Fats and Oils
Dietary fats constitute the most part of calories in a ketogenic diet, so digestive tolerance should be considered when making choices. The majority can’t tolerate consuming a higher quantity of mayonnaise, vegetable oil, or sometimes even olive oil.
But this isn’t a bad thing as vegetable oils contain high amounts of polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids. Margarine, nut oils, sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil contain Omega-6 fatty acids which cause inflammation in our body, and if we use them as our only source of fat, they will make us sick. Moreover, cooking with these oils isn’t recommended.
Have in mind that most nuts, except walnuts and macadamias, also contain high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. Nevertheless, there are some polyunsaturated fats that are crucial and they are the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, whose intake should be balanced. Our body needs just a teaspoon of them daily.
Shellfish, wild salmon, and tuna are important in the list of low carb foods since they offer balancing Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 6 can be obtained by some mayonnaise or a few nuts, while Omega 3 supplement by taking a small quantity of a krill or fish oil for those who don’t prefer seafood.
Most people easily tolerate saturated and monounsaturated fats like macadamia nuts, avocado, butter, egg yolks, and coconut oil, and these are less inflammatory as they are more chemically stable. You can add fats and oils in dressing, sauces, and other basic meals’ additions. Combining fat source to each meal will gradually become your habit.
In order to minimize the intake of trans fats, avoid hydrogenated fats like margarine. Choose cold-pressed oil if you use vegetable oils (sunflower, olive, sesame, canola, flaxseed, soybean, and safflower oils). Cold pressed oils should be kept refrigerated as flaxseed and almond oil, to prevent rancidity. Moreover, you should try not to heat these vegetable oils. Instead, use beef tallow, clean, non-hydrogenated lard, olive, ghee, and coconut oil for frying, as their smoke points are high.
- Avocado oil
- Avocado (extremely high in fat)
- Butter (try finding organic sources)
- Almond oil
- Organic chicken fat
- Beef tallow (best from grass-fed cattle)
- Organic duck fat
- Lard, like an organic leaf lard (NOT hydrogenated)
- Ghee (butter with removed milk solids)
- Macadamia oil
- Macadamia Nuts
- Organic olive oil
- Mayonnaise (most contain carbs, so count them. A sugar-free is the Duke’s brand)
- Organic coconut oil, coconut cream concentrate and coconut butter
- Peanut Butter (use unsweetened products, and limit because of Omega 6 content)
- Organic Red palm oil
- Small amounts of 85-90% dark chocolate, or Chocoperfection low carb chocolate
- Seed and most nut oils (Flaxseed oil, Sesame oil, etc. which contain higher amounts of inflammatory Omega 6 fats, so limit the intake, and make sure you avoid heating them)
The best cuts of meat are the fattier ones, as they have more fat and less protein. To minimize bacteria, and the intake of antibiotic and steroid hormones, choose organic eggs and overall organic or grass-fed animal foods. Websites like www.localharvest.org and www.eatwild.com give you a list of local sources of clean and grass-fed meats and poultry which are the best foods to include in a low carb diet.
- Poultry- turkey, chicken, quail, duck, Cornish hen, pheasant, goose. When available, free range is better.
- Pork- Boston butt, pork loin, pork chops, and ham without added sugar.
- Meat- lamb, beef, goat, veal, and wild game, preferably grass-fed meat since it has a better fatty acid content.
- Fish or any type of seafood, preferably wild caught, such as calamari, anchovies, cod, catfish, halibut, mackerel, flounder, herring, salmon, mahi-mahi, scrod, sardines, snapper, sole, tuna, and trout.
- Shellfish- crab, clams, lobster, shrimp, scallops, squid, oysters and mussels. Be careful of imitation of crab meat since it has gluten, sugar, and other additives.
- Salmon and canned tuna are good if they don’t contain added sugars or filters. To check this look at their label. Make sure you avoid fried and breaded seafood.
- Sausage and bacon- Avoid those which contain fillers such as wheat or soy or those cured with sugar. You can find most bacon brands free of sugar in specialty health food stores.
- Whole eggs prepared in different ways: fried, poached, deviled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, and omelets.
- Whey protein powders, hemp, pea, plus rice, or other vegetable protein powders. However, avoid whey or limit the amounts, if you have troubles getting into ketosis or losing weight since whey protein causes an insulin spike in the body (insulinogenic).
- Peanut butter and soy products such as edamame, tofu, and tempeh are good protein sources, but be careful as they are higher in carbohydrate.
Many non-starch veggies contain low amounts of carbs. In order to avoid pesticide residues, choose organic vegetables or grow your own. Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and winter squashes, contain high amounts of carbs, so make sure you avoid them.
