The Ketogenic Diet Food List 
(Everything You Need to Know about Keto Food)

The benefits of a ketogenic diet are extensively researched and documented. Whether you are trying to lose weight, control your blood glucose level or just improve your energy levels, a keto diet can help you do it all. As a result, it is gaining popularity as a safe and effective way to lose weight and stay healthy.
Despite its popularity, many people find it difficult to keep up with a true keto diet. Although most people can wrap their minds around the general idea of a keto diet and ketosis, they seem to miss a lot of subtleties and nuances.

The most commonly misunderstood concept of a keto diet is, ironically, food! Many people struggle to decide whether a particular food is okay to consume while on a keto diet. Confusing food labels can make the situation even worse.

So, if you are considering a keto diet and feel overwhelmed and confused about what you can and can't eat, it is entirely understandable. But the question is, what can you do to sort thing out?

Well, now that you are here are reading this, you have already taken the first step in the right direction!

A simple ketogenic lunch, quick and easy

How to Read Food Labels

Food labels are like miniskirts; they hide much more than they reveal! Although there is a lot of information on a food label, don't get me wrong, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Read Food Labels

If you want to achieve and maintain ketosis, you need to pay extra attention to these food labels. Many important questions need to be asked while reading a nutrition label. Questions like "How many carbs qualify as 'low-carb'?" or "What other components besides sugars should be counted toward total carbs?" are quite important.

So, let's analyze what information is provided on a nutrition label.

A. The serving size

One of the oldest tricks in the book that manufacturers use to downplay the carb content and calorific value of a food item is by cleverly using the term 'serving size.'

Let me elaborate:

We all can agree that potato chips are not the healthiest food items that you can eat, right? If you take a look at the nutrition label of any leading brand of potato chips, you will see that the "total carbohydrates" are around 15 grams. Well, that sounds quite okay, you say.

Sure, but take a load of this, those 15 grams are carbs are not present in the entire package, they are present in 15 chips! That makes it 1 gram of carbs per chip!

You see how the serving sizes are important to note?

Hence, it is always a good idea to make sure that you understand how many carbs or fats or proteins are present 'per-serving' and measure the food accordingly.

Sometimes, the serving sizes are indicated regarding weight rather than conventional measurements such as cups. The best approach in that situation is to weigh your portions out using a kitchen scale.

Another important thing to note is that if there are less than a gram of carbs per serving in a food item, it is labeled as having "0 grams of carbs". For instance, one tablespoon of heavy cream has about 0.5 grams of carbs in it. However, it is labeled as having 0 grams of carbs. Now imagine if you are eating ten tablespoons of heavy cream thinking that you don't have to worry about the carbs, you would be making a mistake.

The ten tablespoons of heavy cream that at contain about 5 grams of carbs and not zero as you may have thought.

B. The total calories

The next entry on a nutrition label is the total calories. Although a keto diet does not pay much emphasis on the total caloric intake, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the number of calories you are consuming anyway.

So, you can have an idea of how many calories each serving of the food item has in this section of the label. We use a food scale to weigh food for more accuracy

C. The total fats

Fats are not an issue in the ketogenic diet, generally speaking. However, three types of fats are labeled in this section of a nutrition label.

As a rule of thumb, you want to limit the consumption of saturated fats in your diet. The best way to add fats to your diet is by selecting foods with a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated fats. That said, a keto diet does not forbid you from eating saturated fats. Just keep them in low proportion compared to the unsaturated ones.

However, when it comes to trans fats, you want none of them whatsoever. The good news is that most of the products on the market don't contain trans fats in the first place. But still, keep an eye out for them and if you find them on any nutrition label, stay the heck away from that food item!

D. The Carbohydrates

It is the section of a nutrition label that is most vital for someone on a keto diet. There are several sub-sections in this part of the label. Let's take a look at them on-by-one.

i) Total carbs

It is one of the first things that you should be looking at. If the total carbohydrate content is too high, don't even bother going any further.

Just put it back where it came from on the shelf!

