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Keto Diet: What to Eat and What Not to Eat on Ketogenic Diet

by | Diet and Nutrition

Last updated Apr 29, 2022 | Published on Dec 25, 2021

A serving of a keto diet will contain much more fats than carbohydrates when compared to a ‘normal’ meal. Eating keto diets aims to reduce how many carbohydrates we consume while increasing the amount of fat we consume. 

Carbohydrates and their derivatives are the body’s go-to energy source when the body is functioning normally. Also, when one isn’t sick, fasting, or starving. As such, the body will use carbohydrates for energy first before going on to use other classes of food such as fats. 

Eating keto diets changes this. By reducing the number of carbohydrates available for our body tissues, keto diets force the body to settle with using fat as its primary energy source instead.

For this reason, more fat would be used up by the body, presenting benefits like weight and optimal blood sugar levels

This is a list of foods to avoid and foods to eat when on a ketogenic diet:

Foods to Eat When on Keto Diet

1. Olives

Olives, obtained from olive trees, are rich in vitamins. They contain a lot of good oils and fatty acids, which are good for the heart. They make a good constituent of a keto diet. 

It is easy to include olives in a variety of recipes. 

2. Meat

Like most animal sources of protein, meat does not contain carbohydrates. Yet, it contains a rich amount of other essential nutrients such as proteins, fatty acids, and vitamins.

One of the vitamins contained in meat is Vitamin B, which is also called riboflavin. This vitamin is one of the vital nutrients necessary for the maturation and repair of cells. 

Meat protein is necessary to help the body repair damaged tissues. When we eat a lot of protein, we increase our muscle mass and help our body repair itself. 

The proteins are also stored and can be used as an alternative source of energy, too, in case our body’s energy reserves drop too low. This is a process called gluconeogenesis. 

Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium, all present in meat, help maintain cell functions. 

3. Cheese

Just like its lookalike, butter, cheese tastes good. Unsweetened cheese is quite low in carbohydrates, whatever shape or size it comes in. But this does not mean it’s a low-value meal. Far from it, cheese is not a low-value meal. 

The fat cheese contains what is considered saturated fat.

Saturated fats are considered good fatty acids as they do not directly pose a threat to the development of heart disease based on the consensus from extensive studies.

In fact, HDLs are termed good cholesterol. They are capable of removing triglycerides and cholesterol from the body’s peripheral tissues, taking them to the liver where they can be adequately processed.

Cheese can be included in a number of keto-diet recipes as long as these recipes don’t contain any rich sources of carbohydrates.

You can eat cheese as a late-night snack if you want.    

4. Seafood

Seafood is still an animal’s source of protein. As expected, seafood is low in carbohydrates. Yet, they contain a high amount of fatty acids and other essential nutrients, making them a great keto diet. 

Cod, a fish found in the Atlantic ocean, is rich in antioxidants just like its other seafood counterparts. 

The antioxidants stuffed in cod are anti-inflammatory in nature. Hence, they have an effect on the body to reduce cell reactions that can present swellings, either inside or outside the body. 

Antioxidants do this by removing dangerous free radicals known to damage body cells and produce inflammatory responses. 

Seafood is rich in proteins. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are also inflammatory, and they are believed to improve the heart’s functionality. 

Seafood can be consumed in various recipes like soups or grills while making sure low-carb constituents are used.

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5. Berries

While many fruits are a house to many carbohydrates, figuratively, berries seem different. Compared to other fruits, they are low in carbohydrate content but are rich in other nutrients. One of such nutrients is fiber. 

Yes. Berries contain quite a lot of fiber. Fiber is a non-diabetogenic sugar that helps the large intestine function properly. It is important to prevent constipation and keep the bowels healthy. 

Berries contain antioxidants too. As you must already know, antioxidants are anti-inflammatory agents that function to antagonize free radicals. 

Free radicals are dangerous ions or chemicals that can produce inflammatory responses in the body. They are also known to trigger cancers. Antioxidants work against them.

A berry, or a couple of berries, can be eaten at any time of the day, even as a snack for the night.

