Is It Keto? Top 10 Foods That You Need To Know — plus FREE macro calculator

If you are asking “is it keto?“, you may be asking the wrong question. It’s time to bust the myth that there is not a food that is or isn’t “keto” but rather that the focus on the keto diet is actually on both the quantity and quality of food you consume?

collag eof the top 10 foods is this keto

Is keto safe? What should you eat on a keto diet? How do you calculate your macros on a keto diet?

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Is there a strict keto food list?

No. I’m sure this may come as a surprise to many given that there is a tendency to get fixated on food-type restrictions.

Restrictions have become absolute and unforgiving as the keto diet has grown in global popularity. 

Whilst the keto diet has grown in popularity, so has the science, the various public opinions, and the “keto police”. You know, the ones that always leave a comment that “that’s not keto“.

There are certainly foods that are more keto-friendly and recommended over other foods such as salmon, steak, cauliflower, olive oil and eggs.

And there are foods that are much higher in carbs or inflammatory such as sugar, honey, candy bars, seed oils and wheat flour which are not recommended.

With this understanding, suddenly the common diet dread of feeling overwhelmed by committing to never eating certain foods again in your life goes out the window. 

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that promotes eating nutritious whole foods (quality) while being aware of your daily intake being 20g or less of carbohydrates (quantity).  

But is there a true keto food?

Let’s bust some keto diet myths.

What can I eat on a keto diet?

girl staring into the fridge asking is this keto?

Whole foods are recommended for everyone, no matter which diet you follow.

Simply by ditching the processed junk food, allows you to become low-carb or keto, almost by default.

Some whole foods however will naturally have a higher quantity of net carbs than others such as bananas and potatoes compared to blueberries and cauliflower.

This doesn’t automatically make bananas and potatoes keto enemies, it merely means that we need to be aware of their carb content and adjust our quantity of consumption if we choose to include those types of foods into our diet. 

Once you shift your mindset to understanding that it’s a matter of quality food and the right quantity (of carb content), you’ll see that the keto diet is in fact something that can be easily sustained and enjoyed. 

FREE Beginner's Guide To Low-Carb And Keto mockup on yellow background

How many carbs per day can I eat? FREE macro calculator

how to calculate macros with an app and bowl of salad

How many carbs you consume each day will be dictated by your health goals and carbohydrate tolerance.

Generally, a low-carb diet is considered to be:

  • <100g/day = moderate low-carb
  • <50g/day = low-carb
  • <20g/day = keto

Many readers like to begin by simply reducing their carbs to a level that is sustainable and weight loss still occurs.

To work out your carbs, protein, and fat limits to enjoy each day, use the FREE macro calculator.

Suddenly, the common diet feeling of dread from committing to never eating certain foods again goes out the window. The keto diet is a low-carb, high fat diet that promotes eating nutritious whole foods (quality) while also being aware of your daily intake being 20g or less of carbohydrates (quantity).  

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What are the top 10 keto foods?

The following 10 foods account for the highest searches online when determining whether a food is keto.

As explained above, there are, in fact, no actual “keto” foods.

Instead, we are interested in eating whole foods that are nutritionally beneficial for our bodies as well as understanding the right quantities of these foods that will not inhibit the state of ketosis (the state of burning fat instead of sugar as fuel). 

Let’s have a closer look at these top 10 searched keto foods:

All nutrition values are calculated using cronometer.com. Nutritional values may vary depending on which brand of food you buy. For accuracy, please calculate your own nutritional values. They are indicative ONLY.

Is quinoa keto?

banner showing quinoa cooked in a bowl

Quinoa is known as a superfood as it tends to be a much healthier option to carb-dense foods such as rice and other grains. It’s a good source of protein and fiber, has a high ratio of antioxidants, and will keep you satiated for longer.

