Ketogenic Diet Food List: Eat These Foods to Lose Weight and Protect Your Brain

A ketogenic diet may help fight everything from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s disease. Here, we offer a ketogenic diet food list, plus advice on getting started.

ketogenic diet food list

Avocados and tomatoes are among the items you'd find on a ketogenic diet food list.

© Ron Lima | Dreamstime

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, treat epilepsy, or control diabetes, our ketogenic diet food list may be a valuable tool for you. So what is the ketogenic diet? And what does a typical ketogenic diet food list encompass?

The ketogenic diet is based on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate approach, with adequate protein to meet your needs. The purpose of the “keto diet” is to make the body use fats—rather than glucose (sugar)—as fuel. When the body turns to fat for fuel, the fats are converted into compounds called ketones, which is where the ketogenic diet gets its name.

Getting Started on a Ketogenic Diet Food List

Remember these three guidelines to get started:

  1. Eat very little, if any, carbohydrates. Avoid added sugars completely.
  2. Eat lots of healthy fats.
  3. Eat enough high-quality protein to meet your daily dietary needs. Choose healthy protein sources like grass-fed meat, fish, and eggs.

This list can help you to differentiate between foods you should be eating and foods you shouldn’t:

Ketogenic Diet Food List: Do Eat

  • Healthy fats:
    • Coconut oil (Click here to read about the American Heart Associaton’s findings on cooking with coconut oil.)
    • Grass-fed butter or ghee
    • Olive oil
    • Avocados and avocado oil
    • Cocoa butter
    • Fats naturally found in grass-fed meats
  • Vegetables
    • Peppers
    • Cabbage
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Cucumber
    • Onions
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini
    • Cauliflower
    • Mushrooms
  • Proteins
    • Grass-fed meats
    • Wild-caught fish
    • Shellfish
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Dairy, if tolerated (especially yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese)
  • Low-sugar fruits

Ketogenic Diet Food List: Do Not Eat

  • Carbohydrates
    • Bread
    • Pastries
    • Pasta
    • Cereals
    • Grains
    • Sweetened beverages
    • Candy
    • Starchy vegetables like potatoes
    • Products with added sugar

To follow a ketogenic diet, you’ll likely need to make some adjustments in your daily food intake. And you’ll need to consult with a dietitian to make sure you’re safely and properly following the diet.

Who Can Benefit from the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is probably best known for its ability to treat seizure disorders, particularly in children, but it has other applications, too. Among them:

  1. Preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease[3]
  2. Controlling diabetes[4]
  3. Fighting depression[5]
  4. Treating bipolar disorder[6]
  5. Reducing cardiovascular disease risk[7]
  6. Preventing cancer[8]
  7. Losing weight and suppressing appetite[9-11]

If you have one of the conditions listed above and think that the ketogenic diet might be right for you, consult with a dietician or nutrition specialist who can help you to come up with a safe and effective meal plan. Guidance from a professional will make sure that you maintain adequate intake of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in your diet.

Share Your Experience

Have you ever used the ketogenic diet to treat a health condition? Did it help? Share your tips for following a ketogenic diet in the comments section below.

[1] Brain. 2015 Nov 25. pii: awv325.
[2] Neuroscience. 2015 Nov 18. pii: S0306-4522(15)01018-0.
[3] Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:474296.
[4] J Child Neurol. 2013 Aug;28(8):1009-14.
[5] Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Dec 15;56(12):981-3.
[6] Neurocase. 2013;19(5):423-6.
[7] High Blood Press Cardiovasc Prev. 2015 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]
[8] Redox Biol. 2014 Aug 7;2C:963-970.
[9] Obes Rev. 2015 Jan;16(1):64-76.
[10] Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):182-7.
[11] Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(7):1178-87.

Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.

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  • Great post and appreciate the updates. Just a note that while some food like yogurt, tomatoes and onions can be keto-friendly, there can be a lot of sugar in large servings (even a bowl of homemade tomato soup). Unless it’s unsweetened full-fat Greek yogurt like Fage, most yogurts won’t be keto friendly because they range from 14 to 30 carbs per serving. In any case great summary just wanted to add to the conversation.


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