What to eat on the keto diet? You would think that a keto diet menu would be awfully limited – but in fact, you can eat delicious food on the keto diet.
The keto diet is limited as far as carbohydrates are concerned, but when it comes to what to eat on the keto diet, you’d be surprised at how many delicious options you have.
Assuming a keto diet is a diet of up to 50 grams of carbs per day, there are basically keto substitutions for every high carb item you’ve ever craved – except maybe for sugary fruit.
What should be the basis of your keto diet
Even though you can create wonderful bread-like items and desserts on the keto diet, the basis of your diet should be truly nourishing foods.
So the base of your diet would include fatty meats, poultry with skin, fatty fish, aged cheeses, nuts and nut butters, healthy fats (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, heavy cream), low starch veggies and berries.
In terms of keto macros, I’m not very strict about them, but generally you want to keep your carbs at around 10% of total calories, protein around 20%, and fat around 70%. There are many apps that let you enter your food each day and make sure you’re on track.
An ideal day on the keto diet would look like this:
Breakfast – 2 eggs fried in butter, 2 strips bacon, 1/2 cup raspberries, coffee with 1 tablespoon cream.
Lunch – lettuce wrap sandwich.
Dinner – 8oz ribeye, 1 cup steamed broccoli topped with 1 tablespoon butter, a square of 90% chocolate.
The nutritional breakdown for this day: 1780 calories, 140g fat (71% of calories), 39g carbs (8% of calories), 16g fiber, 95g protein (21% of calories).
You don’t typically need to snack on the keto diet because your blood sugar becomes very stable, but you can add a couple of snacks if you wish – 1/4 cup almonds and an ounce of sharp cheddar.
What about keto baked goods and desserts?
This is where things get a bit dicey.
Is this menu low carb? Sure it is. Is it healthy and nourishing? Not really.
So when it comes to what to eat on the keto diet, it’s far better to rely on whole foods. Which is actually true for every diet.
Can I eat low-carb junk and still reap the benefits of the keto diet?
For many who are severely insulin resistant and hormonally imbalanced, just lowering their carb intake brings significant weight loss and improvement in symptoms such as PCOS, high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose. So theoretically, you could eat a highly processed, nutrient-poor ketogenic diet and still enjoy improved health, at least in the short term.
But in the long term, and a low carb diet is a long-term commitment to your health, you really should focus on nourishing your body and not just on lowering carbs.
So… What to eat on the keto diet?
The ideal keto diet is a diet of whole foods.
1. Meat, poultry, seafood and eggs should be the basis of your diet. These foods are nutrient-dense, and the vitamins and minerals they provide are highly bioavailable. It is very likely that humans have evolved getting most of their calories from meat. Meat, especially ruminant meat, is very digestible and almost never causes allergies (except in the case of a tick-induced allergy).
2. Plants. Enhance your meat-based diet with low-starch vegetables and low-sugar fruit (mostly berries).
3. Nuts and aged cheese are OK in moderation, although they can sometimes lead to weight loss stalls and even to weight gain, so if you run into trouble, try eliminating them and see what happens.
5. Sweeteners. Try to limit sweeteners as much as possible – including sugar alcohols and stevia. The best thing you can do on a keto diet is give up sweet tasting foods, in exchange for low-carb fatty foods. Many low carbers say that bacon is their candy now – and I know exactly what they mean. If you keep eating sweet tasting foods – even low carb ones – you will keep craving them, and you will tend to choose processed, artificially sweetened foods over whole foods.
Weaning yourself off sweet is very difficult for the first few weeks, but after a short while, you get used to it. Your palate changes, and highly sweetened foods become off-putting.
If you must have something sweet at the end of a meal, enjoy a small cup of berries, or a square of very dark chocolate.
To be perfectly honest here, I succeeded in weaning myself off keto desserts for about a year, but then slowly added them back in. So it really is a very difficult thing to do.
6. Limit fat bombs. A concoction of coconut oil, an artificial sweetener and perhaps some melted chocolate or nut butter, your typical fat bomb delivers an unfavorable ratio of calories to nutrients.
Basically, a fat bomb is a tasty way to consume fat, but the fat is devoid of nutrients. In contrast, when you eat a fatty steak such as ribeye, the fat comes with the goodness of the steak – red meat supplies us with (to name a few) vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B6.
Enjoy your food!
The worst thing about low fat diets is that they lack flavor. No one can be expected to eat boiled chicken breasts and dressing-free salads for more than a few weeks. That’s why these diets always fail.
So what to eat on the keto diet? Eat tasty, fatty, whole foods. Keep it simple. Avoid processed junk and sweet foods as much as you can. Keep your carbs below 50g but other than that don’t obsess too much about your macros. And enjoy your food! The keto diet is delicious and very sustainable, unlike the flavorless low fat diet.