The ketogenic diet has become quite popular recently.
Studies have found that this very low-carb, high-fat diet is effective for weight loss, diabetes and epilepsy (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
There’s also early evidence to show that it may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases, too.
A ketogenic diet typically limits carbs to 20–50 grams per day. While this may seem challenging, many nutritious foods can easily fit into this way of eating.
Here are 16 healthy foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Fish and shellfish are very keto-friendly foods. Salmon and other fish are rich in B vitamins, potassium and selenium, yet virtually carb-free (4).
However, the carbs in different types of shellfish vary. For instance, while shrimp and most crabs contain no carbs, other types of shellfish do (5).
While these shellfish can still be included on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to account for these carbs when you’re trying to stay within a narrow range.
Here are the carb counts for 3.5-ounce (100-gram) servings of some popular types of shellfish (6, 7, 8, 9, 10):
- Clams: 5 grams
- Mussels: 7 grams
- Octopus: 4 grams
- Oysters: 4 grams
- Squid: 3 grams
Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are very high in omega-3 fats, which have been found to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese people (11Trusted Source).
In addition, frequent fish intake has been linked to a decreased risk of disease and improved mental health (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Aim to consume at least two servings of seafood weekly.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals.
Vegetables and other plants contain fiber, which your body doesn’t digest and absorb like other carbs.
Therefore, look at their digestible (or net) carb count, which is total carbs minus fiber.
Most vegetables contain very few net carbs. However, consuming one serving of “starchy” vegetables like potatoes, yams or beets could put you over your entire carb limit for the day.
The net carb count for non-starchy vegetables ranges from less than 1 gram for 1 cup of raw spinach to 8 grams for 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts (14, 15).
Vegetables also contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
What’s more, cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cauliflower have been linked to decreased cancer and heart disease risk (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Low-carb veggies make great substitutes for higher-carb foods. For instance, cauliflower can be used to mimic rice or mashed potatoes, “zoodles” can be created from zucchini and spaghetti squash is a natural substitute for spaghetti.