What can you not eat on a keto diet?

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Complete Keto Diet Food List: What You Can and Cannot Eat If You’re on a Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein and very low-carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, but on a strict ketogenic diet, less than 5 percent of energy intake is from carbohydrates. The reduction of carbohydrates puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is when the body starts breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies to use for energy, in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food. Once the body reaches ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until you start eating carbohydrates again.

Traditionally, the ketogenic diet was only used in clinical settings to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. “Now there is a lot of interest in the diet’s effectiveness in helping with other neurological conditions, cancer, diabetes, PCOS , obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease,” says Emily Stone, M.S., R.D. People also eat keto to lose weight.

Even if you know that you need to eat a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet—it can be confusing to know which foods to eat. Here’s our guide to foods you can eat, foods you should avoid and foods you can sometimes have when you’re following a ketogenic diet.

Related: Ketogenic Diet 101

Foods You Can Eat on the Ketogenic Diet

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Pictured Recipe: Wedge Salad Skewers

Here is a list of all the low-carb foods that are appropriate to eat when you’re following keto.

  • Fish and seafood
  • Low-carb veggies
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • poultry
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, seeds and healthful oils
  • Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Berries
  • Unsweetened coffee and tea
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Fish and Seafood

Fish is rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium; it’s also protein-rich and carb-free. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna and other fatty fish boast high levels of omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Frequent fish intake has been linked to a decreased risk of chronic disease as well as improved mental health. Aim to consume at least two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish weekly.

Low-Carb Veggies

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Pictured Recipe: Cheesy Zucchini Breadsticks

Nonstarchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals. They also contain antioxidants that help protect against cell-damaging free radicals. Aim for nonstarchy vegetables with less than 8 g of net carbs per cup. Net carbs are total carbohydrates minus fiber. Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini and spinach fit the bill.

Cheese

Cheese has zero carbohydrates and is high in fat, making it a great fit for the ketogenic diet. It’s also rich in protein and calcium. But, a 1-ounce slice of cheese delivers about 30 percent of the daily value for saturated fat, so if you’re worried about heart disease consider portions when noshing on cheese.

Read more: 5 Reasons Cheese Is Actually Good for Your Health

Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

Yogurt and cottage cheese are high in protein and calcium-rich. Five ounces of plain Greek yogurt provides just 5 g of carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein. The same amount of cottage cheese also has 5 grams of carbohydrates with 18 grams of protein. Studies have shown that both calcium and protein can reduce appetite and promote fullness. Higher-fat yogurts and cottage cheese help keep you full for longer, and full-fat products would be part of the ketogenic diet.

Avocados

Choose heart-healthy fats like avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, a mineral many Americans are lacking. Half of a medium avocado contains 9 grams of total carbohydrates, 7 grams of which are fiber. Swapping animal fats for plant fats like avocados can help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Meat and Poultry

Meat is a source of lean protein and is considered a staple on the ketogenic diet. Fresh meat and poultry contain no carbohydrates and are rich in B vitamins and several minerals, including potassium, selenium and zinc. While processed meats, like bacon and sausage, are allowed on keto, they aren’t the best for your heart and may raise your risk of certain types of cancer if you eat too much. Choose chicken, fish and beef more often and limit processed meats.

Eggs

Eggs are high in protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Two eggs contain zero carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein. Eggs have been shown to trigger hormones that increase feelings of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable, and they also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect eye health.

Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Oils

Nuts and seeds are full of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, fiber and protein. They also are very low in net carbs. Olive oil and coconut oil are the two oils recommended on the keto diet. Olive oil is high in oleic acid and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat but contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can increase ketone production. MCTs may increase metabolic rate and promote the loss of weight and belly fat too. Measure portion sizes when consuming any type of healthy fat.

Carb counts for 1 oz. (28 g) of nuts and seeds (net carbohydrate equals total carbs minus fiber):

  • Almonds: 3 g net carbs (6 g total carbs)
  • Brazil nuts: 1 g net carbs (3 g total carbs)
  • Cashews: 8 g net carbs (9 g total carbs)
  • Macadamia nuts: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Pecans: 1 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Pistachios: 5 g net carbs (8 g total carbs)
  • Walnuts: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Chia seeds: 2 g net carbs (12 g total carbs)
  • Flaxseeds: 0 g net carbs (8 g total carbs)
  • Pumpkin seeds: 2 g net carbs (4 g total carbs)
  • Sesame seeds: 4 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)

Berries

Berries are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect against disease. They are low in carbs and high in fiber.

Carb counts for 1/2 cup of some berries:

  • Blackberries: 3 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)
  • Blueberries: 9 g net carbs (11 g total carbs)
  • Raspberries: 3 g net carbs (7 g total carbs)
  • Strawberries: 3 g net carbs (6 g total carbs)

Unsweetened Coffee and Tea

Plain coffee and tea contain zero grams of carbohydrates, fat or protein, so they are A-OK on the keto diet. Studies show coffee lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Tea is rich in antioxidants and has less caffeine than coffee; drinking tea may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, help with weight loss and boost your immune system.

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Check the label on these, as the amount of carbs depends on the type and how much you consume. Cocoa has been called a “superfruit” because it is rich in antioxidants, and dark chocolate contains flavanols, which may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and keeping arteries healthy.

List of Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet:

  • Grains
  • Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Juices
  • Honey, syrup or sugar in any form
  • Chips and crackers
  • Baked goods including gluten-free baked goods

Don’t get too discouraged. Dietitians Stone and Laura Dority, M.S., R.D., L.D., with Keto Knowledge LLC, say that no foods are really off-limits on the keto diet. It’s about total carbohydrate intake and how you choose to “spend” your carbs. Generally, you should stay under 20-40 grams of carbohydrates per day. “The exact amount needed to achieve ketosis can vary on the individual, though, with carb prescriptions ranging from 10 to 60 grams per day. This total is for net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber),” says Stone.

Dority adds, “Individuals who are really active can eat more carbs (maybe more at the 40-gram level) than someone who is sedentary.”

