When first looking into The Ketogenic Diet, all of the information can be quite over-whelming and confusing as to what to eat to get started. So we’ve broken it down for you into our Top Keto Foods so you can jump right in with healthy produce, healthy fats and a lot of healthy weight loss!
Many years of research shows us that these low-carb, high-fat, super-keto foods – which we were previously told were damaging to our health – are in fact doing quite the contrary. Numerous amounts of studies have been published that support the many health benefits that the ketogenic diet has been shown to achieve time and time again, for people with all different kinds of conditions including; heart disease, obesity, epilepsy, Alzeihmer’s and autoimmune diseases.
How can a diet loaded with all of this cholesterol and saturated fat be working so well for our health? Because a lot of the foods we’ve been told are causing our health problems – like meat and eggs – are in fact the solution and what we’ve evolved on consuming as a species. mind-blowing isn’t it, yet it makes perfect sense!
Here we’re going to explore 12 of the best keto foods to get you started on your journey to health and happiness.
Grass-Fed / Grass-Finished Fatty Meats
WHY IT’S AWESOME: So we’re pretty aware that meat, poultry and seafood are a quality protein source, but they also contain many essential nutrients that can’t be obtained from a solely plant-based diet.
A big one is vitamin B12; a highly-absorbable form of iron, taurine, creatine, carnosine and DHA which all boast huge health benefits. Fresh meat is loaded with a range of B vitamins and many minerals including; potassium, zinc and selenium. They’re also contain no carbs and are a great way to get healthy saturated fats into your diet.
NOTE: Not all meat is created equal. This is super important because many people assume that grass-fed meat is the same as grain-fed meat; it looks similar, it tastes (somewhat) similar, and smells the same, but they are two totally different foods. Unfortunately, grass-fed / grass-finished beef has been pigeon-holed as a ‘luxury’ item – but it’s just real meat, fed and farmed in its most natural way. Factory farmed meat eats GMO grains, contains obesity-causing hormones, has the wrong fatty acids, usually contains mycotoxins which are nasty biotoxins that are formed by mould in the grain-feed and meat processing – which all adds massively to inflammation in the body.
Wild-Caught Fatty Fish
WHY IT’S AWESOME: fatty fish like sardine, salmon and mackerel are high in our omega-3 fatty friends, as well as being an excellent source of vitamin B12, copper, and zinc. Many studies have found that eating fish frequently promotes brain health, aids in joint and bone health and has been associated with improved mental health and a lowered chance of disease.
NOTE: Wild-caught fish, again, comes out on top over farmed fish due to having less inflammatory omega-6, fewer contaminants and more potassium and magnesium levels.
Organic Free-Range Eggs
WHY IT’S AWESOME: The egg yolk is the most nutritious food on the planet with 13 essential minerals and vitamins and in particular the eye-protecting antioxidants; zeaxanthin and lutein. Egg yolks are fascinating in that, yes, they’re pretty high in cholesterol, however studies have shown that they can modify the shape of LDL “bad” cholesterol in a way that decreases the risk of heart disease and for most people doesn’t raise overall blood cholesterol levels.
NOTE: to find high-quality healthy eggs find egg farmers who raise their chickens on pasture – this allows the chickens to live their natural lives roaming, soak up the sun and eating. Research studies discovered that the eggs laid by chickens raised this way contain plenty more vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Broccoli, Kale & Other Cruciferous Vegetables
WHY IT’S AWESOME: low-carb vegetables contain all of the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber that are essential for our health. However, cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts etc. contain a compound that puts them above the rest and is only created when we chew or crush them; Sulfophrane. Upon digestion, Sulfophrane activates a cell-protecting (cytoprotective) pathway which not only protects our cells against oxidative stress but also allows toxins to be removed from the body. Win, win! Eating cruciferous veggies has been linked to a decrease in heart disease and cancer risk as well as improved cognitive function, and its cytoprotective property is one of the main reasons why.
HOW TO USE IT: if you’re not already a big fan of these amazing veggies, you soon will be eating keto as they make fab substitutes for high-carb foods; whizzing cauliflower in a food processor makes a great alternative to rice, or remove all of its liquid through a cheese cloth and make a delicious pizza base! Dehydrating kale in the oven makes a delicious stand-a-lone snack as crunchy chips (or crisps as we call them in the UK).
