A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat nutrition plan. This article addresses some of the best foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Following a ketogenic diet has been effectively shown to improve cardiovascular health, regulate the endocrine system, stabilize blood glucose levels, support weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity in people with type-2 diabetes and even treat neurological dysfunction .
Additionally, a ketogenic diet can improve your energy, cognitive acceleration and overall daily performance. Most people feel their best when in a state of mild-ketosis. One of the big challenges, is that most people have been raised on higher carb comfort foods. So rather than focusing on what foods you will miss, shift your energy to all the great foods you can enjoy. Here are 22 foods to eat on a ketogenic diet that you will LOVE!
1. Lemons & Limes:
Most citrus fruits are packed with sugar. Lemons and limes however offer you the pleasure of a low-glycemic fruit to enjoy regularly and are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients like citric acid, vitamin C and bioflavonoids.
Citric acid helps stabilize blood sugar levels and combat the inflammatory effects of sugar while also serving as an alkalizing agents for the body.
Lemons and limes are some of the best foods you can use daily to help detoxify the gastrointestinal tract because of their natural antiseptic properties. Add a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime to your water throughout the day and use in many food preparations such as meat marinades and dressings.
Herbs pact some of the most powerful antioxidants. Bitter herbs like ginger, turmeric, and parsley stimulate digestive function by improving gut health. They support enzyme and bile secretion from the liver as well as the gallbladder. Consequently food transit time increases, fats are better digested, and detoxification pathways are provided a boost. .
Carminative herbs like garlic and ginger add a pungent aroma to meals which is important for stimulating the flow of gastric juices in the stomach. Their natural oils increase bile flow so consider adding crushed garlic to your high fat meals and enjoy the smells circulating the kitchen. They are also high in vitamins A, polyphenols, amino acids and phytosterols.
Other herbs like dried rosemary, sweet basil and oregano contain polyphenols that enhance organic acid synthesis by improving the gut flora . Organic acids are key to maintain bowel health and aid in nutrient absorption. These herbs destroy harmful bacteria and provide antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-fungal benefits to help you maintain a strong immune system.
3. Unsweetened Coffee and Tea:
You can continue drinking your regular coffee and tea when on a ketogenic diet but ditch the added processed sugars and milk. Creamers, artificial sweeteners and conventional dairy products produce inflammatory stress that destroy your gut health and cause damage to all organs in the body.
When consumed properly, coffee and tea are extremely beneficial to improving energy, gut health and brain function. Coffee and tea are no-carb beverages that contain caffeine to give your metabolism a kick. I always add XCT oil, grass-fed butter, stevia and cinnamon with my coffee for a creamy sweet fat burning coffee that tastes great!
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Coffee contains chlorogenic acid that produces anti-inflammatory responses in the body and lowers blood sugar levels. Herbal teas provide various benefits from stimulating bile flow for a healthy liver to increasing detoxification processes. You can also try bone broth coffee for a great tasting, high protein coffee flavored beverage.
4. Low-Carb Vegetables:
Increased vegetable intake is directly associated with a lower risk of chronic disease largely because of the polyphenols they contain . Low-carb vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and an assortment of antioxidants. This would include spinach, cucumbers, celery, parsley, cilantro, watercress, bok choy, etc.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower are lower in total net carbs and are extremely powerful at protecting cells against oxidative stress and tissue damage. Avoid starchy vegetables like white and sweet potato and substitute zucchini noodles into pasta dishes for a ketogenic approved “zoodle.”
Another very low-carb vegetable source that is full of nutrients but often forgotten is sprouts. Look to get broccoli, kale or alfalfa sprouts into your diet each day for glutathione boosting agents, enzymes and other phytonutrients. These low carb veggies are great foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
5. Nuts and Seeds:
Some of the best foods you can consume while on the ketogenic diet are nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin and chia seeds are low-carb, are high in omega fatty acids and can fuel your energy during the day.
Nuts and seeds are concentrated with powerful plant compounds that combat inflammation in the body and boost immune health. Choosing the right variety of nuts and seeds is key considering some varieties such as peanuts contribute to inflammation.
When consumed in moderation, the high fiber content of nuts and seeds can curb your appetite helping you to avoid excess calorie intake. The healthy fats and antioxidants in nuts is credited with providing the anti-inflammatory activities responsible for regulating lipid concentrations, preventing against depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.
Avocados are packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals and only tip the scale with a net carb count of 2 grams.
Clinical studies support that the abundance of nutrients and antioxidants in a single serving of avocado promote healthy aging and weight management . Avocados are rich in potassium and magnesium shown to improve muscle strength and athletic endurance in individuals on a low-carb diet.
Nutrients often work synergistically in nature. For this reason, when the monounsaturated fats in avocados are paired with foods containing lycopene and beta-carotene they can actually increase the absorption of these antioxidants into the body. Monounsaturated fats also significantly decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Avocados are one of the amazing foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Although many fruits should be limited to maintain ketosis in the body, a small handful of berries can provide major anti-inflammatory benefits.
Given 3.5 ounces of each fruit, the net carb count for blackberries is only 5 grams followed by raspberries and strawberries at 6 grams while blueberries weigh in at 12 grams net carbs .
Berries are one of the richest sources of phenolic compounds including anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins. These compounds reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, produce anti-carcinogenic activities, and exhibit anti-inflammatory responses preventing tissue damage that results from complications of diabetes .
Eggs are a wholesome food that can be enjoyed while on the ketogenic diet. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, contain only 1 gram of carbs in single egg and can improve satiety .
Despite its bad reputation, consuming the egg yolk is a key part of receiving all the great health benefits eggs have to offer. The egg yolk is concentrated with essential vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, and vitamins A, B-12, D, E and K.
Research actually shows that eating the whole egg significantly improves lipid profiles compared to individuals who only consumed the protein rich egg white. It can also alleviate symptoms of metabolic syndrome by improving insulin resistance and supporting weight loss.
Be sure to choose organic fed free-range eggs from a local farmer for the highest quality egg. This is one of the best foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
9. Meat and Poultry:
Consuming organic, 100% grass-fed beef and pasture-raised poultry is a must when eating a ketogenic diet. This will limit the toxins, hormones and harmful agents that can accumulate in conventionally raised meat.
Grass-fed meat and pasture-raised poultry contain omega-3 fatty acids that support brain function, heart health and can help control blood sugar levels that can lead to better weight management. CLAs (conjugated linoleic acids) support your immune system, regulate cardiovascular function and boost metabolic function.
This staple food group is also an excellent source of B vitamins, zinc and the trace element selenium which exhibits powerful antioxidant function and is linked to a reduction in inflammatory diseases. Meat and poultry are some of the best foods to eat on a ketogenic diet. A great place to find healthy meat is through US Wellness Meats.
Supplementing the ketogenic diet with fish is a great way to optimize your omega-3 fatty acid intake. Wild caught fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines protect cardiovascular function, provide antioxidant protection to boost cellular health and inhibit neurological degeneration.
Consumption of EPA and DHA in fish three times per week has been found to be a major predictor of better weight management because of improved insulin resistance . Furthermore, consuming at least 2 servings of fish per week is associated with a decrease in various types of chronic disease including cancer and Alzheimer disease . It is also wise to use a high quality fish oil supplement to add more anti-inflammatory fish oils to your diet.