The Keto Food Pyramid
Similar to phase one of the Atkins diet, the ketogenic diet is a high fat and very low carb eating plan – with total carbs commonly restricted to less than 20 grams of carbs a day .
Unlike traditional American diets where the bulk of calories typically come from carb based foods like grains, potatoes, beans, and legumes, a keto food pyramid flips this on its head so the majority of your calories come from high fat food choices with little to no carb containing foods at the top.
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to restrict carbs to such a low level that your body is forced to use more fats as a source of fuel, through a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, cutting carbs and increasing fat intake is only part of the equation. Switching up your food choices alone won’t result in weight loss – eating a calorie controlled diet is still crucial to your success .
Know The Carb Counts And Serving Sizes Of Foods
Most low carb diets only allow for 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Because of this, it is essential that people following low-carb diets choose foods that have a lower carb count but a high nutritional value per serving.
The foods in the quantities listed below all contain approximately 15 g of carbs:
- 1 tennis ball sized apple or orange
- 1 cup of berries
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/3 cup of cooked rice
While the foods listed above all contain roughly equal amounts of carbohydrates, they are not all nutritionally equivalent. The dairy products on the list contain protein and vital nutrients, such as Vitamin D and calcium in addition to the carbohydrate content.
The fruit and vegetables also contain essential vitamins and minerals. Choosing whole-grain varieties of bread and rice will provide more nutrients than white varieties, even though the carb content is similar.
Mashed Broccoli Instead Of Potato Mash
Potato mash is surely something most of us have grown up with. Its just a delicious side to have with a healthy dinner or delicious lunch.
With some butter, salt, and pepper, you can make mashed broccoli. Which, by the way, can be just as delicious. Give it a try.
If thats not something you fancy eating, cauliflower mash is another potato mash substitute that is probably worth a try.
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Targeted Ketogenic Diet And Carb Intake
If you engage in regular, intense physical activity, note that the above ratios might not cater to your performance needs. Thats where targeted ketogenic diets come into play.
In targeted keto and during training times only you might want to integrate a carb boost before and immediately following your training sessions. This will ensure your muscles have enough glycogen to perform their necessary tasks, both during competition and within in-season training.
When adopting this targeted principle, youll follow the above macro guidelines throughout the day. However, after you leave the gym , youll consume 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates. These should be consumed within a half hour after training ends.
Theoretically, your body uses these carbs immediately to repair and restore itself. Therefore, your ketogenic state wont be adversely affected.
Check Your Nutrition Labels
This is especially true for packaged foods, but if your fresh meats or dairy are packaged, check those too. You want to look for:
- Serving size: This is what the rest of the label is based on. Remember: Total carbs are calculated per serving. If you eat four servings of food labeled zero carbs that actually has 0.5 grams of carbs, youre getting an extra 2 grams of carbs in.
- Servings per container: Before you down that bag of low-carb almond crackers, make sure that the bag contains only one serving, or you could be eating a lot more carbs than you were expecting.
- Ingredients: Always peek at the ingredients of packaged food. Thats where hidden sugars often reveal themselves. You may be surprised by the added sugars and other sources of carbohydrates that wouldnt be obvious from the front of the package or the nutrition label.
- Total Carbohydrates: After looking at the ingredients, check out the total carbohydrates to be sure of what you buy.
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Legumes Nuts And Seeds
Although excellent sources of fat, nuts add up quickly in protein and carbs. Snack on fattier nuts such as walnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans, but limit those high in inflammatory omega-6s, like peanuts and sunflower seeds. Limit high-carb nuts like pistachios and chestnuts, and pass on most beans.
Use nut milks and nut flours in moderation, and check your labelsmacronutrients can vary widely between brands. Youll want a product with fewer carb counts per serving and no extra additives, sugar, starches or binders.
More Diet Tips From Bulletproof
Guacamole With Bacon Chips
Seriously, this is a thing, guys. Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as fiber, says Northbryhn. Cut prep time by picking up pre-made guac some grocery stores also have breakfast hot bars where you can buy bacon slices, too. Just break two bacon slices into bite-sized pieces and dip into ¼ cup guac, she recommends.
Per serving: 170 calories, 15 g fat , 6 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 560 mg sodium, 7 g protein.
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Kalamata Olives And Cucumber
One cup sliced cucumbers and 10 large olives makes for a great keto-friendly snack, with added benefits: This is a great snack to help people in ketosis supplement their sodium levels.” says Desiree Nielsen, RD, author of Un-Junk Your Diet. When you’re in ketosis, your body needs more sodium, and without adequate sodium, people are at risk for dehydration, constipation, and more dangerous electrolyte imbalances,” she adds.
