When it comes to the most unconventional diet plans out there, the ketogenic diet ranks pretty high on the list.
As one of the lowest carb food plans you can follow, the ketogenic (or keto) diet typically involves eating just 5-10% of your calories from carbohydrates, 15-30% from protein, and a whopping 60-75% from fat.
But while it may be a diet with unparalleled health benefits for some, it’s also one that’s quite…restrictive.
And many woman, when embarking on keto for the first time, are at a loss when it comes to grocery shopping.
Why Food Quality Matters
Before we talk about the specifics of which foods you should be buying and eating, it’s important that we get this little public service announcement out of the way first.
Many women, in their quest to lose weight and lean up, spend a great deal of time focusing on the big four- calories, fat, carbs and protein.
And for good reason- when it comes to body composition and the way you look; these four factors are far and away the most important thing.
Having said that, when it comes to your overall health, it’s a different story. You could have the most amazing, perfectly toned body in the world- but it’s not going to mean much if your health is garbage.
Bottom line– you need to make sure you’re getting your micro-nutrients. Vitamins, minerals…all that good stuff.
Now, this is important regardless of who you are, but it’s DOUBLY important if you’re on a ketogenic diet, because once you go keto, your limited food choices mean that your margin of error is much smaller.
Most people have the luxury of choosing from a wide range of foods, making it statistically more likely that they’ll get everything they need by sheer virtue of variety.
Unfortunately, you don’t have that luxury. We’ll cover in detail what you should be looking for, but suffice it to say that you should be buying the highest quality you can afford.
The following is a list of foods that are, most likely, going to form the bulk of your diet:
Grass Fed Beef
Steak, ribs, ground beef- all juicy and delicious, and all keto approved. Packed with vitamin B-12, vitamin D, iron, and zinc, make sure you go for grass fed beef, which has nearly five times as many Omega-3’s as grain fed beef.
Grass fed lamb is also an option if you’re not a fan of beef.
Seafood is one of the healthiest things you can eat, and something that most of us don’t get enough of.
And on a keto diet, there are no restrictions- tuna, salmon, shellfish, and trout are all great options (you should try to go easy on the tuna however, as mercury can become an issue with over consumption).
While other meats like beef and pork will have a higher fat content and fit in better with the keto macro layout, leaner meats like chicken and turkey can also be eaten, and are a great source of protein as well as essential vitamins.
Grass Fed Butter
Grass fed butter has become something of a superfood in the keto community. Like grass fed beef, it comes with a superior Omega-3 profile and has a higher count of conjugated linoleic acid, a compound that boosts the immune system.
Remember back during the “low fat era” when everyone was throwing out their cooking oil in favour of PAM?
Fortunately, those days are long gone. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil- it’s all good (coconut oil in particular is phenomenal, and a source of medium-chain triglycerides).
One of the downsides of being on a ketogenic diet is that, despite being fairly nutritious, fruit is often excluded. The good news, however, is that there are a small handful of very low sugar, high fat fruits that can be consumed liberally. Avocados, olives and coconuts all make the list.
Everyone, keto or not, should be eating eggs. Not only are they a phenomenal and complete source of protein, they’re also packed with vitamins A, D, E and K (it should go without saying, but make sure you eat the yolk as well).
Good news for bacon lovers- it’s keto approved! So are sausages, pork chops and pretty much any other variety of pig you can think of.
Most vegetables are low enough in carbs that they can be consumed on a ketogenic diet.
The bulk of your vegetable intake should come from leafy greens (lettuce, spinach) and cruciferous vegetables (kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts), all of which are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes due to their high carb count.
To Be Enjoyed In Moderation
Now that we understand what exactly will be making up the bulk of your diet, let’s talk about some other options you can add to get some variety going.
While you’re definitely not allowed to hit up the sugary concoctions at Starbucks, good, old fashion coffee is 100% allowed. Drink it black, or with some full fat cream or grass-fed butter (think bulletproof coffee).
Nuts and Seeds
Packed with both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, nuts are great for adding some variety to a keto diet. Almonds, cashews and macadamias are all a great choice.
This one comes with a disclaimer- you can eat dark chocolate on a keto diet, but you need to a.) be very moderate with it, and b.) stick to dark, unsweetened chocolate with at least 75% cocoa (which is high in antioxidants).
Full Fat Dairy
While some women have issues digesting lactose, if dairy does agree with you, you can certainly enjoy full fat cheese, yogurt and sour cream.
All varieties of tea are also allowed on a ketogenic diet- just don’t go dumping sugar in it.
Berries (raspberries, blueberries, black berries) are the exception to the “no fruit” rule, mainly because the sugar content is reasonably low.
However, like dark chocolate, you really do need to eat them in moderation, as the carb count can still put you above that 5-10% mark if you’re not careful.
Remember ladies, while the keto diet may seem quite restrictive at first glance, you still have plenty of options. Follow this guide and play around with your food combinations, and you should have no problem making keto healthy and enjoyable.