A standard keto diet is low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat
One of the goals of following a keto diet is to enter ketosis, a metabolic state where your body is using stored fat for energy instead of carbs. The body breaks down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies, which are used as energy in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food.
While reducing carb intake so strictly can be challenging, the list of food items that fit the criteria of a keto diet is quite long:
- Low-carb vegetables
- Meat and poultry
- Nuts and seeds
- Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Shirataki noodles
- Butter and cream
- Unsweetened vinegar
- Mustards, herbs and spices
What foods should I avoid on a keto diet?
A keto diet is different from regular, balanced eating recommendations. Many nutritious foods are sources of carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk and yogurt.
On a keto diet, however, carbs from all sources are severely restricted to below 50 grams a day. People on the keto diet often eliminate bread, grains or cereals from their diet and limit even most fruits and vegetables because of their carb content.
For most people, the keto diet requires making significant changes to how they usually eat. The diet requires avoiding all carb-rich foods, including:
- French fries
- Chips, crackers
- Sweetened yogurt
- Ice cream
- Winter squash
- Starchy vegetables
- Most fruits
- Fruit juices
- Added or natural sugars in food and beverages
- Mixers with syrup and juice
- Flavored alcohol
Is a keto diet safe?
Since a keto diet requires eliminating foods that contain important nutrients, it isn’t recommended for people who have:
Short-term health risks of a keto diet include:
Long-term health risks of a keto diet include:
Should I follow a keto diet?
Although the keto diet is touted to have certain health benefits, including weight loss, it’s best to proceed with caution. Eating a balanced diet of healthy foods from a variety of food groups, along with daily physical activity, may be more beneficial.
So before starting a trendy diet of any kind, consider talking to a registered dietitian for health advice.
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Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2021
EatRight. What is the Ketogenic Diet? May 15, 2019. https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet
Harvard Health Publishing. Should You Try the Keto Diet? October 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet