Keto Diet Food List: 221 Foods to Boost Energy (+ Printable Cheat Sheet)
In some studies, only 38% of people can stick to a keto diet. (1) In other words, if you’re not prepared, a keto diet can be HARD.
However, if you want to boost your energy and burn fat, there is no better way.
If you want to transform your body, you need to be prepared.
So in the keto diet food list below, I’ll show you 221 foods that will help you burn fat and boost your energy.
Most of these foods are common and easy-to-find so that you can create thousands of different meals that you’ll love.
I’ll also show you some of the best benefits of a keto diet and how to make sure that you reach your goals.
If you want to find out more in general about keto, check out our comprehensive article on the ketogenic diet here. If you want more recipes, check out all of our keto recipes here.
KETO DIET FOOD LIST “CHEAT SHEET” (PRINTABLE)
To make things easy for you at the grocery store and in the kitchen, we also put together a printable “cheat sheet” of foods you can eat on a keto diet. To get our cheat sheet, just click the button below:
Remember, there are a TON of foods you can eat on a keto diet. And that’s great, because you want to keep your meals interesting.
But you also need to keep things as simple as possible, because if your meals and recipes get too overwhelming or take too long, then you won’t stick with it.
So use this list to find a few dishes that you really love, and then try to stick to those dishes as much as possible.
THE ‘SHORT’ LIST OF KETO FOODS…
If you’re looking for a short list of keto diet foods, then here it is. (Remember, all 221 foods are listed below.)
Basically, you can eat most meats, most vegetables, most seafood, and healthy fats. More specifically, you can eat these foods…
SHORT KETO DIET FOOD LIST
- Non-Starchy Vegetables
- Organ Meats
- Peas and green beans
- Healthy Fats (e.g., ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
- Limes and lemons
- Nut butters and nut milks
- Bone broth
- Shellfish and other seafood
- Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and Spices
BASICS OF A KETOGENIC DIET
What is Ketosis?
‘Ketosis’ is a state where your body relies primarily on ‘ketone bodies’ for energy, rather than on sugar.
That sounds complicated, but it’s really pretty simple. And here’s why it should matter to you…
Your body has 2 primary sources of energy – fat and sugar (aka glucose).
A ketogenic diet (AKA, a keto or ketosis diet) is designed to help your body burn more fat for energy rather than glucose.
Ketones (or ketone bodies) are produced by your liver when your body breaks down fats. And the increased levels of ketone bodies in your blood puts you into the metabolic state called ketosis.
How does a Keto Diet Work?
Here’s a VERY simple infographic explaining what you need to do on a keto diet…
The basics of what you eat on a ketogenic diet are pretty simple:
- Eat Very Little Carbohydrates or Sugar
- Eat Lots of Healthy Fats.
- Eat a Moderate Amount of Protein.
In other words, you eat only low-‘glycemic’ foods. Low-glycemic foods are foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to rise very much.
When you eat this way, it forces your body to start relying on fat for energy, rather than just sugar.
And when that happens, you gain ‘metabolic flexibility’, which is a complicated way of saying that your body regains the ability to get energy from multiple sources.
The result is that you feel increased energy, greater mental clarity, and weight loss.
The ketogenic diet has been used for a very long time. It was originally developed to treat epilepsy in kids. (2) Today, though, the benefits are often much greater…
Benefits of a Keto Diet
There is a lot of emerging research on the keto diet. Some of the most exciting research is around cancer and neurological diseases, but most people use a keto diet for much more common issues (weight loss, diabetes, etc.).
Here’s a brief list of the potential benefits of a keto diet:
- Decreased Hunger. (3, 4) Most diets rely on counting calories, restricting portions, or maintaining willpower. But all of that can be hard. Because a keto diet changes the way your body fuels itself, the most common result is that your hunger decreases and you automatically start eating less.
- Weight Loss. (5, 6) It’s not a magic solution, but by-and-large, weight loss happens more quickly and easily on a keto diet. This is particularly true because a keto diet helps to decrease hunger. However, you must be prepared, because the biggest downfall for most folks is not being able to stick to the diet.
- Healthy Blood Sugar Levels. (7) This benefit should be obvious. If you have high blood sugar or are diabetic, then dramatically reducing the amount of sugar in your blood by removing most of the sugar from your diet is an obvious and quick benefit.
- Reduced Risk of High Cholesterol and Triglycerides. (8) Many doctors originally thought that a diet high in fat might increase cholesterol and triglycerides. However, the opposite has turned out to be the case. Most people see a significant drop in their LDL and triglycerides when on a keto diet, although a small percentage of people do see the opposite effect.