Again, how much is too high, depends on your individual needs. But, if one serving contains a bulk of your quota of carbs for a day, just forget that food item and move on.


ii) Fibers, sugars and sugar alcohols

The next sections indicate the amounts of fibers, sugar and sugar alcohol per serving. The carbohydrate missing from the label is starch. Starches are not included on food labels, but they are counted toward total carbs.

A high sugar content is always bad. It increases the level of glucose in the blood after ingestion and drives up the glycemic index of the food. So, avoid added sugar as much as possible.

Fiber, on the other hand, is your friend. Dietary fiber can't be broken down in your digestive tract and passes through. However, what fiber does is that it slows down the absorption of carbs. That way, your blood glucose levels don't spike as much and you get a flatter curve of blood glucose level.

As dietary fiber is still counted toward the total carbs, but we can't digest it, you should subtract the amount of dietary fiber from the total carbs. So, for example, if a food item contains 10 grams of total carbs and 4 grams of dietary fiber, the total usable carbs will be 6 grams.

Sugar alcohols such as erythritol or maltitol are also counted toward total carbs in a food label. Most sugar alcohols such as maltitol can contribute to blood glucose level and should not be subtracted from the total carbs.

That said, Erythritol is the only sugar alcohol that does not affect the blood glucose level and hence can be subtracted from the total carbs.

E. Proteins

The next section on the food label represents the protein per serving of the food item. A keto diet allows up to 20% caloric intake to come from proteins. However, an excess amount of protein can be converted to glucose in the body and throw you out of ketosis. Hence, keep a close eye on the amount of protein per serving of the food item.

F. Vitamins and Minerals

As there is no particular vitamin or mineral requirement in a keto diet, you can stick to the recommended daily allowance limits.

Be careful while buying low-carb or carb-free products

If you are new to a keto diet, you will notice that there are several products out there that use deceptive marketing strategies to trick you into buying them. You will see things like zero-carb or no-carb printed in bold to lure customers. While some products may be 'lower' in their carb content, there is nothing that is totally carb-free if it is not purely made from fat or meat.

​You might want to consider a multivitamin.

The bottom line is:

Pay an extra attention while buying these products. Make sure that you are reading the nutrition label correctly and making an educated choice while buying these products.

Now that you know how to read a nutrition label let's take a closer look at some of the food groups and their nutritional benefits in a keto diet.

Fats and Oils

We will start off our list of ketogenic foods of with Fats and oils, which are perhaps the most important food groups when it comes to a keto diet. Foods that are rich in fats can provide a lot of calories that you need without causing the characteristic insulin spike that is associated with a high carb food.

A ketogenic diet typically will have anywhere between 70-85% of the calories supplied by fat. That's a huge chunk of your daily caloric intake. Hence, you must pay close attention to the 'kind' of fat that you are consuming.

omega six food

For instance, if you rely on just a single source of fat, you may miss out on some key benefits. Omega 6 fatty acids are notorious for causing a mild inflammation within the body. If you consume fats that are rich in these fatty acids exclusively, you may see some digestive issues.

Oils that are rich in omega six fatty acids include Soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and canola oil. Although these are good in moderation, make sure that they are not your exclusive source of fats on a keto diet.

The Balance Between Omega 6 and Omega 3

Both the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are sometimes called polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA. They are necessary for your diet, but a balance between these two is also essential.

You should try to strike a balance between the omega 6 and omega 3 in such a way that your diet does not contain an overwhelmingly high amount of either of them. The best way forward is to mix and match your fats so that you don't rely on any one source entirely.

What About Saturated Fats?

There is a misguided notion floating around that saturated fats are bad for your health. However, there is a little truth to it. The whole idea that saturated fats cause heart disease started in the 70s with the publication of a study called "The Seven Country Study." Researchers of this study wrongfully correlated the increased risk of coronary heart disease with consumption of fats in seven countries of the world. While they considered the fats that the people consumed, they neglected several other factors including the amount of sugar they were consuming.

Years later, this study is still not accepted by a majority of the scientific community, but the damage was already done. The notion that saturated fats increase the risk of coronary disease was so deeply rooted in the society that people started running away from any saturated fat.

Numerous studies since then have concluded that there is little to no connection between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. In fact, saturated fats can be good for your overall health.

