Written by Lukas Lengauer, BSc on December 30, 2019

Keto diet foods

The keto diet is a very low carb and high fat diet. It is often used for weight loss and can help alleviate symptoms in certain diseases.

But what should you pay attention to in the keto diet and how does it exactly work?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the keto diet and see which foods you can eat when doing it. You can also find a 7-day meal plan here that will help you to lose weight fast.

The basics of the keto diet

During the keto diet, the intake of carbohydrates is greatly reduced.  This makes it an extreme form of low carb.

Although there are different types of the keto diet, most allow a maximum of 30 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Often the daily amount of carbohydrates is also expressed as a percentage of the calorie intake. In most cases, only 5 to 10% of the calories consumed daily may come from carbohydrates.

With a daily calorie intake of 2000 kcal, one would only eat between 25 and 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. A fairly small amount, which is far below the amount of carbohydrates you eat on a classic low carb diet.

Since carbohydrates must be replaced by an energy source, the keto diet is mainly based on high-fat foods.

People often believe that this diet is very high in protein, but that is wrong! Most of the energy should be consumed by eating healthy, high-fat foods.

A few examples of healthy fats are olive oil, eggs, avocados, various nuts and sea fish, which contains a lot of long chain omega 3 fatty acids.

We will have a closer look at the allowed foods later. First, we will talk about ketosis and I explain to you how to determine if one has already reached ketosis.

Why is the keto diet so popular? And what is ketosis?

The keto diet is often used for weight loss. By limiting the intake of carbohydrates,  many people stay in a calorie deficit without counting calories.

The keto diet has it’s name from the so-called ketosis. Ketosis is a condition that our body reaches when we eat very few carbohydrates.

With a classic low carb diet, that contains about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, you normally don’t get into ketosis.

During ketosis, fatty acids are converted into so-called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies then serve as a source of energy for our body.

How can you tell if you are in ketosis?

To determine whether you are already in ketosis, there are 3 different methods. Below you will find an explanation of each of them.

1.) Measuring ketone bodies in urine

This method is most commonly used because it is very easy to perform. You simply put a test strip in the morning urine and thus determines whether you have already reached ketosis.

However, the results are not very accurate and if you have been in ketosis for a long time, the test may be incorrectly negative. All in all, this measurement is very simple and cost-effective.

2.) Determination on the blood

The second method is the determination of ketone bodies in the blood. A small needle is used to get a drop of finger blood.

With the help of a special device or a test strip, the detection of ketone bodies can then be carried out. This method is a little more accurate, but also more invasive, since blood is taken.

3.) Measurement of ketone bodies in the breathing air

The last well-known method is the measurement of ketone bodies in the breathing air. The concentration of two ketone bodies called acetone and acetate is measured.

To perform the test, you need an expensive device. For this reason, this method is mainly offered by laboratories. This measurement is only possible if you do not want or cannot perform the other two methods for some reason.

List of foods for the keto diet

If you want to reach ketosis, many foods are no longer suitable. Below you will find a list of ketogenic foods.

Suitable foods

  • Meat: All types of meat are allowed. Also fatty variants can be used. However, processed meats, such as ham and bacon, should not be consumed in large quantities, as this increases the risk of bowel cancer.
  • Fish: All types of fish are allowed. It is recommended to incorporate fatty fish from the sea to ensure an adequate intake of long-chain omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a true superfood because they contain all vitamins except vitamin C. They are also very low carb and high in protein and fat. This combination makes them a perfect food for the keto diet.
  • Low carb vegetables: Vegetables should definitely be eaten. Otherwise your intake of fiber and micronutrients will be too low. The keto diet mainly allows low-carbohydrate and micronutrient-rich vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and green beans.
  • Dairy products: Butter, cream, low-carbohydrate cheese, small amounts of yoghurt and milk are allowed during the ketogenic diet. Like all animal foods, they should come from the best possible farming.
  • Nuts: Nuts are extremely healthy and great for losing weight. Low-carbohydrate nuts are also allowed during keto.
  • Vegetable oils: Healthy vegetable oils of high quality should be used. These include olive oil, walnut oil, macadamia oil and avocado oil. For all, the cold-pressed version (“extra native”) is preferable. Other oils can also be used in small quantities. However, care should be taken to ensure that the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids doesn’t get out of balance as this promotes inflammation and related diseases.
  • Avocados: This food is characterized by its high content of oleic acid and vitamin E. In addition, avocados taste great, are very low carb and can have a positive impact on our blood lipid levels.

Inappropriate foods for the keto diet

Absolutely unsuitable are the following foods:

  • All kinds of cereals (wheat, oats, spelt, rye, …) and products thereof (pizza, pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, …)
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes and hokkaido pumpkin
  • Sugary foods (cakes, pies, sweet pastries, confectionery, …), sugar and sugar-sweetened or sugar-containing beverages (fruit juices, sodas, …)
  • Alcoholic beverages with carbohydrates (beer, cocktails, sweet wine, …)
  • Legumes (lentils, beans, peas, …)
  • Almost all types of fruit except berries
  • Sauces and other ready-to-eat products that contain carbohydrates
  • Vegetables with high carbohydrate content

Free 7-day meal plan for the keto diet

Below you can see what a keto meal plan might look like. Depending on your height and weight, you will have to tailor the meals to your needs.

A total of three meals per day are included. Of course, you can add an additional snack, such as nuts or coconut chips, to the meal plan.