High-Carb Foods That Most People Avoid on the Keto Diet

Grains

Cereal, crackers, rice, pasta, bread and beer are high in carbohydrates. Even whole-wheat pasta and the new bean-based pastas are high in carbs. Consider alternatives like spiralized vegetables or shirataki noodles, which are healthier low-carb options. Sugary breakfast cereals and healthy whole-grain cereals are high in carbohydrates too and should be avoided or minimized. “A slice of bread is 11 grams of carbs on average so technically you could have one slice a day maybe but that’s spending all your carbs on pretty poor nutrition so I wouldn’t recommend it when for the same carbs you could have A LOT of veggies,” says Dority.

Beer can be enjoyed in moderation on a low-carb diet. Dry wine and spirits are better options but all alcohol should be very limited.

Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits

Starchy vegetables contain more digestible carbohydrates than fiber and should be limited on the ketogenic diet. These include corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets. Limit high-sugar fruits too, which spike your blood sugar more quickly than berries and have more carbohydrates (get a full list of low-carb fruits ranked from lowest to highest).

Carb counts for high-sugar fruits:

Carb counts for starchy vegetables:

Sweetened yogurts

Stick to plain yogurt to limit added sugars (aka carbohydrates). Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates compared to regular yogurt.

Juices

Fruit juice-natural or not-is high in fast-digesting carbs that spike your blood sugar. Stick to water.

Honey, syrup and sugar in any form

Avoid sugar, honey, maple syrup and other forms of sugar, which are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients.

Chips and crackers

Avoid chips, crackers and other processed, grain-based snack foods, which are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.

Gluten-free baked goods

Gluten-free does not equal carb-free. In fact, many gluten-free breads and muffins are as high in carbohydrates as traditional baked goods. They usually lack fiber too.

Foods and Drinks You Can Sometimes Have on the Keto Diet

You can technically have any food on the keto diet if it falls within your daily carbohydrate goal, but these foods fall in the middle between high-carb and low-carb.

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Pictured Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk

Milk

Milk is an excellent source of calcium, potassium and several B vitamins. But, 1 cup has 12 grams of sugar (lactose). Choose almond, coconut or another low-carb milk instead.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are high in fiber and protein and are part of a heart-healthy diet but are also high in carbohydrates. They may be included in small amounts on a ketogenic diet. However, it’s often recommended to avoid them altogether.

Pros of the Ketogenic Diet

“There is solid evidence to support use of the ketogenic diet in individuals with epilepsy who have seizures that are drug resistant,” says Dority. In the short term, people who follow the diet report weight loss. Dority says, “There is certainly some good recent research showing promise in disorders such as autism, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, migraines and Alzheimer’s (to name a few but the list could go on), as well as some great research on ketogenic diets and type 2 diabetes reversal including dramatically reducing insulin needs, fasting blood sugar levels, lowering A1C and obtaining significant weight loss.”

Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

“Like most highly restrictive diets, it is difficult to meet nutritional needs while doing keto,” says Stone. “It often comes with uncomfortable side effects like constipation and the ‘keto flu.’ Also, the long-term health consequences are not well understood.”

The Bottom Line

It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription, and it’s crucial to work with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting essential nutrients while maintaining ketosis. There’s promising research on the benefits of the ketogenic diet for many conditions, but some people can’t keep it up for the long haul, plus the long-term effects are poorly understood. If you decide to go keto, work with a dietitian to help you create a plan.

8 Common Keto Diet Mistakes You Could Be Getting Wrong

“In a recent study which used a ketogenic meal plan for a year, researchers saw a rise in LDL (bad cholesterol), but the change was felt to be minimal,” she says. “On the upside, they also documented a desirable increase in HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in triglyceride levels and inflammatory indicators, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.” Still, it’s a good idea to involve a dietitian or doctor in your keto diet plans so you can monitor the health impact.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of everything that can go wrong on keto, but as you can see, there are some legitimate concerns here. Which leads us to…

6. It’s traditionally a therapeutic diet-and that has implications.

The keto diet can improve your health. But it’s also not a dietary choice to make on a whim-and it’s *not* just a slightly-more-intense version of other low-carb diets.

“Although ketogenic diets have recently come into vogue, it’s incorrect to label this as an offshoot of Atkins,” says Metzgar. “Ketogenic diets have been therapeutically used for over a century to treat refractory epilepsy in children. In addition, clinical trials of ketogenic diets demonstrate that they can result in profound health improvements and medication reductions for people living with type 2 diabetes. While there are many benefits to a ketogenic diet, it does change the body’s metabolism. People should consider it more like a medical choice they plan to commit to rather than just something to ‘try.'” (And for that matter, you need to know how to safely come off the keto diet.)

7. Cheat meals on keto aren’t a thing.

“To experience the full benefits of a ketogenic diet, consistency matters,” says Metzgar. That means not veering off course every week to indulge in a “cheat” meal. Each time you eat carbs, you take yourself out of ketosis, and you’ll need to start all over again to get back into it.

“Forgoing the staple of a modern diet, carbohydrates, requires effort, sacrifice, and in many cases navigating social situations,” she adds. “Without a strong motivation or medical need, it can be hard for an individual to commit long-term to a ketogenic diet.”

8. Keto doesn’t guarantee weight loss.

“There’s a misconception that keto automatically leads to weight loss,” Stefanski says. In reality, weight loss is not the point of the keto diet. It’s possible to lose weight on keto, but it’s also possible to gain it, she points out. (However, one Shape editor tried keto and lost more weight than she expected.)

“I really wish that people considering keto as an option for weight loss would meet with a licensed nutritionist first to assess the real reason for excess weight gain,” adds Stefanski. “If the cause of a person’s obesity is stress eating or not enough exercise, keto isn’t going to fix those issues. When a keto dieter gets bored, they’ll be right back where they started.”

While keto is definitely a viable option for many people, it may also be worth it to explore other approaches before making a decision about which eating style to pursue, such as mindful eating, IIFYM or macro counting, or intuitive eating.