Some of the benefits of saturated fats include:
stimulate the liver cellssaturated fats can boost the testosterone

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    Saturated fats stimulate the liver cells or hepatocytes to stop storing fat, and as a result, they work more efficiently.
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    It is also believed that the saturated fatty acids in butter and coconut oil can help stimulate the immune system.
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    It is also shown in some studies that eating saturated fats can boost the testosterone levels that help in muscle building and damage control.

So, the point is this:

Saturated fats are not bad for you at all, and you should not avoid them altogether. Although I don't condone eating a ton of saturated fats, eating them in moderation is not bad at all.

What Fats are Bad for You?

Butter Food Cake

Not all type of fat is good for you though. Hydrogenated fats such as margarine, or hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans-fats that are horrible for your health. Avoid them like the plague!

If you want to include vegetable oils in your diet, make sure they are 'cold-pressed.' If you want to use oils for cooking, make sure that you are not using vegetable oils with a low smoking point.

Lard, beef tallow, coconut oil and ghee can be used for frying as well.

Here are some of the best sources of fats that you should include in your diet:

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    Avocado oil
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    Coconut oil
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    Ghee (clarified butter)
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    Seed oils including sesame oil and flaxseed oil (high in omega six fatty acids; limit intake)
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    Beef tallow
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    Duck or chicken fat
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    Organic olive oil
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    Peanut oil (high in omega six fatty acids; limit intake)


Protein is also an important source of calories in a keto diet. Although a high protein diet has many fans, it is not a truly keto diet.

You see, if you consume too much protein in your diet and cut down carbs and fats, your body will just convert the proteins into glucose. That completely defeats the purpose of a keto diet. You will never be able to reach the state of ketosis if your diet contains an excessive amount of protein.

That said, some proteins are needed for your body to repair and do damage control. So, eliminating protein is as bad as going on an extremely high protein diet.

While choosing protein source, you need to keep in mind the balance between the fats and protein in the said source. An ideal protein source will have a healthy balance between fats and proteins in it. An example includes a fatty cut of meat.

There are several sources of protein to choose from on a keto diet. Some of the sources that offer the best benefits include the following.


Meat and poultry are the staples of a keto diet. These foods provide the right balance between fats and proteins. Fresh meat is rich in Vitamin B and other micronutrients as well.

Besides, meat has one of the highest quality of protein that you can consume. The reason you are eating protein in the first place is the amino acids, and meat (animal protein) has all the essential amino acids that you need. Compared to other plant-based protein, animal protein has a better ratio of essential amino acids.

Meat Meal

However, there is one crucial fact that you should always consider while selecting meat; make sure that it comes from grass-fed animals. It is a known fact that animals that are grass-fed produce meat that is rich in the beneficial omega three fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, and other antioxidants.


Egg Muffin

Eggs are one of your best friends when it comes to a keto diet. They are high in protein and contain less than a gram of carbs per egg. The protein content of the egg is also manageable at just about 6 grams.

However, one of the best things about eggs is that they induce a feeling of satiety. After eating eggs, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin that makes you feel fuller for a longer time.

Your blood glucose levels don't spike after eating an egg, and your caloric intake is also reduced.

Many people seem to think that the best part of an egg is egg-white and that the yolk is not good for you. On the contrary, most of the nutrients of an egg are found in its yolk. So, make sure that you are eating the entire egg and not just the egg whites.

There is also lots of misinformation about egg yolk and cholesterol. Many people have this notion that eating yolk will raise their cholesterol level and they completely avoid eating the yolk. As a matter of fact, while egg yolks are high in cholesterol, consuming them does not cause an increase in cholesterol in most people. Furthermore, some latest scientific data suggests that eating the whole egg can, in fact, improve your lipid profile and increase the good cholesterol (LDL).

So, there is no problem with eating some eggs, and they can be incorporated without fear in a keto diet.


Seafood including fish, shellfish are excellent sources of protein in a keto diet. Fish like salmon is rich in vitamins and other micronutrients such as selenium and potassium. And the best part is that they have very little carb content.

