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What Can You Eat on the Keto Diet? Complete List of Keto Foods

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Published on

What can you eat on a keto diet? Probably a lot more than you first thought. 

Most people think of keto as a restrictive diet, yet the only thing it truly restricts is carbs. However, since the Standard American Diet centered around processed carbs, you might feel you’re giving up a lot of familiar and comforting foods. 

The good news, is that once you kick your carb addiction, you open up a new world of delicious, nutrient-dense whole foods. 

Ironically, many of the best foods to eat on a keto diet, like beef, butter, eggs, lard, bacon, and organ meats, were staples for most of our ancestors. 

So one way to look at what you can eat on a keto diet is that they’re the foods that mainstream nutrition has wrongfully demonized. 

Fortunately, numerous recent high-quality studies are setting the record straight. For exaple: 

  • Eating more fat and less carbs reduces the risk of heart disease.1 2 
  • Saturated fat in whole foods is essential and does not contribute to heart disease.3 
  • Cholesterol in food does not raise cholesterol in your blood. 4 
  • Fiber is unnecessesary, and high-fiber diets can be harmful. 5 6 7

Now let’s comprehensively answer the question: “What can you eat on the keto diet?” 

Table of Contents

Chart of Foods You can eat on a Keto Diet 

This chart provides an overview of the types of food you can eat on a keto diet. Below we’ll explore each category in more detail. 

It’s important to remember that a keto diet is as much about eating high-fat as it is about low-carbs.  The standard ketogenic diet macronutrient breakdown on keto looks like: 

  • 70-80% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% calories from protein
  • 0-10% calories from carbohydrate

The foods you can eat on a keto diet should be selected and combined to fit within these ratios.

RuminantsPorkPoultryfishseafoodOrgan meatsWild meatsfatEggs
Beef 

Bison

Goat

Lamb

All typesChicken

Duck

Goose

Game hen

Turkey

Qual

Pheasant

Salmon

Halibut

Mahi-mahi

Trout

Tuna

Cod

Arctic Char

Sardines

Anchovies

Mackerel

Herring

swordfish

Snapper

Walleye

Oysters

Shrimp

Prawns

Lobster

Mussels

Scallops

Crab 

Clams

Liver

Heart

Brain

Kidney

Sweetbreads

Pancreas

Tongue

Tripe

Bone Marrow

Testicles

Elk

Venison

Antelope

Bear

Rabbit

Boar

Rattlesnake

Kangaroo

Tallow

Lard

Butter

Ghee

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Chicken eggs

Duck eggs

Goose Eggs

Ostrich eggs

Quail Eggs

 

DairyFruits VegetablesNuts and Seeds
Butter

Ghee

Cream

Creme Fraiche

Cheese

Full-fat

yogurt

Blackberries

Raspberries 

Strawberries

Cantaloupe

Watermelon

Kiwi

Avocado

Coconut

Asparagus

Kale

Broccoli Rab

Arugula

Romaine Lettuce

Spinach

Egg Plant

Cabbage

Mushrooms

Watercress

Zucchini 

Swiss chard

Hemp hearts

Walnuts

Macadamia nuts

Pecans

Pistachio

Almond

Hazelnut

Brazil nut

Sunflower seeds

Chia seeds

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Zen lotus seeds

Ruminant Meats

stack of ruminant meats

Ruminant meats are the foundation of most well-formulated keto and carnivore diet meal plans

Unlike humans, ruminant animals have two stomachs. This makes them extremely efficient at extracting vitamins and minerals from plants. As Doctor Kiltz likes to say, “we came out of the trees to eat the grass eaters, not to eat the grass.”  