- Neurological Disorders. (9) The ketogenic diet was originally used to treat epilepsy – a neurological disorder. In addition to epilepsy, though, some practitioners and researchers are using a keto diet to effectively treat other neurological disorders – particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
- Certain Forms of Cancer. (10) A lot of researchers are currently working on using a keto diet as a ‘complementary’ cancer treatment. And for certain forms of cancer – particularly brain cancer – the keto diet is showing a lot of benefit when used with other traditional treatments.
- Possible Other Benefits. (11) The research is not conclusive yet, but several studies have observed other possible benefits of a keto diet, including treatment of acne, PCOS, respiratory conditions, and others.
Suggested Macronutrient Ratios
The exact amounts of fat, carbs, and protein (also known as ‘macros’) you need to eat in order to get into ketosis will vary from person-to-person. But to help you get into the general ballpark, here are some recommendations.
Just remember that the bulk of your calories need to come from healthy, high-fat foods, and very few of your calories should come from carbs.
Carbohydrate Amount For Ketosis
We suggest you eat under 20-25 grams of net carbohydrates per day if you’re trying keto for weight loss.
A ‘net carb’ is the total amount of total carbs minus the fiber content. Since most fiber doesn’t get digested and turned into sugar, you don’t need to count fiber toward your net carbs count.
If you’re an athlete or do a lot of CrossFit, then you may need to add in more carbohydrates. Just make sure to use clean starches like sweet potatoes and extra vegetables
Jimmy Moore suggests in his book Keto Clarity that total amount of net carbs must be at least under 100g per day for you to get into ketosis, and for most people under 50g. For people with insulin sensitivities or looking to lose weight, you probably need to consume under 30g or 20g net carbs per day.
Protein Amount For Ketosis
Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney suggest that to calculate your minimum and maximum protein intake for staying in ketosis, you should multiply your weight (measured in lbs) by 0.6 and 1.0 to get the minimum and maximum amount of protein in grams you should eat each day.
I weigh 115 lbs, so for ketosis, my minimum protein intake per day is 115 x 0.6 = 69 grams, and my maximum protein intake per day is 115 x 1 = 115 grams.
Jimmy writes in his book that Dr. Donald Layman suggests limiting protein amounts to 30g per meal and no more than 140g per day.
Fats Amount For Ketosis
After limiting carbohydrates and eating a moderate amount of protein, the rest of what you eat should be healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and animal fats.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then you may find it easier to increase the amount of protein you eat. This may especially help you if you’re not used to eating a lot of fats.
5 IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER ON A KETO DIET
A keto diet is pretty simple, and most people see results fairly quickly.
But there are a few things to remember that can help make sure you get the most out of your keto diet. (These tips will also help you avoid ‘keto flu’ – the lack of energy that some people experience in the first 3-5 days of a keto diet.)
- Drink Plenty of Water. When you eat fewer carbs, your body retains less water. That’s normal, but if you’re not drinking enough, you can get dehydrated. Also, water will help you feel less hungry and more energetic.
- Get Plenty of Sodium. This might sound counter to what you’ve been told before, but your body really needs sodium. It’s one of the ways that your cells transport nutrients in and out of cells. And when you stop eating processed grains and sugar, you often get much less sodium. So when you go keto, just be sure that you’re eating salt or sodium-rich foods. If not, you will often experience fatigue.
- Eat Enough. Normally, this probably isn’t a problem for you. But when you go on a keto diet, it’s actually easy to start under-eating. So every few days, just check in that you’ve been eating enough food.
- Eat Enough Fat. Remember, most of your calories (70-85%) should be from fat. So don’t skimp on the fat. If you’re feeling hungry or like you need to snack, then eating more fat at meals will normally solve that problem. In general, choose the fattier cuts of meat.
With all of that in mind, here is the complete ketogenic diet food list…
THE COMPLETE KETOGENIC DIET FOOD LIST
Below is a full list of foods to eat on a keto diet.
To make it easier for you, we’ve arranged the foods into 12 groups (vegetables, meats, etc.).
In general, you can just not worry about how much of a particular food you’re eating. However, some foods on this list are a bit higher in carbs – such as carrots or tomatoes.
It would have made this list way too long to list the # of carbs in each food, so just be aware that if a food tastes a bit sweet (like a carrot or tomato can), then it likely has more carbs than foods that don’t taste sweet (meats, olives, avocadoes, limes, etc.).
