Fats and Oils
When on a ketogenic diet, most of the calories are supplied by dietary fats. Therefore, you should keep the digestive tolerance in mind.
The majority of people cannot stand the consumption of high amounts of mayonnaise, vegetable oil, or even olive oil over time. However, this is useful due to the fact that vegetable oils are rich in polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids.
They stimulate inflammation in the body, and may lead to sickness if they are the only source of fat, so it is advisable that you cook them.
Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in margarine, nut oils, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and safflower oil.
Most nuts, except for walnuts and macadamias are rich in Omega 6 fatty acids as well. Moreover, the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, like Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, is essential too.
Yet, you should balance their consumption and take only a teaspoon daily. Another vital aspect of a low-carb diet is the consumption of tuna, wild salmon, and shellfish, which will balance Omega 3 fatty acids.
In order to get the needed amount of Omega 6, you can consume a few nuts or some mayonnaise during the day. Also, you can take small amounts of krill or fish oil as a supplement for Omega 3s, instead of seafood.
Most people easily tolerate saturated and monounsaturated fats like macadamia nuts, egg yolks, butter, coconut oil, and avocado, as they are less inflammatory, but more chemically stable. You can mix oils and fats in dressings, sauces, and various other basic meals.
To reduce the intake of trans fats, you should eliminate hydrogenated fats like margarine. In case you use vegetable oils (canola, olive, sunflower, soybean, safflower, flaxseed and sesame oils), make sure they are “cold pressed”, and avoid heating vegetable oils.
Moreover, you should keep cold pressed oils like flaxseed and almond in the fridge to prevent rancidity.
Since they contain high smoke points, you should use clean non-hydrogenated lard, coconut oil, ghee (butter with milk solids removed), beef tallow, and olive oil for frying.
- Avocado (very high in fat)
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Beef tallow (preferably from grass fed cattle)
- Butter: try to find organic sources
- Chicken fat, organic
- Duck fat, organic
- Ghee (butter with milk solids removed)
- Lard such as organic leaf lard (make sure it is NOT hydrogenated)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Macadamia oil
- Mayonnaise (most of them have carbs, but Duke’s brand is sugar free)
- Olive oil, organic
- Organic coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut cream concentrate
- Organic Red Palm oil
- Peanut Butter: make sure to use unsweetened products, and limit due to Omega 6 content
- Seed and most nut oils: Sesame oil, Flaxseed oil, etc. They are higher in inflammatory Omega 6 fats, so limit amounts, and don’t heat them.
- 85-90% dark chocolate can be used in small amounts, or use Chocoperfection low carb chocolate.
Sources of Protein
Fattier cuts of meat contain less protein and more fat, so they’re better. Always choose organic or grass fed animal foods and organic eggs if possible, so you can minimize the bacteria, antibiotic and steroid hormone intake. Clean proteins are the best choices for a low carb food list.
From meat, those are: beef, lamb, veal, goat and wild game. It is preferred to take grass fed meat, because it has a better fatty acid profile.
Pork: pork loin, Boston butt, pork chops, ham. Look out for added sugar in hams.
Poultry: chicken, turkey, quail, Cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant. Free range is better if it’s available.
Fish or seafood of any kind, preferably wild caught: anchovies, calamari, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, sardines, scrod, sole, snapper, trout, and tuna. Canned tuna and salmon are acceptable but check the labels for added sugars or fillers. (Exception: Avoid breaded and fried seafood.)
Shellfish: clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters. (Exception: imitation crab meat. It contains sugar, gluten and other additives.)
Whole eggs: These can be prepared in various ways: deviled, fried, hard-boiled, omelets, poached, scrambled, and soft-boiled.
Bacon and sausage: check labels and avoid those cured with sugar or which contain fillers such as soy or wheat. Specialty health food stores carry most brands of sugar-free bacon.
Peanut butter and soy products such as tempeh, tofu and edamame are good sources of protein, but they are higher in carbohydrate, so track them carefully.
Whey protein powders, plus rice, pea, hemp or other vegetable protein powders: Be aware that whey protein is insulinogenic (meaning it causes an insulin spike) in the body, so if you having trouble losing weight or getting into ketosis, limit the amounts or avoid whey.
Try to choose organic vegetables or grow your own to avoid pesticide residues, because most non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs. Avoid the starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and most winter squash as they are much higher in carbs. Limit sweeter vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and summer squashes. This list is by no means comprehensive, so if there is a green vegetable you like that is not on this low carb food list, you can include it.
