Article by Dr. Josh Axe
The whole point of the keto diet is to enter and then remain in the metabolic state called ketosis, in which you burn fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates (glucose).
Over the past 100 years, researchers have discovered that ketones have some pretty amazing attributes—such as enhancing fat loss, suppressing our appetites, increasing mental clarity, and decreasing the risk for a number of chronic diseases.
How to Eat Keto
In order to make ketones, you need to eat plenty of keto fats while also drastically reducing the amount of carbs you eat.
How do you go about getting started on the keto diet? Before diving into the best keto diet foods, here’s what you can expect in terms of what you will and won’t be eating:
- Good-for-you fats will be your primary source of calories on the keto diet, providing roughly 75% or more of your daily calories. Aim to get about 20% of calories from protein, and just 5–10 percent from carbs.
- On a traditional keto diet, the goal is to keep your daily net carb intake—meaning the total grams of carbs you eat per day minus the grams of fiber—to just 25–30 grams. This amount causes your glycogen stores to be depleted fast, so your body starts making ketones.
What Not to Buy
When grocery shopping, you’ll want to avoid buying the following items which are high in carbs and/or sugar: all fruit, anything made with added sugar (white, brown, cane, raw and confectioner’s sugar, syrups like maple, honey and agave), all drinks high in sugar, all foods made with any grains or grain flour (this includes all whole grains and white/wheat flour), corn and all products containing corn, conventional dairy products such as most yogurts, granola bars and most protein bars or meal replacements, most canned soups, many condiments, and many prepackaged meals.
Your Keto Shopping List
Because the foods below are high in fat, low in carbs, plus they supply protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, these are the best keto diet foods to focus on:
- Healthy fats – Olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, palm oil, avocado oil, avocado, MCT oil, lard, chicken fat or duck fat (can be bought at a butcher) and all types of nuts and seeds. You can also have full-fat dairy products like butter, heavy cream, sour cream, organic cheeses, and in small amounts full-fat/unsweetened yogurt, kefir or milk. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, chestnuts, pump-kin seeds, nut butters and seed butters, chia seeds and flaxseeds are also good sources of fats (just stick to having about 1/4 cup per day, or 2 tablespoons of nut/seed butter).
- Quality protein – Grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, all types of wild-caught fish and seafood (such as tuna, trout, anchovies, bass, flounder, mackerel, salmon, sardines), organ meats like liver, and turkey, or beef jerky.
- Non-starchy vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous veggies, all types of leafy greens (like spinach, dandelion or beet greens, col-lards, mustard, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio and kale), asparagus, cucumber, celery, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and carrots (careful to limit veggies that tend to be sweet like potatoes, butternut squash, beets, etc.).
- Condiments and beverages – Water, water with a slice of lemon or lime, seltzer, herbal tea, black/green tea, coffee, bone broth, unsweetened almond or coconut milk, or freshly made vegetable juice. All types of fresh or dried herbs/spices like cinnamon, basil, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, ginger, cilantro, red pepper, etc., hot sauce, apple cider vinegar and other vinegars, unsweetened mustard, soy sauce, lemon/lime juice, cocoa powder, stevia extract, vanilla extract and sour cream.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. Author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine and the upcoming Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones and Reserve Disease (February 2019), he also operates the number-one natural health website in the world at DrAxe.com, with over 15 million unique visitors every month. He’s a co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health company where the mission is to restore health, strength and vitality by providing history’s healthiest whole food nutrients to the modern world.