10 Healthy Foods You Can’t Eat on the Keto Diet

You may have already sworn off white rice, but add brown rice to that list, too. It’s a whole grain, which disqualifies it from a keto eating plan. Add a ½-cup serving to a roasted veggie bowl and you’re looking at 24 g of net carbs.

RELATED: 8 of the Best Beverages to Drink on the Keto Diet

5 Ways to Make Your Keto Diet Meal Plan Healthier and More Balanced

“When properly planned, the keto diet can be a healthful diet,” says Elia. Five tips for making it work:

1. Don’t get stuck in a rut. “In any diet, variety is the spice of life,” says Elia. That means varying your foods every day, rather than sticking with the same things every day. That can be tough when on a more restricted diet, but looking at keto cookbooks and blogs can help you branch out.

2. Make carbs count. Keto may be a very low-carbohydrate diet, but that doesn’t mean the cardinal rule is “try to avoid carbs.” It’s about maximizing the carbs you do eat. “In every food choice, ask yourself this question: ‘What is the value of the food I’m about to consume?’” says Elia. Make sure carbs are nutrient-dense. That means nuts, seeds, and avocado — not a small cookie.

3. Focus on quality. In a diet where you’ll be eating a lot of fat and some meat, you want to focus on buying the best-quality food you can afford, says Glassman. For example: Buy wild seafood, organic eggs, and grass-fed butter and steak, she says.

4. Switch up fats. There are no strict recommendations for capping saturated fat intake on a keto diet, so it’s easy to end up hyperfocused on adding coconut oil or butter to everything. Mix it up to get a nice a nice blend of unsaturated and saturated fats, aiming to get less than 10 percent of your total calories from saturated fat, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA). Drizzle avocado oil (unsaturated fat) to finish off roasted veggies, or add a spoonful of coconut oil (saturated fat) to your smoothie, recommends Glassman. Do the same for meats; eat a small portion of grass-fed rib eye for dinner one night and then organic chicken with extra-virgin olive oil the next.

RELATED: The 10 Best and Worst Fats to Eat on a Keto Diet

5. Measure your food at first. “In the beginning when following any restrictive plan, I encourage people to get up close and personal with their measuring utensils and scale,” says Elia. A scale will help you weigh out an appropriate 3- to 4-oz portion of meat, for instance. (Too-high levels of protein can kick you out of ketosis, so you want to stick to moderation here, notes the healthy-lifestyle website Ruled.me.) Measuring spoons will help you dole out enough fat to so you know you hit your mark for the day. After you’ve got it down, you can stop, but double-check every once and a while to make sure you’re still on track, she says.

9 Fruits You Can Actually Eat on the Keto Diet

Chances are by now you’ve either tried the trendy low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet or you know someone who has. Even celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, Halle Berry, and Vanessa Hudgens have all spoken publicly about adapting a keto lifestyle.

RELATED: I Tried the Keto Diet for 2 Weeks and Lost More Weight Than I Thought

The gist of the eating plan? Taking in so few carbs sends your body into ketosis—a state of burning fat for energy, instead of carbohydrates or sugars, explains Beth Warren, RDN, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl: A 21-Day Nourishing Plan to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Even If You’re Not Jewish). In order to stay in ketosis, you only consume 5% to 10% of your calories from carbohydrates—which for most followers is fewer than 20 grams total per day—and instead eat moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of fat.

RELATED: 13 Keto Fat Bomb Recipes That Are Super Easy to Make

While lightening up the meat-, cheese-, and cream-heavy plan with fruit sounds like a good idea, “fruit is notoriously high in carbohydrates,” says Warren. Take a medium-sized apple for example, which alone has 20 to 25 grams of carbs—aka a full day’s carbohydrate allowance.

RELATED: The Keto Diet Helped These 5 Grocery Store Coworkers Lose Over 200 Pounds

“That being said, there are some fruits you can have that fall more easily within the allotted amount of carbs per day,” says Warren. Below, nine you can actually eat on the keto diet.

RELATED: 4 Things You Need to Know Before Trying the Keto Diet

Another reason to love avocados—which are technically classified as a fruit: They’re basically a keto superstar. Not only are they packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they are low (like, super low) in carbs.

“The serving size of an avocado is hotly debated. Some people say ¼ of the fruit, some people say ½,” says Sarah Jadin, RD, who specializes in keto diets. According to the California Avocado Commission, a serving size is ⅓ of a medium fruit, which is less than 1 net gram of carbs.

RELATED: 13 Keto Pumpkin Dessert Recipes for Fall

“Net grams of carbohydrates is the total carbs minus the grams of fiber. A whole avocado only has 2 net grams of carbs,” says Warren. So while a whole avocado may be a lot of calories per serving, it’s keto-approved.

Blackberries

Keto diarrhea (and constipation) is a real phenomenon, and while there are a few possible culprits, not enough fiber is one of them. That’s why eating fiber-rich plant-based foods, like blackberries, is important, says Jadin. One cup of blackberries has nearly 8 grams of fiber, which is about a third of your recommended daily value.

“One cup of blackberries has six grams of net carbohydrates, which fits into the diet. But I usually recommend that people consume ¼ cup, which is only 1.5 grams of net carbs,” Warren says.

RELATED: Keto Flu Explained: Why Low-Carb Diets Can Make You Feel Sick and Tired

Blueberries

“A good rule of thumb is that fruits that are sweeter to the taste tend to be higher in carbohydrates, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that blueberries have more carbs than blackberries, which are less sweet,” says Jadin.

RELATED: 9 Easy Keto Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

While a one-cup serving of blueberries is around 17 grams of net carbohydrates, which is much higher than the other berries on the list, Warren says you can most likely fit ¼ to ½ cup into your daily menu while staying in ketosis.

Coconut

“Coconuts are definitely keto,” says Jadin–but not everyone’s convinced they’re a fruit. (Some categorize coconut as a nut or a seed instead.)