Ruminant meats are loaded with B vitamins, zinc, and selenium along with meat specific compounds including: 

  • Carnitine: improves male fertility, reduces anemia, supports mitochondrial function, and cardiac ischemia.   [7]  [8] [9]  [10]
  • Carnosine: Heart and muscle protective. Prevents glycation, protects against telomere damage to prevent agings.  [5] [2] [3] [4] 
  • Creatine: Associated with improved cognition and protection against Alzhiemer’s.Boost athletic performance, and heart health. [10]  [11]  [12] [13]
  • Taurine: Antioxidant that reduces glycation, oxidative stress, and may reduce depression.
  • Zinc: The zinc found in beef is 400% more bioavailable than you get in grains. Improves sperm count and mobility in men, while supporting a healthy immune system.  [14]  [15] 
  • Heme Iron: Found only in beef and other red meats, vital to healthy immune function, cognition, and energy metabolism. [16]

Grass-fed ruminants also contain significantly more Vitamin A (which you need to create energy) and Vitamin E (which assists in combating lipid peroxidation).

The most popular ruminants meats include: 

  • Beef
  • Bison
  • Lamb
  • Goat

When choosing your ruminant meats select for the fatties cuts, and opt for grass-fed and pasture-raised varieties. These will have the healthiest fat composition and the highest amount of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, and E. 

Beef

Beef provides the above-mentioned nutrients at near-perfect ratios and in the most bioavailable forms for the needs of our bodies. 

The list below ranks 10 of the most popular cuts of beef based on their fat to protein ratio. 

Nutrition Info per 4 oz. 

Beef CutCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from fat% Calories from protein
Boneless short ribs440411608415
Tri-tip roast340291807721
Beef Back Ribs310261907525
Ribeye310252007326
Porterhouse280222107030
Top Sirloin240162206037
80/20 Ground Beef30719.630.505941
Skirt Steak26516.52705842
Brisket24514.72805446
Flank Steak20083203664

 

Bison

Bison is often leaner than beef with a slightly different flavor, mainly due to their farming methods: Bison are almost always grass-fed and free-range, which also makes them a better choice for the environment than conventional beef. 7 8

The fat ratios of different cuts of bison will closely mirror those of beef in the chart above. 

Lamb

Like beef, lamb is rich in fat, protein, and bioavailable nutrients. It’s especially high in zinc, B vitamins, the antioxidant glutathione, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). In fact, it’s higher in lamb than any other meat.  

Studies show that CLA boosts the immune system, supports heart health, strengthens bones, and improves fat loss.8

While glutathione reduces insulin resistance, reduces the risk of autoimmune disease, along with oxidative damage, and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. 9

Nutrition information per 4 oz. 

Lamb CutCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from Fat% Calories from Carbs
Chop/Rack330223006337
Loin Chop330223006337
Leg29218.729.305941
Shank27614.73205248
Shoulder148622.803763

Eggs

Keto eggs

Eggs are one of the least expensive and most complete sources of fat and protein. Hard boiling this whole animal food makes for a great keto snack

Loaded with B vitamins, choline, and folate, eggs are also a fantastic fertility diet food for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. 10

Nutrients100 grams (appx 2 eggs)%Daily Value
Calories140
Fat10
Protein12
Vitamins and Minerals
Retinol (vitamin A)98mcg12%
Riboflavin0.4mg33%
Vitamin B120.33mcg100%
Biotin5.2mcg17%
Folate88mcg30%
Vitamin D7.9mcg30%
Vitamin E1.9mg30%
Pantothenic acid1.07mg22%
Phosphorus171mg25%
Iron1.8mgMen (23%) Women (10%)
Selenium28mcg50%
Zinc1.0mg10%
Iodine47mcg33%

 

Organ Meats

raw liver on serving stone with knife salt and dill

Nature’s most nutrient-dense superfoods, organ meats like bone marrow, liver, and brains were scavenged by our caveman ancestors long even before we were smart enough to hunt. 

In fact, the human race can thank organ meats for fueling our evolution into the super-intelligent species we are today. 

Organ meats have an extraordinary way of providing specific micro and macronutrients to the corresponding organs in our bodies.

