Whether you're a complete beginner or have been keto for years, this keto diet food list will make it easier to meal plan and stock up on low-carb, high-fat groceries.
So you've decided to go keto. You're not alone: the low-carb, high-fat eating plan has become increasingly popular in recent years. And although the buzzy diet can be accompanied by certain side effects that you should be aware of before you try it for the first time, many followers rave about its ability to seemingly melt away fat.
First, a little background: Eric Westman, MD, director of the Duke Lifestyle Medical Clinic, explained to Health in a previous interview that in order to successfully follow the keto diet, you need to eat moderate amounts of protein, reduce your carb intake, and increase fats. When you reduce your carb consumption, your body turns to stored fat as its new fuel source—a process called ketosis. To stay in ketosis, followers of the keto diet must limit their carbs to 50 grams a day, Dr. Westman says.
Grocery shopping on the keto diet can be a bit tricky. Many processed, packaged foods are off-limits, and even certain whole foods are too starchy (sorry, sweet potatoes). You need to fill your plate with low-carb, high-fat foods such as meat, seafood, non-starchy produce, and healthy fats.
Ready to get shopping? We polled nutritionists to find out which foods should be part of your keto beginner meal plan.
Add to cart: Wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, crab, tuna, mussels, cod
"Stick to high-quality proteins such as wild or sustainably farmed seafood," says Pegah Jalali, RD, a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. The picks above are a great source of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other good-for-you nutrients like protein and selenium.
Stock up: Thrive Market, one of our favorite online groceries, recently launched a selection of sustainably farmed frozen seafood. In particular, their Wild & Sustainable Seafood Box is an amazing deal; you'll get 17 servings of seafood, including shrimp, sea scallops, barramundi, cod, and salmon—enough to last you for weeks.
2 Low-carb vegetables
Add to cart: Arugula, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, fennel, cabbage, celery, Brussels sprouts, kale
"Low-carb vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more" says Jalali. "Not to mention, they also make a great vehicle to add fats to." Starchy veggies such as carrots, yams, beets, turnips, sweet and regular potatoes should be avoided.
Stock up: The Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service makes it easy to ensure you always have keto-friendly veggies in the fridge. We love its delivery scheduling tool; simply fill your cart, then decide which day and timeframe you'd like your groceries delivered. One of our faves: Pre-Cut Zucchini Noodles are great for whipping up low-carb "pasta" dishes.
3 Low-sugar fruits
Add to cart: Tomatoes, avocado, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, coconut, lemon, and limes
Although you'll be cutting way back on carbohydrates and sugar, some fruits are still okay to eat on the keto diet (though you'll still want to be mindful about quantity in order to remain in ketosis). The fruits that make the cut contain far fewer carbs than their off-limits cousins such as apples, pears, bananas, pineapples, papayas, grapes, and fruit juices in general.
Stock up: Raspberries will satisfy your craving for something sweet without setting you back in your diet. We like USDA-Certified Organic Raspberries, also available on Amazon Fresh.
4 Meat, poultry, and eggs
Add to cart: Chicken, turkey, beef, venison, pork, lamb
Meat products make up a big part of the keto diet, but experts stress the importance of choosing quality. "Since the keto diet is based a lot on animal proteins, it's important to buy organic poultry and grass-fed, organic beef," says Aimee Aristotelous, RD. "Not only do organic selections help with limiting environmental toxins, but grass-fed options of red meats even change the composition of fats." The result, she explains, is that your body is able to better absorb those healthy fats.
Stock up: Thrive Market also has a terrific value pack of sustainably farmed, frozen meats. Their Meat Sampler Chicken, Beef, Pork Box contains 31 servings of meat from ground beef (85% lean, 15% fat), organic bone-in chicken thighs, organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, and sugar-free bacon.
5 Nuts and seeds
Add to cart: Macadamia nuts, flaxseed, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds
Nuts and seeds are your new keto diet BFFs; they're packed with protein to keep you fuller for longer in between meals, while also delivering a hit of healthy fats. Win-win.
Stock up: In a previous interview, celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, RD, recommended macadamia nuts, explaining that this variety is "higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates, leaning more ketogenic than other nuts." Our pick: NOW Foods Dry Roasted & Salted Macadamia Nuts.
6 Dairy products
Add to cart: Cheese, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter
Dairy products are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and calcium.
Stock up: It's not just for kids! Aristotelous recommends string cheese for a convenient on-the-go snack. We like Sargento Snacks' Part-Skim Natural String Cheese, which not only has a short and recognizable ingredient list, but also packs 8 grams of protein and 0 carbohydrates per stick.
No surprise here: Oils, whether from fruits like olives or nuts like walnuts, are a great source of keto-friendly healthy fats. Since they each impart unique flavors, we recommend filling your pantry with a few different varieties.
8 Keto-approved condiments
Add to cart: Olive oil mayonnaise, mustard, unsweetened ketchup, oil-based salad dressings
Finding keto-friendly condiments to add flavor to your dishes can be difficult, as many brands are highly processed. When in doubt, take a look at the nutritional information to make sure there's no added sugar (this is especially important with ketchup, which can be a major sugar bomb).
Stock up: Another one of Jalali's Primal Kitchen picks is the brand's Avocado Oil Mayo. It's sugar-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with just cage-free eggs, vinegar, sea salt, avocado oil, and rosemary extract. (Plus: This brand also makes some incredible salad dressing.)
Like poultry and meat, eggs are another great source of animal protein, and they're one of Aristotelous' favorite keto-friendly foods. "If you boil a dozen eggs ahead of time, grabbing a hard-boiled egg on the go isn't the typical idea of packaged food but it's just as easy," she says.
Stock up: We love 365 Everyday Value's Cage-Free Large Brown Eggs, and this Amazon Fresh price is a total steal.
Yes, they're technically a fruit, but we think olives deserve a shout-out all of their own, since they're also a great source of healthy fats and are one of a few keto-approved packaged foods. Plus, they're a great source of antioxidants, will satisfy your craving for something salty, and are blissfully low-carb. “About a palm's worth only has 3 grams of net carbs,” Sarah Jadin, RD, told Health in a previous interview.
Stock up: Jalali is a fan of Oloves, and this variety pack contains 24 of the brand's most popular flavors, such as basil and garlic and chili and oregano. Plus, it's a great value—you'll end up paying less than $1 per pack.
11 Keto-approved snacks
Whole foods are always best, but we get that sometimes you just need the convenience of a pre-packaged, store-bought snack.
Stock up: Believe it or not, low-carb crackers do exist. Jalali likes Flackers Organic Flax Seed Crackers ($5; amazon.com) and Cello Whisps Pure Parmesan Cheese Crisps (pictured). Pair with nut butter, cheese, or avocado for a quick keto snack.
12 Coffee and tea
Add to cart: Unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee
Phew! "Going keto doesn't mean you have to give up your caffeine," says Aristotelous. "Unsweetened teas and coffees are keto-approved."
Stock up: We love Grounds and Hounds coffee. Not only are its beans fair trade and organic, but the company gives back to animal rescue organizations with every purchase.
Add to cart: Dark chocolate
"if you love chocolate, you can still indulge," says Aristotelous. Not all varieties are created equal, though: "Just check the label to make sure it's at least 70 percent cacao."
Jalali agrees, adding that she also recommends keto followers avoid imitation foods with non-nutritive sweeteners.
Stock up: For a chocolate-y treat, try Eating Evolved Midnight Coconut Primal Chocolate. It's made with 100% cacao, has no added sugar, and "is a great low-carb option," says Jalali.