Also, limit the intake of sweeter vegetables like carrots, summer squashes, tomatoes, and peppers. Have in mind that this list is not comprehensive, so feel free to include some other green vegetable even though is not on the list.
- Any leafy green vegetable
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Bean Sprouts
- Bamboo Shoots
- Bell peppers*
- Beet Greens
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Collard greens
- Dill pickles
- Dandelion greens
- Lettuces and salad greens (Boston lettuce, arugula, endive, chicory escarole, mache, fennel, radicchio, sorrel, romaine.)
- Sauerkraut (watch for added sugar)
- Snow Peas
- Swiss chard
- Summer squash*
- Water chestnuts
* These vegetables are higher in carbs, so limit their amounts.
- Raw or organic milk products are preferable. Once again, if you have problems to lose weight or get into ketosis, avoid or limit the amounts of dairy products (casein and whey) since they are insulinogenic. Furthermore, avoid products which have added whey protein since it also contributes to the spike of insulin in the body.
- Full fat sour cream-Make sure you check the labels for filter and additives when buying this product. The best brands produce pure cream without added milk, and with low protein and carbs, such as Daisy brand.
- Heavy whipping cream
- All soft and hard cheeses (1-ounce portion should be generally counted as 1 carb)
- Full fat cottage cheese
- Cream cheese (1-ounce portion should be generally counted as 1 carb)
- Mascarpone cheese
- Unsweetened whole milk yogurt- it contains a little higher amount of carb so limit its amounts) (Fage full-fat Greek yogurt is excellent)
Nuts and Seeds
To remove anti-nutrients, soak and roast nuts and seeds. They contain high amounts of calories and even more carbs per serving. Eating a handful of nuts is something we all do, but we don’t think of the amount of included carb. You should avoid or reduce intake of nuts if you have problems with losing weight or getting into ketosis.
- Nuts– pecans, macadamias, walnuts and almonds contain the lowest amounts of net carbs and they can be consumed in small quantities. Chestnuts, pistachios, and cashews contain higher amounts of carb, so be careful to avoid going over the limits of carbs.
- Nut flours, like almond flour. A list of low carb food isn’t supposed to completely exclude baking. As a great substitute for flour, you can use almond flour.
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.) also contain very high amounts of Omega 6 fats, so you may want to limit the amounts.
- Peanuts are in fact legumes and contain higher amounts of protein and Omega 6 fats, so you may want to limit the amounts and add protein grams in daily totals.
- You should consider nuts as your main source of proteins, as most of them contain high amounts of Omega 6 fats, which cause increasing of the inflammation in our body. Some people say that have noticed to become sore and stiff, and with bad mood when consuming too many nuts within a few days, which is considered to result from Omega 6 fats.
- Unsweetened herbal tea
- Decaf coffee, as caffeine can increase blood sugar levels
- Clear broth, bone broth
- Unsweetened decaf tea
- Unsweetened flavored seltzer water
- Small amounts of lemon and lime juice
- Unsweetened soy milk (check protein grams as well)
- Unsweetened coconut milk (can or carton)
- Unsweetened almond milk
You will help your sweet buds reset if you avoid sweetened foods. Nevertheless, if you have sweet-cravings, we give you a list of recommended sweeteners. The liquid forms of sweeteners are preferred, as the powder ones usually contain dextrose, maltodextrin, or some other added sugar.
- Stevia, preferably in a liquid form since the powdered contain maltodextrin
- Xylitol, make sure your dogs stay away from foods with Xylitol
- Lo Han Guo
- Splenda, preferably in a liquid form since the powdered usually contains maltodextrin (according to many studies)
- Chicory Root and Inulin, like Sugar brand
- Monk Fruit
Listing Splenda here is rather disputable since if there’s a clinically controlled human study about it, it will be the gold standard. However, consuming honey, sugar, and other nutritive sweeteners shows more negative effects than those which might be related to a small quantity of Splenda.
- Japanese Shirataki noodles
- The fruits lowest in carbs are berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), so we can occasionally enjoy them in small quantities. Try to avoid other fruits, since they contain high amounts of carbs and can impede the ketosis.
- Pork Rinds, although they contain high amounts of protein so there should be some limit.
As spices contain carbs, make sure you count them, if you add them to meals prepared with the list of low carb foods. Use sea salt instead of commercial salt, since it might contain powdered dextrose. Sugar is added to the steak seasoning, as well as to other commercial spice mixes.
Cookbooks with Low Carb Food Lists
These cookbooks are excellent resources for the preparation methods of the items on this low-carbohydrate food list. Just click on them if you want to check their price on Amazon.