Naturopathic doctor Dr. Ron Schmid points out, “Radioisotope labeling studies in animals have shown conclusively that, when eaten, organs and glands selectively travel to the corresponding organs and glands in high concentrations.”  For example, beef kidney contains special peptides that may benefit the health of our own kidneys. 11 

Some of the most nutrient-rich beef organ meats you can eat on keto include:

Nutrients per 100 grams

NutrientsLiverHeartKidneySweet-

breads

BrainSpleenTripeRDA
Calories16917999143140100371
Fat5g6g3.1g10.3103g26g
Protein27g31g17.410.91118g32g
Net Carbs50g.3g1.1g1g0g0g
Vitamins
Vitamin A870%2%2%7μg900mcg
Riboflavin (B2)263%76%2.8mg.3mg.2mg.4mg.359mg1.3mg
B679%9%.7mg.4mg.2mg.1mg.162mg1.3-1.7mg
Folate (B9)290μg3μg98μg6μg3μg11mcg400mcg
B123464%280%28015.2μg9.5μg5.7μg4.19mcg2.4mcg
Vitamin C1%0mg9.4mg3.3mg10.7mg45.5mg1.3mg60mg
Vitamin D8%1%1.1μg.4mcg100mg (4000 IU)
Vitamin E3%14%.2mg1mg.39mg1000 mg

(1500IU)

Vitamin K3%1.2mcg120mcg
Minerals
Calcium 0%0%13mg9mg43mg9mg77mg1300mg
Iron34%38%4.6mg2.2mg2.6mg44.6mg3.21mg18mg
Magnesium5%6%17mg15mg13mg22mg29mg420mg
Phosphorus49%27%257mg386mg362mg296.0211mg1250mg
Zinc 37%20%1.9mg1.4mg1mg2.1mg253mg11mg
Copper1621%72%.4mg.2mg.3mg.2mg.22mg.9mg
Manganese15%.1mg.1mg2.3mg
Retinol419μg
Selenium39.7mg21.8μg141μg26μg21.3μg62μg26.1mcg55mcg
Lycopene20μg
Thiamine.2.2mg.4mg.1mg.1mg.9-1.2mg
Choline333.3mg550mg

 

Organ Meat Supplements

If high-quality fresh organ meats are hard to come by, or they make you squeamish, not to worry. You can still get near identical benefits from dried organ meat supplements. 

Click here to view our guide to selecting the best beef liver supplements, and here for our multi-organ meat supplement guide. 

simply add beef liver supplements to your carnivore diet food list. You can learn more about supplementing with liver here

Pork

keto meats pork belly

When it comes to answering, “what can you eat on a keto diet?” pork is near the top of most people’s lists. 

However, pork often plays second fiddle to ruminant meats for the following reasons: 

  • Pork is less nutrient-dense
  • Pigs can’t transform inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in their feeds into omega-3’s, but ruminants can
  • Pastured pork is hard to find, whereas grass-fed ruminants are common

That said, pork is still a fantastic whole food source of fat, protein, B vitamins, selenium, and choline. 

Here’s a list of the top 10 cuts of pork to eat on a keto diet, listed in order of their fat to protein ratio. 

Nutritional information per 4 oz. 

Pork CutCaloriesFat Protein% Calories Fat% Calories Protein
Pork Belly5886010.4927
Baby back ribs31527187723
Pork Hocks28524177624
Shoulder28523197327
Bacon60047.241.97128
Butt24018196832
Leg Ham3052030.45940
Loin26515.530.85346
Chop24112334555
Tenderloin1584302376

Whole Food Fats

Keto Fats

On a keto diet, it’s rarely a question of can you eat fat, and more a question of, have you eaten enough fat. Getting 70% of your calories from fat can feel daunting, even when you’re eating fatty animal foods.  You’ll need to augment your keto meals with healthy keto fats

8 of the healthiest fats you can eat on a keto diet include: 

  1. Tallow
  2. Lard
  3. Coconut Oil
  4. Ghee
  5. Butter
  6. Creme Fraiche
  7. Avocado Oil
  8. Olive Oil

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best options you can eat on the keto diet:

Tallow

Incredibly nutrient-rich, beef tallow helps you absorb more essential nutrients from your food while providing vitamins A, D, E, K, and B1. Tallow also contains conjugated linoleic acid,  a natural anti-inflammatory.

