Ketone diets have become very popular lately. Studies have shown that this very low-carb, high-fat diet is effective for weight loss, diabetes, and epilepsy.
There is also early evidence of benefits for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders.
Ketogenic diets typically limit carbohydrates to 20 to 50 grams per day. This may seem difficult, but many nutritious foods are easy to eat this way.
Types of healthy foods that you can eat with a ketogenic diet:
Seafood is very keto-friendly food. Salmon and other fish are rich in vitamin B, potassium, and selenium, but virtually free of carbohydrates.
However, carbohydrates differ depending on the type of shellfish. For example, shrimp and most crabs are free of carbohydrates, but other types of shellfish do.
These shellfish may still be included in the ketone diet, but it is important to consider these carbohydrates if you are trying to stay within a narrow range.
Here’s the carbohydrate count for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of some popular types of shellfish:
- Clams: 5 grams
- Mussels: 7 grams
- Octopus: 4g
- Oyster: 4 grams
- Squid: 3 grams
Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and other fatty fish are very high in omega-3 fats and have been shown to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese people.
Also, frequent fish intake is associated with a lower risk of illness and improved mental health.
We aim to consume at least 2 servings of seafood each week.
Low carb vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates but rich in many nutrients, including vitamin C and some minerals.
Vegetables and other plants contain fiber, which is not digested and absorbed like other carbohydrates. Therefore, look at the digestible (or net) carb count, which is fiber minus total carb.
Most vegetables contain little net carbohydrates. However, one serving of “starchy” vegetables such as potatoes, yams, and beets can exceed your total carbohydrate limit for the day. Non-starchy vegetables range from less than 1 gram of raw spinach to 8 grams of cooked Brussels sprouts.
Vegetables also contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage. Also, cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are associated with a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Low-carb vegetables are an excellent alternative to high-carb foods.
Avocados are incredibly healthy. 3.5 ounces (100 grams), or about half of a medium avocado, contains 9 grams of carbohydrates. However, these seven are fibers, so the net carb count is only 2 grams.
Avocado is rich in some vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which is an important mineral that many may not get enough. Also, increased potassium intake will facilitate the transition to a ketogenic diet.
Also, avocado may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In one study, when people ate an avocado-rich diet, they had 22% less “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and 11% more “good” HDL cholesterol.
The cheese is nutritious and delicious. There are hundreds of types of cheese. Fortunately, they are all very low in carbohydrates and high in fat, making them ideal for a ketogenic diet.
One ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese provides 1 gram of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, and 20% calcium RDI. Although cheese is rich in saturated fat, it has not been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. Some studies have suggested that cheese may help prevent heart disease.
Cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid, a fat associated with fat loss, and improved body composition. Also, eating cheese regularly can help prevent the loss of muscle mass and strength with age.
A 12-week study in older adults found that those who ate 7 ounces (210 grams) per day of ricotta cheese experienced an increase in muscle mass and strength during the study period.
Meat and poultry
Meat and poultry are considered staple foods of the ketone diet. Fresh meat and poultry are carbohydrate-free and rich in vitamin B and some minerals such as potassium, selenium, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of high-quality protein that has been shown to help maintain muscle mass during a high carb diet.
One study of older women found that a diet high in fat meat resulted in 8% higher HDL cholesterol levels than a low-fat, high-carb diet. If possible, we recommend choosing grass-fed meat. That’s because grass-eating animals produce more omega-3 fat, meat with conjugated linoleic acid.