If you are a fan of shellfish, there is some good news for you too. Shrimps and some crabs contain next to no carbs. However, a few other shellfish do contain some carbs, albeit in moderate amounts.

You can include seafood in your keto diet but pay attention to the carbs in some shellfish such as clams (5 grams of carbs), Oysters (4 grams of carbs) and mussels (7 grams of carbs).


The best option is fatty fishes such as salmon and mackerel. These fishes are high in omega three fatty acids and contain virtually zero carbs.

Here is a list of the best protein-rich foods that you can consume that will not throw you out of ketosis.

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    Meat such as beef, pork, lamb, goat, wild game
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    Poultry such as chicken, quail, duck, turkey, goose, and pheasant
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    Fishes such as salmon, mackerel, cod, halibut, sardine, mahi-mahi, trout, tuna, herring, catfish, anchovies, and flounder
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    Shellfish such as crabs, lobsters, shrimp, scallop, squid, oysters, and mussels (make sure to count the carbs in some shellfish as we mentioned earlier)
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    Whole eggs (remember it's whole eggs including the yolk)

Fruits and Veggies

Some fruits and vegetables are certainly not off limits on a keto diet. Non-starchy vegetables can be a great addition to a keto diet.

Veggies such as fresh organic spinach is an excellent source of vital micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. It is rich in fiber that is not absorbed by your body and hence does not count toward the total carb intake.

Although most fresh veggies, especially the green, leafy kind, are low in the net carb content, some others such as potatoes or yams are not. As a matter of fact, a single serving of potatoes or yams can throw you off your daily carb limit just like that. So, make sure that when you are eating veggies, you strictly avoid the starchy kind.

Another benefit of eating vegetables is that they contain several antioxidants that play a vital role in ensuring overall health. Veggies such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are also shown to be effective in lowering the risk of various heart diseases.

keto vegetables that fit in with the diet

Low carb veggies can also be used to replace other high carb-containing food items. For instance, you can replace rice with cauliflower that contains only a fraction of carbs of the rice.

When it comes to fruits, however, the story is a bit different. Most fruits are quite high in carbs. A single apple, for instance, has as much as 10 grams of sugar!

That said, there are some fruits that you can occasionally enjoy on a keto diet. Fruits such as berries are lower in carbs compared to some other fresh fruit and can be included in a keto diet, but only in moderation.

Here are some of the best vegetables and fruits that you can include in your keto diet:

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    Brussels sprouts
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  • Make sure that you stick to the green leafy veggies as much as you can. Limit roots and tubers such as potatoes, yams, and carrots to a minimum as they are rich in carbs.
  • Fermented veggies such as Kimchi and Sauerkraut are also a great addition but in moderation. They can add a dash of flavor and supply a host of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in your diet. However, make sure that you understand the carb content. Some fermented veggies contain added sugar and starches as well.

Dairy Products

Dairy Products

Most dairy products can be added with little problem to a keto diet. However, when adding a dairy product, make sure that you are using the full-fat version and not the skim version.

One of the biggest traps to avoid while selecting a dairy product for a keto diet is processed dairy. On the face of it, these products may seem enticing, but most of them contain a ton of added sugar and starches to make them taste good. Stay clear of these products.

Try to incorporate as many raw dairy products in your diet as possible. For instance, rather than using a flavored yogurt that is sweetened with a ton of sugar and contains various starches as stabilizers, go for whole milk instead.

A. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese

Some of the best dairy options for a ketogenic lifestyle include cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt. These food items do contain some carbs, but they can be added to a keto diet for their protein and fat content.

A single serving of full-fat Greek yogurt contains 5 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. On the other hand, a single serving of cottage cheese provides the same amount of carbs with 18 grams of protein.

The best part of eating these food items is that both of them are known to decrease appetite and promote satiety (feeling of fullness after a meal). They also serve as excellent vehicles for chopped nuts, and some low carb fruits as well.

B. Cheeses

One of the most delicious dairy products is cheese of any kind, and the good news is, that cheeses are not off limits in a keto diet!

Most of the hundreds of types of cheeses are low in carbs while high in protein and fats. For instance, one ounce of cheddar contains just one gram of carbs and 7 grams of protein.