RELATED: 7 Dangers of Going Keto

“One half-cup of coconut has 13 grams of healthy fat, and about 2.5 grams of net carbs,” says Warren.

You can either buy an entire coconut and scoop the meat out yourself, or you can buy it dried or canned. If you do opt for the canned variety, just make sure no extra sugar has been added.

RELATED: Is Keto Cycling Healthy? Here’s What to Know About the Controversial Diet

Lemon

OK, so you’re not exactly going to start munching on lemon slices at breakfast. But if you used the citrus fruit to spice up your water or tea pre-keto, you can keep on using it. “Lemons are totally fine for keto-followers,” says Jadin.

A squeeze from a lemon wedge has less than ½ gram of net carbs, just 2 calories, plus some vitamin C and calcium.

RELATED: Jenna Jameson Now Down 63 Lbs. with Keto

Limes

“Limes are like lemons,” Jadin says. “A spritz in your water is so negligible.” It’s safe to say these sour citrus fruits have your (low-carb) back.

RELATED: 7 Dangers of Going Keto

Olives

Yep, these salty snacks are also technically categorized as a fruit. The healthy fats in olives are extracted to make extra virgin olive oil, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that these antioxidant-packed bites boast around 10 grams of healthy fats per serving. “About a palm’s worth only has 3 grams of net carbs,” adds Jadin.

RELATED: 6 Keto-Friendly Recipes for Your Instant Pot

Raspberries

Nosh on ¼ cup raspberries and you’ll get about 1.5 grams of net carbs. Sure, that’s about 10% of most keto-followers’ daily carbohydrate allowance, but you’ll also be getting a solid amount of vitamins C and K.

“There’s nothing that raspberries taste bad on,” Jadin jokes, but she says they’re especially tasty with yogurt. “The good news is you can have them every single day, even if you’re keto.”

RELATED: Is Keto Cycling Healthy? Here’s What to Know About the Controversial Diet

Strawberries

“Strawberries have about 2 grams net carbs in ¼ cup, or 8 net grams of carbs in a full cup,” says Warren. Either serving size is fine, she says, it just depends on what other foods are on your menu for the day.

The best part about strawberries is their versatility: Add them to Greek yogurt, toss them in a salad, throw them on top of a keto dessert, or use them to flavor water.

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Can I Eat Beans on Keto?

Wondering whether beans are keto-friendly? The quick answer is no, but let’s look into why. Plus, we have a couple keto-friendly bean options you can try if you don’t want to give up beans.

Beans fall into the legume family, along with lentils and peas, and feature a number of great benefits — they’re inexpensive; high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, including thiamine, magnesium, and iron; and they can add some heartiness to your favorite meal! After all, what’s grandma’s homemade chili without a dash of love and a can of dark red kidney beans?

All of that is great, but it doesn’t really matter if you can’t eat beans while on the ketogenic diet. So, if you’re interested in whether beans have a high carbohydrate count or fit into the keto lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place. To get to the bottom of this, let’s take a look at the basic guidelines for keto and how your favorite beans fit into the lifestyle.

Keto at a Glance

Whether you’re new to the ketogenic way of eating or a seasoned vet, it’s helpful to go over how keto works in order to understand whether or not you can include beans in your diet.

In short, the ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat way of eating. By ridding your body of the carbohydrates you would normally consume for energy, your body turns to burning fat instead. When this occurs, your liver produces ketones which your body then uses for fuel in a process called ketosis.

In order to achieve this state of ketosis, you have to focus on the number of macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fat — you are consuming. For the standard ketogenic diet, 75% of your daily calories should come from fat, 20% should come from protein, and 5% should come from carbohydrates. There may be some wiggle room depending on your gender, weight, nutritional goals, and activity level, but for a person consuming a 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean consuming 167g of fat, 100g of protein, and 25g of net carbohydrates (net carbs = total carbs – fiber – sugar alcohols). In order to keep your body in a state of ketosis, you must keep your carb count as low as possible.

Are beans keto-friendly?

If you’re new to the ketogenic diet and doing the math, you’ll soon realize that 25g of carbohydrates (give or take) is not a lot. If you’re living a ketogenic lifestyle, then you already know how particular you need to be about the foods you eat to ensure you don’t overdo it on the carbs. Beans are healthy and provide a number of health benefits, but where do they stand with regard to carbs?

It depends.

Generally speaking, most beans are high in carbohydrates, so unless eaten in extreme moderation, you’re going to find it tough to stay within your daily carbohydrate limit. Here’s the carb count for one cup of the beans that are most commonly used in recipes.

The verdict? Beans will give you a decent amount of protein, a lot of carbs, and practically no fat. They’re great for other diets, but not for keto. We say avoid them. Furthermore, beans contain carbohydrates that are difficult for our body to process, so many people have trouble digesting them. This can result in gas, constipation, bloating, and stomach cramps. No fun.

Want to be sure about keto-friendly foods? Download our Master Keto Food List with 100+ keto food mapped out for you!

Now, if you really want any of the beans listed above, you could limit yourself to half of a cup or less. However, doing that will still put you close to half of your daily allowance of carbs so keep that in mind.

Are there keto-friendly bean options?

Seeing as beans aren’t a keto-friendly food, what choices are you left with, if any? Luckily, we have a couple options worth considering.

Edamame

If you’re not familiar with edamame, give it a try. They’re a part of the soybean family and are extremely popular in Asian cuisine. If you go to an Asian restaurant, you’ll likely find them offered as an appetizer or side dish. They’re delicious steamed, with a sprinkling of sea salt. Unlike most of their bean cousins, they’re low in carbs and high in fat. You could eat a half cup — or even a full cup — and stay within your daily carb limit.

  • Edamame: 8g net carbs
    • 16g carbs, 8g fiber, 17g protein, 8g fat, 189 calories

Eden Black Soybeans

Eden black soybeans are an even safer option than edamame. These are a staple in many low-carbohydrate diets because they only contain 2g of net carbs in a 1-cup serving. Incorporate these beans into any of your keto-friendly recipes — soups, salads, hummus, and more.

