List of Foods You Can Eat on Keto

Atkins is a type of ketogenic diet—a nutrition plan that’s high in fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. The goal of a low carb diet is to help you lose weight more efficiently by reaching ketosis, which is a metabolic state in which your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Consuming a balanced keto diet like Atkins 20® and Atkins 40® has shown to be safe and effective.

So, what foods can you eat on a keto diet? The following list of keto-friendly foods is based on the first phase of Atkins 20®, which reduces your carb intake to an average of 20g net carbs per day to stimulate ketosis. 1 After the first two weeks of this induction phase, you will gradually add more net carbs and a wider variety of foods back into your diet. No matter the phase you’re in, try to eat three meals and two snacks a day, never starve yourself or go more than 4 waking hours without eating, and stay hydrated.

Keto-Friendly Carbs

The main component of a keto diet is to lower your carb intake to 20–40 net grams per day to achieve ketosis. To ensure you’re still getting the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body requires, it is important that the carbs you do eat come from nutrient-rich, non-starchy sources. 2 3 Eating plenty of whole foods also helps you stay fuller longer and prevents sugar cravings.

Low carb vegetables

Aim to eat 12–15g  of net carbs from a variety of vegetables per day. Refer to your Atkins plan and phase for a full list of acceptable foundation vegetables, but the following are some of our favorite keto friendly low carb veggies.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Peppers (red and green)
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce

Low carb fruits

When it comes time to adding low carb fruits  into your diet, reach for low glycemic varieties like blackberries, blueberries, coconut, lemons and limes, raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes. Olives and avocados, which are also technically a fruit, are also a great source of healthy fat.

Keto-friendly protein

Protein should make up 20-30% of your diet. Eating the right balance of protein while on a low carb diet is important in protecting muscle mass and supplying the amino acids needed for additional pathways in the body. 4

Meat, poultry, and eggs

Meat and poultry are excellent no-net-carb sources of protein and some of the most keto-friendly foods. Make sure to get your protein from a variety of different sources and aim for three 4-6 ounce cooked servings of protein each day in order to get adequate protein. Eggs are also packed with protein as well as vitamin A and antioxidants. Enjoy your eggs any style, especially with some foundation vegetables mixed in for a filling, balanced meal.

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Ham
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Poultry/fowl
  • Veal
  • Venison

Remember that some processed meats, bacon, and ham are cured with sugar, which will add to the carb count. If possible, avoid cold cuts and other meats with added nitrates.

Fish and shellfish

Fish and shellfish are rich in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats as well as a great source of vitamins D and B2, calcium, and minerals like zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Aim for 4–6 ounce servings of cooked fish or shellfish a couple times a week, and try to avoid products that are higher in carbs like imitation crab.

  • Clams
  • Cod
  • Crabmeat
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Lobster
  • Mackerel
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Salmon (wild)
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Sole
  • Squid
  • Tuna
  • Trout

Cheese and other dairy

Because cheese contains about 1 gram of carbs per ounce, try to consume no more than 4 ounces per day (an ounce is about the size of a 1-inch cube). We recommend choosing the full-fat varieties when possible. 5

  • Bleu cheese
  • Butter/ghee
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Feta
  • Goat cheese
  • Gouda
  • Greek yogurt (plain)
  • Mozzarella (whole milk)
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss

Keto-friendly fats

Low carb keto diets replace your reduction of carbs with an increase in fat, typically accounting for at least 60% of your daily calories. 6 But not just any fat; make sure to choose healthy fats from high-quality plant and animal sources, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and nuts, as well as cheese, eggs, meat, and fish, which are also protein sources.

Oils  and other healthy fats

While these oils are free of carbs, the recommended daily intake for added fats is 2–4 tablespoons. Steer clear of unhealthy fats —i.e. trans fats typically found in packaged and fried foods—like partially hydrogenated oils. When cooking with the following healthy options, avoid heating oils above their smoke point.

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Mayonnaise (with no added sugar)
  • MCT oil
  • Olive oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Walnut oil

Nuts and seeds

Low in carbs and high in fat, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and make for a healthy snack or salad topping. Seeds are also a great source of fiber. Try to avoid nuts coated in extra sugar or “flavored” nuts, as the flavoring typically adds extra carbs. Consume almonds, cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios in moderation, as they have a higher carb count than the nuts and seeds listed below.

  • Brazil nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Walnuts

Keto-friendly beverages

Low carb diets like keto have a diuretic effect, so make sure to drink a minimum of 6 to 8 glasses of water daily—especially during the induction phase— 7 to support your metabolism and regular body functions. Not consuming enough water can lead to constipation, dizziness, and cravings. Also make sure to add extra salt to your diet in order to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. Try sipping on full-sodium broth or adding a little extra salt to your food.

Zero-calorie seltzers and club soda, up to two cups of decaffeinated or regular coffee and tea, herbal tea (without added barley or fruit sugar added), and unsweetened soy and almond milks, or any of these low-carb drinks are also permitted. Pay close attention to your beverages, as they are often a major source of hidden sugars and carbs without you knowing!

Explore different Atkins plans personalized to your lifestyle, and easily keep track of your daily net carbs with the Atkins app or this carb counter guide.

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2015: Atkins diet program rapidly decreases atherogenic index of plasma in trained adapted overweight men

The Atkins diet program is a great example of the application of low carbohydrate diets for obesity, with the intention of weight loss and improvement in cardiovascular risk (CV risk)…

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2022: Effect of a ketogenic diet versus Mediterranean diet on glycated hemoglobin in individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus: The interventional Keto-Med randomized crossover trial

Consensus has not been reached on what constitutes an optimal diet in individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), especially between low-carbohydrate options…

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2021: Alternative Dietary Patterns for Americans: Low-Carbohydrate Diets

The decades-long dietary experiment embodied in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) focused on limiting fat, especially saturated fat, and higher carbohydrate intake has coincided with rapidly escalating …

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2015: The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance

Over the past 20 y, higher-protein diets have been touted as a successful strategy to prevent or treat obesity through improvements in body weight management. These improvements are thought to be due, in part, to modulations…

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2023: The Relationship between Whole-Milk Dairy Foods and Metabolic Health Highlights an Opportunity for Dietary Fat Recommendations to Evolve with the State of the Science

Dairy foods comprise complex matrices that deliver nutrients and bioactive ingredients with different effects on long-term weight control and metabolic health…the simple notion that foods containing fat induce obesity and cardiometabolic risk based on their total fat, saturated fat, and calorie contents.

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
2023: Ketogenic Diet

Regarding overall caloric intake, carbohydrates comprise around 55% of the typical American diet, ranging from 200 to 350 grams daily…When individuals consume an excess of low-quality carbohydrates, there may be limited space in their diet for more nutritious foods like nuts, unprocessed grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Evidence Based
PubMed Central, National Library of Medicine,
1981: Loss of weight, sodium and water in obese persons consuming a high- or low-carbohydrate diet

Isocaloric 5.61 mJ (1,340 kcal) formula diets involving the isocaloric exchange of fat and carbohydrate were fed to 21 obese persons selected for sex, height, and weight before the start of the treatment and distributed over three groups…

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