Cheeses are also high in fat content that promotes a feeling of fullness. Although they contain a higher proportion of saturated fat, they are not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, they contain conjugated linoleic acid that improves body composition and has been shown to promote weight loss. Furthermore, cheeses can help slow down the age-related muscle loss.

C. Butter and Cream

Both butter and cream contain only a trace amount of carbs and a whole lot of healthy fats. Despite the irrational fears of the saturated fats, both butter and cream have been shown not to increase the risk of heart disease.

As a matter of fact, some studies have even suggested that consuming moderate amounts of butter, ghee, and cream may promote heart health.

So, the point is:

Dairy can be included in a ketogenic diet. However, as always, make sure that you understand the carbo-load of these products before you decide to add them to your diet.

Here are some of the best dairy products that you can add to your diet:

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    Whole milk
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    Whole milk cheeses
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    Greek yogurt
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    Cottage cheese
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Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds can be a great healthy snack on a keto diet. They are low in carbs and high in fats which make them a perfect snack food item in a keto diet. Apart from the low carb content, nuts have several other health benefits as well.

For instance, consuming nuts frequently has been shown to reduce the risk of various diseases including cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Nuts are also rich in fiber as well. They can also induce a feeling of satiety and reduce the number of calories consumed, which is a good thing.

So, in a nut-shell, nuts are great…get it?!

My poor attempt at comedy aside, nuts are a great option for keto diet, but they come with a mild warning as well.

As with vegetable oils, nuts are also rich in fats containing omega six fatty acids which are known to cause inflammation throughout the body and gastric disturbances. So, while nuts in moderation are a good thing, they are not a very good idea to be used for an entire meal!

Most nuts and seeds contain between zero to about 8 grams of carbs per ounce.

Here is a list of some of the healthiest nuts and seeds that you can consume in a keto diet:

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    Brazil nuts
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    Pumpkin seeds
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    Chia seeds
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    Sesame seeds
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    Macadamia nuts
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Water and Beverages

Water is crucial when you are on a ketogenic diet. When your body enters the state of ketosis, you tend to urinate more often; a process called diuresis. One of the immediate effects of this is that you start losing more water than usual.

To stay hydrated on a keto diet, you must increase your water intake. If you are prone to bladder and urinary tract infections, a keto diet can be especially taxing.

Make sure you are drinking the recommended eight glasses of water and then some more. I recommend drinking as much as a gallon of water a day to ensure that you are not dehydrated during the keto diet.

Also, drinking a ton of water at one time is not ideal either. What you need to do is drink water more frequently in smaller portions.

I am sure you must have heard about the dreaded Keto-Flu that is one of the worst things about a keto diet, right? Well, guess what, one of the reasons of the keto-flu is the lack of hydration. People who enter ketosis for the first time, fail to maintain the hydration of their bodies, making the symptoms of the keto-flu unbearable.

Make sure that you are consuming enough water to account for the diuretic effect of ketosis and you will be okay.

Water and Beverages

What About Tea or Coffee?


Beverages such as tea or coffee are allowed on a keto diet. 

The caffeine in these drinks can help to kickstart your metabolism in the morning.

Furthermore, tea or coffee can be a great vehicle for some heavy cream.

However, make sure that you stay as far away as possible from the heavily sweetened lattes and mochas.


While alcohol is not completely barred from a keto diet, you should choose hard liquor over beer and cocktails. Alcohol and ketosis CAN mix but there are a lot of carbs in most alcohol. Avoid the glass of wine in the evening as well.

Alcohol will deepen your ketosis, but it will also slow down your weight loss. Alcohol behaves similarly to ketone bodies once it is consumed. It is used by the body to generate energy over fat and ketone bodies.

