Keto diet: Foods to eat anytime

keto diet
A standard keto diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat

A standard keto diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet that typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. 

One of the goals of following a keto diet is to enter ketosis, a metabolic state where your body is using stored fat for energy instead of carbs. The body breaks down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies, which are used as energy in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food.

While reducing carb intake so strictly can be challenging, the list of food items that fit the criteria of a keto diet is quite long. Here are the food categories and foods to eat anytime by Dr. Josh Axe.

Keto Diet: Foods to Eat Anytime Chart
Catagory Foods
Healthy Fats
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flax, chia, and hempseed oil
Proteins
  • Grass-fed meat such as beef, lamb, goat, veal, and venison
  • Organic poultry such as turkey, chicken, quail, pheasant, hen, goose, and duck
  • Free-range organ meats suck as liver
  • Cage-free eggs including egg yolks
  • Wild-caught fish including tuna, trout, anchovies, bass, flounder, mackerel, salmon, and sardines
Nonstarchy Vegetables
  • Leafy greens such as dandelion, beet, collard, mustard, turnip, arugula, broccoli rabe, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine, sorrel, spinach, kale, and chard
  • Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Celery, cucumbers, zucchini, chives, leeks, and olives
  • Fresh herbs
  • Slightly higher-carb veggies such as asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, and tomatoes
Fat-based Fruit
  • Avocados
Fermented Foods
  • Kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, and kvass
Nuts and Seeds
  • Nut butter and seed butter
  • Chia seeds and flaxseeds
  • Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, chestnuts, and pumpkin seeds
Drinks
  • Water
  • Bone broth

What foods should I avoid on a keto diet?

A keto diet is different from regular, balanced eating recommendations. Many nutritious foods are sources of carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and yogurt. 

On a keto diet, however, carbs from all sources are severely restricted to below 50 grams a day. People on the keto diet often eliminate bread, grains, or cereals from their diet and limit even most fruits and vegetables because of their carb content. 

For most people, the keto diet requires making significant changes to how they usually eat. The diet requires avoiding all carb-rich foods, including:

Any type of sugar: That includes white, brown, cane, raw, syrups, honey, agave, and anything containing fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, or lactose.

Any and all gains: That includes wheat, oats, rice, and all products containing corn, including popcorn, polenta, and cornmeal.

Most processed foods: That includes foods in the bag or box, canned food, crackers, chips, pretzels, candy, cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, meal replacements, canned soups, and anything containing artificial sweeteners.

Sweetened and caloric beverages:  Soda, beer, wine, liquor, sweetened teas or sugary coffee drinks, fruit juices, milk, and dairy replacement beverages, like soy and Lactaid, are high in sugar and will disrupt your efforts to stay in ketosis.

Cow's milk and low-fat dairy: When you are on a strict ketogenic diet, you need to avoid cow's milk and low-fat dairy products. 

SLIDESHOW

The Best Diet Tips: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way See Slideshow

Is a keto diet safe?

Since a keto diet requires eliminating foods that contain important nutrients, it isn’t recommended for people who have: 

Short-term health risks of a keto diet include:

Long-term health risks of a keto diet include:

Should I follow a keto diet?

Although the keto diet is touted to have certain health benefits, including weight loss, it’s best to proceed with caution. Eating a balanced diet of healthy foods from a variety of food groups, along with daily physical activity, may be more beneficial. 

So before starting a trendy diet of any kind, consider talking to a registered dietitian for health advice.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 4/26/2022
References
Kossoff EHW. Ketogenic Dietary Therapies for the Treatment of Epilepsy. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ketogenic-dietary-therapies-for-the-treatment-of-epilepsy

EatRight. What is the Ketogenic Diet? May 15, 2019. https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet

Harvard Health Publishing. Should You Try the Keto Diet? October 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet

Keto Diet by Dr. Josh Axe. Little, Brown Spark, Hachette Book Group. First edition: February 2019