A Basic Keto Diet Food List for Beginners

A 2004 study on the long-term benefits of a ketogenic diet with obese patients found that they lost a lot of weight with very few negative side effects.

Since then, research into this popular low-carb diet has only deepened. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or improve health, starting a keto diet might be just the thing to set you on the path to success.

Read on to answer the question “What is keto?” and get a comprehensive keto diet food list guaranteed to make your first keto-friendly shopping trip a breeze!

Why Is a Keto Diet Beneficial?

While it might seem like the latest fad diet, the ketogenic (or keto) diet has been on the radar of medical professionals since the 1920s. Researchers discovered the diet reduced seizures in some people with epilepsy. At the same time, it also began to gain popularity as a tool for weight loss.

Burns Fat, Not Sugars

The ketogenic diet is unique among other low-carb diets–like the Atkins, Paleo, and South Beach diets–due to its high fat requirement. Guides say fat needs to make up between 70% and 80% of your diet.

Human beings need glucose to fuel several essential cellular functions. The body normally gets this glucose from consuming carbohydrates. When starting a keto diet, you starve your body of glucose by dramatically reducing the number of carbohydrates that you eat.

Your body converts muscle and fat into ketones, which it can use in place of the missing glucose. Voila! You start to lose weight.

Benefits Your Blood

Cutting back on carbohydrates allows your body to process the little that’s left in your system more efficiently. This reduces the need for insulin production, which in turn regulates blood sugar levels. Combined with good eating habits like meal planning, starting a keto diet may also help some people to bring down high blood pressure.

Reduces Hunger and Cravings

Standard nutrition advice for weight loss recommends dieters to cut the fat. Because you’re able to eat as many fatty foods as you want on the keto diet (like bacon, butter, and avocado), you’ll be able to feed those cravings instead of resisting them. Essentially, the cravings will disappear.

Research also suggests that a diet high in protein and fat can help you to feel more satiated, which means you’ll stay fuller for longer.

The Essentials: Keto Diet Food List

We’ve done the hard work for you and put together this go-to shopping guide of top ketogenic diet foods. You can’t go wrong with a pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with these essentials.

Lard and Butter

One of the best bits about starting a keto diet is never saying no to that delicious butter! When grocery shopping, look out for grass-fed butter; ghee (clarified butter); lard, tallow, and duck fat.

Plant Oils

Top plant oils for a keto diet include avocado oil and coconut oil. Avocado oil has a high smoke point, making it one of the safest oils to use for cooking. Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, which are thought to encourage ketone production.

Nuts and Seeds

When shopping for nuts and seeds for your keto cupboard, go with the lowest card options. Pecans, brazil, and macadamias top the list of nuts, while chia, pumpkin, hemp, or flax should be your preferred options for seeds.


Avocados have a ton of natural, heart-healthy fat and they’re low in carbs. Not to mention the other vitamin and mineral nutrients they contain: vitamins K and C, folate, and potassium. Keto dieters aren’t allowed a lot of fruit, so embrace the avocado!


One large egg has around 5 grams of fat, a little more protein, and less than 1 gram of carbs. Add them to keto-friendly salads or serve with a side of low-carb steamed vegetables. Cook hard-boiled eggs, cool them in the shell in the fridge, and pack them in your lunchbox for an easy at-work snack.

Fish and Seafood

Seafood is naturally low in carbohydrates, and if you choose oily fish like wild-caught salmon and tuna or high-quality tinned sardines, you’re sure to hit your macros. Even meaty shellfish like scallops or mussels can work on a keto diet. They’re delicious cooked in butter.


Go for fatty cuts of meat like brisket or ribeye. Bacon is great but look for nitrate-free brands. And keep the skin on chicken and turkey. Proponents of the keto diet encourage eating organ meats like liver and kidney but say no to cold cuts.


Cheese is both delicious and nutritious for those starting a keto diet. Since all cheeses are low in carbs and high in fat, cheese is an almost perfect keto diet food. Use it in dressings, grate it onto meats and vegetables, or just eat it by the slice.


Because keto dieters are trying to avoid carbs, you want to choose non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens like kale, romaine, spinach, and collards. Common vegetables to avoid include potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, beans, squash, beetroot, corn, and peas.

Tips for Staying on Track With a Keto Diet

A decent number of people find the ketogenic diet hard to maintain. It can be expensive, restrictive, and difficult in social settings. But head into keto with the right mindset and you’ll be on track for success.

Remember It’s a Lifestyle

Don’t treat keto as a fad diet and you won’t beat yourself up if you have off-days. If you integrate keto eating into your lifestyle, you won’t even feel the need to cheat on your diet. Build-in treats and rewards and take a break on holidays if you need to.

Read Success Stories

There are a ton of public figures thriving on ketogenic diet foods. Head onto YouTube or Instagram and start following who’s trending. Look for influencers who back up their content with good nutritional research.

Facebook groups can be another great source of inspiration to keep you accountable. Look for keto groups in your area: you might even make a few new friends in your neighborhood!

Embrace Premade Keto

The $9.6 million global keto industry is expected to grow by at least 5% in the coming years. New keto diet food products are hitting the shelves at supermarkets across the USA all the time.

Keep an eye out for grab-and-go snacks and ready meals, or find out more about keto-friendly IQFs (Individual Quick Foods). Don’t be afraid to pop them in your shopping cart or order them online. They’ll save you time spent in the kitchen and make sure you stay on track with your diet when you’re eating out.

Get Professional Advice Before Making a Diet Switch

It’s always a good idea to consult with a medical professional before changing your diet. Work with a keto-friendly nutritionist or physician to put together a keto diet food list that suits you. There are even options for ketogenic diet foods for vegans and vegetarians.

Want more advice on the keto diet or eating for wellbeing in general? Browse the other health articles on Taste Terminal.

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