The swiftness with which new fad diets crop up can be very overwhelming. And while some of them cycle out of the zeitgeist as quickly as they came in, others have staying power — which is why the sound “key-toe” has become a word you actually recognize (sort of) over the last few years.

By now you may know the ketogenic diet (usually referred to as “the keto diet” or, simply, “keto”) as a low-carb diet that is proven to help shed pounds quickly. Similar to Atkins, the diet is very high in fat. That’s right — a diet that encourages regular consumption of bacon, butter, and cheese can also trim your waistline. However, the trade-off is that you’ll have to keep your carb count low.

It’s the possible health benefits that really draw people to the diet, though.

How it works is that the diet reportedly lowers your blood sugar and insulin; your body will then enter ketosis and start using fat for fuel. According to research, the keto diet may help treat diabetes, may help combat some cancers when combined with chemo and radiation (though more research is needed), and likely helps to treat epilepsy.

Online, you’ll find a ton of keto success stories. And, of course, some of your family and friends may have inspirational diet tales of their own. But avoiding carbs can be tricky business, especially when you’re tasked with cutting out so many foods. Which vegetables are too starchy? Is it true that you need to cut out all fruit? Are all meats created equal?

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with our list of keto-friendly foods. But first, remember that you’ve got a ton of carb-counting ahead of you. It’s fairly easy with the right technology, so it will help to download a carb-counting app like MyFitnessPal or Carb Manager. Plus, you’ll need to decide which variety of keto is right for you. You can try something standard, a high-protein variety, or a version of keto cycling where you integrate some high-carb days. Choosing a plan is probably the most overwhelming part of the process, so take your time and carefully consider your lifestyle and diet needs.

Once you’ve got a plan in place, indulge in this wide variety of keto-friendly foods.

Keto Diet Food List for Beginners


Bacon: the superstar of the keto diet! Double check the packaging to make sure that there is no added sugar, though.
Organ meat: Think tongues, livers, and hearts.
Poultry: Keep in mind that dark meat has more fat than white meat.
Pro-tip: be sure to avoid breaded meats.


Fish: Try to embrace fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Oysters: These do contain some carbs, so be careful counting.
Octopus and squid: Both squid and octopus will have some carbs, but can be great in moderation.


Heavy cream
Greek yogurt
Cottage cheese
Pro-tip: Whole milk might seem high in fat, but it’s actually pretty carb-heavy. Use some heavy cream in your coffee instead, or try a keto-friendly cream like this one from Thrive Market.


Chicken eggs
Duck eggs
Quail eggs
Pro-tip: You don’t have to limit yourself to the whites. Feel free to enjoy the whole egg on keto.


Brussels sprouts
Leafy greens: Salad greens and cooking greens are both fair game! Think bok choy, collard greens, and lots of arugula.
Summer squash: Zucchini and spaghetti squash both make great pasta replacements.
Pro-tip: Herbs are also fair game on keto.

Nuts and Oils

Olive oil
Coconut oil
Brazil nuts
Macadamia nuts
Cashews: Cashews are a little higher in carbs than other nuts, so count carefully.



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