With this said, it still has a high carb content resulting in a slower digestion period and a slow rise in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Half a cup of cooked quinoa contains 17 net grams of carbs (total carbs less fiber). For those following the keto diet, even 1 serving of this food is close to the daily carb limit of 20 grams. If you are going to include quinoa into a meal, make sure to measure your quantity carefully so as not to go above 20 grams of carbs. 

Is hummus keto?

banner showing hummus and carrots

Hummus is made with chickpeas, which like other classes of legumes, are high in carbs.

For every 100 grams of hummus, you will get 12 net grams of carbohydrates. In visual terms, that looks like 6.5 tablespoons of hummus.  

Like quinoa, if you choose to eat hummus, make sure to keep under the 20g carb threshold, especially considering the fact that you will also have additional carbs in various other meals during the day. It will start to add up quickly!

Also, read nutrition labels carefully as most grocery-store hummus will contain vegetable seed oils such as sunflower and canola oil which we avoid because they are inflammatory.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Healthy Oils

Is ranch keto?

banner showing ranch in a jar

Although the carb counts can vary from brand to brand (the highest I have seen is 27g net carbs per 100g), most ranch dressing consumed by the tablespoon will not risk kicking you out of ketosis. However, if you know you put half a cup over your salad, it’s time to say goodbye to the store-bought ranch.

If you are buying ranch dressing instead of making a low-carb homemade ranch dressing at home, be careful of brands that are “low-fat” or “low-sodium” as they tend to have hidden carbs in the form of sugars to assist with taste on account of the lack of fat content. 

Check the nutritional label of the ranch dressing before drizzling it on your food to ensure that you are eating within your carb allowance (while keeping other carbs on your plate in mind too!)

Or, you could simply make this delicious ranch-flavoured magic mayo recipe. In my opinion, it blows anything pre-made in a bottle out of the water!

Is honey keto?

banner showing honey and flowers

Sorry to break it to you but all sugar, even “natural” sugars, are high in carbohydrates. 

1 tablespoon of honey accounts for 17 grams of carbohydrates. This may not seem like a lot of honey to you but if you are used to adding honey to tea or in your morning yoghurt then it will very quickly reach the 20 grams carb limit and threaten to kick you out of nutritional ketosis.  

Is milk keto?

banner showing milk bottles

Any sweetened milks should be avoided on a keto diet as they are packed with additional sugar and carbs. With the exception of rice and oat milk, it appears that plant-based milk alternatives are your best bet for reducing your carb content as animal milks such as cow and goat milk are naturally high in sugar. 

BUT as always, you MUST read nutrition labels. Most plant-based milk (nut juice, they are not milk) often are fortified, added sugars and have other stabilisers, flavourings and preservatives.

High-Carb Milks

Kinds of milk you should be careful of consuming due to their high carb content include:

  • Cow’s milk – 1 cup equates to 12 grams net carbs
  • Oat milk – 1 cup equates to 17 grams of net carbs
  • Rice milk – 1 cup equates to 21 grams net carbs
  • Goat’s milk – 1 cup equates to 11 grams net carbs

Low-Carb Milks

Types of milk you should rather consume due to their low carb content include:

  • Almond milk – 1 cup equates to 1 gram net carbs
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup equates to 5 grams net carbs
  • Macadamia nut milk – 1 cup equates to 0 grams net carbs
  • Flax milk – 1 cup equates to 1 gram net carbs
  • Cashew nut milk – 1 cup equates to 2 grams net carbs
  • Soy milk – 1 cup equates to 3 grams net carbs
  • Heavy cream – 1 cup equates to 1 gram net carbs although it is high in fat so moderation is key for this option
  • Pea milk – 1 cup equates to 2 grams net carbs

Is tofu keto? 

banner showing tofu in a bowl

Tofu is low in carbs, containing only 1.6g net carbs per 100g serving. Always try to source sprouted and organic tofu to avoid GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) that are common to most soy crops. 

Whilst tofu may be low in carbs, many people avoid soy products due to the controversy of its effects on female hormones. There are conflicting studies and the evidence is not clear.