Veggies should be a big part of your diet. In fact, they should be the bulk of what you eat.
Try to stick to green leafy vegetables and avoid root vegetables to keep your daily carbohydrate intake low.
- Arugula (Rocket)
- Bell Peppers
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butterhead Lettuce
- Chicory Greens
- Dandalion Greens
- Eggplant (Aubergine)
- Leafy Greens (Various)
- Mushrooms (all kinds)
- Mustard Greens
- Peppers (all kinds)
- Romaine Lettuce
- Seaweed (all sea vegetables)
- Spaghetti Squash
- Swiss Chard
- Turnip Greens
Most fruits are off limits on a ketogenic diet.
However, some small amounts of berries and citrus fruits are ok – just watch how much you eat!
Olives and Avocados are great.
All cuts of the animal are good to eat, but too much protein can hamper ketosis, so watch how much you eat. Also, choose fattier cuts of meat whenever possible (pork belly, ribeye, etc
- Wild Boar
- Wild Turkey
CURED AND PREMADE MEATS (check ingredients)
- Deli Meat
- Hot Dogs
In the United States, organ meats have fallen out of favor. But there is no other category of food that is as nutritious. Organ meats are also fattier than other meats, which works well on a keto diet.
Eat any of the following organ meats from pretty much any animal.
- Bone Marrow
Almost all legumes are off limits, but small amounts of green beans and peas are ok.
- Green Beans
Fats play a huge part in the ketogenic diet (they make up the majority of your calorie intake), so make sure you’re taking in plenty of healthy fats.
- Avocado Oil
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Duck Fat
- Lard (non-hydrogenated)
- Macadamia Oil
- MCT Oil
- Olive Oil
- Palm Shortening
- Red Palm Oil
- Sesame Oil (small amounts)
- Walnut Oil (small amounts)
Fish is highly nutritious, but buy wild-caught fish whenever possible.
- Mahi Mahi
- Orange Roughy
- Red Snapper
- Tuna (including Albacore)
Shellfish and Other Seafood
Apart from organ meats, shellfish is the most nutrient-dense food you can eat. Often expensive, but worth it.
Watch out for hidden sugar in drinks!
- Almond Milk
- Broth (chicken, beef, vegetable, bone)
- Cashew Milk
- Club Soda
- Coconut Milk
- Unsweetened Coffee
- Herbal Teas
- Lemon and Lime Juice (small amounts)
- Seltzer Water
- Sparkling Mineral Water
- Unsweetened Tea
Nuts and Seeds
Don’t go wild on nuts and seed, because they’re easy to overeat and high in omega-6 fats. These also add to your carbohydrate intake, so watch out. Lastly, note that peanut is a legume, not a nut, and is not recommended.
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Psyllium Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Various Nut Butters
- Hemp Seeds
Herbs and Spices
Experiment with these herbs and spices as they’ll make your food really delicious! Make sure the check the ingredients of any herb or spice blends to avoid added sugar or MSG.
Not everyone can tolerate dairy – you should eliminate dairy except for ghee to reduce your inflammation. Many people consider full-fat cheese, yogurt, and cream to be ketogenic. And while these foods may be low carb, they can be easy to overeat (in great excess) as well as cause inflammation and digestive issues for many people.
Other Foods to Eat on a Keto Diet
These foods are some foods that don’t fall neatly into other categories.
Although we listed a couple below, I encourage you – as much as possible – to avoid ‘keto’ processed foods. This could include ‘keto’ sauces, condiments, nut flours, and other ‘keto’ foods that attempt to replace traditionally non-keto foods
- Mayonnaise (made with good oils – see list of fats)
- Coconut Butter
- Pork Rinds
- Beef Jerky
- Cod Liver Oil (Fish Oil)
- Cacao Nibs
- Cacao Powder (unsweetened)
- Vinegars (but check the ingredients – many have added sugar or wheat)
- Eggs (of any animal)
- Shredded Coconut
- Hot Sauce (check ingredients)
- Vanilla Extract
- Coconut Flour
- Gluten-Free Tamari Sauce
- Coconut Aminos
- Fish Sauce (check ingredients)
- Gelatin (as powder or from bone broth)
- 100% Dark Chocolate
- Stevia (only small amounts)
- Monk Fruit / Lo Han Guo
- Almond Flour/Meal
FOODS TO AVOID ON A KETO DIET
Knowing what NOT to eat on a keto diet is at least as important as knowing what to eat. So this keto diet food list wouldn’t be complete without a list of non-keto foods.
Here is a list of all foods to definitely avoid:
All Sugars (Avoid)
Sugar of every type is completely off limit. Here are some of the many forms of sugar:
- White Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Brown Sugar
All Grains (Avoid)
Grains are all high in carbs and should be avoided completely. Here is a list of the most common grains (a few of these are ‘pseudo-grains’, but they should also be avoided):
- White Flour
- Most flours
- Wheat Flour
- Rice Flour
Processed Foods (Avoid)
Processed foods are pretty much anything you can buy in a box or in a bag. It’s a ‘catch-all’ term, but if it comes in box or bag, then it’s probably not keto-friendly and is off-limits.
- Potato Chips
- Ice Cream
- Tortilla Chips
- Most Condiments (Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Dressing, etc.)
- Baked Goods
- Snack Bars
- Most Sauces
Most Fruit (Avoid)
Fruit can be healthy in an abstract sense, but when you’re trying to stay in ketosis, most fruit is not keto-friendly.
- Canned Fruit
Grains are all high in carbs and should be avoided completely. Here is a list of the most common grains (a few of these are ‘pseudo-grains’, but they should also be avoided):
- Sports Drinks
- All Alcohol
- Sweetened Tea or Coffee
Legumes consist mostly of beans (baked, black, red, etc.). Except for the 2 legumes listed above (green beans and peas), avoid all legumes.
- All beans
Low Carb Foods To Avoid
Just because a food is low in carbohydrates or high in fats doesn’t make it keto! So try to avoid these foods even though they are low carb.
Dairy Products (e.g., kefir, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, cream, sour cream, butter)
- Sugar Alcohols
- Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
- Canola, Sunflower Seed, and other seed or vegetable oils
- Artificial Sweeteners (erythritol, splenda, sucralose, etc.)
- Low carb gluten-containing foods
- Peanut butter
- Diet sodas
- Soy products (e.g., soy milk, tofu)
Note: Artificial sweeteners won’t necessarily throw you out of ketosis, so many people consider them ‘ok.’ However, artificial sweeteners can adversely affect your gut bacteria and can also stop you from getting over sugar cravings. They also have a slight insulinogenic effect.
I hope that you find this keto diet food list useful. But there are a few more things you should keep in mind…
Sometimes, when you start a keto diet, you can experience what’s called ‘keto-flu‘. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Feeling moody or ‘hangry’
- Weakness or muscle aches
- Lack of mental clarity
To avoid or treat these symptoms, here are 4 tips that commonly help:
- Eat More Sodium & Potassium. This is the most common cause of keto flu – not getting enough electrolytes. These minerals are necessary for energy production, and if you get low, you’ll feel tired. Try eating more bone broth, more salt, and more avocados.
- Eat More Fat. Another common cause of keto flu is not eating enough. The simplest solution is to eat more fat. And the best ways to do that are to eat more fatty meats or to add more healthy fats (like olive oil) to your veggies and other foods.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Dehydration is common and can cause all of the keto-flu symptoms. It’s also the easiest thing to fix – just drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Rest More and Exercise a Bit Less. Exercise is great, but you must make sure you’re sleeping and resting enough. Changing how you fuel your body (by relying more on fat) can be a bit stressful at first. So you might need more rest when you first start out.
Modified Keto Diet
One other thing worth mentioning is that there are different ‘types’ of keto diets.
The ‘traditional’ keto diet is usually called the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD). This is the diet that was originally created for epileptic children.
The SKD version of the keto diet typically requires that you eat less than 20-30 grams of carbohydrates. It also requires that you closely monitor how much protein you eat, so that you don’t go over 12-15% of your calories from protein.
This is a great version of keto, and if you’re using the diet for therapeutic purposes, it’s the best way to go. But if you’re more interested in weight loss and boosting your energy, then you might also want to consider what’s commonly called the “Modified Atkins Diet.”
The primary difference for this diet is the amount of different ‘macros’ that you can eat. Your carbs can be a bit higher (50-75 grams per day), and your protein intake can also be a bit higher (up to 20% or so of calories).
This “modified” version of keto can be very useful to try if either (a) you find that the stricter version isn’t working for your or (b) you want a slightly more lenient diet to use after you’ve achieved your goals.
DOWNLOAD OUR KETO FOOD LIST
If you want an easy-to-print version of the keto food list, just click the button below.