What Are the Best Foods to Eat on the Keto Diet?

Though it didn’t start out as one, the keto diet has become everyone’s dream weight loss diet. Eat all the fat you want and watch the pounds magically disappear — right? Not exactly.

It’s actually a misconception that people following the keto diet have to consume massive quantities of butter and coconut oil to lose weight.

In reality, you can — and should — follow this diet without touching either of these products — or while using them sparingly as you cook at home. You don’t have to fill up on all high-fat foods to achieve your weight loss goals.

Here are the best foods to eat on the keto diet and why they’re so good for weight loss.

Certain vegetables

Often called “non-starchy” vegetables, these foods make great side dishes or additions to stir-fry, salads, soups, sandwiches, and more. Some examples include:

  • Spinach
  • Baby corn
  • Artichokes
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Sprouts
  • Cucumbers

These and other low-carb veggies — and all plant-based foods — contain fiber, which promotes weight loss by triggering feelings of fullness faster than low- or no-fiber foods. Here’s how much fiber you need to eat every day to lose weight.

Seafood

An appetizer plate of tiger shrimp

An appetizer plate of tiger shrimp | MSPhotographic/iStock/Getty Images

There are two main types of fat found in foods: saturated and unsaturated, what we’ll call “healthy.” In small amounts, saturated fats can be part of any healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fat.

Healthy fats — found in foods such as fish — are an essential part of a heart-healthy diet. So instead of consuming mostly saturated fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates, eat foods such as salmon, shrimp, tuna, and similar proteins at least a few times a week — maybe more if you don’t want to consume too much fat from sweets and junk food.

Dairy

If your digestive system can tolerate dairy, you have tons of options to add fat and minimal carbs to your meals and snacks. It’s OK if certain or all of these products bother your stomach: There are other ways to make up for the loss. But don’t shy away from it because you’ve heard it isn’t good for you. It’s all about choosing the best varieties.

People following the keto diet should eat a serving or two of cheese or Greek yogurt daily, and small amounts of butter and cream. Cow’s milk is also fine if your body can handle it.

Other lean animal proteins

The point of the keto diet for weight loss isn’t to consume all fat and protein and zero carbs. It’s a low-carb diet that should incorporate a variety of foods into your meal plan each day, even if you consume them in small amounts.

This is why you shouldn’t leave foods like meat off the menu. Plenty of protein and fat, but without the unwanted carbs. The best animal proteins to consume include:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Limited amounts of lean beef, pork, ham, sausage, and bacon.

Red meat is not the enemy — unless you eat multiple servings of it a day seven days a week. What’s most important is that you vary your protein sources to give your body a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats throughout the week.

Nuts and other healthy fats

Whole almonds in a bowl

Whole almonds in a bowl | YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

There are other keto-friendly, plant-based foods besides vegetables that promote weight loss and offer various health benefits. Balancing

Seeds, nuts, seed and nut butters, and almond milk varieties without added sugars are also excellent sources of healthy fats derived from plant foods. Olives and olive oils are also high in heart-healthy fats.

Following the keto diet — especially long-term — isn’t easy. But you can lose weight without going hungry or adding butter to every food you eat.

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