Is eggplant keto?

banner showing eggplant

Eggplant only contains 6.2 grams of net carbs per 1 cup serving of cooked eggplant which makes it great to include in your low-carb diet. 

If you are looking for ways to include eggplant in your diet, try these low-carb eggplant parmesan bites, and this eggplant and cauliflower couscous!

Is edamame keto?

banner showing edamame beans in a bowl

Edamame, i.e. those boiled green soybeans that are still in their pod, contain a high amount of fibre which makes it much lower in net carbs than other legumes. A 100 gram serving provides 3.7 grams of net carbs. 

You can therefore enjoy these in moderation, keeping your serving size to a minimum. 

Is zucchini keto?

banner showing zucchini

Zucchini is very popular due to its low carb content. 1 cup contains just 2.6 grams of net carbs. Zucchini is great for its versatility in cooking. You could make zucchini noodles as a salad ingredient or as a substitute for traditional pasta. 

I use zucchini for so many recipes! I enjoy it as the main ingredient in my chocolate zucchini cake, served in slices with bacon, or served as low-carb spaghetti.

Is mustard keto?

banner showing mustard bottles and spoon

Mustard is a great condiment that is low in carbs and pairs well with many other dishes. 

The carb counts can vary from brand to brand (the highest I have seen is 29g net carbs per 100g),

As with any condiments, if you purchase branded mustard, make sure to read the nutritional labels as some brands of mustard have added sweeteners that will drive up the carb content. To be on the safe side, stick with traditional yellow and dijon mustard which are virtually carb-free. 

Note: By industry regulations, If a particular food item has less than 0.5g of carbs per serving (with condiments, a serving is usually 1 teaspoon), the manufacturer can legally just list it as having 0 carbohydrates.  

Is this keto? Spend your carbs wisely

When deciding what foods to include in your daily meals, keep in mind that there are smarter ways to get your carbs in.

When deciding what foods to include in your daily meals, keep in mind to you spend your carbs wisely.

Quantity AND quality.

Is this keto? – quantity counts

Eating lower carb foods will logically allow you to consume greater quantities of food compared to foods that are higher in carbs and therefore limit you with the amount you can eat.

This is particularly important to consider for the sake of adequate satiation (in other words, a smarter strategy for keeping you feeling fuller for longer) which will reduce cravings and unnecessary snacking. 

Would you rather have 20g net carbs from 1/3 of a bagel, or have 3 big sustaining nutrient-dense meals that keep you satiated throughout the day?

Is this keto? – quantity counts

And make every bite count. Ensure every bite and every carb packs a nutrient-dense punch!

Imagine that 1/3 bagel vs the nutrition and health benefits from those 3 sustaining meals that are giving you all the essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals your body requires for a healthy and fulfilling life!

Can you eat as much as you want on keto?

To answer this, it really depends on the types of foods and their carb contents that you’ve decided to include in your diet.

As mentioned above, the priority of any healthy eating plan and certainly the keto diet is to consume nutritious food within certain quantities.

For keto, in order to reach and maintain a state of ketosis, one must stay under a certain carb limit per day (usually 20 grams of carbs or less)  to allow you to lose fat and enjoy the various other health benefits that the keto diet has to offer. 

Since every food has different levels of carbohydrates, it makes sense that if you choose to eat something that is higher in carb content, you will need to eat it in smaller quantities compared to a food type that is naturally very low in carbs. 

How much you plate up of any given food depends on what your weight-loss goals are and whether you have chosen to follow the keto diet in the true sense of what it entails. 

If you are unsure of how many carbs you should be eating per day, consider the following categories of carb levels. Generally, a low-carb diet is considered to be:

  • <100g/day = moderate low-carb
  • <50g/day = low-carb
  • <20g/day = keto

Many readers like to begin by simply reducing their carbs to a level that is sustainable and weight loss still occurs.

To work out your carbs, protein, and fat limits to enjoy each day, use the FREE macro calculator.

