Let’s face it: The keto diet (a.k.a. ketogenic diet) is having a moment. From celebrities to athletes, this high-fat, low-carb diet has the wellness world abuzz for its ability to help people lose weight and shape up.
The premise? Cut back on carbs so that your body enters ketosis—meaning it burns fat instead of glucose for energy, says registered dietitian Isabel Smith. “When the body is deprived of carbs, it breaks down fat. Ketones are created in the liver and used for energy instead of glucose,” she says. Hence the name “ketogenic” diet.
In order to get your body into ketosis, 70 to 80 percent of your calories should come from fat, 15 to 20 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs. That means you’ll be eating approximately 25 to 35 grams of net carbs (about the equivalent of one apple, says Smith) per day. However, Smith notes that these specific ratios vary for each individual, so be sure to talk to your doctor or registered dietitian first, especially if you have a serious medical condition.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT?
And no, the keto diet doesn’t mean that you get to eat fried cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The focus is on healthy fats. “All food is technically allowed but it has to fall within the percent guidelines of the diet,” says Smith. “There are definitely healthier and less healthy ways to do it,” so skip the processed sugars and fried food. Also, be aware that you might feel little crummy as first as your body gets used to fewer carbs.
If you’re thinking of trying the keto diet, here’s an essential keto foods list for your reference.
Not only is salmon a good source of lean protein, it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids—great for the keto diet. Plus, a three-ounce serving has zero carbs, according to the USDA.
P.S. all fish is okay on the keto diet. Other good fish choices include fatty fish like mackerel (also a vitamin B12 powerhouse) and sardines.
RELATED: THE 20 BEST LOW-CARB, HIGH-PROTEIN FOODS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET
While all meat has zero carbs, opt for grass-fed beef and other fatty cuts of meat if you’re following the keto diet. Not only is grass-fed beef a good source of protein, it also provides healthy omega-3 fats (35 milligrams in a three-ounce serving compared to 18 milligrams in beef from grain-fed cows) and is better for the environment, too.
While eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past (for the record: you shouldn’t fear the yolks), they’re a great source of protein, not to mention B vitamins, vitamin D, choline, and zinc. Plus, they only have about 0.36 grams of carbs, according to the USDA.
This easy trick will show you if your eggs are still good in seconds:
Hack Your Health: Is Your Egg Fresh?
With zero carbs, chicken is keto-approved. Opt for dark meat for more fat and iron. For example, one roasted chicken thigh with the skin on has 10 grams of fat, according to the USDA.
RELATED: 14 VEGETARIAN FOODS THAT HAVE MORE IRON THAN MEAT
YES. The keto diet means plenty of avocados. One-third of this fruit has approximately seven grams of fat (primarily healthy monounsaturated fats), 3.9 grams of carbs and 3.1 grams of fiber, per the USDA. Plus, you’ll get a good does of folate and vitamin B5.
Coconut oil is a keto diet staple. While this pantry must-have is considered a healthy fat, it’s important to note that coconut oil consists of primarily saturated fat (so going overboard on it isn’t idea for your longterm heart health). According to the USDA, one tablespoon has 13 grams of fat—of which 11 grams are saturated fat.
These little seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon has three grams of carbs and 2.8 grams of fiber, per the USDA.
If you aren’t crazy about the tropical aroma of coconut oil, don’t fret. Use olive oil instead for your cooking needs. One tablespoon has zero carbs and 13.5 grams of fat, primarily monounsaturated fats, per the USDA.
RELATED: THE 7 WORST FOODS TO EAT AT NIGHT
Nuts are a great, protein-rich food perfect for adherents to the keto diet. Opt for nuts packed with healthy fats like Brazil nuts, pecans, and walnuts. One serving contains between one to two carbs plus fiber to keep your blood sugar level.
Yogurt is a great versatile ingredient to include in your diet. Although yogurt has a rep for being naturally higher in sugar (and therefore in carbs), you don’t have to exclude it from your high-fat, low-carb diet. An eight-ounce serving of whole milk yogurt has 10.5 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA, while also packing in 7.8 grams of protein.
RELATED: ‘I DRANK WHOLE MILK INSTEAD OF ALMOND MILK FOR A MONTH—HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED’
This dark, leafy green is a low-carb veggie staple. One cup of raw spinach has approximately one gram of carbs, not to mention vitamins A and K, and folate and magnesium, per the USDA.
This superfood staple is also keto-approved. One cup of raw kale has 1.4 grams of carbs and is a great source of vitamins K and C as well as plant-based calcium, according to the USDA.
If you’re sick of spinach and kale, try this dark leafy green. One cup of chard has only 1.35 grams of carbs and provides more than your daily needs for vitamin K and half of your daily vitamin A needs, per the USDA.
While one cup of chopped raw broccoli has six grams of carbs, per the USDA, it can still fit into your high-fat, low-carb lifestyle. It’s also an important source of vitamin C and K and the 2.4 grams of fiber will keep you full longer. P.S. Broccoli’s cousin cauliflower is great too, with 5.3 grams of carbs per serving.
RELATED: EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT IF YOU’RE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT
You could probably guess that cucumbers are low-carb. According to the USDA, half a cup of sliced cukes has only 1.89 grams of carbs. Go ahead and toss them in your salad or munch them for a snack.