What Foods Can I Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

In the past when I answered this question, I just linked to the infamous “Dr Eric Westman’s Page 4” list but as someone pointed out to me last week, that list is no longer available on Scribd where it has been for years.  A stunning loss to the Ketogenic world!  However, I kept a copy in my personal notes so we are golden.  I will not be copy and pasting his list here just because it is his list and I’m not sure how Dr Westman would feel about me just repeating his list here but I can assure you that all the information below is very similar to his list but just redone in my own words so as not to step on anyone’s copyright toes.  Plus, let’s be honest, a list of keto friendly foods is pretty easy to come up with.  Eat fatty meats, green leafy veggies and some full fat dairy.  You can see my recipes at MySugarFreeJourney.com/Recipes.

Your diet is to be made up exclusively of foods and beverages from the following list.

No more than 20 grams of carbs a day.

  • If the food is packaged, check the label for carbohydrate count for your meal.  You are looking for:
  • 2 grams or less for meat and dairy products,
  • 5 grams or less for vegetables.

All food may be cooked in a microwave oven, baked, boiled, stir-fried, sautéed, roasted, fried (with no flour, breading, or cornmeal), or grilled.

When You Are Hungry, Eat Your Choice Of The Following Foods…

Meat

  • Beef (including hamburger and steak)
  • Pork, ham (unglazed), bacon,
  • Lamb, veal, or other meats.
  • For processed meats (sausage, pepperoni, hot dogs), check the label for carb counts (Stay away from processed meats with added sugar or grains)
  • Carbohydrate count should be about 1 gram per serving

Poultry

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Any other fowl

Fish and Shellfish

  • Any fish, including
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Catfish
  • Bass
  • Trout
  • Shrimp
  • Scallops
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Sardines (Aarn’s personal favorite: Wild Planet)

Eggs

Whole eggs are permitted without restrictions

Foods That Should Be Eaten Every Day…

Salad Greens

  • 1-2 cups a day (maximum 2 cups or two fistfuls)
  • – Cabbage (all varieties)
  • – Chives
  • – Greens (all varieties, including beet, collards, mustard, and turnip)
  • – Lettuce (all varieties)
  • – Parsley
  • – Spinach
  • – Radishes

(If it is a leaf, you may eat it.)

Fibrous Non-Starchy Vegetables:

1 cup (one fistful) per day

includes:

  • – Asparagus
  • – Black beans (only a few in chili etc.)
  • – Broccoli
  • – Brussels sprouts
  • – Bamboo shoots
  • – Bean sprouts
  • – Cauliflower
  • – Celery
  • – Cucumber
  • – Green beans (string beans)
  • – Mushrooms
  • – Okra
  • – Pepper
  • – Rhubarb
  • – Rutabaga (swede)
  • – Snow peas
  • – Sprouts (bean and alfalfa)
  • – Sugar snap peas
  • – Zucchini
  • – Tomatoes
  • – Turnip
  • – Wax beans

Foods Allowed In Limited Quantities…

Cheese

  • Up to 4 ounces a day.
  • Includes hard, aged cheeses such as Swiss and Cheddar,
  • Brie, Camembert blue, mozzarella, Gruyere, cream cheese, goat cheeses.
  • Avoid processed cheeses, such as Velveeta.
  • Check the label; carbohydrate count should be less than 1 gram per serving.
  • Try to stick with Full Fat varieties

Cream (no milk)

  • Up to 2 tablespoons a day.
  • Includes heavy, light, or sour cream
  • Not half and half

Mayonnaise

  • Up to 3 tablespoons a day.
  • Duke’s and Hellmann’s are low-carb.
  • Check the labels of other brands.
  • Aarn’s recommendation: Primal Kitchen brand

Fatty Vegetables & Other

  • Avocado- ½ per day
  • Olives (Black or Green): – Up to 6 a day.

 

Condiments

Pickles

  • Dill or Sugar-Free:
  • Up to 2 servings a day.
  • Mt. Olive makes sugar-free pickles.
  • Check the labels for carbohydrates and serving size.

 

Snacks

Pepperoni slices,  Pork Rinds, Ham,  Beef, Turkey, Other meat roll-ups with cream cheese, Deviled eggs,  Summer Sausage or Salami (less than 1 gram carb)

 

RESTRICTIONS:  Do Not Eat!

On this diet, no sugars (simple carbohydrates) and no starches (complex carbohydrates) are eaten.  The only carbohydrates encouraged are the nutritionally dense, fiber-rich vegetables listed.