Per serving: 71 calories, 4.8 g fat , 5 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 2.1 g sugar, 285 mg sodium, 1.2 g protein.
Club Soda Or Stevia Sweetened Drinks
We know, you need to drink enough water but perhaps youre bored with flat Evian.
Why not switch things up and weave in some club soda or a sparkling drink sweetened with stevia?
Stevia has many advantages as a sweetener. Dr. Ben Brown, M.D. says, The majority of research on stevia shows that it appears to be safe and has some potential benefits, including possibly lowering blood pressure and blood sugar.
Zero-calorie and filled with bubbles, these drinks are a refreshing no carb alternative to plain old H2O to keep you on track with your macros while ensuring youre fully hydrated.
We would, however, suggest that you stay off the diet sodas like diet coke.
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Low Sugar Fruits List
While fruit is typically referred to as a high carb food, it is entirely possible to enjoy some types of fruit without going over your daily carb limit. Especially when you are counting net carbs. The trick is to use portion control and include small amounts of low sugar options.
Fruit is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber!
Fruit can vary on the scale of less sweet to more sweet, depending on its sugar content. Typically the lowest sugar fruits tend to be melons, berries, and some tropical fruits.
Here’s your list of low carb fruits to try:
- Unsweetened Açaí Puree
Cauliflower Pizza Crust Instead Of Regular Crust
Cauliflower crust doesnt taste quite like regular crust but cauliflower pizzas are becoming a thing. Which means that you can probably order it and stay within your carb limits.
Another great dough to try, if you absolutely love pizza is fathead dough. Its mostly made out of mozzarella, cream cheese, and coconut flour.
Check out the recipe here to figure out how to exactly make it. They have a video too!
So, if youre too lazy to cook, order cauliflower crust pizza. Otherwise, make your own pizza with fathead dough.
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What To Keep In Mind When Creating Your Ketogenic Meal Plan
If youve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means youll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says.
The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs: Every body is different, but most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day, says Mattinson. Total carbohydrates minus fiber equals net carbs, she explains.
One thing to remember: Its easy to get kicked out of ketosis, says Mattinson. Meaning, if you eat something as small as a serving of blueberries, your body could revert to burning carbohydrates for fuel rather than fat.
Low Carb Vegetables List
Vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and should make up a large portion of your keto meals.
Because of their low calorie count, vegetables also tend to be an easy way to eat a larger portion of food without going over your calorie or carb limits! Additionally, their high fiber and nutrient content provide numerous health and nutrition benefits.
However, like many plant based options, certain veggies can contain high amounts of carbohydrates. The key is to choose more non-starchy vegetables that are low in calories and high in water content and nutrition. Luckily, this is almost all vegetables.
Here is your list of the most popular low carb veggies for keto:
- Leafy greens
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How To Eat It And Keep It Keto
The best type of cottage cheese for a keto diet is full fat and free of thickeners and stabilizers like guar gum or xanthan gum. It should provide only about 3 grams of carbs in a 1/2-cup serving.
For a nutritious snack, stir in some chopped fresh herbs, and serve it with low carb vegetables like celery, cucumber strips, or broccoli florets.
To make a tasty low carb vegetable dip, blend your cottage cheese with a whole, roasted red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and a generous pinch of dried basil.
If you want to bump up the fat content without affecting the carbs, stir in some olive oil or a few tablespoons of chopped olives.
Plain, full fat cottage cheese can be paired with low carb vegetables for a keto-friendly snack. You can also use it to make a tasty, low carb dip base.
Cottage cheese can be a keto-friendly protein option, but ideally, you should choose full fat, plain cottage cheese.
For a healthy, low carb snack, combine it with vegetables or use it as a dip base.
Given that cottage cheese contains some carbs, you may want to limit your portion size, depending on your daily carb goals.
How To Find Your Own Personal Keto Carb Limit
One of the only ways to find out if you can stay in ketosis while eating more carbs than we suggest is by tracking your ketones with a blood ketone meter like the Precision Xtra. You can also use Ketostix, but they are not as accurate.
After establishing ketosis by eating less than 35 grams a day and verifying it with your ketone meter, you can try slowly increasing your carb consumption by 5 grams each day.
This doesnt mean that you can eat sweets and candies. Simple carbs like these can kick you out of ketosis because they tend to increase insulin levels more rapidly than anything else. Instead, increase your carbs by eating complex carbohydrates from plant-based foods like vegetables or low glycemic fruits.
Measure your ketones at the same time each day to see if the increase in carbs decreases your ketone levels. If you are still maintaining ketosis after increasing your carbs, try it again. Your goal is to raise your carbs little by little while maintaining a medium or deep level of ketosis.