Ghee

A type of clarified butter, ghee is the result of removing milk solids and water through heat. Ghee is packed with vitamins K, A, and E, all of which are essential to numerous physiological functions. One of the best things about ghee is that it’s lactose-and casein-free, making it a great choice for people with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies.  

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is popular among keto dieters in large part because of their medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), that make up 54% of the fat in coconut oil. MCTs are directly metabolized into ketones, which help reduce some of the uncomfortable side effects when transitioning to keto.  [23]

Fatty Fish

fatty keto fish

Though you can eat essentially all types of fish on a keto diet, most fish are relatively lean and will need to augment with added fats.

The fattiest fish are the center of pescatarian keto, and Mediterranean keto diets. 

Fatty fish like Atlantic mackerel, sardines, and anchovies provide robust amounts of vitamin D–which can be hard to come by in food. 

Here’s a list of the top 6 fish you can eat on the keto diet. 

TYPE OF FISHCALORIESFATPROTEINCARBS% CALORIES FROM FAT% CALORIES FROM PROTEIN
#1Atlantic Mackerel29020.32706337
#2Farmed Arctic Char208121905842
#3Anchovies25615.92805644
#4Farmed Salmon234142505644
#5Wild King Salmon195132205446
#6Sardines13981905050

Roe and Shellfish 

keto seafood platter

Eating roe and shellfish on the keto diet provides an abundance of hard to get nutrients. Oysters are loaded in zinc, while salmon roe is a rare source of significant vitamin C in animal foods. 

Lobster, roe (caviar), shrimp, and other seafood with orange pigment provide a compound called Astaxanthin. [22] [23] This powerful antioxidant is around 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C. [24]

Type of SeafoodCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from fat% Calories from protein% Calories from carbs
Salmon Caviar (Roe)26014292.945523%
Oysters581.96.53.1293328
Mussels972.813.54.5265619
Shrimp1352.025.81.718784
Dungeness Crab1072.022017820
Lobster1161.825014860
Clams821.1153127315
Scallops971.019397812

Poultry

Poultry is accessible and relatively inexpensive, but it’s also very lean and is more highly processed and susceptible to contamination than other keto meats. For this reason poultry often plays more of a supporting role when it comes to what you can eat on the keto diet. 

To get the most fat from poultry chose skin-on options, and add fats like tallow and butter when cooking. 

And there is one type of poultry that’s highly recommended: chicken liver

PoultryCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Fat% Carbs
Goose34024.928.506634
Game Hen220161906535
Chicken Wings3202230.406238
Chicken thigh (skin on)27517.628.305841
Duck22813.926.305546
Chicken Leg (skin on)27515.229.405446
Turkey1759.92105149
Chicken Breast (skin on)2008.43103862
Chicken Breast (skinless)13842502672

Full Fat Dairy 

Fresh dairy products, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, yogurt, sour cream and butter on white background, top view

Keto yogurt, cream, butter, and keto cheeses make a fantastic addition for people that can tolerate dairy. 

And for people who don’t tolerate dairy well, it’s worth giving A2 milk and dairy a try. A2 refers to a type of dairy protein. Most cows have A1, which breaks down into a molecule linked to autoimmune and heart disease.  [36] [37] [38] 

But the A2 protein in specific types of cows milk and exclusively in buffalo, sheep, and goat milk, can be safer and easier to digest. 

A helpful tip is to add heavy cream to yogurt and cottage cheese to boost their fat ratio into keto territory.

