When you enter the world of keto, there is one question that you’ll find yourself asking again and again:
Is ___ keto-friendly?
This is an excellent and necessary question. Stopping to think twice about what you put in your body allows you to build a healthier relationship with food and unlock the benefits of following a keto diet.
This guide to keto-friendly foods is designed to answer your specific questions in the most helpful way possible. It is divided into several different categories, such as:
The categories are listed alphabetically below. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Within each category, you will find a list of specific foods. Click each one to discover whether or not it’s allowed on this diet.
What does “keto-friendly” mean?
Another good question! Basically, the less carbohydrates a food has, the more keto-friendly it is.
Want a longer, more complete explanation?
Keto is an ultra low-carb diet, so you have to limit how many carbs you eat each day.
Most people should eat less than 50 grams of net carbs a day to enter or stay in ketosis, although this varies from person to person, depending on things like age, gender, and how much you exercise.
So when asking whether or not a food is keto-friendly, you’re asking if you can eat it and stay below your daily carb limit.
The answer is not always yes or no. Sometimes there are shades of grey.
That is because
This means you can make a food more acceptable by eating smaller portions of it or by making sure you don’t eat many other carbs during the day.
In any case, the deciding factor is how many net carbohydrates the food has.
Wait, one last thing!
Since keto emphasizes healthy eating, it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the food as well as the quantity. Fresh, whole foods are considered better for keto than packaged and processed foods, even when the carb count is the same.
Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you are ready to use the guide below.
Scroll down to find all the different categories of food, and click on each item to find out how keto-safe it is and why.
First of all, let’s get our terms straight. What in the world is a legume?
A legume is a broad umbrella term for plants that have pods containing seeds. There are more than 18,000 different species!
Beans, lentils, and peas are all types of legumes. They are high in protein, making them a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans, and are also rich in fiber, folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
But are beans keto?
Well, it depends. There are so many different kinds, and each has unique characteristics. There are some types of keto-friendly beans, peas, and other legumes, while others are mostly off limits. It all depends on how many carbs they have.
And remember, even if your favorite legume isn’t particularly low-carb, you can usually squeeze small amounts into your diet on occasion. You’ll simply have to see how many net carbs it has and take that into account when planning what else you’ll eat that day. (To calculate net carbs, take the number of total carbs and subtract fiber.)
Because each food is unique, the only way to know for sure whether it’s ketogenic is to get specific. Click on each type of legume below to find out which are keto-approved foods and how many net carbs are in each serving.
Condiments, dips, sauces, dressings… these flavorful foods are often thought of as secondary ingredients, or culinary backup singers for the main dish.
But some are so delicious that they steal the show! (Don’t we all have that friend who takes a bottle of hot sauce wherever they go?)
You’ll be relieved to know that there are lots of keto-friendly dressings, sauces, and condiments. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland or boring.
So what makes a sauce safe for keto?
Sugar is the biggest thing to watch out for when determining what condiments are acceptable. As you may know, sugar is a carb, so it’s not on the list of keto-compliant foods. Before buying a condiment, check the nutrition label on the back and watch out for hidden sugars. If sugar is labelled as one of the first 3 ingredients, this means that the food you are looking at has sugar as one of its main ingredients.
Luckily, there are lots of ketogenic condiments.
As for the others, you’ve got two options. You can cross your fingers and check how many net carbs are in a reduced serving size (sometimes a teaspoon is all you need!), or you can roll up your sleeves and make a healthier version at home by swapping out certain ingredients.
Check out the foods below and see to what degree you can incorporate them into your diet.
Dairy foods are gouda for you! Also known as milk products, these types of foods are either made from or contain some sort of animal milk. That may come from cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, camels… you get the idea.
Each one is different, but many types of milk products are high in protein and rich in zinc as well as vitamins A, K2, B6, and B12. They can also be a good source of calcium.
But can you have dairy on keto?
Yes, you certainly can. There are a wide variety of keto-friendly dairy foods. However, you should be aware that not all dairy is allowed.
The carb count varies across different types of dairy depending on how they are processed and how much lactose (milk sugar) stays in the food after processing.
Plain versions are usually the best options (full-fat or reduced fat depending on your calorie and health goals). Check the label for any added ingredients that can add extra carbs. Click on each food below to see to what degree they are permitted on this diet.