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Any leafy green vegetable
- Bamboo Shoots
- Bean Sprouts
- Beet Greens
- Bell peppers*
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Dill pickles
- Lettuces and salad greens (arugula, Boston lettuce, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, mache, radicchio, romaine, sorrel)
- Sauerkraut (watch for added sugar)
- Snow Peas
- Summer squash*
- Swiss chard
- Water chestnuts
* Limit amounts of these vegetables, because they are higher in carbs.
Try to consume raw milk products. Choose organic if raw products are not available.
Be aware that dairy proteins (whey and casein) are insulinogenic, which means they cause an insulin spike in the body, so if you are having trouble losing weight or getting into ketosis, limit the amounts or avoid:
- Heavy whipping cream
- Full fat sour cream (check labels for additives and fillers. Look for brands such as Daisy which are pure cream with no added milk; carbs and protein will be low.)
- Full fat cottage cheese
- All hard and soft cheeses: (count each 1 ounce portion as 1 carb generally)
- Cream cheese (count each 1 ounce portion as 1 carb generally)
- Unsweetened whole milk yogurt (limit amounts as it is a little higher in carb)
- (Fage full fat Greek yogurt is divine)
- Mascarpone cheese
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are best soaked and roasted in order to remove anti-nutrients. They are also very high in calories and higher in carbs per serving. If you are having trouble getting into ketosis or losing weight, reduce or avoid nuts.
Nuts: macadamias, pecans, almonds and walnuts are the lowest in net carbs and can be eaten in small amounts. Cashews, pistachios and chestnuts are higher in carb, so track carefully to avoid going over carb limits.
Nut flours, such as almond flour: Almond flour is a great flour substitute.
Peanuts are actually legumes and are higher in protein and are also high in Omega 6 fats, so limit the amounts and include protein grams in daily totals.
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc.) are also very high in Omega 6 fats, limit amounts.
Most nuts are high in Omega 6 fats, which increase inflammation in the body, so don’t rely on nuts as your main protein source.
- Clear broth, bone broth
- Decaf coffee (caffeine can drive up blood sugar)
- Decaf tea (unsweetened)
- Herbal tea (unsweetened)
- Flavored seltzer water (unsweetened)
- Lemon and lime juice in small amounts
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Coconut milk (unsweetened, can or carton)
- Soy milk (unsweetened, count protein grams as well)
Avoid sweetened foods, as it will help you “reset” the taste buds. However, if there is a desire for something sweet, these are recommended choices for sweeteners. The powdered forms of most artificial sweeteners usually have maltodextrin, dextrose or some other sugar added, so it’s preferred to take liquid products.
- Stevia, liquid preferred as the powdered usually has maltodextrin in it
- Xylitol (keep any food with this sweetener in it away from dogs)
- Splenda*, liquid preferred as the powdered usually has maltodextrin in it
- Lo Han Guo
- Monk Fruit
- Inulin and Chicory Root (Just Like Sugar brand)
*If you have concerns about using Splenda, please note that there have been many researches that have already been proved, so you don’t have to worry.
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) can be enjoyed occasionally in small amounts, because they are the lowest in carbohydrate. Avoid other types of fruit as most are too high in carb and can interfere with ketosis.
Japanese Shirataki noodles
Pork Rinds are great with dip, or as a substitute for bread crumbs, but they are also high in protein, so limit the amounts.
Spices have carbs, so make sure you count them if they are added to meals made using this low carb food list. Commercial spice mixes like steak seasoning usually have added sugar. Sea salt is preferred over commercial salt, which is usually cut with some form of powdered dextrose.
Cookbooks with Low Carb Food Lists
These are great resources for how to prepare the items on this low carb food list:
- 500 Low-Carb Recipes: 500 Recipes from Snacks to Dessert, That the Whole Family Will Loveby Dana Carpender.
- 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes: Healthy Dinners That Are Ready When You Are! by Dana Carpender
- 300 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes: Hundreds of Delicious Meals That Let You Live Your Low-Carb Lifestyle and Never Look Back by Dana Carpender
- The Low-Carb Barbecue Book : Over 200 Recipes for the Grill and Picnic Table by Dana Carpender
- Eating Stella Style: Low-Carb Recipes for Healthy Living by George Stella and Christian Stella
- George Stella’s Livin’ Low Carb: Family Recipes Stella Style by George Stella and Cory Williamson
- Your favorite cookbook – Most whole food, main meal recipes which include the foods on this low carb food list can be adapted to a low carb, ketogenic version.