The Ultimate Interactive Keto Diet Food List

A complete, interactive, and color-coded food guide for the Ketogenic Diet

(You should probably bookmark this.)

How To Use This Guide

How To Use This Guide

Learning what to eat, and what to NOT eat on a Ketogenic Diet is one of the most important things for beginners. Once you learn the basics, it is quite easy to follow.

There are many Keto Diet food lists floating around the internet, but most of them focus either just on what you CAN eat, OR what you CANNOT eat. I think you should see both, side-by-side, for each food category.

I also firmly believe there is a "gray area" for each food category: foods that are not great choices, but that don't completely knock you out of ketosis.

In the list below, there are three color-coded columns for each food category:

OK to Eat

Enjoy foods in this category all you want, up to your maximum calories allowed per day.

Sometimes / Sparingly

Eating foods in this category is OK on occasion, but don't make a habit of it, and limit the quantity.

Never Eat

Do not eat foods in this category if you want to stay in ketosis and enjoy the benefits of a Ketogenic Diet.

If most of your food choices come from the green box, then you're doing great!

If you're eating many things from the yellow box, you may not really be in ketosis, and your weight loss may stall.

And if you're eating foods from the red box, well, you're cheating. Don't do that.

Vegetables

Vegetables

Many vegetables are Keto-friendly! You'll want to make vegetables a big part of your diet.

In general, vegetables that grow above-ground are Keto-friendly, while those that grow below-ground are not. Examples of below-ground vegetables are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even carrots (although not bad).

When looking at nutrition information for vegetables, it is generally safe to subtract their fiber content from the total carbohydrate count, as fiber is not as easily processed by the body, so one gram of fiber does not have the same effect on blood sugar as one gram of sugar.

OK to Eat

  • Artichoke
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli & Broccoli Rabe
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard / Swiss Chard
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans / String Beans
  • Jalapeno
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Pepper (Bell)
  • Radish
  • Snow Peas / Peapods
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Pumpkin
  • Shallots
  • Soybeans
  • Turnips
  • Tomato (really a fruit)

Never Eat

  • Butternut Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn

Fruits

Fruits

Most fruits are not keto-friendly. Despite having many vitamins and minerals, they simply have too much sugar.

For example, one medium size apple has ~20 grams of sugar, and it will likely knock you out of ketosis for a short bit.

Many berries are lower in sugar than other fruits, although they should be used sparingly, and not eaten in the first ~ 2 weeks of starting a ketogenic diet while you are trying to become fat adapted. Certainly don't go and eat an entire pint of strawberries -- that has 17g of sugar!

OK to Eat

  • Avocado
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Olives

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Rhubarb (without sugar)
  • Cranberries (without sugar)

Never Eat

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Plantain
  • Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Grapefruit
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Kiwi
  • Peach / Nectarine
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Canteloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Other Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Most other fruits!

Meats & Proteins

Meats & Proteins

Just about all meats & fish are Keto-friendly.

When shopping for them, the key thing to check is whether or not they come with any added sugars or carbs in the form of fillers, sauces, or marinades. If you're buying fresh, un-flavored meats and fish, then you're fine!

One of the great things about the Ketogenic Diet is that you do not have to limit your choices to "lean" proteins. Things like bacon, fatty cuts of beef, and organ meats are great choices on Keto -- they taste great, there are a lot of nutrients in the fat and organ meats, and they'll help you feel full.

OK to Eat

  • Eggs (all kinds!)
  •  
  • Pork Products
  • Pork (any cut)
  • Bacon (make sure no added sugars)
  • Prosciutto
  • Pork Sausage (check carb counts)
  • Breakfast Sausage (watch for added sugars)
  •  
  • Beef Products
  • Beef (any cut, grass-fed is great, but not necessary)
  • Beef Jerky (low-carb versions)
  • Hamburger Patties & Ground Beef
  •  
  • Poultry Products
  • Chicken (dark meat is best)
  • Chicken Wings (without breading or sweet sauces)
  • Turkey (dark meat is best)
  • Other poultry (quail, goose, duck, pheasant)
  •  
  • Seafood
  • Fish (fattier types are best)
  • Shellfish (crab, lobster, etc.)
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Anchovies (in the can)
  •  
  • Other
  • Wild Game (venison, elk, wild boar, etc.)