  • Eden Black Soybeans: 2g net carbs
    • 16g carbs, 14g fiber, 22g protein, 12g fat, 240 calories

The Keto Verdict on Beans

Don’t get us wrong — beans are great. They are a good source of nutrition and will fill you up and keep you satiated. However, when it comes to consuming beans on a ketogenic or low-carb diet, you’ll want to steer clear as best you can. If you over-consume carbs, you’ll kick yourself out of ketosis. With high carb counts, even eating beans in a small amount is probably a fire you don’t want to play with. That being said, if you’ve got a hankering to add beans to your next meal, edamame and Eden black soybeans are solid, low-carb alternatives that will help you stay in ketosis.

In need of a new recipe to spice up your diet? We’ve got you covered. Head over to our recipe section for keto dishes that will help you meet your health and nutrition goals.

Can You Eat Beans on the Keto Diet?

Most types of beans such as red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans should be avoided on a standard ketogenic diet due to their high carbohydrate content. However, low-carb bean alternatives such as lima beans and black soybeans can be enjoyed in moderation.

Additionally, those following a cyclical (CKD) or targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) may be able to incorporate higher carb beans into their diet during carb-up days.

One of the biggest problems people face when going on the ketogenic diet is knowing what to eat.

Everyone knows that being on the low carb, high-fat lifestyle means you must restrict sugars and processed carbs to fully benefit from keto.

But what about beans? They’re a great source of protein and fiber, but can they fit into your keto lifestyle?

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • What are beans
  • Beans to avoid on keto
  • Keto-friendly, low carb beans
  • Low-carb bean alternatives
  • When are beans acceptable on keto
  • When to avoid beans on keto

What Are Beans? Are They Actually Healthy?

Beans are considered one of the longest cultivates plants since the history of time. They contain soluble fiber, carbohydrates, protein, folate, and iron.

Due to their macronutrient content, many people believe that beans should have a place in anyone’s diet.

Many studies show that people who eat beans have a decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, and mortality.

But what you’re about to find out is – beans aren’t necessarily as healthy as we thought – especially if you’re on a ketogenic diet.

Here are a few potentially harmful ingredients beans contain:

  • Phytates. Beans store phosphorus as phytic acid. Phytates can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb essential minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, and calcium.
  • Lectins. Found in high levels in beans, lectins function as a natural pesticide to protect plants from harmful organisms. Lectins can bind to your intestinal wall and exacerbate symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
  • Protease inhibitors. These are compounds that block your body’s protein-digesting enzyme, protease. Over time, this can also increase the chances of leaky gut.

Note: The way you prepare your beans can decrease the number of toxins your beans contain. Cooking them correctly will help prevent you from consuming any of these harmful ingredients listed above.

List of Beans to Avoid on Keto

Like most foods, there are several variations and while certain beans may be considered ketogenic friendly, others should be avoided at all costs.

To successfully follow a ketogenic diet, it’s important to keep carbohydrates under a certain threshold so that your body can continuously burn fats for energy.

Most of the beans that are “keto-friendly” are much lower in overall carbohydrates.

Avoid these beans at all costs if you’re on keto:

  • Red kidney beans. While these beans may contain a lot of protein, they are packed with a lot of carbohydrates. Just 100g of red kidney beans contain a little over 30g of carbohydrates.
  • Adzuki beans. About 1 cup of adzuki beans comes out to around 50g of total carbohydrates so they are best avoided on the ketogenic diet.
  • Black beans. You should avoid consuming black beans at all costs on the ketogenic diet. They contain a large number of carbohydrates and just one cup can ruin your ketosis efforts. In fact, there are around 31g of carbs in a 50g serving of black beans.
  • Pinto beans. Just like black beans, these should also be completely stripped from your diet as a ketogenic dieter. 100g of pinto beans contains about 47g of total carbs, which can kick you out of ketosis.

Stick to These Low-Carb Bean Sources

There are several food sources that taste similar to beans and have a very low carbohydrate content which makes them a perfect substitute for beans when a meal calls for them.

Here are the two best low-carb bean alternatives:

  • Lima beans. Lima beans are one of the best keto-friendly beans available because a single serving is only 10g of carbs (per 50g) and most of those carbs are fiber.
  • Black soybeans. Ketoers love black soybeans because they have only 12g of carbs per 100g. The majority of these carbs are also fiber which makes it great for people on the low carb, high-fat lifestyle.

Low-Carb Bean Alternatives

Many people like beans because of their texture and how complementary they can be for certain dishes. If you’re someone who wants to substitute beans for a similar food source alternative, consider eating the following:

  • Beanless refried beans. This dish requires zucchini, onion, chili powder, garlic, cumin powder, salt, black pepper, chia seeds, almond butter, oregano, apple cider vinegar, and beef tallow. It’s a bean alternative and comes out to only 8g of carbs per serving!
  • Enoki mushrooms. These mushrooms can be purchased fresh or canned and it’s a perfect side for salad or soup. One cup of enoki mushrooms contains only 3g of net carbs which makes it perfect for the ketogenic diet. They’re also highly nutrient-dense and contains vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.

When Are Beans Acceptable on the Ketogenic Diet?

People love to eat beans because of their unique texture, it’s complementary to various meals, and it’s also a great source of fiber.

Unfortunately, most beans are too high in carbohydrates to be acceptable on a standard ketogenic diet.

The only time high-carb beans are acceptable on keto is if you are following a cyclical (CKD) or targeted ketogenic diet (TKD).

With these approaches, you’re allowed to have some carbs during specific time periods to allow your body to restore it’s glycogen stores for optimized athletic performance and increased muscle building.

When to Avoid Beans on the Ketogenic Diet

Not all beans have the same carbohydrate content. For example, black beans and pinto beans are very high in carbs which means even less than half a cup can make you slip out of ketosis.