Nutrition info per 100 grams

Type of DairyCaloriesFatProteinCarbs% Calories from fat% Calories from protein% Calories from carbs
Ghee896104.3010000
Butter71484.8.0199.9.010
Creme fraiche40343.22.42.49622
Heavy cream (3.3 oz)33336.32.82.79433
Cream cheese35234.56.25.58776
Sour cream19218.42.34.58659
Cheddar cheese41433.823.43.274233
Full Fat Greek Yogurt1005.19.54.1473716

Low Carb Veggies 

list of keto veggies with carb content for each

Veggies are a controversial topic on keto. Keto carnivore dieters swear off veggies altogether. Yet people eating vegetarian keto and vegan keto eat them all the time. 

The argument for limiting veggies on a keto diet centers on a combination of carb load and the presence of plant toxins and antinutrients.  

Plants contain thousands of these potentially toxic compounds including, phytic acid phytohormones, lectins, oxalate, and gluten

In small doses most people are unaffected. But when constantly consuming plant toxins you can induce chronic inflammation and leaky gut among other disorders. 

Below ground veggies, though often higher in carbs than their leafy counterparts, are generally lower in plant toxins. The higher carb options are best enjoyed once in a while, or as part of the cyclical ketogenic diet.  

chart of keto root vegetables

Can you Eat Fruit on the Keto Diet? 

By virtue of their sugar content, fruit plays a minor role on the keto diet. The best fruit to eat on a keto diet are berries. 

Berries are only 5-10% net carbs by weight. A cup of blackberries with heavy cream can be an occasional keto treat. 

You’ll want to steer clear of bananas, which are over 20% net carbs. 

The best keto fruits to eat on keto include: 

Types of Fruit You Can Eat on KetoCarbs per 100 grams 
Blackberry5
Raspberry5
Strawberry6
Coconut6
Lemon6
Cantaloupe7
Watermelon7
Peach 8
Orange9

Nuts and Seeds

carbs in keto nuts list

Though loaded with fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, keto nuts and seeds should also be used sparingly on keto. 

The drawbacks to nuts and seeds is that their extremely high in abrasive fiber, they can contain lots of antinutrients, and have extremely high omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios. 

An ideal Omega-6 to 3 ratio is 1:1. But in our standard American diet, it’s closer to 1:16. This overabundance of omega-6’s can lead to chronic inflammation, cancer, and heart disease. 

Here’s our list of the best low-carb nuts for a keto diet, ranked according to their carbohydrate content. 

NutCarbohydrate per 100gAmount of nuts per 100g
Pecan4 grams65 nuts
Brazil nut4 grams20 nuts
Macadamia nut5 grams40 nuts
Hazelnut7 grams70 nuts
Walnut7 grams50 halves
Almond9 grams80 nuts
Hemp Hearts9 grams5/8 cup
Pistachio28 grams160 nuts

Seeds can also make a cameo on most keto diets, but have the same potential drawbacks as nuts. Some popular options include: 

CARBOHYDRATESPER 1OZ. PER 100 GRAMS
PUMPKIN SEEDS1.4g4.9g
SUNFLOWER SEEDS1.7g6g
CHIA SEEDS2.2g8g

Condiments and Sauces

Most commercial sauces and condiments are loaded with inflammatory vegetable oils and sugars. This can make eating out on keto a challenge. 

However, there are fantastic keto options for most of your favorite condiments including, mayonnaise, bbq sauce, ketchup, aioli, mustard, and soy sauce.

Check out our guide to recipes and store-bought keto sauces and condiments here

What Can you Eat on a Keto Diet? The Takeaway

A keto diet calls for high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein foods. So the answer to “what can you eat on a keto diet?” will naturally include the foods that most closely fit these criteria. 

The keto-friendliest foods are whole food animals meats and fats. 

Ruminant animal meats and fats from cows, bison, and lamb play the starring role. Pork, seafood, poultry, and full-fat dairy play supporting roles. With nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruits making occasional cameos. 

 

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED