In this article, we will talk about keto staples or the foods you are likely to eat the most if you decide to follow a keto regimen. We will try to focus on some very common food choices, but also give you some more exotic ones to try. We won't talk about recipes, only list foods that are keto-friendly, and you can decide yourself how to incorporate them into meals.
First Thing First: A Quick Keto Reminder
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that aims to put you into ketosis, a state of elevated ketones in the blood, where you burn fat as fuel instead of carbs.
So, when following a keto diet, 80% (or more) of your total calories will come from fats, while only 5-10% will come from carbs, the rest being protein. In other words, only 20-50 grams of carbs per day are allowed.
So, when following a keto diet, you will eliminate foods like pasta, bread, soda, sweets, but also most fruits, and most starchy vegetables. You must be wondering what's left? Keep reading, and you will find out.
Food #1: Eggs
Eggs are keto-friendly, as they have zero carbs, and are packed with protein and fats. But, what makes eggs awesome is that they are super nutritious, tasty, but also incredibly flexible and cheap. You are already eating a lot of them even if you are not following a keto regimen, which will make your transition to keto a bit easier, as you can get to enjoy them even more.
You will find less than 1 gram of carbs per egg, with about 6 grams of protein, and everything else fat. Eggs are also highly satiating and will keep you full for longer, making them an excellent choice for a healthy breakfast. Also, because they have a high protein count, eggs will support your workouts, fueling your muscle growth with needed amino acids.
Food #2: Cheese
What goes good with eggs? Cheese and bacon (we will get to that later)! The combo is a perfect breakfast that will keep you full deep into the afternoon, which will help you lose even more fat.
Cheese is keto-friendly too, at least most kinds. Cheese is mostly fat, and contains protein too, with very little carbs. Cottage cheese, for example, has only 3.4 grams of carbs per 100 grams, which is much less than you will eat in a portion.
Cheese also supports bones and muscles, as it is a good source of calcium and has protein, making it an excellent post-workout meal.
Food #3: Meat
We mentioned bacon, but any kind of meat is keto-friendly, as it contains no carbs, but a lot of protein and fat, depending on the type. In fact, because the meat is calorie-dense, it will be a staple of your diet, if you choose to go keto-way.
You can choose any type of meat you like: pork, poultry, beef, it all works. But, if you can, try choosing less-processed options, and if possible, from grass-fed animals. Chicken meat, for example, is one of the healthiest but is also very affordable, and flexible, as you can use it to make it basically any kind of dish.
Eating meat is also excellent as it has a high bioavailability, which means our body can reap the most benefits from eating it. Meat supports muscles, but is also a source of healthy fats (if you choose right), and has micronutrients that support the immune system. So, if you are not vegan or vegetarian, eating meat should definitely be the staple of your keto diet.
Food #4: Seafood
While you are eating a lot of meat, eggs, and cheese, even if you are not following a ketogenic diet, you are probably not eating enough seafood, which is a big mistake.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which are excellent for cardiovascular health, but also support weight loss. They are also great for brain health, and this, combined with the brain boost many keto dieters report, will turn you into a fat-burning and learning machine.
Seafood is also rich in protein and healthy fats but has a very low carb count. Shrimp and crabs are almost entirely carb-free, while 100 grams of shellfish can contain up to 7 grams of carbs, depending on the kind.
All things considered, you should embrace seafood, and especially fish, as it is keto-friendly and extremely healthy. Try eating fish at least twice per week, more if possible.
Food #5: Keto-Friendly Vegetables
If vegetables are green, they are most likely keto-friendly, that's a general rule. Pretty much all non-starchy veggies are fine when following a keto.
When you read the carb count of most vegetables, you will get the wrong picture of how they are not keto-friendly. But, most of those carbs come from fiber, which passes through the digestive tract undigested. In fact, fiber is incredibly healthy for gut health, and because it stays in the tract for long, it will keep you full.
Besides fiber, veggies are a great source of antioxidants, but also vitamins and minerals, and are incredibly healthy. They support the immune system and fight diseases, including cancer.
You can eat all kinds of greens such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, peppers. As for the below-ground veggies, you need to be more careful, and only use them for food flavor. Carrots and onions contain 7-8 grams of carbs per 100 grams, which can quickly add up.
The veggies you need to avoid are potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, peas, beans, chickpeas... While these are dense in calories, cheap, and will fill you up quickly, they are carb-bombs and can put you out of ketosis very quickly.
Food #6: Oils
Oils are essentially concentrated plant fats, which automatically makes them keto-friendly. They are also dense in calories, which is a good thing, as it will keep you full. Just make sure you are not putting too much oil on your food, as you need to maintain a caloric deficit if you are interested in losing weight.
Also, try choosing healthy oils. Olive oil and coconut oil are the best choices. Olives are awesome and are a great source of monosaturated fats, incredibly healthy for the heart. It is also rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that can create problems in the body.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, is rich in MCT, which is directly converted into ketones, speeding up your ketosis transition and feeding the brain. This makes coconut oil the best choice for people who are following a keto regimen.
Food #7: Coffee
The good news is that unsweetened coffee contains no carbs. The same goes for tea. Because you are probably drinking coffee and tea every day, knowing that you can continue doing so is a big plus if you are looking to start with keto.
But, make sure you are drinking unsweetened variants of these drinks. So no cappuccino, frappuccino, mocha, or similar, those are filled with carbs. Your best option is black coffee or espresso shots. And if you must use sweeteners, try stevia, or use full cream, but no sugar.
Food #8: Avocados
Avocados are a superfood, and no keto ingredient list can go without them. They do contain carbs, but most of it is fiber, which means that 100 grams of avocados contain only 2 grams of net carbs.
Avocados are filled with vitamins and minerals, but also healthy fats and some protein. They are a great source of potasium, an electrolyte many people who follow the keto diet are deficient in. They decrease the bad (LDL) cholesterol, keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, and are a great source of antioxidants.
All in all, if you are not eating avocados, you better start doing it, as it is one of the healthiest foods known to man.
Bottom Line: Keto Lets You Eat Many Of Your Favorite Foods
Although restrictive, as you can't eat a lot of carbs, the keto diet is flexible, as it gives you the opportunity to create your own menu. As you can see from above, the vast majority of the foods listed are already on your menu. And not only that, most of the foods you probably enjoy eating, as they are an essential part of Western diets anyway. That will make transitioning to keto a bit easier, as you don't have to sacrifice everything you like.
Sure, it won't be easy to ditch bread, pasta, and sweets, but once you start noticing results, and get used to ketosis, you will stop thinking about those (junk) foods, and start enjoying your new lifestyle even more. All it takes is patience, and as soon as the full ketosis kicks in, you will never look back!