Consume beans on keto only if:

  • You are following a cyclical ketogenic diet. This is when you have higher carb days one or two times out of the week. Athletes and people who want to build muscle can benefit from high-carb beans like black and pinto beans during their carb-ups.
  • You choose the low-carb beans listed above. Low-carb beans can be consumed in small amounts during your standard ketogenic diet. If you are adamant about eating beans, try to time them around your workout so your body can burn through the extra carbs for energy.

Low-Carb Beans for Your Ketogenic Diet

Beans have been a staple in our society’s diet for hundreds of years. But since many types of beans are high in carbohydrates, they may not be considered the best option for ketoers.

Fortunately, there are several low-carb beans you can incorporate into your keto diet if you don’t want to give them up.

Stick to the low-carb beans mentioned in this article (unless you’re following TKD or CKD) and you should have no problem incorporating them into your ketogenic lifestyle!

If you’re on keto, then you know that the high-fat diet requires you to restrict your net carb intake to 50 grams or fewer. It’s pretty clear that pasta, bread, and other delicious baked goods are now off-limits, but other high-carb foods aren’t quite so obvious.

Even though many high-carb foods are packed with nutrients, they may be a no-go for keto dieters—which can be confusing! Take beans, for example. They’re good for your heart, and they boost brain power.

But are beans keto?

Well, we don’t really have good news for you. If you’re on the keto diet, beans probably aren’t going to fly.

“Although they have a ton of fiber which is great for supporting gut health, the high starch content in just 1 cup of chickpeas exceeds the total amount of carbs a keto dieter can have in an entire day,” says Julie Stefanski MEd, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CDE, FAND, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

You can expect a 1/2 cup of beans to have 20-something grams of net carbs. Black beans have 24 grams and chickpeas have 28 grams, for example. Even if you halve it, you’re still eating plenty of carbs from one source of food in a sitting, and that’s excluding whatever else you’re pairing those beans with. So think about it: would you really want to spend about half of your daily net carb amount on a ½ cup of beans? Or might you want to spread those babies out elsewhere?

There is at least one type of bean that might be okay on keto.

“One bean which some people can fit into a keto plan, depending on their carb limit, is the Lupini bean,” Stefanski says. For instance, you can buy BRAMI snacks for a small-sized portion of pickled beans to enjoy when you have the afternoon munchies. These happen to have no net grams of carbs.

The bottom line about beans and keto?

For guys following sensible diets, there’s nothing wrong with including higher-carb foods in your diet—in fact, it’s a good idea to do so! But if you’re on the keto diet, know that you can’t eat beans and stay in ketosis. You’ve got to pick your priority. If you’re a keto fan and aren’t ready to give it up, then it’s time to part ways with that can of beans until you’ve switched to another eating plan.

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

Fruits and berries: A keto guide

  1. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.

    This is mainly based on the consistent experience of experienced practitioners, and stories from people trying different levels of carb restriction .

    One small study showed that in healthy volunteers, diets of 20 and 50 grams of carbs promoted ketosis with equal success. However, it is not known that this would be the case in obese individuals or those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.

    However, there is not yet any RCT that has tested the weight loss or health benefits of two low-carb diets of varying strictness head-to-head. But RCTs of strict low-carb diets appear to generally show better results, compared to RCTs of less strict low-carb diets.

    RCTs of low-carb interventions for weight loss ↩

  2. Net carbs = total carbs minus fiber ↩

  3. We define a keto diet as having less than 20 grams of carbs per day:

    How low carb is keto? ↩

  4. We define a keto diet as having less than 20 grams of carbs per day:

    How low carb is keto? ↩

  5. You can check for yourself in the USDA Food Composition Databases that vegetables generally are as rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial plant compounds as fruits, if not more. ↩

  6. Nutrition facts for oranges, yellow bell peppers, green bell peppers and kale.
    ↩

  7. There’s no good reason to fear natural saturated fats, including from dairy:

    Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    In fact, if anything, people eating higher-fat dairy products tend to on average have lower body weight and possibly fewer metabolic issues:

    European Journal of Nutrition 2013: The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease ↩

  8. Regarding “primates in natural environments”, “gorged on fruit” and “pack on pounds to survive”, see the following references:

    International Journal of Primatology 1998: Changes in orangutan caloric intake, energy balance, and ketones in response to fluctuating fruit availability

    Dr. Christopher S. Bard: Why do humans crave sugary foods? Shouldn’t evolution lead us to crave healthy foods?

    Obesity (Silver Spring) 2013: Redefining metabolic syndrome as a fat storage condition based on studies of comparative physiology ↩

  9. This could primarily apply for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), where studies have demonstrated that a low-carb diet can be helpful:

    PLOS ONE 2015: Dietary intervention for overweight and obese adults: comparison of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A meta-analysis

    Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice 2018: Effect of dietary carbohydrate restriction on glycemic control in adults with diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis ↩

This guide will walk you through the keto diet food list – including the best and worst foods to eat while on the keto diet.

The keto diet is all about enjoying high fat, moderate protein, and low carb foods which promotes weight loss and other benefits to health.

However, it’s no secret that changing your dietary lifestyle takes time and planning. Knowing the best foods to eat on the keto diet will ensure you are prepared, allowing for a smoother transition and faster results.

Therefore if you are wondering how to get started, let’s look at the best foods to eat on the keto diet.

Table of Contents

The Complete Keto Diet Food List

In summary on the keto diet you should be tailoring your meal plans around the following foods:

  • Healthy fats
  • Protein
  • Non-starchy veggies
  • Some fruits
  • Most full-fat dairy

Healthy Fats

There is a stigma attached to fats which makes most people avoid them, but you don’t need to be afraid on the keto diet. Healthy fats are your top priority and form the highest percentage of your daily intake.

Why?

One simple reason, the keto diet works better with a greater fat content which means you are more likely to stay in or hit ketosis. And don’t forget, fat is also satiating which means you will feel fuller for longer. Let’s take a look at the best foods to help you obtain your daily fat quotas:

Natural Fats and Oils

By adding these natural fats and oils into your cooking, you will boost your fats and ensure ketosis kicks in and stays constant.

