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The keto (or ketogenic, to give it its full name) diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that studies show can help with weight loss. There is also evidence to suggest that it may benefit certain conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease.
By reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fats, it allows your body to move into a state known as ketosis, whereby your body uses fat (or ketones which are the by-products of the breakdown of fatty acids) for energy rather than carbohydrates.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides and read more about popular diets such as the 5:2 diet and Atkins diet. You can also check out some of our delicious ketogenic diet recipes, from keto breakfasts to keto dinners.
10 foods that are suitable on a keto diet
Salmon, and other oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies, are very high in omega-3, which has been shown to help lower insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity in those who are overweight. 100g salmon, about 1 salmon fillet, contains 26g of protein and 11.8g of fat, but 0g carbohydrates, making it the perfect fish for a keto diet.
Some keto-style salmon recipes to try:
Cheese is naturally high in fat and low in carbohydrates, making it an easy choice for a balanced, ketogenic diet. The assumption with cheese is that it is high in saturated fat, but some studies have shown that cheese may in fact help protect against heart disease.
- 100g of cheddar contains 25.4g of protein, 34.9g of fat and just 0.1g of carbohydrates
- 100g of goat’s cheese contains 21.1g of protein, 25.8g of fat and just 1g of carbohydrates
- 100g of feta contains 15.6g of protein, 20.2g of fat and 1.5g of carbohydrates
Over all the hundreds of cheeses that are available, the best ones for a keto diet include: cheddar, blue cheese, goat's cheese, feta, halloumi, cream cheese and cottage cheese. Cheese should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Here are some cheese recipes to help you on a keto diet:
Avocados are a natural and healthy choice when it comes to a keto diet as they contain 1.9g of protein, 1.9g of carbohydrates and 19.7g of fat per 100g. They are also a good source of important nutrients including potassium, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.
Keto-style avocado recipes:
Eggs are very low in carbohydrates, and one of the best sources of protein you can have. They can also help with feeling fuller for longer, thereby keeping blood sugar levels stable and supporting weight loss. Purchasing pasture-raised eggs means you’ll also be increasing your omega-3 – an essential fatty acid – intake too! 100g of eggs, or two large eggs, contains 14.1 g of protein, 9.6g of fat and negligible carbohydrates.
Keto-friendly egg recipes:
Animal proteins are a staple on a ketogenic diet, because of their high protein and zero carbohydrates content. Chicken is an easy addition and 100g, just under half a chicken breast, contains 29g of protein and 3g of fat.
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a keto diet staple as it is 100% fat! The fat found in coconut oil is known as MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, and MCTs are used directly by the liver for energy (by converting to it straight away to ketones).
Its effectiveness as part of a keto diet has even been demonstrated to increase ketone levels in those with Alzheimer’s, and it’s main fatty acid, known as lauric acid, together with MCTs may even provide a sustained level of ketosis when consumed.
Ways to add coconut oil as part of a keto-diet include:
- Coconut oil can be used to replace most cooking oils in dishes such as stir-fries and curries.
- Add to a smoothie or stir into your coffee
- Fry your eggs in coconut oil
7. Olive oil
Olive oil is 99.9% fat, and specifically it is high in oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to help support a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. Olive oil is an easy, everyday addition as part of a keto diet as it can easily be drizzled over meals, used in keto-style salad dressings and mayonnaise.
Always use extra virgin olive oil where you can as it is naturally high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Try making your own watercress mayonnaise, which is perfect alongside salmon or a tarragon & mustard mayonnaise pairs perfectly with chicken.
8. Nuts & seeds
It's no surprise that nuts and seeds would feature as a top food for a keto diet, because they are naturally high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates.
- 100g of almonds contain 16.7g of fat, 8.7g of protein and just 2.1g of carbohydrates
- 100g of walnuts contain 20.6g of fat, 4.4g of protein and just 1g of carbohydrates
- 100g of pumpkin seeds contain 4.6g of fat, 3.3g of protein and 1.5g of carbohydrates
Nuts and seeds are also a good source of fibre, which helps keep you fuller for longer.
Easy ways to add more nuts and seeds to your keto diet include:
- Sprinkle them over your lunch or dinner
- Add them to a smoothie
- Put some in a small bowl and have as snack
- Use nut or seed butters
Yes berries are a fruit, and most fruits are high in carbohydrates, but on ketogenic diets berries make the exception. This is because berries are lower in carbohydrates than other fruits, and high in fibre so they help fill you up for longer. They are also an excellent source of the all-important antioxidants that we need to prevent oxidative stress and damage to our cells.
Berry recipe ideas as part of a keto diet include:
10. Butter and cream
These fatty dairy products can be easily added into an everyday keto diet, as they contain very little carbohydrates and are rich in conjugated linoleic acid which may help with fat loss.
- 100g of butter contains 0.6g of protein, 82.2g of fat and 0.6 g of carbohydrates
- 100g of double cream contains 1.6g of protein, 53.7g of fat and 1.7g of carbohydrates
- 100g of single cream contains 3.3g of protein, 19.1g of fat and 2.2g of carbohydrates.
Ways to add more butter or cream to your diet include:
- Adding it to your coffee
- Adding it in a smoothie
- Cook your eggs, fish and meats in butter
- Make scrambled eggs with cream
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This article was published on 19 March 2021.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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