I drink this, because it is really good.?? Thank you Jessica Louisville,my
Tasha Metcalf says
Hey Jessica, sorry it took a bit to respond. I looked up the ingredients and see that it has 18g carbs per serving and cane sugar is listed as one of the main ingredients. (https://taldepot.com/body-armor-orange-mango-sports-drink-28-oz-plastic-bottles-pack-of-12.html) This type of drink wouldn't fit into a keto diet. La Croix is my favorite drink, but it's not sweet. Maybe some of the readers could offer a good substitution for you?
Monster ultra....something. they sweeten with erythritol which doesn't spike your blood sugar. Love them. they have a bunch of flavors including tea and one that tastes exactly like orange juice to me. Lol I love having it for breakfast! It has a bunch of nutrition and even salt. So good! Also when i drink my coffee i put heavy whipping cream in it and erythritol. Just milk wasn't doing me any good. If you add MCT oil it gives you energy. The only issue is it's oily on top. You need to run it through a blender and it makes it frothy. It's a wonderful breakfast when you are trying to fast.
Kane Johnston says
Hi Tasha, this is a pretty comprehensive keto food list. Nice... I'm a vegan myself and have adopted a keto diet and admittedly there is a part of me that would love to be eating bacon and eggs... Perhaps if (or WHEN) bacon is grown "on trees" i'll indulge haha.
Hi, I have a SodaStream and drink about 3 quarts a day of just soda water. I squeeze fresh lemon in it and love it. I have not had any problem on the Keto with it. I apologize, I am a guy and this is mainly a woman's site, but helpful to me also.
Tasha Metcalf says
Thanks for chiming in, Boyd! Really glad you are finding the site helpful!
Hi there! Just stumbled onto this site as I am now researching keto diet. Tried to download the food list but couldn't find a way to,seems that the link is gone? Maybe I just missed it. Either way I have found your blog to be very helpful! So thank you!
This is an amazing site! Oncologists and doctors are even recommending this website so obviously it is a no brainer .....doctors orders. I am on day one and so far so good! Thank you for making this so easy to understand and being straight to the point. There is too much conflicting info out there and if a doc trusts your guidance, then I am game!
Tasha Metcalf says
Thanks for the awesome feedback, Kristan! Getting started is the hardest part and you're doing it! Good luck on your journey!
Can I still put on lean muscle mass with this diet? In the Navy and work out often. Also, I was unable to download the good guide.
Tasha Metcalf says
Hey James, definite can put on muscle while doing keto. Check out ketogains! They're awesome and have a really good macro calculator that you could tailor to meet your needs. Sounds like it might be right up your alley.
I'll take a look and see if I have a broken link floating around re: the food guide. Thanks for the heads up!
" You can make delicious, satisfying, healthful meals without overcomplicating things"
How can you promise that when everything seems to need to be handmade? That is either a major time commitment, shopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning, or the most basic-bland thing ever. This would all be very good for me, but I don't see how it is feasibly sustainable. Everyone seems to say things like 'oh it only takes an hour'. All I can think is, wow you have an hour for this every meal? That and I live by myself and fresh food goes bad quickly, that gets really expensive really quickly or requires that you go to the store every other day. I really want to do this long term, but please, how is it realistically possible? I don't want every meal to mean that I have to clean a pot, a pan, 2 knives, a stirring spoon, a cutting board, etc etc.
Tasha Metcalf says
It only takes a few seconds to whip up a tuna salad or a couple minutes to pan fry a steak. If you stick with the basics, meat and veggies, it's no different than fixing any other type of meal at home. Don't overcomplicate it with keto versions of your old favorites - those are the things that turn into projects instead of dinner. Maybe basic-bland can get you started... once you're comfortable with the change you can take more on? Maybe your tastes will change after you aren't eating all the processed food? You've got to make it work for you.
Samantha, I hope you were able to stick with keto. I am having fun with this, been about 4 weeks and I’ve lost weight for the first time in years. I have done “low carb” before, but this is so much easier. I think one key for yourself would be to make a meal plan, grocery list, and do all prep work one weekend day. Make up a few dishes at a time, freezing things for quick grab (because we all know when we are hungry and have NO time we are at our weakest and more likely to crash and burn). Planning is key, buy IQF, well worth the extra few bucks a week it may cost. And she is right, once you kick the craving you don’t really need the knockoff recipes. You are so completely satisfied you don’t really need the junk. Take it from a sugar addict! This soup was refreshingly easy and much tastier than I could have imagined. And did not take long at all. One thing I did when I made this soup was cut it in half, (probably going to freeze two servings of left overs) and stir fried the other half of my cabbage with olive oil, onion powder and celery seed. That can be frozen as well and pulled out later for a quick snack. All so healthy! Thanks for the simple soup recipe. “Stick with the basics” So true!
I truly believe that understanding the basics - keto foods and nutrition can make or break your diet. Especially when you are just starting out, everything seems so confusing.
I like that you also added the beware part - to focus the attention to often overlooked parts when it comes to foods. This is the one problem I have struggled with in the past.
Tasha Metcalf says
Thanks Alex! I appreciate the feedback!
you're THE goat
I have read so much info on keto, im overwhelmed and confused! You do not recommend exogenous ketones?
I am a meal skipper so i have been using a plant based protein shake, only 5 g carbs, i usually add some avocados and spinach and then eat a keto dinner, i dont think im getting enough fat, should i be trying to add more fat?