Wondering how you’re going to wash down all the ketogenic foods you’re eating?
Water is always a good option, and it’s important for ketoers to guzzle a good amount of water every day to stay hydrated and prevent negative symptoms associated with the diet.
But what other keto-friendly drinks can you have?
As you know, you want to avoid sugar. That may rule out some of your usual choices, and it also means you shouldn’t be adding things like sugar or flavored syrup to your keto-friendly beverages. (That’s cheating!)
Even so, there are lots of keto drinks besides water. These include warm liquids to feel cozy in the wintertime and refreshing options to cool down in the summer.
And don’t worry if you’re not a morning person: there are a variety of caffeinated options that can give you that extra boost to start the day.
Click on each item below to see what drinks have got the green light.
Oh, you mean that kind of drink?
Sure, there are plenty of keto-friendly alcoholic drinks out there.
However, some of the most popular types of booze are out of the question, so you’ve got to check out the carb situation for each one.
Before you whet your whistle, it’s important to know that when following a diet, you may become intoxicated more quickly than you otherwise would.
And not be a downer, but alcohol can work against you if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because alcohol is very calorie dense and your body will burn the alcohol first, before it burns anything else (like fat!). Plus, drinking can make you want to eat more. When your inhibitions are down, it may be more difficult to reach for healthy foods.
Now that you are informed, you can make your own decision on whether or not you want to have alcohol on keto. Just make sure you know what types of alcohol are keto-friendly!
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your mixers. (Sugary beverages are a no-go.)
Here is a list to help you determine where each beverage lands on the keto scale.
“A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.”
Yes, we are talking about eggs!
Here’s a new riddle for you: are eggs keto?
Yes, you can eat eggs on keto!
This is great news. Not only are they inexpensive and nutritious (we're talking protein, selenium, zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins A, D, B6, B12, E, and K), but they are also a super versatile ingredient in the kitchen.
Did you know that the 100 folds in a chef’s hat are said to represent the 100 ways there are to cook an egg?
They can be boiled, scrambled, poached, baked, pickled, and used in all sorts of recipes. Which is precisely where the confusion comes in when calculating nutritional information.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of popular ways to eat this food, so you can see which ones are good for the diet and which are not.
Also keep in mind that even in their plain version, some eggs are healthier than others. The healthiest ones are free-range, organic, pasture-raised, and/or omega-3-enriched.
Click on the items below to learn more.
There are many health benefits associated with eating fish and seafood. Not only are they often a low-calorie source of protein, they are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and full of vitamins and minerals.
These include zinc, iron, iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B6, B12, D, and E.
Consuming this type of food has been linked to improvements in the brain, heart, eyes, joints, and skin. New research has even shown that Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of and help treat depression.
Is fish keto-friendly?
Yes, it is! As always, the number of carbs varies depending on the type of product, so you need to look into the specifics. Fatty fish, like salmon, are considered the best fish to eat on keto.
Is seafood keto?
Yes, most of the time! There are many types of shellfish (both crustaceans and mollusks) you can enjoy as part of your diet.
Click on each type of seafood below to learn how compliant it is.
Fruit is an enormous food category, and one of the most diverse. This type of food comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and encompasses every color of the rainbow.
Fruits provide many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a good source of dietary fiber.
However, they are often high in fruit sugar (fructose), which is not ideal for ketogenic dieters. There are many fruits to avoid on keto due to their elevated sugar levels.
The good news is that there are also several types of low-carb, keto-friendly fruit you can eat.
Still other types are somewhere in between, so you can carefully fit them into your macros as long as you control the portion size.
Get the details on each type by clicking the items below.
Starches, also known as complex carbohydrates, are found in certain plants, including grains.
Starchy foods can be used as a source of energy, as they are broken down into glucose. They also contain healthy nutrients such as fiber, iron, calcium, and B vitamins.
Unfortunately, many of these nutrients are stripped away during the refining process. Whole grains are healthier than refined ones, but even many whole-grain products are processed.
But are they ketogenic?
Not so much. Since starches are carbohydrates, most grains are not good for keto.
However, there are a few types of keto-friendly grains you can eat in moderation thanks to their high levels of fiber.