Heres a quick overview of what medium and deep ketosis actually mean:
- Light Ketosis: 0.5 mmol/L 0.8 mmol/L
- Medium Ketosis: 0.9 mmol/L 1.4 mmol/L
- Deep Ketosis : 1.5 mmol/L 3.0 mmol/L
The only way to accurately find out if you are in light, medium, or deep ketosis is by using a blood ketone meter like the Precision Xtra.
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How To Calculate Your Carb Intake
To understand your daily carb allotment, take the above percentages, and translate them into grams .
For example, if youre consuming 2,000 calories per day and aim to get just 10% of your calories from carbs, youll multiply 2,000 by .10 to get 200 calories per day. Since one gram of carbs is equal to four calories, youll then take 200 divided by 4 to get 50 grams of net carbs per day.
Soda Isnt Allowed On Keto But Unsweetened Sparkling Water Is A Great Choice
The keto diet often marks a drastic shift in eating habits. If you are a soda drinker, youll have to get it out of your diet completely, says Herrmann. It may be tough to do at first, but these are packed with sugar, and eating less of the sweet stuff will benefit your health, regardless of whether youre on keto, he says. In fact, drinking soda has been associated with greater odds of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a Circulation. Ultimately, youre making a march toward a healthier pattern of eating, so working with a registered dietitian whos knowledgeable in the keto diet can help you figure out how to cut back and replace it in your diet.
Because its carb-free, diet soda is technically an okay option. But sparkling water is an even better choice when you want that fizz, since it doesnt even contain the artificial sweeteners present in diet drinks. These sweeteners may stimulate appetite and increase the risk for weight gain, per a study published in March 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Choose naturally flavored but unsweetened versions of sparkling water, like those from brands LaCroix or Waterloo. Both have zero grams of carbs.
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Favorite Website For Clinical Trials
From the National Institutes of Health, this government website lists all the ongoing and completed trials involving the keto diet. Use it to stay up-to-date on the potential newest applications of keto, as well as trials that may be currently recruiting for participants in your area.
What To Eat On Keto
The overarching rule of a clean keto diet is simple: Eat nutrient-dense whole foods that are very low in carbs.
Here are keto-friendly food groups, along with specific examples:
- Meat like beef, poultry, lamb, pork, and organ meats.
- Fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, cod, and trout.
- Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee, and animal fat.
- Low-carb vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, brussels sprouts, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. A good rule of thumb is to stick to green-ish vegetables that grow above ground.
- Nuts like almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and walnuts. . *Note that I also suggest minimizing nuts when the main goal is fat loss, as their calories can add up quickly.
These foods will comprise the bulk of your calories, but you can also dabble in medium-carb foods like berries, dark chocolate, carrots, and tomatoes. Just be sure to mind your carb limit.
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What To Eat On A Keto Diet Or Low Carb Diet
One of the most common questions I get is, what to eat on a keto diet? or what to eat on a low carb diet? Fortunately, with the right resources, this is one of the easiest questions to answer.
In fact, the keto diet is probably the most flexible, sustainable eating lifestyle out there. You dont have to feel deprived, bored or restricted. And, it doesnt need to be complicated.
Lets start with foods to get rid of
Keto Substitutes: Low Carb Food Swaps
Starting youre your journey with the ketogenic diet or just the low carb diet? Once you begin looking into it, you might realize that you need to cut out so many good foods out of your daily life.
Thats bread, rice, pasta, or anything made out of wheat flour gone off the table. While it might seem frustrating and, in some cases, impossible to stop eating your favorite foods, its not that bad.
Reducing the number of carbs you can eat during the day is difficult. But, absolutely possible!
In fact, thats where creativity kicks in! Swapping one food for another that is somewhat similar to it can curb your carb cravings and let you slowly get into a low carb lifestyle.
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The Ultimate Zero Carb Foods List Categorized By Practical Use
Now that you have an idea of what zero carb foods you can have from each popular food category, lets organize them in a way that helps us meet our goals.
To help you figure out what zero carb foods you can use to reach specific keto diet targets, we took the foods from above and reorganized them into these categories:
- High-fat, low-protein zero carb foods to help meet your fat needs.
- High-fat, high-protein zero carb foods to help meet your fat and protein needs.
- High-protein, lower fat zero carb foods to help meet your protein needs .
- Low-calorie, zero carb foods to help meet your fiber, vitamin, and/or mineral needs.
If you are not sure how much fat or protein you should be aiming to eat yet, we recommend plugging your information into our keto calculator before moving on. This will give you a better idea of how much you need to eat from a macronutrient perspective.