As a result, your body will not be burning fat as long as you supply it with alcohol. So, if you want to lose weight, make sure you are avoiding alcohol. (until someone invents a ketogenic diet alcohol)

alcohol in diet

In case you do want to occasionally indulge, here is a list of some of the alcoholic drinks that you can add to a keto diet:

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    Dry Red wine
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    Dry White Wine


  • If you are planning on mixing your drinks with some cider or seltzer water, make sure that you know the carb content before you decide.
  • Avoid the alcohols and mixers that contain a high carbohydrate load such as Schnapps (9.8-gram carbs), Margarita mix (10-gram carbs), Bailey's (11.3 grams carbs)

Spices, Condiments, Sweeteners, and Sauces

Spices Condiments

Spices and condiments can make the food tasty and exciting. Luckily, as long as you are not overdoing them, some spices and condiments are allowed on a keto diet. That said, some condiments do contain considerable amounts of added carbs, and you should exercise caution in selecting them.

The best way to include spices is to use them in their raw, unprocessed form. Rather than using a store-bought dressing, you can make your own with fresh herbs and spices.

Most spices will have a varying amount of carbs in them. So, while adding copious amounts, make sure that you are noting the carbs down. Most pre-made spice mixes contain dextrose or other starches added to them. Avoid such mixes as much as possible.

Evan if you decide to include a pre-mix spice blend, make sure that you know what you are getting.

What About Condiments and Sauces?

Condiments and Sauces

Condiments such as ketchup, mustard or dressings are delicious and can make any food taste good. However, they are highly processed foods and contain a ton of sugar.

Sauces are a gray area in a keto diet. While you should avoid eating premade, store-bought sauces at all cost, some homemade sauces can be okay.

For instance, you can make your condiments and sauces that are low in carbs rather than buying stuff from the supermarket.

Here are some spices, condiments, and sauces that you can consider adding to a keto diet:

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    Hot sauce
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    Worcestershire sauce
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    Cayenne pepper
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    Yellow mustard
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    Chili powder
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    Low sugar ketchup
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    Relish (some brands contain high fructose corn syrup; avoid those)


While some people may not need them, most of us do need some or the other form of sweetener in some dishes and beverages. Although the best way is to stay as far as possible from any sweetener, that can be a difficult thing to do for many, including yours truly!

So, what is the alternative? Well, the good news is, there are some sweeteners that you can use in moderation over sugar in a keto diet.

Stevia Sweeteners

As far as possible, go for the liquid sweeteners as they do not contain any added ingredients. You see, when a serving of an artificial sweetener contains less than a gram of carbs, they can claim it to be carb-free, as we saw earlier. So, while choosing an artificial sweetener, you are better off selecting the one with the least additives.

Here are some of the more common artificial sweeteners that you can try on a keto diet:

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    Monk Fruit

Foods to Avoid

As important as it is to know what to eat, it is equally important to know what not to in a keto diet. If you have stuck with me this far, you have a pretty good idea about the foods that are perfect for a keto diet. But what about the foods that should be completely avoided?

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    Starch of any kind
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    Low-fat and fat-free foods
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Fatty foods

Well, let's talk about that.

Although it is relatively easy to spot the strictly "no" foods in a keto diet, some food items can be a bit difficult to categorize. If you are still wondering about them, here is a list of food items that you should totally avoid if you want to achieve ketosis.

  • Sugar: Absolutely any form of sugar- white, brown, anything. Also avoid foods containing added sugar such as baked goods, sodas, chocolates, processed food, basically anything that contains added sugar.
  • Grains: All grains are completely off-limits in a keto diet. Make sure that you are strictly avoiding any and all grains including rice, wheat, corn, rye, quinoa, buckwheat, and barley. Although some of these grains may be known as 'healthy whole grains,' they are not allowed on a keto diet.
  • Starch of any kind: There is a lot of starch in root veggies such as potatoes and yams. Avoid them as much as you can. Go for vegetables that contain carbs in moderation and as much as possible, stick with the leafy greens when it comes to veggies.
  • Fruits: Avoid large fruits that contain a lot of sugar such as bananas, apples, and oranges. Stick to berries, those too in moderation.
  • Low-fat and fat-free foods: Make sure that you are avoiding low-fat and fat-free versions of foods altogether. That includes low-fat dairy.
  • Trans-fats: Avoid trans-fats at all cost. Food items such as margarine and butter replacements contain a ton of hydrogenated oils and hence should be avoided at all costs.

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