What about water melon?
Yogurt is full of carbs so it would be better to eat a carbmaster like Kroger sells if you want to eat yogurt. Yes it is low fat but I like to add whipping cream for the extra good fat. Also, KETO is not a DIET! It is a way of eating. You will eat this way from now on. There is no eating KETO, then going back to regular way of eating. Your regular way got you in the mess in the first place. Once you go real KETO, it's with you forever.
Stephanie Mullins says
Why aren’t onions on the list? Also, if I drink low carb milk and occasionally eat carrots is it okay as long as my carb count is low?
Why aren't onions on my keto
good foods list?
What about Beets?
Erin B says
I’m looking to transition my family to the Keto diet, but with my children, I don’t foresee no milk as a possibility. You state that it is the lactose which contains the sugar, so I was wondering if I switched from organic milk to a lactose free milk, would this be acceptable?
I am a 56 yr male, tpye II diabetic taking 2 Gilipizide tablets a day. I have been doing Keto for just over a week and my Blood Sugar Numbers have been cut in half and now only take 1 pill a day for the Diabetes. My blood sugar is just as if not more important than the weight loss which is dropping slightly. But for now am psyched my numbers have gone down to almost Pre-Diabetic levels in only one week. SOLID.....
I am surprised to see cantaloupe and honey dew melon on the approve fruits list. Are they not too sweet?
Phyllis Robinson says
The keto diet is awesome. I have tried other diets but I keep going back to the keto diet.
I feel so much better and I have tons of energy. I just need to stay off of the scale because the scale lies! Every time I have fallen off the wagon it was because I did not see any weight loss. I have been back on the Keto diet for 3 weeks now and it is for good!
If cheese might stall weight loss should I stop eating it because I’m always on the go and I get the snack size .. any suggestions which brand should I get. Thank you
I take pre workout daily when heading to the gym.. So I guess my question would be is there a recommended substitute I could take as I know pre workouts are full of caffeine and sugar.?
Tasha Metcalf says
Caffeine is not going to affect ketosis, so you can for sure have things with caffeine in it. I have found that a lot of people make their own pre-workout mixes at home--instead of sugar, they use MCT oil for quick energy.
Hi My name is Sharon
And i came you site by accident and decided to read your article on how to get started with keto diet and to my surprise I love everything is said and every food item on the list I love it can eat it with no problems. I want to say thank you so much for just post. Because i was a lil worried about all the fat. Because i am fat and just didn't want to add anymore to my life. But now i know where and how to begin. So i say again thank you. I will give you keep you updated on my weight loss Journey. Start at 301 lbs but I see I will be down about to 270 by December. I will let you know how i am doing. I calculated my micros and this is them: calories 1,200 carbs 15g protein 60g and fat 100g..
Rozanna Boyd says
Onions have a fair amount of carbs. Im kinda sad about it.
Brian Rovira says
Any thoughts on protein powders? I like to have a shake post workout. But most of the whey proteins have sucralose. Is one serving a day ok to have on keto? I mix it with unsweetened coconut milk.
Tasha Metcalf says
Sucralose isn't necessarily off-limits for keto--it contains zero carbs and scores a 0 on the glycemic index. In other words, it won't affect nutritional ketosis. Some people choose to avoid it for reasons beyond nutritional ketosis. It's totally a personal preference!
I have been on keto for
I have lost two pounds 😢
I eat everything that’s on this list
Drink 2 gallons of water everyday
Do yoga 4 times a week
I’m a vegetarian so I eat salmon, spinach, salad
I make shakes in morning
The only thing I can think of is I add heavy whipping cream in my coffee and tea which I have four times a day
If I just knew how many portions of cheese, almonds etc ?
I started intermittent fasting and Keto the same day . Minimum 20hrs fasting everyday, then Keto foods to shed unwanted weight . 7 days down 11 pounds . In Ketosis , feel great , no lack of energy as I fast consuming water, green tea and black coffee . My goal is to lose 25-30 lbs then gradually remove daily fasting to alternate days . Problem I see would be kicking my body out of ketosis if I don't fast. I feel fine consuming my carb limit inside a 2-4 hour eating cycle but feel I will go over if I don't fast the 20-20hrs per day.
I am 5ft 8 and 55 years old. I was struggling doing kickboxing - full contact fighting (have been doing it most of my life) and my weight crept up to 85kg - which is very heavy for someone my frame in combat sports. I still wish to compete with the younger guys, but at 85kg i am fighting giants. Not only that but i was getting painful arthritic pains in my knees and shoulders and was contemplating a different sport. 5 months on a keto diet - i have lost 13 kg - my arthritic pains have gone - i can run again without knee pain (up to 10k) my bloods are really good, my heart rate is good and i am able to complete high intensity martial art sessions and not pay for it during the night (used to be sooo sore i could not sleep). I dont know how much is due to the diet - or the weight loss. I tend to sometimes break my carb limits by too many veggies and too many black/raspberries/blueberries - but for me it has not affected my weight loss regime. If i overeat carbs i make sure its only a keto friendly food and also a clean food (not bacon or salami etc - but large salads etc). The problem (benefit?) with keto is you can still use unhealthy foods and loose weight (dirty keto) - but if you choose the healthy foods - you feel great and you loose weight. Now to maintain it, time will tell. For me its relatively simple to maintain - its all about knowing what is allowed thats all and making sure you have the food available.