What is the best fast food for keto?

hand drawn roads and images of food choices

Eating fast food is definitely not advocated for if you are wanting to follow a “clean keto diet”.

A clean keto diet focuses on quality of food (i.e. unprocessed quality meat and produce) and the right quantities of macronutrients (from fats, protein, and carbs in order to attain and maintain a state of ketosis.)

If you only focus on your quantities of macronutrients and you don’t care where they come from, this can be described as “dirty keto” where it is quite possible for a dirty keto follower to meet their daily macros by indulging in a fast-food meal minus the bread buns or sugary condiments.

While I’m not saying that you can never enjoy fast food again in your life, eating fast food on a regular basis is certainly not ideal and has long-term health downsides associated with it regardless of whether you are meeting your macro percentages. 

FREE Beginner's Guide To Low-Carb And Keto mockup on yellow background

Easy keto fast food options

If, however, you wish to enjoy fast food on the rare occasion, make sure to apply the following tips:

  • Stick with a quality protein and vegetables and/or salad
  • Ask for salad without salad dressing (or get it on the side)
  • Choose grilled chicken or fish over fried or battered
  • Pass over on the side portion of fries or potato wedges
  • Do not drink your calories. Fizzy drinks or drinks that have a lot of milk should be avoided due to their high level of sugar and additives. Instead, select black tea or coffee 
  • Season your food with your own salt and pepper instead of seasoning packets provided at fast food outlets which are usually high in sugars and preservatives

How many carbs will break ketosis?

The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carb diet that keeps you in a state of ketosis (burning fat rather than sugar as fuel) by limiting carbs.

The keto diet promotes weight loss and improved health. You’ll need to make sure that you are not consuming more than 20 grams of net carbs per day.

Eating a higher amount of carbs on a daily basis will definitely prevent you from reaching or maintaining a state of ketosis. 

BUT for many, even just lowering your daily carb limit may have dramatic effects within days!

Choose a carb limit that is sustainable for you in the long run AND which carb limit is appropriate for your carb tolerance.

FREE Beginner's Guide To Low-Carb And Keto mockup on yellow background

What happens if you don’t eat enough on keto?

While it isn’t a big deal if you don’t meet your fat limit while still limiting carbs and eating enough protein, it can become an issue if this becomes regular practise. 

If you are constantly in a large calorie deficit by not meeting your fat needs regularly, your body will adapt by decreasing its energy expenditure and increasing hunger and cravings. This can result in slower weight loss and making it much harder for you to stick to the keto diet. 

It’s best then to keep your calorie deficit below 30% to prevent your metabolism from slowing down which decreases calorie burning efficiency and stalls weight loss in the long term. 

If you struggle to consume sufficient amounts of fat to maintain a 30% deficit, try adding butter, olive oil, avocado oil, high-fat cheeses or MCT oil to your meals. It’s a great way to increase your healthy fats without much hassle or effort. 

What is the keto food pyramid?

What is the keto food pyramid AND free keto shopping list

Is this keto? The bottom line

If you’ve heard the saying “it’s not about quantity but about quality” you may at first glance not believe that the keto diet applies. In fact, the keto diet is about quantity just as much as it is about the quality of food.

To understand what is keto-friendly and what isn’t doesn’t exist in a long list of keto taboo foods. All whole, nutrient dense foods are keto, when eaten in the right quantity.

While some may have higher carb contents than others, it’s a matter of adapting quantities should you wish to still include some of those high carb foods into your diet to meet the daily limit (of 20 grams of net carbs) for weight loss and health purposes. 

Understanding which whole foods are high in carbs will enable you to adapt quantities or to avoid them entirely and use low-carb alternatives instead. Ifn  you are purchasing sauces or condiments then it’s always advisable to read the nutritional labels carefully. 

In addition to this, make sure that your fat needs are consistently met to prevent cravings or feeling hunger. 

Instead of asking “Is this keto?”, perhaps the better question is…“Is this keto-wise?”!

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