As experienced ketoers will know, when you keep track of your macros, you’re monitoring net carbs. You calculate net carbs by taking the total number of carbs and subtracting the amount of fiber. So the more fiber you have, the less net carbs, and the more ketogenic!
Check out the details for each of the foods below.
Looking to spice things up in the kitchen?
No problem! There are all sorts of keto-friendly seasonings you can use to enhance the flavors of your recipes.
They are both delicious and nutritious: herbs and spices are powerful sources of antioxidants. Many also have medicinal properties.
So how ketogenic are they?
It may come as a surprise, but many dried herbs and spices do have a small amount of carbohydrates, even in as little as 1 tablespoon.
As a result, there is a range of how keto-friendly spices are, and some are much better than others when it comes to the carb count.
Find the key information for each ingredient below.
Most people know that meat and poultry are good sources of protein. But did you know they also provide nutrients like iron, iodine, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, fatty acids, and B vitamins?
Meat and poultry are both fine to eat in most cases, but keep in mind that this category includes a wide variety of foods. There are many different types of animals, cuts, and processing methods, and that all has an impact on how acceptable each food is.
The best meats for keto are fatty cuts of whole, unprocessed products, like New York strip steak.
You also want to focus on natural, organic, and grass-fed options when possible. For poultry, free-range is also a good term to look for. Labels can be misleading and confusing, so when in doubt, you can look at the FAQ section of company websites or contact them directly to learn more about how animals are raised.
See which of the items below are safe to eat, and to what extent.
Perfect for snacking or sprinkling over salads, nuts and seeds are easy to incorporate into your diet.
And they’re healthy, too! Nuts can provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, and vitamin E, while different types of seeds may have iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and antioxidants.
But which ones are ketogenic?
You can find out by clicking on each item in the list below.
You’ll find that the best nuts to eat on keto are low in carbs, although another thing to keep in mind is the calorie count. Many types are surprisingly high in calories for their small size.
You can avoid overindulging by mindfully selecting how much you’ll eat and placing them in a small bowl. Eating straight out of the bag is a recipe for disaster!
Be on the lookout for flavored products, as they may be covered with sugar or other glazes. Always read the label to find hidden ingredients.
Oils and fats are an important part of a healthy keto diet. These lipids store energy for your body, help you absorb vitamins and minerals, and play a role in building cell membranes, among other important bodily processes.
You probably know that this way of eating calls for lots of fats and oils. But what kinds? Which are considered good fats for keto?
The types of fats you’re looking for are mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and some saturated fats. These can be found in many different types of oils and foods.
The ones to avoid are artificial trans-fats. You can spot these on food labels in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These are added to processed foods in order to prolong their shelf life. You’ll find them in fast food, fries, cookies, and baked goods, as well as some processed meats.
There are many different types of oils to consider. Some are better than others, and some should be avoided altogether.
Which type is best also depends on what you’re using it for. For example, many are great to enjoy raw as a salad dressing, but if you’re going to cook with it, you may need a frying oil with a high smoke point.
Check out the unique characteristics of each of these items:
Are salads ketogenic?
There’s no easy answer to that question because there is so much variety.
Think about it: What makes a salad a salad? Most are served cold, but not always. And some don’t even have anything green!
One thing we can say is that a typical green salad base is usually acceptable.
But what you put on top will be the biggest determining factor, and that could go in any direction. Not to mention what type of dressing you use. That’s a lot of variables.
The good news is that once you have a clear idea of what your favorite keto-friendly salads are, you can swap out certain ingredients with other keto-approved foods for an entirely new and delicious combination.
You’ll find a full explanation of which salads you can include in your diet below.
One great thing about this way of eating is that you can have all kinds of tasty treats!
Well… not all kinds.
There are lots of keto-friendly snacks and sweet things to eat, but you have to figure out which ones fit your macros.
You’re looking for foods that are low in carbs and sugar. When it comes to sweet treats, ways to avoid sugar include using alternative sweeteners.
There are some snacks you can buy ready to eat, both sweet and savory, while others are best made at home.
You don’t want to get into the habit of munching between meals, but having a stash of safe snacks is a good idea.
That way, when you really need something to nosh on, you won’t be tempted to reach for foods that will kick you out of ketosis.
Check to see if these snacks and sweets are safe for your diet.
Soup is a classic comfort food that’s good for the soul.