Sugars: Simple carbohydrate    Avoid anything containing:

  • – White sugar
  • – Brown sugar
  • – Honey
  • – Maple syrup
  • – Molasses
  • – Corn syrup
  • – Beer (contains barley malt)
  • – Milk (contains lactose)
  • – Flavored yogurts (usually have a lot of sugar)
  • – Fruit juice
  • – Fruit

Starches: “complex” carbohydrate

  • Avoid these kinds of foods:
  • – Grains (even “whole” grains),
  • – Rice
  • – Cereals and Oatmeal
  • – Flour
  • – Corn
  • – Cornstarch
  • – Breads
  • – Pastas
  • – Muffins
  • – Bagels
  • – Crackers
  • – Beans and peas (pinto, lima, kidney, peas etc)
  • – Most Root vegetables – particularly carrots, parsnips, corn, potatoes, French fries, potato
  • chips

SWEETENERS AND DESSERTS

  • If you feel the need to eat or drink something sweet, you should select the most sensible alternative sweetener(s) available.
  • Available alternative sweeteners are:
  • Splenda (sucralose),
  • Nutra-sweet (aspartame), (I include this for the sake of completeness but don’t use Aspartame.  There are numerous documented problems with it)
  • Truvia (stevia/erythritol blend), (Aarn’s choice)
  • Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin). (Aarn’s 2nd choice)
  • Xylitol  (Dian’s choice for her coffee)

IMPORTANT TIPS AND REMINDERS

  • The following items are NOT on the diet:
  • – Sugar
  • – Bread
  • – Cereal
  • – Flour-containing items
  • – Fruits, juices
  • – Honey
  • – Whole or skimmed milk
  • – Yogurt
  • – Canned soups
  • – Dairy substitutes
  • – Sweet condiments and relishes

FATS AND OILS

  • All fats and oils, even butter, are allowed. Some oils are better for cooking
  • Coconut oil, butter, Ghee or lard is recommended for cooking as these are most stable at  high temperatures
  • Olive oil is recommended for cold dressings.
  • Avoid margarine and other hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats – they are not healthy.
  • For salad dressings, the ideal dressing is a homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing, with lemon juice and spices as needed.
  • Blue-cheese, ranch, Caesar, and Italian are also acceptable if the label says 1 to 2  grams of carbohydrate per serving or less. (Again, consider Primal Kitchen dressings)
  • Avoid “lite” dressings, because these commonly have more carbohydrate.

Chopped eggs, bacon, and/or grated cheese may also be included in salads as a fat source

  • Natural unprocessed fats, in general, are important to include, because they taste good and make you feel full.
  • You are therefore permitted the fat or skin that is served with the meat or poultry that you eat, as long as there is no breading on the skin.
  • Do not attempt to follow a low-fat diet!

Quantities

  • Eat when you are hungry; stop when you are full.
  • The diet works best on a “demand feeding” basis—that is, eat whenever you are hungry; try not to eat more than what will satisfy you.
  • Learn to listen to your body. A low-carbohydrate diet has a natural  appetite-reduction effect to ease you into the consumption of smaller and smaller quantities comfortably.
  • Do not eat everything on your plate just because it’s there. On the other hand, don’t go hungry!
  • You are not counting calories. Enjoy losing weight comfortably, without hunger or cravings.
  • It is recommended that if you are hungry you start your day with a nutritious low-carbohydrate meal.
  • Note that many medications and nutritional supplements need to be taken with food at each meal, or three times per day.

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What Foods Can I Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

The My Sugar Free Journey Podcast – Episode 67: Darryl Edwards, The Fitness Explorer!

In this week’s My Sugar Free Journey Podcast, I talk to Darryl Edwards, The Fitness Explorer!

Remember that you can follow us on iTunes and I would really appreciate a review there on iTunes.  Thanks!

Podcast Shownotes

Find more from Darryl on his website, The Fitness Explorer.  Grab a copy of his book, Paleo from A to Z here.

Why You Should Be a Keto Hedonist

Will All This Fat Cause Cardiovascular Disease or a Heart Attack?

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Will All This Fat Cause Cardiovascular Disease or a Heart Attack?

Short Answer – No

Over the years as I have talked to people about the LCHF and Keto lifestyle, I hardly get any pushback on the idea that sugar is bad for you.  Many say that they can’t imagine life without it but hardly anyone doubts that it is doing them harm and causing weight gain.  But once I move to the other half of the equation, that they should be replacing all that sugar and other carbs in their diet with fat, well…that’s when I get some looks of disbelief.

This idea that fat will clog your arteries like cold bacon grease down a drain is pervasive and a difficult objection to overcome.  After all, we’ve been told this is the way it is for decades now.  But what if I told you that every single study that looked at the effect of fat in the diet where fat was deemed to be harmful was done with sugar or another carbohydrate in the diet as well?  In other words, it’s not the fat, it’s the fat and carbs together that cause damage.