6. Eggs

An animal source of protein, an egg is considered one of the most nutritious foods in the world. For this reason, you will find eggs in almost every grocery store!

Eggs don’t contain proteins. All the calories in eggs are shared between proteins, fatty acids, and other essential macro and micronutrients. Eggs are rich in vitamin A and Vitamin B. They contain selenium and choline. 

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Choline is a compound necessary for the formation of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter and is necessary for normal neurological function. 

Lutein, an antioxidant, is also found in eggs. Eggs also contain good cholesterol, which removes cholesterol from the body’s peripheral tissues and blood vessels. 

You can eat eggs in a number of recipes. As long as these recipes do not contain any high sources of carbs, then eggs make a great ketogenic diet?

7. Chicken

Chicken is not just your regular animal source of protein. It is white meat. This means it isn’t only low in carbohydrates. It is also pretty rich in good cholesterol while having little or no bad cholesterol.

Many health advisors like dietitians and nutritionists recommend white meat over red meat!

The ‘good’ cholesterol in chicken helps maintain body circulatory function by removing cholesterol from blood vessels, transporting this cholesterol to the liver for proper processing.

Proteins in chicken help with repairing worn-out tissues in the body. 

Chicken contains calcium and many other micronutrients, such as potassium. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth and is especially essential in the mental growth of children.

You can include chicken in a number of recipes that do not contain high sources of carbohydrates. It makes a great keto diet. 

8. Vegetables

Veggies are a great source of vitamins and should be included in meals. Even though a lot of them contain carbohydrates and are discouraged when one is on a keto diet, some don’t. 

Some veggies that don’t contain a high amount of carbohydrates are Cauliflower, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, cabbages, cucumbers, pumpkin leaves, etc. 

Don’t Eat These Foods on Ketogenic Diet

It is important to avoid certain foods when on a keto diet because they antagonize and defeat the purpose of eating keto diets in the first place. 

This is especially true of foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates, even if they also contain a high amount of fat. 

This is because, when there is the availability of carbohydrates in the body, the body’s tissues will not be forced to use up fats for their energy needs. 

They will stick to using carbohydrates instead, meaning more fats will go unused, presenting weight gain, etc. 

Some foods to avoid when on a keto diet include:

1. Vegetables

We have mentioned that a lot of vegetables contain a high amount of carbohydrates and sugars. A couple of them include sweet potatoes, corn, yams, beets, potatoes, etc.

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These vegetables are a no when you are on a keto diet. 

2. Grains

Grains contain a rich amount of carbs. When on a keto diet, avoid eating them or including too much of them in recipes. Rice, for example, has much of its calories coming from carbohydrates. The same is true about oats and millets. 

3. Sugars and sweeteners

Sugars are not recommended when one is on a keto diet—especially processed sugars contained in sweeteners and sweetened beverages. 

These sugars can cause weight gain and an increase in blood sugars. 

4. Energy drinks

Energy drinks give real-time energy by momentarily raising blood sugar levels. For this reason, you feel strong and energized soon after drinking an energy drink. 

They should be avoided when you are on a keto diet. 

5. Fruits

Like vegetables, most fruits contain a high amount of carbohydrates. Bananas, oranges, and watermelons, for example.

When on a keto diet, you might want to stay away from these fruits. This does not mean that fruit will miraculously make you gain a lot of weight. No. You can eat fruits. Just not too many of them. 

However, lemon does not contain a high amount of carbohydrates, even berries. 

6. Alcohol

Alcohol delays ketosis. It contains high calories and can also stimulate your appetite, which may increase your feeling of hunger.

When on a keto diet, please try not to take a lot of alcohol. 

Summary

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. Fat can be an alternative source but can also be a primary source if the body’s carbohydrate levels are reduced. 

Keto dieting aims to make fat the primary energy source of the body. And it is known to present benefits such as weight gain, healthy sugar levels, etc. 

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Reference

  1. WebMD: What’s a Ketogenic Diet?

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By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals. She covers topics ranging from health and productivity to relationships.

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