The main principle of the keto diet is to maintain the metabolic state at which the body uses fat as a source of daily energy rather than carbohydrates. In order to do this, entire food groups like carbohydrates and sugar must be eliminated to maintain the ketosis state.
According to the medically accredited website Healthline, the keto diet typically limits carbs to 20 to 50 grams per day.
The initial restriction of entire food groups can be challenging when starting out on the plan but this selective diet does allow for a number of nutritious and filling recipes.
With everything from bread to some fruits being banned on the keto plan, these are the foods you can eat while following this controversial diet.
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While cheese, red meat and dairy products are often restricted in other diets, the keto diet encourages the consumption of animal protein on a daily basis.
Lower carb cheese options like feta, cottage cheese, camembert and cheddar are just some of the delicious items that are part of the keto diet, along with manchego, mozzarella, halloumi and brie.
Other animal proteins which are permitted on the ketogenic diet include:
- Seafood – salmon, sardines, mackerel are particularly low carb and high in omega-3 fats
- Meat and poultry – fresh options contain no carbs and are packed with B vitamins, minerals and protein
- Eggs – an extremely healthy protein source linked to feelings of fullness and good eye health
- Plain/ Greek yoghurt
- Butter and cream
Vegetables are a staple in every diet and are an excellent source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and chard are packed with vitamin K and iron and should be added to bulk out meals without increasing the carbohydrate count.
Salad greens, cooking greens and fresh herbs like thyme, sage, oregano, dill basil and lemongrass are all keto-friendly options.
All peppers ranging from small, spicy jalapenos to bell peppers are flavourful keto vegetables which offer a high dose of vitamin C – in fact, one bell pepper can provide 107 percent of the daily dose of this essential vitamin, says Healthline.
Keto friendly vegetables also include:
- Courgette, aubergine
- Avocados, olives
- Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts
- Cabbage, celery, turnips
- Mushrooms, tomatoes, radishes
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Vegetables to avoid on the keto diet
Non starchy vegetables should be your main source of greens while following the keto diet.
Leafy greens, squashes, peppers, fatty avocados and olives are all good options to add to your meals.
While vegetables are encouraged in most diets, there are a few that should be avoided on the keto diet.
High-carb varieties like potatoes and sweet potatoes should not be consumed as it could disrupt the body’s ketogenic state.
Onions, butternut squash, corn and beetroot should also be left out of your meal plan.
Can you eat fruit on the keto diet?
Most fruits are too high in sugar and carbohydrates to be eaten on the keto diet but berries – especially strawberries are an exception to this.
Blackberries and blueberries are also low-carb options that are loaded with antioxidants, though these should be eaten sparingly on stricter diets
Oils, fats and spreads
Much like avocado and olives, olive oil has impressive benefits for the heart when consumed in moderation.
High in oleic acid and antioxidants, extra-virgin olive oil works to protect the heart by decreasing inflammation, says Healthline.
Pure fat sources make the ideal base for salad dressings and healthier mayonnaise recipes while following the keto diet.
Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil butter and ghee are all allowed on the keto diet as they follow the low-carb, high-fat requirements.
Nuts and sweet treats
Snacking on nuts and pure dark chocolate while on the keto diet is fine to do and it won’t throw you off track with your low carb plan.
Nuts offer a good source of fibre while being high fat and low in carbohydrates.
Almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds are great sources of heart-healthy snacks while looking to lose weight on the keto diet.
Cocoa and dark chocolate are a delicious source of antioxidants that can tackle high blood pressure and keep arteries healthy, says Healthline.
You should only eat dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 70 percent cocoa solids to ensure you are consuming this sweet treat in its purest, low-sugar form.
Enjoy a homemade trail mix with berries, nuts and dark chocolate pieces for a keto snack.