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • The items on this list are only OK (green category) if they are specifically made with low-carb ingredients. Check the label before buying them!
  •  
  • Meatballs, pre-made (unless specifically low-carb)
  • Meatloaf (unless specifically low-carb)
  • Chicken Sausage, pre-made (most have added carbs)
  • Beef Jerky (most have added sugar, check nutrition label)
  • BBQ Ribs (unless specifically using low-carb BBQ sauce)
  • Tofu (even though it has low carbs, soy has high amounts of poly-unsaturated oils)

Never Eat

  • Meats with sweet sauces (marinades, BBQ sauce, teriyaki flavored beef jerky, etc.)
  • Meats with breadcrumb and sugar fillers (meatballs, meatloaf, sweet sausages, etc.)
  • Meats/fish with fried breading (fried chicken, chicken strips, fish sticks, battered chicken wings, chicken-fried steak, etc..)

Grains, Powders & Breads

Grains, Powders & Breads

All typical "bread" type products are off-limits on Keto, as these foods are made of nearly 100% carbohydrates.

The good news is that there are alternatives! Many bread-based foods can be made with almond flour, coconut flour, and other Keto-friendly alternative ingredients. But even with these alternatives, you need to be careful! The carb counts can creep up quite a bit, even with almond flour. If you eat a big stack of "Keto-friendly" pancakes with sugar free syrup, the net carb count can still easily reach over 20 grams if you eat too much!

And definitely watch-out for "low-carb" or "Smart-Carb" versions of bread products sold at major supermarkets. While they may be lower carb versions, they often still have a surprisingly high amount of carbs per serving.

Personally, I view these alternative flours as infrequent indulgences, not as something to eat every day.

OK to Eat

  • All of these should be consumed in moderation!
  •  
  • Almond Flour / Almond Meal
  • Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • Coconut Flour
  • Flax Seed Meal
  • Protein Powders (very low-carb versions only)
  • Psyllium Husk
  • Sesame Seed Flour
  • Shiritaki Noodles

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • While many of these are labeled as "low-carb" most of them still have a relatively high amount of carbs per serving.
  •  
  • Low-carb baking mixes (most still have high carb counts)
  • Low-carb breads (check the nutrition label)
  • Low-carb tortillas (check the nutrition label)
  • Low-carb pastas (check the nutrition label)
  • Low-carb baked goods (use these sparingly, not every day)

Never Eat

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Wheat
  • Bread (yes, even whole wheat)
  • Oats
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • "Carb-Smart" Breads & Torillas (they still have so many carbs!)
  • Tapioca Flour or Tapioca Balls (found in bubble teas)

Nuts, Seeds, Legumes & Beans

Nuts, Seeds, Legumes & Beans

Nuts are an excellent Keto-friendly food choice. But not all nuts are created equal, and you MUST watch your quantity when eating nuts. Nuts are very calorically dense and all of them still contain some carbs, and its so easy to get carried away and overeat. Don't do that.

You also watch out when buying flavored or processed nut products, as they often contain sweeteners or other hidden carbs. For example, while almonds themselves are great, "honey-roasted" almonds are a no-no. As always, be sure to check the label before you buy!

OK to Eat

  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazilnuts
  • Coconut (unsweetened)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pili Nuts
  • Walnuts
  •  
  • Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds / Pepitas
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  •  
  • Nut/Seed Butters
  • Almond Butter (unsweetened)
  • Sunflower Butter (unsweetened)

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Peanuts (NOT honey roasted)
  • Peanut Butter (natural, without sugar)
  • Cashews
  • Cashew Butter (natural, without sugar)
  • Pistachios

Never Eat

  • Beans (any kind)
  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Peanut Butter (the regular kind with lots of sugar)
  • Almond Butter, sweetened (check the label!)

Fats & Oils

Fats & Oils

In general, fats are a great thing to eat on the Ketogenic Diet. After all, eating fat is not what makes you fat (that's carbs) so you can even add extra fats to things likes vegetables to make them taste great!

But of course, not all fats are created equal. Some are excellent choices as they have great nutrients, great fatty acid makeups, and they're very tasty. But other fats are actually not great because they have the wrong types of fatty acids that actually do more harm to your body than help.

Some Keto people claim there are some fats that you absolutely cannot have -- like Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, and other seed-based oils. While I certainly agree these fats are not nearly as good as other options, I put them on the "yellow" list, as they are so common in our everyday foods, and completely eliminating them from a Ketogenic Diet puts unnecessary restrictions on a diet that is already a bit difficult to maintain. Use those fats in moderation, but if they're you're only option, you'll be OK.

OK to Eat

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Lard
  • Schmaltz / Chicken Fat
  • Duck Fat / Goose Fat
  • Fish Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Most Other Nut Oils

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • All of these oils should be avoided when possible, but are not going to knock you out of Ketosis if you have them. They are mainly on this list because they are low-quality, not because they have carbs.
  •  
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Soybean Oil (most common in salad dressings)
  • Safflower Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Margerine (usually made with Canola Oil)

Never Eat

  • Try your best to avoid the fats in the yellow column.

Dairy & Dairy Alternatives

Dairy & Dairy Alternatives

Dairy causes a lot of confusion with newcomers to Keto. Some people seem to have better results completely avoiding dairy, while other (myself included) do great with dairy included. It comes down to personal choice and experimentation.

But one thing is certain -- you need to avoid a lot of the mainstream dairy products like regular milk and most yogurt. These foods have a surprising amount of carbs!

You also need to be very careful that processed dairy foods and dairy substitutes don't have added carbs. For example, while full-fat plain greek yogurt is OK to eat, most greek yogurt sold in stores is sweetened and flavored, which has LOTS of sugar. Read the labels! Keto people claim there are some fats that you absolutely cannot have -- like Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, and other seed-based oils.

In general, stick with cheeses, heavy whipping cream, and sugar-free dairy substitutes and you'll be fine.

OK to Eat

  • Dairy Products
  • Heavy Whipping Cream / Heavy Cream
  • Butter
  • Plain Greek Yogurt (full-fat is best)
  • Cheese (just about any kind!)
  • Cream Cheese (make sure it has no added sweet flavors like honey)
  • Sour Cream
  •  
  • Dairy Substitutes
  • Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • Macadamia Milk (unsweetened)
  • Coconut Cream (unsweetened)

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Cottage Cheese (unsweetened)
  • Whipped Cream (the kind in the can)
  • Soy Milk (unsweetened, not great, but not the worst thing you can have)
  • Sugar-free Soy Milk Ice Cream (occasionally, in moderation)

Never Eat

  • Milk (too many carbs!)
  • Half-and-Half
  • Yogurt (except Plain Greek Yogurt)
  • Flavored Greek Yogurt
  • Fruit/Sweet Flavored Cream Cheeses
  • Flavored Coffee Creamers (some rare exceptions)
  • Ice Cream (yes, even Halo-Top)
  • Frozen Yogurt

Sweeteners

Sweeteners

There are many alternative or artificial sweeteners available on the market today that provide similar sweetness to sugar, but without the calories, carbohydrates, and impacts on insulin. But should you include these in your Ketogenic Diet? There is much debate in the community.

I personally advocate for staying away from ALL sweeteners as much as possible, and this is what I do myself. Why? Not because of the impact these sweeteners may or may not have on insulin, but rather because they cause me to overeat.

If you are the type that can limit your overall consumption, even if it is sweet, then go ahead and use some of these sweeteners. But be careful, as many people often notice stalls in their weight-loss when they include too many sweeteners in their diet.

OK to Eat

  • I advocate for staying away from all sweeteners, artificial, carb-free, or otherwise. This helps avoid overeating, binge eating, and weight-loss stalls. However, if you're going to indulge, these are the better ones to use:
  •  
  • Erythritol
  • Stevia
  • Monk Fruit Extract
  • Allulose

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • These sweeteners are still generally OK to use, but they all should be used in very limited quantities. Choose the ones from the green list if possible, especially for baking, and things that use more quantity.
  •  
  • Sucralose
  • Aspartame (common in diet sodas, may cause other health issues)
  • Swerve (a brand of mostly Erythritol, but with other additives)
  • Xylitol (it's also very poisonous for dogs!)
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 80%)

Never Eat

  • Sugar(white & brown)
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Molasses
  • Corn Starch
  • Corn Syrup
  • Maltitol (Frequently used in Atkins-brand products, protein bars, etc. Can spike insulin and blood glucose and causes GI upset. Stay away.)
  •  
  • Other sugar substances:
  • Dextrose
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin

Beverages

Beverages

Beverages are a pretty easy thing to manage while on a Ketogenic Diet. The main thing to check for is the use of any sugars or artificial sweeteners on the ingredient label.