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Nut and seed oils (sesame, flaxseed, almond, peanut etc)
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Animal fats (goose, duck, lard, etc)
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great for a healthy keto friendly snack; however, the carb values do vary so keep portion control in mind. Here are the best nuts and seeds for the keto diet:

  • Pecans
  • Brazils
  • Macadamia
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a good source of healthy omega fatty acids without the added worry of carbs. Add these to your keto grocery list:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel

Fruit

You might be surprised to see fruit fall into the fat category, yet avocados are full of healthy fats and low in carbs. This makes it one of the best foods to eat on the keto diet.

  • Avocados

Protein

Foods from animal sources are great for the keto diet because protein is mostly zero carbs. Here’s a run through of the best foods to eat on the keto diet:

Instead of opting for your lean cuts of meat, go for more fatty options to enhance your fat intake. And another good tip – it’s best to choose grass-fed varieties whenever possible because they have a higher level of healthy fats than grain-fed animals. 1

Also, don’t get carried away with protein on the keto diet, it should be eaten in moderation.

Non-Starchy Veggies

Vegetables can vary in carb count. However, the easiest way to define between the best and the worst is to stick with vegetables that grow above ground.

Another good indicator is most of the best keto veggies aren’t as colourful; in fact, the majority are green in nature. Therefore think green and above ground.

Here are some of the best veggies to look out for:

  • Watercress (0.8 grams carbs) 2
  • Celery (1.8 grams) 3
  • Spinach (1.4 grams) 4
  • Asparagus (1.9 grams) 5
  • Lettuce (1.5 grams) 6

Others which are still considered low carb are:

  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Green pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans

Note: all the data is based upon net carbs per 100 gram servings.

Full-Fat Dairy

With dairy, it’s full fat all the way. Here are some of the best dairy foods that complement the keto diet:

  • Full fat yogurt (natural/greek)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Sour cream
  • Hard cheeses

Herbs and Spices

When preparing keto meals, herbs and spices will form the backbone of your flavors. Be cautious of blended mixes; instead, opt for their natural state.

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves

To reduce risk from side effects on the keto diet, it’s essential to keep hydrated. Stick to beverages like:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened Black tea and coffee
  • Herbal tea
  • Broth (vegetable or bone)

Foods to Limit on the Keto Diet

The principle “everything is alright in moderation” applies to some foods on the keto diet. You can eat them, but not every day.

Full fat milk is allowed but in very small quantities. The carb count is quite high because it contains lactose – which is a naturally occurring sugar.

Some fruits can be eaten on the keto diet, although only on an occasional basis. If you do fancy some fruit these are the ones you can treat yourself to every once in a while:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries

The Worst Foods to Eat on the Keto Diet

Just so that you have a complete picture of the keto diet, here’s a bit of information about the worst foods so you know what to avoid.

Sugar

Any kind of sugar is a “no-no” on the keto diet which means both added and hidden sugars like:

  • Refined sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Sucralose
  • Agave nectar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup

Grains are laden with carbohydrates. As you know now, when you’re on keto, this isn’t what you want. This means any food that derives from any grain (i.e. wheat, barley, corn etc) is not on the keto role call of best foods. To give you an idea, here are some of the foods not allowed:

  • Pasta
  • Bread (wholemeal, brown, white etc)
  • Rice (wild, brown, pilaf etc)
  • Quinoa
  • Cereal
  • Oats
  • Couscous
  • Baking flour

Legumes, Beans, Lentils

Legumes, beans, and any kind of lentil are all starch-filled nutrients. Granted they are very nutritious, but the high carb count won’t help you reach ketosis. Don’t eat these legumes on the keto diet:

  • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • Lentils (red, yellow etc)
  • Kidney beans
  • Fava beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas

Starchy Vegetables

We’ve already explored the keto friendly veggies, now we look at the enemies of keto. Any vegetable that is grown under the soil has too many carbs to warrant a place on the best foods. Here is a list of the worst starchy vegetables:

  • Potato
  • Yams
  • Sweet potato
  • Parsnip
  • Swede
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac

Most Fruits

It’s no secret fruit contains many vitamins and minerals essential to health. However, for the keto diet, all the natural sugars prove too high. Kiss goodbye to any kind of fresh, tinned, or dried fruit other than the ones already mentioned.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are not only high in carbs, but also full of bad fats, high in added sugars and to put it bluntly they just aren’t healthy. It’s best to think twice about buying any of the following pre-made foods.

  • Candy
  • Chips
  • Fast food
  • Ice cream
  • Cakes/muffins
  • Processed meats
  • Crackers/pretzels

Unhealthy Fats and Oils

The keto diet only has room for quality healthy fats, therefore any of the following should be dodged:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Margarine
  • Corn oil
  • Trans fats

Top Five Best Foods to Eat on the Keto Diet

Do you want to know which foods need to be top of your shopping list? Here’s a roundup of the top five best foods to eat on the keto diet and my reasons why:

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is 100 percent pure healthy fats and zero carbs which makes it a healthy tool for keto diet. 7

What’s particularly significant about coconut oil is that it has its own arsenal to help combat weight loss.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). These fatty cells are effective for increasing energy and also generating faster satiety. 8 9

One of the only fruits which gets the green light on the keto diet is avocado. This fruit has the ideal keto diet profile, with extra nutritional benefits.

It provides an impressive 14.7 grams of good fats with net carbs of only 1.8 grams and 2 grams of protein per 100 gram serving. This nutrient dense fruit is also packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and the omega’s your body needs. 10

Salmon

The nutritional stats of salmon are of superfood standard. A 100 gram serving has 6.3 grams of friendly fats, 19.8 grams of protein and it’s totally carb free too. 11

Salmon is loaded with the vitamin-B complex and a great source of selenium. Not only that, research suggests salmon can help lower insulin levels and also improve resistance. 12

Eggs are packed full of keto friendly macronutrients. Each 100 gram serving contains 10 grams of fat, 12.6 grams protein and only 1.1 gram of carbs. They are also a great source of calcium and many other essential vitamins and minerals. 13

Eggs can double as either a handy low carb snack or the basis of a nutritious meal. This is why they make a great all-rounder for the keto diet.