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: Fried eggs with bacon and broccoli puree
  • Lunch: Steak with rocket salad, tomatoes, plenty of olive oil and Parmesan
  • Dinner: Keto pizza

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: Omelet with spinach and gorgonzola cheese
  • Lunch: Smoothie consisting of high-fat greek yogurt, erythritol, some cocoa and almond butter
  • Dinner: Chicken breast in mushroom cream sauce

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: Tomatoes with feta cheese baked in the oven
  • Lunch: High-fat greek yogurt with coconut flakes, erythritol and cocoa
  • Dinner: Chicken thighs from the oven with cauliflower puree

Day 4:

  • Breakfast: Egg-filled avocado halves
  • Lunch: Cucumber sticks with cream cheese dip
  • Dinner: Steak with herb butter and roasted cabbage turnip

Day 5:

  • Breakfast: “Oatmeal” consisting of ground almonds and whole milk
  • Lunch: Mini pizzas made from eggplant, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese with mixed salad
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with spinach and mozzarella

Day 6:

  • Breakfast: Omelet stuffed with roasted zucchini and feta cheese
  • Lunch: Salad with smoked salmon, olives and avocado
  • Dinner: Stir fry with minced meat and vegetables

Day 7:

  • Breakfast: Tuna salad
  • Lunch: Cauliflower cheese bake
  • Dinner: Sashimi with mixed salad

As you can see immediately, a keto diet plan is put together pretty quickly as long as you know which foods can be eaten.

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, this meal plan is of course not suitable for you. If you want to eat vegetarian and stay in ketosis, eggs, nuts and dairy products are used instead of meat and fish.

During a vegan keto diet, it is allowed to include a few soy containing foods, such as tofu. Overall, a vegan keto diet is very difficult to implement.

Are there any benefits to losing weight?

It is often claimed that the ketogenic diet works better for weight loss than other diets. That is why we will look at scientific studies to see if this is true. We also look at the pros and cons of the keto diet.

You don’t lose more weight during the keto diet

The keto diet does not lead to greater fat loss if the amount of calories and protein is the same. This statement comes from a new scientific study comparing a high carb diet with a ketogenic diet.

During the study, the scientists found that participants who followed a ketogenic diet had a slightly higher energy consumption. But this effect was so small that the high carb group lost exactly the same amount of body fat in the end.

Another scientific study also looked at the different effects of a high carb diet and a ketogenic diet.

There were also no significant differences between the groups. The keto diet did not cause participants to lose more body fat. In other words, the keto diet was no better for losing weight than the high carb diet.

For many who already do the keto diet, this may be a shock. But does this automatically mean that the keto diet is complete nonsense? No, of course not

Why the keto diet can still make sense for you

The keto diet does not have any major, direct benefits in terms of weight loss. But there seems to be a small advantage if the following applies to you.

Many people report that they are less hungry during the keto diet. If you feel the same, this can of course be a small advantage. Anyone who is less hungry usually lose weight faster.

Also, a low carb diet can have health benefits. For example, a study found that a low carb diet improves blood lipid levels more significantly than a high carb diet.

The potential drawbacks of the keto diet

Unfortunately, the keto diet also has some drawbacks.

For example, it severely restricts one’s food selection. As a result, it is not really suitable for everyday use.

For people who do strength training or other intense sports, a ketogenic diet is not optimal. In these sports, carbohydrates are mainly used for energy production and thus there can be a great loss of performance.

Last but not least, it should also be said that the keto diet can have negative health effects. A sharp increase in intake of saturated fats can, among other things, cause cholesterol levels to rise.

Since high cholesterol is considered a risk factor for heart disease, one should keep an eye on the intake of saturated fats during a ketogenic diet.

My own experiences with the keto diet

I have only done the keto diet once in my life. And what can I say? It wasn’t for me at all.

I found this diet is far too restrictive and inflexible. While other weight loss methods are quite flexible, this was not the case with keto.

I have also felt negative effects in terms of my fitness. I was tired many times and could not perform the same as before.

The keto diet for the treatment of diseases

A ketogenic diet is not only suitable for losing weight. The original field of application is actually medical in nature.

For example, it has long been used successfully for the treatment of various diseases. These diseases include, for example, epilepsy and brain cancer.

Especially in the treatment of epilepsy, astonishing results have already been achieved and affected persons were completely symptom-free when doing the keto diet.

Before changing your diet, however, you must consult your doctor about it.

Other medical applications of the keto diet

Intensive research is currently underway to determine whether the keto diet is suitable for the treatment of diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that is spreading rapidly despite modern medicine. In developed countries, for example, we will have around 20% more diabetics by 2030. In developing countries, there will be up to 70% more diabetics.

As diabetes dramatically increases the risk of premature death, there is an urgent need for action.

Numerous studies have already been carried out in the past, which have produced good results.

In this study, for example, more than 95% of diabetics were able to reduce or even stop taking medication.

Of course, such “experiments” must always be strictly monitored by medical experts. Side effects can also occur due to a change in diet.

The bottom line

If you like the keto diet and you have already had success with it, then it is probably the right method for you. But if you can’t cope with it, I would recommend a different diet.

The keto diet only has real benefits for people who suffer from special diseases. If you just want to lose weight, there are more pleasant methods.

What about you? Do you already have experience with the keto diet? Or would you like to try it because you are convinced of the concept?

Leave a comment now, also if you have any questions!