You probably already know the formula of the Keto diet – around 70 per cent fat, 20 per cent protein and 10 per cent carbohydrates – so let’s take a deeper dive into the specific foods that fit into those categories, to help you get the balance right.
Firstly, it’s important to understand why your food choices are so important. The Keto diet is designed to force your body to bypass sugar that comes from carbohydrates and instead use Ketone bodies for fuel (a process called Ketosis). Ketone bodies are produced by the liver from stored fat – which is why the Keto diet’s fat intake is so high and its carbohydrate intake is so restricted. Protein intake is set at a moderate amount because eating too much of it can interfere with Ketosis.
Here are some great Keto foods to reach for, and a list of those to avoid.
What to eat on Keto
- Meat: Go for unprocessed meats, as these are low in carbohydrates, but don’t overdo it (too much meat can take you out of Ketosis). Great Keto dinners may include fatty, flavoursome meats such as pork belly, lamb and chicken with the skin on.
- Fish: The fattier, the better. Salmon, sardines, tuna and trout are all great sources of omega-3s – an essential fatty acid.
- Eggs: These make for a great Keto breakfast – they’re low in carbohydrate, a great source of protein and very filling.
- Oils and sauces: Using butter or coconut oil in cooking can help get your fat intake up, as can adding olive oil or high-fat sauces to salads.
- Dairy: Butter, cheese and yoghurts are encouraged, but avoid low-fat versions of these. If you can’t find plain full-fat yoghurt, you can add fat by stirring in cream or crème fraiche.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia or pecans are great high-fat options for Keto snacks, but be careful not to go overboard with portions – moderation is key.
- Fruit: A moderate amount of berries is allowed – for maximum Keto benefits, try adding some full cream.
- Vegetables: As a general rule of thumb, vegies grown above the ground are best. That’s because, usually, these are lower in carbohydrates. Keto-friendly vegetables include spinach, tomato, olives, capsicum, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli and zucchini. Cooking them with butter and olive oil will assist with your fat targets.
- Drinks: Water is your best friend on the Keto diet. Tea and coffee are also allowed, but with no sugar and only a small amount of milk or cream. Alcohol wise, dry red or white wine are acceptable, as are spirits such as vodka, gin or whisky.
What not to eat on Keto
- Meats: Some processed meats such as sausages and cold meats can contain added carbohydrates, so check the ingredients list before consuming.
- Oils and sauces: Avoid ketchup, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, mustard and pesto, as these are higher in sugar.
- Dairy: Steer clear of low-fat dairy options, and also dodge milk, as it is high in sugar (it’s OK to use sparingly in your coffee).
- Nuts: Avoid cashews, which are high in carbohydrates.
- Fruits: Many fruits are rich in carbohydrates, so only berries are recommended on Keto.
- Vegetables: Because of their carbohydrate content, vegetables grown below the ground – including carrots, beetroot, potato, sweet potato and onion – aren’t Keto friendly.
- Drinks: Beer, milkshakes, soft drinks, energy drinks, smoothies, vitamin water, iced tea and orange juice aren’t allowed.