Spinach

Spinach has a “super-green” status and it’s also a best choice for the keto diet.

It’s very low carb containing only 1.4 grams of carbs per 100 grams and 2.9 grams of protein. Spinach is also primed with many vital minerals like iron, calcium and potassium, making it a smart choice for your plate. 14

Final Word

So there you have it, the best foods to eat on the keto diet. I hope you find this a useful tool for your weight loss journey.

Sources

More Keto Info

  • The Ultimate Keto Diet Guide
  • What Does Keto Mean?
  • The Benefits and Side Effects Of The Keto Diet

Download Your FREE Paleo Starter Kit Today!

  • 3-Day Paleo Diet Meal Plan
  • Comprehensive Paleo Diet Shopping List
  • 5 of Our Favorite Paleo Diet Recipes

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The ketogenic diet can be dizzyingly complicated.

You want to load up on fats and protein, and keep your carb intake low—but all fats and proteins aren’t alike, and there are some veggies higher in carbohydrates than others. Oh, and fruit is pretty much banned.

But don’t worry: We’ve put together the best and worst of each category so you can go keto with confidence.

Fats

Eat this:

Saturated fats including coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, duck fat, tallow, and lard—all essential for a healthy immune system, dense bones, and proper testosterone levels.

Monounsaturated fats like olive, avocado, macadamia, and almond oils, which boost heart health and provide vitamin E—important for vision and a strong immune system.

Polyunsaturated omega-3s such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and sustainably harvested seafood—to prevent heart disease and stroke and reduce blood pressure.

Medium-chain triglycerides, fatty acids that are easily absorbed and used for energy. Linked to weight loss, MCTs increase satiety and rev-up metabolism.

Not that:

Refined fats and oils like sunflower, canola, soybean, grapeseed, and corn oils, which have been processed at high temperatures, creating free radicals that can damage cells.

Trans fats, such as margarine and other spreads, which contribute to weight gain, increase stroke risk.

Proteins

Eat this:

Meat and offal (e.g., tongue, liver, heart) from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals—it’s low in calories and contains vitamins like A and E along with tons of antioxidants.

Wild-caught and sustainably harvested seafood, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and better for the environment than farmed fish.

Free-range organic eggs, which contain higher levels of vitamin A and E, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids than the farmed variety.

Not that:

Factory-farmed animal products and seafoods, which are lower in nutrients and often worse for the environment than their healthier counterparts; and processed sausages and hot dogs, which, more often than not, have preservatives called nitrates that have been linked to cancer.

Vegetables

Eat this:

Dark leafy greens, like Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and lettuce.

Lower-carb veggies, like cucumber, celery, asparagus, squash, and zucchini; cruciferous veggies, like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts; nightshades, like eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers; root vegetables, like onion, garlic, and radishes, and sea veggies, like nori and kombu. The guidelines are simple: focus on dark, leafy greens, then the stuff that grows above the ground, then root vegetables.

Not that:

Starchy, high-carb vegetables, like potatoes, peas, corn, yucca, parsnips, beans, yams, and legumes are great, nutritious whole foods that work well in the regular diet of a guy looking to get healthy and fit—however, their elevated carbs make them a no-go for achieving ketosis.

Dairy

Eat this:

Full-fat dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, sour cream, goat cheese, and other cheeses. Note: Dairy should be eaten sparingly, but when you do eat it, stick with full-fat, as it’s more filling and nutritious.

Not that:

Milk—but not cheese—is off the list because it contains a lot of lactose, a form of sugar, which makes it high in carbohydrates. When cheese is made, all the sugar is eaten by bacteria and turned into lactic acid, cutting the carb content way down. Low- and reduced-fat dairy products are to be avoided as they’re overly processed, which strips out nutrients like the fatty acids that make you feel full. Plus, sugar is often added to make up for a loss of flavor and texture, so some actually have more sugar than full-fat dairy. Resist shredded cheese, too, as it contains a carby potato starch that keeps it from sticking together.

Nuts and seeds

Eat this:

Macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds. Be careful when eating nuts, as they’re calorie-dense and can easily put you over your carb limit for the day.

Not that:

Cashews, pistachios, and chestnuts are on the higher end for carbs in nuts, and should be avoided.

Fruits

Eat this:

Avocados are low in carbs and have great fat and fiber content; berries are OK since their carb content is negligible; and 1 cup of tomatoes has just 6g of carbs.

Not that:

Fruits in general, dried or otherwise, are forbidden since most have high sugar and carb content.

Drinks

Drink this:

Water, sparkling water, seltzer, black coffee, unsweetened and herbal teas, unsweetened nut milks, wine, light beer, and liquor. Caffeine is fine for most people—just don’t go pouring in sugar or milk; the same goes for tea and nut milk. Lower-carb alcohol in moderation is OK, especially if you’re at the point where you’re just trying to maintain weight.

Not that:

Soft drinks, fruit juices, sweet wines, craft beers, and flavored liquor are filled with way too much sugar and/or carbs to be allowed if you’re serious about keto. Some people will drink diet, or “zero,” soft drinks, but avoid them if you can because the citric acid and aspartame often found in them may derail your trip to ketosis.

Sweets

Eat this:

Sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, and xylitol can be made a part of your keto diet, but try to buy only the pure versions, as the powdered products usually have a small amount of sugar added as a bulking agent.

Inulin is a sweet and starchy plant fiber that helps regulate blood sugar.

Monk fruit powder is 300 times sweeter than sugar and doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste like stevia.

70% cocoa dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed with antioxidants.

Not that:

Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and agave nectar need to be ditched. Even if honey and agave are healthy whole foods, sugar is still sugar and will bump you out of ketosis.

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