It can also be good for your diet! There are loads of cozy, creamy concoctions and light, tangy options that fit perfectly with this eating plan.
Keto-friendly soups are low in carbs and high in nutrients. Some traditional soups don’t meet these requirements, but oftentimes it’s easy to switch out the offending ingredients for alternatives. That way you can still enjoy the familiar flavors that take you down memory lane without getting knocked off the path to your diet goals.
Broccoli cheddar is the best soup for keto according to many sources, but of course it depends on how you make it. Some recipes call for high-carb ingredients, even though they aren’t necessary! So make sure to pay attention to the full recipe, not just the name of the dish.
To slurp or not to slurp? Learn more about whether the following soups should be savored, adjusted, or avoided.
There are lots of keto-friendly vitamins and supplements being marketed to followers of this way of eating.
While some of these can help to round out your diet, others are overhyped.
And even for those that can aid in treating negative symptoms, such as keto-friendly electrolytes, it is usually better (and cheaper!) to get these nutrients directly from food sources.
Take a look at each type of supplement to learn if it’s permitted, what it can be used for, and alternative ways you can get similar benefits.
Can you have sugar on keto?
Generally, no, regular table sugar should be avoided because it spikes your blood sugar (glucose) levels and increases your carb count.
So what’s a ketoer with a sweet tooth to do?
Luckily, there are a number of alternative sweeteners you can safely use in cooking and baking recipes as well as drinks.
When looking for keto-friendly sweeteners, you want to choose low-carb options that have been shown to have a low impact on blood glucose. Some of these are natural products, while others are manufactured in a lab.
To use these substitutes for cooking and baking, you have to make adjustments to the recipe. For example, many substitutes are hundreds of times sweeter than the original ingredient, so you need to use a smaller amount.
It’s important to know that some sugar substitutes can cause digestive issues for people with chronic gastrointestinal conditions, such as IBS.
Learn more about each type of substitute to determine if they can be incorporated into your diet.
Vegetables are naturally low in calories and serve as an important source of nutrients, such as essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Consuming this type of food can also lower your risk for many diseases.
And they’re easy to eat! Raw, cooked, or baked; fresh, canned or frozen; whole, chopped or mashed… the possibilities are endless.
However, the keto-friendly vegetables list is not infinite. There are some vegetables to avoid due to their high starch content. Veggies you can eat on keto include leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables, which are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber but low in carbs.
Take a look at the carbohydrate count for each ingredient to determine whether you can eat it by the handful, use it in controlled portions, or cut it out altogether.
Once you have a good idea of what vegetables you can eat on keto, use them as common substitutes to swap out high-carb ingredients in your favorite recipes.
Some foods and ingredients defy categorization!
The common baking and cooking ingredients, substitutes, recipes, and foods below may not fit into the traditional classification system, but some of them are staples for your ketogenic kitchen.
Others are best avoided or used only in small quantities.
Take a closer look to determine whether you can add these to your list of keto-friendly foods:
Some foods are so delicious that they capture the hearts and taste buds of people around the world.
Are they all ketogenic? Sadly, no. Tasty doesn’t always mean healthy. But some are!
Plus, many others can be revamped with alternative ingredients to make them both mouth-watering and keto-compliant.
Click on your favorite foods below to learn more.
This question is a bit tricky. National cuisines include many different flavors and ingredients. Plus, common dishes often vary widely even within the same country.
Not a problem! There are safe things you can eat in just about every type of cuisine. We’ll help guide you toward the authentic dishes that are most ketogenic. That way, you’ll know what to order in each type of restaurant.
What if you’re cooking at home? Many countries’ cuisines have common ingredients that are not allowed on this diet, so we’ll give you ideas on how to switch them with keto-safe alternatives. For example, high-carb fried noodles can be easily replaced with zucchini noodles.
Almost everybody enjoys eating out every once in a while. But this usually relaxing activity can become a stressful event when you’re following a diet plan.
How do you know what to order? What if your server won’t reveal the ingredients in the secret sauce?
Thanks to the popularity of the ketogenic way of eating, plenty of restaurants have created special options on their menu to cater to the low-carb, high-fat crowd.
