What You Can and Can’t Eat on a Keto Diet

In case you’ve somehow missed it, the keto diet is the latest fad taking over the weight loss world. Followers (including Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry) claim the high-fat, low-carb eating plan has helped them shed pounds almost immediately — all while chowing down on bacon and cheese.

Nutritionists, including the Good Housekeeping Institute’s own Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, remain more skeptical. The diet’s aim of inducing ketosis — a metabolic process where the body uses fat instead of carbs for energy — can backfire tremendously. Besides the lack of long-term scientific research, this restrictive plan takes a lot of willpower, and any weight you may lose while on it will likely return when you stop. RDs and other experts like U.S. News and World Report agree that Mediterranean-style eating plans have more research behind them and produce better, more long-lasting results.

But if your friends have gone #keto and you’re curious about what that exactly entails, the basic premise is fairly simple. The diet focuses on eating mostly fat, limited amounts of protein, and almost no carbs at all. The “do” list includes: meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground, nuts and seeds, fats and oils, and some dairy products. In terms of drinks, most keto diet guides advise people to stick to water and skip diet soda, even though it’s artificially sweetened. (No Diet Coke — sorry!)

Get more specifics on what you can and can’t eat on keto below:

What You Can Eat on a Keto Diet

Meat
chicken, pork, steak, ground beef, lamb, bacon, ham, turkey, sausage (in limited amounts and fattier cuts)


Most Fats and Oils
butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, lard, avocado oil, mayonnaise


Some Vegetables
cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumber, onion, mushroom, spinach, lettuce, green beans, olives

High-Fat Dairy
heavy cream, cheese (soft and hard), cream cheese, sour cream


Nuts
almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, almond butter, macadamia nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts


Seafood
salmon, snapper, trout, tuna, cod, catfish, halibut, clams, oysters, lobster, crab, scallops, mussels


Berries (Sparingly)
blueberries, blackberries, raspberries



Artificial Sweeteners (Sparingly)

Stevia, sucralose


Alcohol (Sparingly)

hard liquor, dry wine, champagne

Eggs

Unsweetened Coffee and Tea

Spices

While giving up soda may sound not so hard, the rest of the banned list might. Bread, rice, pasta, fruit, corn, potatoes, beans, baked goods, sweets, juice, and beer all get the axe. Basically, you have to avoid most sugars and starches. Whole grains like oatmeal don’t even make the cut!

What You Can’t Eat on a Keto Diet

Fruit
apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, watermelon, peaches, melon, pineapple, cherries, pears, lemons, limes, grapefruits, plums, mango, etc.

Grains and Starches
wheat, rice, rye, oats, corn, quinoa, barley, millet, bulgur, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains


Root Vegetables
potatoes (both sweet and regular), carrots, yams, parsnips, yuca, beets, turnips


Grain Products
cereal, bread, pasta, rice, corn, oatmeal, crackers, pizza, popcorn, granola, bagels, muesli, flour


Legumes
black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils


Sweeteners
cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, Splenda, aspartame, saccharin, corn syrup


Sweets
candy, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, tarts, pies, ice cream, cookies, pudding, custard


Some Oils
canola oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil


Alcohol
beer, cider, sweet wines, sweetened alcoholic drinks



Sweetened Drinks
juice, smoothies, soda, sweetened tea and coffee



Low-Fat Dairy
skim milk, skim mozzarella, fat-free yogurt, low cheese and cream cheese


Sweetened Sauces and Dips
ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, some salad dressings and hot sauces


If you’re still tempted to try keto, consult with your doctor before embarking on any extreme weight loss plan. While the ketogenic diet can include some healthful foods (we’re all about broccoli), many others get nixed (bye, bananas and sweet potatoes).

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