In general, follow the rules in the Sweeteners section of this guide.

You will want to stay away from any sugar-based sweeteners, even if they are "natural", like cane-sugar, honey, agave, and fruit juice.

OK to Drink

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sparking Water / Soda Water
  • Almond Milk (see above for other dairy substitutes)
  • Bone Broth

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • These beverages are in the "sometimes" category because of the artificial sweeteners they use.
  •  
  • Diet Soda
  • Crystal Light
  • Powerade Zero
  • Other sugar-free sweetened drinks
  • Red Wine (1 glass)
  • Hard Liquor (watch your mixer)

Never Drink

  • Regular Soda
  • Tonic Water
  • Fruit Juice
  • Vegetable Juices / V8 Juice
  • Carrot Juice
  • Beer (even lower-carb beer)
  • White Wine
  • Fruity Alcoholic Drinks

Dressings & Sauces

Dressings & Sauces

Dressings and sauces are one of the top places where food companies put "hidden" carbs, and often where a lot of Keto newcomers go wrong. And the "low-fat" craze of the past 50 years has taught people (incorrectly) that low-fat salad dressings are the way to go. Definitely not the case with the Ketogenic Diet.

There are so many great low-carb and zero-carb dressings and sauces coming to market, so there's no reason to use the sugar-filled ones. If BBQ sauce is your thing, for example, there are many great low-carb versions now available.

Another key point with dressings and sauces is to check which oils are used. Most store-bought dressings are based on Soybean or Canola Oil, which is not a great choice. Seek out dressings made with Avocado Oil if possible.

If there is one piece of advice for dressings and sauces, its that you should read the label! This is the case with any food, but particularly important for dressings and sauces.

OK to Eat

  • Wine Vinegar (red or white)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Ranch Dressing (full-fat versions)
  • Bleu Cheese Dressing (full-fat versions)
  • Caesar Dressing (full-fat versions)
  • Mayonnaise (most are vegetable oil-based, which is not great)
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sriracha Sauce (Rooster Sauce)

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Balsamic Vinegar (it actually has quite a bit of sugar)
  • Low-Carb BBQ Sauces (most still have quite high amounts of carbs)

Never Eat

  • BBQ Sauce (regular kind)
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • French / "Catalina" Dressing
  • Most "Fat Free" Salad Dressings (they're full of sugar!)

Snack Foods

Snack Foods

Snack foods can be hard to categorize, so I made a dedicated section just for them.

There are so many new snack foods coming on the market that claim to be low-carb or Keto-friendly -- some are, and some are not. And some are OK, but only in moderation.

Just like with artificial sweeteners, you need to be careful not to overeat some of these foods, even the Keto-friendly ones. Eating too much quantity, even if it is "approved", can lead to weight-loss stalls and frustration.

Watch your intake, and as always, read the label!

OK to Eat

  • Beef Jerky, low-carb versions only
  • Dried Sausage Snacks (check carb counts)
  • Pork Rinds / Chiccarones / Cracklins
  • Nuts (see "Nuts & Seeds" section above)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
  • Salami / Pepperoni slices (check for hidden carbs)
  • Prosciutto
  • Cheese Sticks / String Cheese
  • Cut Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.)

Sometimes / Sparingly

  • Peanuts, dry-roasted
  • Beef Jerky, most store-bought versions (usually have a lot of added sugars)
  • Quest Protein Bars
  • Low-Carb Cookies (Keto Kookies, Nui Cookies, Quest Cookies, etc.)
  • Other pre-made low-carb sweets (OK once in a while)

Never Eat

  • Potato Chips
  • Veggie Chips (almost all brands are still potato based)
  • Pea Crisps (a particular brand, still starch-based)
  • Pretzels
  • Peanuts, honey-roasted
  • Beef Jerky, sweet flavors
  • Anything else carb-based!

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