And this trend is not limited to a certain type of place. There are keto-friendly fast food restaurants as well as fast-casual chains and sit-down places. So you can easily grab a bite on the go, or take your time enjoying a meal with friends and family.
Find out if the restaurants below are recommended for this way of eating, and discover what you can do to make their menus work for your lifestyle.
Have you ever noticed how much the price of a single item varies when you go to different grocery stores?
It’s worth checking out!
Your secret weapon when it comes to stocking your kitchen is knowing where to shop for which ketogenic foods.
One store may be great for certain snacks but lousy for fresh produce. Another may have the best prices and selection for one-stop shopping, but not have much in the way of keto-specific products.
We’ll help you determine which are the best local businesses and online stores, depending on what you’re looking for.
Need to buy in bulk for your weekly round of batch cooking? Check.
Looking for a specialty item you can’t find anywhere else? Check.
Want somewhere with frequent discounts, cheap store-brand items, and healthy foods the entire family will love to munch on? Check, check, check.
Find out how these supermarkets can help you or hurt you during your shopping trip.
JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS
Asking questions is the quickest way to gain knowledge. In this section, you’ll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding what foods to ditch and what to dig into.
Most traditional cereals can quickly push you over your daily carb limit, but there are many new low-carb options that are worth checking out. Look for whole food cereal or granolas, flaked or puffed grains, and fiber-rich varieties. Nuts, seeds, and coconuts are good, but try to stay away from artificial sweeteners.
Use the nutrition label on the box, paying close attention to serving size. And if you eat cereal with milk, don’t forget to add that to your calculations or use a substitute.
Usually foods are breaded with white flour and/or cornmeal before frying, which makes fried foods a good thing to avoid. Also, fried foods tend to soak up lots of calorie-dense heated vegetable oil, which is less than ideal.
The best option in a restaurant is to order items that are grilled, or ask for no breading or batter.
At home, you can use an alternative low-carb breading base (like pork rinds!) and bake in the oven instead of frying. You can also use an air fryer.
Just because something is gluten-free does not necessarily mean that it’s safe for keto. For example, lentils and beans are okay for celiacs, but they are not ketogenic foods.
However, there is a good deal of overlap between these two ways of eating, and it is possible to follow both at the same time.
Not completely, but you do want to limit your sugar intake significantly for ketogenic eating because (1) sugar is a carb and (2) sugar causes your blood sugar to spike. So generally, you do want to stay away from sugar.
There is, however, a difference between added sugars (like table sugar) and naturally occurring sugars (found in dairy, fruit, and even vegetables).
Cut out added sugars as much as possible so that you have more flexibility within your carb limit to enjoy healthy, naturally occurring sugars.
No, it is not. Many dairy foods are low in carbs and okay to eat on a ketogenic diet. When deciding between full fat and reduced fat, have a look at the label and think about what else you will be eating in the meal. Avoid reduced fat products with fillers that may add extra carbs, but if the only difference is the fat content, choosing a reduced fat version can be healthful. Replacing saturated fat (like dairy fat) with unsaturated fat (like plant fat) can be good for your heart. However, some dairy foods have too many carbs and should be avoided, so it’s important to look up the information for each ingredient.
Yes, you can and should eat fiber on keto. Some examples of high-fiber foods for a ketogenic diet are non-starchy vegetables, avocado, seeds, nuts, and berries.
Yes, you can. There are many drinks containing caffeine that are acceptable, both hot and cold. Just make sure you aren’t adding sugar or other non-ketogenic ingredients.
Yes, you can! Drinking green smoothies especially can be a great way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet. Certain fruit smoothies are also possible on this diet. Just pay attention to every ingredient you add, as some are more ketogenic than others. Portion size is also important to consider.
It’s easy to make a smoothie at home because you control every ingredient that goes in. But be aware that a smoothie you buy may contain ingredients that are not permitted, such as many types of fruit, juice, and added sugars. As always, read the label!
Yes, but it depends on what kind. Some have too many sugars (and therefore carbs). You’ll want to look for a low-sugar option, but be aware that some types of sugar alternatives are not compliant.
Yes, you can. Vitamin B12 is good for keto and essential for a healthy body and mind. You can get this vitamin from animal products including beef, chicken, fish, seafood, cheese, and eggs. Vegans who do not eat animal products should take a vitamin B12 supplement or eat foods fortified with B12.