NOTE: Keep in mind the quality of your veg, and where possible buy organic produce that is free of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, industrial solvents and genetic modifications. If buying organic will push your grocery shopping over budget, use the Environmental Working Group’s website (a really great resource) to find out which produce is on their ‘Dirty Dozen’ list and would be best to purchase organic, and on their ‘Clean Fifteen’ list so safer to purchase non-organic, for the current year.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: sipping on Bone Broth seemed a bit strange to me at first but now I LOVE it. It feels super soothing, the gelatin is great for gut health and it offers a great dose of sodium and potassium to help keep the dreaded Keto Flu at bay. It also contains healing compounds like collagen (for youthful skin ✨), glycine, glutamine and proline as well as being high in minerals which support the immune system, reduce inflammation and improve sleep 👍. You can win at life with this treasure.
NOTE: You lead a busy life and just ain’t got the time to be slow-cooking bones… I hear ya! This gem from Kettle & Fire is the closest I’ve tried to homemade bone broth, gelatin-rich and made from grass-fed and grass-finished cows.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Saturated fat is an extremely important nutrient in our diet which our brains are largely made up of! Contains Butyrate, a short-chain saturated fatty acid that reduces inflammation. Contains high amounts of vitamin A (14g of grass-fed butter has 500IU of vitamin A (crucial for healthy thyroid and adrenal glands) & more carotenes than carrots), vitamin D (vital for immune system strength and calcium absorption), vitamin E, vitamin K (helps with blood clotting) & vitamin K2 (protects against heart disease).
HOW TO USE IT: like there wasn’t already enough encouragement to blend your morning coffee with butter 😉 – Here’s the Bulletproof Coffee recipe
NOTE: if you’re dairy intolerant, ghee could be a great alternative which has little to no lactose so most people don’t experience any symptoms. Note: this isn’t medical advice. Experiment at your own risk.
High-Quality Salt: Pink Himalayan Salt or Celtic Grey Sea Salt
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Our bodies need salt to function – to pass nutrients through cells, regulate blood pressure, maintain balanced blood sugar and more. Now that you’re eating a whole-food based keto diet, the absence of processed foods can mean you’re getting less salt than you need. Removing carbs from your diet results in the decreased production of insulin (yay!), helping you to drop the weight and gain steady energy. You’re newly found stable insulin levels trigger your kidneys to release sodium, alongside the retained water that your body was using to store the carbs – resulting in more weight loss (mainly water weight) which is fab! However, if you’re not keeping on top of replenishing the sodium that your kidneys are excreting, then dehydration, fatigue, muscle cramps and headaches set in. Que, the Keto flu! This is a very common mistake that most new ketonauts make.
HOW TO USE IT: So, get that salt all over your meals when cooking – even when I think there’s enough salt, I add more. Heck, I even start my day with 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt mixed into 20 oz of water, and when the sun is out I’ll do this again in the day. It will make for happy kidneys, stabilised cortisol production and steady energy throughout the day.
NOTE: Quality matters! So, before you start shaking table salt all over your scrummy Keto meals, let’s check out the quality! These are the high-quality salt’s we use in all of our Easy Keto Lifestyle recipe’s; Grey celtic sea salt (link) and Pink Himalayan salt (link), we’ve sourced these specifically for their naturally containing trace minerals of about 80 different kinds including; calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, iodine, zinc. Make a especially conscious effort to avoid consuming refined white table salt, it’s bleached, treated with anti-caking agents to avoid clumping and processed in high temperatures, resulting in a pure sodium chloride concentrate without any other minerals in sight. Bleh!
Oils: MCT c8 oil & Coconut Oil
WHY IT’S AWESOME: coconut oil alone provides us with enough evidence to pour saturated fats all over our life. It’s one of the highest containing saturated fat foods you can eat and the studies that have been carried out on coconut oil, proving it’s top notch position, are immense. For example, a randomised, double-blind, high-quality clinical trial was carried out recently that compared coconut oil against soybean oil, here’s what was found; coconut oil kept blood lipids under control and encouraged abdominal fat to be reduced, while soy bean oil decreased HDL cholesterol and increased total cholesterol levels. In a different study, coconut oil was found to reduce weight and belly fat in obese adults; the diet of obese men was supplemented with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil each day, this lead to an average loss of 1 inch off their waistlines.
Coconut oil contains the almighty medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) whereas fatty meats and dairy are made up of long-chain triglycerides, which need to pass through the lymphatic system before reaching the liver. MCT’s on the other hand, are taken up directly by the liver where they are metabolised rapidly into ketone bodies to be readily used as an energy source and to fuel the brain.