Intuitively, this should make a lot of sense to us.  After all, we are animals that evolved to the top of the food chain because we started eating meat.  It would be crazy to think the one thing that gave us the evolutionary super powers of critical thought and language would somehow turn out to be bad for us.  Or that foods that have been created in the last century like Crisco and Twinkies would somehow be better for us than the meat our ancestors ate.  Or that the massive amounts of highly processed sugar, grains and industrial seed oils (PUFAs) that have never been a part of our diet would work well with our biology.

The fact of the matter is, a properly formulated ketogenic diet has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease.  It drops your blood sugar which slows the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), it drops your triglycerides (Mine went from high 200’s to less than 50), it changes LDL from the atherogenic Pattern B to the healthy Pattern A, it raises HDL, and probably most importantly, it lowers Insulin levels which reduces Insulin Resistance.

Over the last 4 years, I have seen every marker of possible heart disease fall away one after another.  All my blood lipids are normal and my BP has fallen about 40 points from where it was.  I still have a ways to go but I can guarantee you I am on the right path and I have heard this story repeated too often to count.  A LCHF diet works wonders for your health and will lower your risk of heart disease.

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Will All This Fat Cause Cardiovascular Disease or a Heart Attack?

Why You Should Be a Keto Hedonist

If you ask most people what a good diet it is, they will usually respond by saying (in so many words) a good diet is one where all the “fun” foods have been removed.  You are just eating for health and not for joy.  The problem with this is most people are joy-driven.  In other words, all things being equal most people will gravitate to the choice that will bring them the most pleasure.  This is one of the things that cause most diets to fail, we just don’t enjoy “diet food”.

The real problem for us is that sugar activates the reward center of the brain so every time we eat a little sugar-filled treat, we get a little hit of dopamine.  Some people can get that little rush of joy from, say, a cookie and really savor it and move on.  However, people like me (and I would guess that most people who have struggled with their weight fall in this category) just can’t stop at one cookie.  If we eat one snack, we will tell you to leave the whole package or risk getting hurt.  Even now, 4 years in to this journey and 200 lbs down, I still can’t enjoy sugar in small amounts.  When left to my own devices, if I eat one, I will be compelled to eat all.  It’s like a little sugar totally destroys all willpower.

In thinking about what I can do mentally to overcome this daunting obstacle, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

I still remember reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to my kids many years ago and while this particular quote didn’t come from that book, it has always stuck with me.  The idea here is we keep trading the infinite joy that God offers for the small pleasures of this world.  That God does not ask us to forsake joy for the bland life of service to Him, but bids us to drink from the deep well of His Joy that will never run dry or fail to satisfy.

This idea came to mind recently when I was at work and someone brought in a dozen donuts.  Not only were they donuts but 3 of them were the kind I really like.  There is a white cream that is basically a thick whipped cream that some donuts are filled with that I find irresistible and here were 3 sitting on the table for the taking.  I knew that there was no possible way I could eat one, that if I gave in a little, I was going to eat those 3 and probably a few more until I got sick.  That is unfortunately just how I’m wired.

So I left the room and got a little space between me and the temptation and began to think about what was going to happen next.  Part of me wanted to throw all the donuts in the trash and the other part of me knew that if I did that, one was going to end up in my mouth on the way to the trashcan.  That was when the C. S. Lewis quote popped in my head and I realized the true choice that was in front of me.  I could be “too easily pleased” by the momentary pleasure of a donut that would make me feel good for a minute and terrible for hours, or I could hold out for the greater joy of a body free from the diseases of obesity.

This idea, that by overcoming a momentary temptation to reach a greater joy, helped me see this situation in a new light.  No longer was I trading happiness for the bland monotony of a sugar-less world but trading a lesser joy for a greater.  I was willingly giving up something I didn’t really want for something I desperately craved, a body without the extra weight, a normal blood pressure, knees that didn’t ache, enough energy to throw my grandkids in the air, and the ability to grow old with my wife.

In a sense, I became a hedonist, a Keto Hedonist.  I am forsaking the tiny pleasures and small hits of dopamine that come with the foods I used to eat in very large amounts for the long-term joy and sustaining power of serotonin that comes from making decisions that will bring me the most joy for the longest period of time available to me, the rest of my life.  Now these decisions don’t feel like sacrifices but the obvious consequence of a man driven by pursuing the greater joy.

Can you do this?  Can you seek the long-term joy over the momentary happiness?  Can you join me as a Keto Hedonist?  Tell me your story in the comments below!

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Why You Should Be a Keto Hedonist