This is why coconut oil and MCT’s take their well-earned position in out Top 12 Keto Foods, with their ability to improve focus and brain function, increase energy levels, improve cognitive function, suppress hunger resulting in a decrease of calorie consumption.
NOTE: make sure to source a good quality MCT oil that’s 100% caprylic acid (c8) to avoid gastro-intestinal problems caused by generic MCT oils which mix in c6, c10 and c12. Increase your dose slowly from 1 teaspoon up to 2 tablespoons per day.
Herbs & Spices
WHY IT’S AWESOME: The use of herbs and spices has been incredibly important throughout history.
Many were celebrated for their medicinal properties, well before culinary use. Modern science has now shown that many of them do indeed carry remarkable health benefits; cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, sage, peppermint, rosemary, fenugreek.
HOW TO USE IT: as well as using in cooking, a favourite of mine is having fresh ginger and lemon tea in the morning or a warmed turmeric latte in the evening mm! Adding cinnamon to coffee is a great way to balance blood sugar too.
NOTE: Use fresh where possible, unless you use your dried herbs up frequently; herbs and spices that sit in jars in your cupboard for a long time can become a major source of toxins in your kitchen.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: avocados make it onto our list ten times over, they’re loaded with nutrients, including potassium which helps to relieve symptoms of the keto flu in your first few days of keto, and are a super-fab source of healthy fats! A half of a medium avocado has 9g which seems like quite a lot, but 7 of these grams come from fiber – which is a great ratio! Studies have shown that eating more avocados can up your health game in the long run by increasing HDL “good” cholesterol levels by 11% and decreasing triglyceride levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol by 22%.
Regarding your long-term health, avocados have been found to help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One study, for example, found that an increase in avocado consumption led to a 22% decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an 11% increase in “good” HDL cholesterol.
HOW TO USE IT: slice it, smash it, drizzle it with olive oil, quality salt and chilli flakes, or make delicious guacamole.
Nuts: Macadamia, Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, Brazil
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Macadamia nuts contain the most fat and lowest amount of carbs and protein out of all nuts, they also happen to be my fav! Providing high amounts of manganese, magnesium and vitamin B1. Pecans boast over 19 different vitamins and minerals with current research showing they help to promote healthy arteries and decrease LDL cholesterol. Walnuts are an amazing way to get anti-inflammatory plant-based omega-3 fats acids, PLUS high amounts of manganese, copper, biotin and molybdenum. The skins of both almonds and walnuts are super rich in antioxidants; flavonoids, polyphenols and phenolic acids. Offering similar health benefits as other nuts, Brazil nuts hold its top position providing an amazing source of organic selenium; this powerful mineral aids thyroid health.
NOTE: mould contamination is an issue with nuts and they spoil quite quickly once shelled, it’s best to choose raw nuts and freeze them or at least refrigerated. Soaking nuts overnight will help to reduce some of the toxins before using them.
Apple Cider Vinegar
WHY IT’S AWESOME: this list would not be complete without the ancient tonic that is Apple Cider Vinegar, its numerous health benefits can help in any lifestyle but they’re particularly significant for the ketogenic diet. I have found ACV extremely helpful with supporting the body in ketone production, improving blood sugar stability, curbs carb cravings, improved fat burning and a digestion aid. Although it contains many healthful properties, on the main reasons for it’s power is acetic acid; a product from the fermentation process. Acetic acid has been shown to help; acne, acid reflux, asthma, arthritis, allergies, blood pressure, cholesterol issues, candida overgrowth, dermatitis, fungus, gout, sinus infections, the list goes on!
HOW TO USE IT: you can put ACV straight onto your meals, mix it into soups or add it to homemade salad dressings and sauces. To aid in digestion you can mix 1-2 tbsp in 2 or 4oz of water and down it 15 minutes prior to each meal. My favourite way to reap the benefits of ACV is using it as a morning primer; try having 1-2 tbsp in 8oz of warmed water or a cup of bone broth. It’s an amazing way to start the day providing a little energy lift and helping to prime your kidneys, balance the gut microbiome as well as the body’s Ph levels. If you can’t drink ACV without gagging, try adding some drops of flavoured stevia.
NOTE: there are lots of different types of vinegar available on the market, but in my opinion none of them compare to the vinegar derived from apple cider. Fermented from the fresh juice of apples, this tonic contains super beneficial enzymes, acetic acid (as already mentioned) and many other organic acids that offer fabulous health benefits! I really recommend buying ACV that is unfiltered and unpasteurised with the mother still intact.