If you’re coming to keto from the world of mainstream diets, you’re probably accustomed to lots of calorie counting, portion control, and restriction. But the keto diet plan isn’t like other diets. The focus is on eating in a specific way to send your body into ketosis, a state in which you burn fat as your primary source of fuel instead of carbohydrates. As long as you stick to low-carb, keto diet foods, you have tons of freedom to adapt the diet to suit your tastes.
One of the coolest things about the keto diet is that you can eat many foods that are totally off-limits on traditional diets. Read on to learn about 7 unexpected low-carb foods that keto nutritionists say you can safely indulge in, although they do recommend moderation in some cases.
What Is the Keto Diet?
There are plenty of misconceptions about the keto diet, which has surged in popularity in recent years. The basics of the keto diet plan are quite simple: by balancing your diet to be low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in healthy fats, you can train your body to run off fatty acids called ketone bodies. That metabolic state is known as ketosis. Now the next time someone asks, “What is the keto diet?” you’ll have a good answer ready.
To follow the keto diet, you need to find the right ratio of carbs, protein, and fat for your body and your health goals—psst, our keto calculator can make that process a whole lot simpler! To do that, you’ll have to strategically cut the right carbs and ensure you’re getting enough fat. Speaking of fat, if you haven’t tried making your own fat bombs yet, what are you waiting for?
7 Unexpected Keto Diet Foods
One pitfall of dieting that you can fall into when you adopt a ketogenic way of eating is, well, boredom. You’re way past the keto flu, you’re getting the hang of calculating your macros, and you’ve got a reliable set of keto recipes you love. Then you realize you’re eating basically the same thing every day. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re looking for ways to get out of a keto diet rut, these surprising keto diet foods may be exactly what you need.
1. Buffalo Wings
According to Kelly Boyer, a licensed integrative nutritionist and executive chef at PALETA who’s a keto expert, buffalo wings can absolutely be part of your keto diet plan. The catch is, you’ll probably need to make them yourself at home, since the sauces restaurants use are likely to contain added sugar, a keto no-no. Fortunately, Boyer’s favorite keto buffalo wings recipe is a cinch to make: all you need to do is drench pasture-raised, bone-in wings with a simple, delicious sauce made from hot sauce and ghee. Yum!
If you’ve ever had a friend try keto, you’ve likely heard them brag about the fact that cheese is 100% allowed on the keto diet. All the hundreds of kinds of tasty cheese out there, from soft, tangy cream cheese to hard, umami-bomb parmesan, are low in carbs and high in fat, making them ideal keto diet foods. An ounce of cheddar cheese, for example, contains 7 grams of protein, 9.3 grams of fat, and just 1 gram of carbs.
If you need more reasons to add more glorious cheese to your diet, how about the fact that it’s a great source of conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat studies have connected to fat loss?
One of the tough things about eating a ketogenic diet is that most fruits are too high carb to fit into your macros. But berries are fairly low in total carbs and quite high in fiber, which keeps their net carb count low enough for them to be keto-friendly fruits!
Check out the total and net carb counts for these popular berries, based on a 100-gram serving size (sourced from SELF Nutrition Data):
- Blackberries: 10 grams total carbs, 5 grams net carbs
- Raspberries: 12 grams total carbs, 6 grams net carbs
- Strawberries: 8 grams total carbs, 6 grams net carbs
- Blueberries: 14 grams total carbs, 12 grams net carbs
4. Shirataki Noodles
If you’ve been missing your favorite pasta dishes, you have to try shirataki noodles. These low-carb, low-calorie noodles—a full serving contains less than 5 calories and under a gram of carbs—are made from a kind of viscous fiber called glucomannan. Studies show that glucomannan can help decrease hunger and prevent blood sugar spikes, which makes shirataki noodles an ideal keto diet food. There are plenty of varieties, including fettuccine and linguine, that can easily be substituted for conventional noodles in all your old go-to recipes.
Drinking alcohol while on the keto diet is discouraged, but if you do choose to indulge, wine is probably the best choice. According to Rachel Daniels, senior director of nutrition at Virtual Health Partners, dry wine is surprisingly low-carb for a boozy beverage. That doesn’t mean you have free license to drink a nightly glass or two, since that will almost certainly send you out of ketosis. Keep it in your back pocket as a keto-safe option for occasions that simply demand a toast.
6. Pork Rinds
Never thought you’d see pork rinds on a list of diet foods, did you? If you have the ability to choose a more nutritious snack, you should, but in a pinch, these gas station staples are practically carb-free. Some companies, realizing that pork rinds are essentially just fat and protein, have even started to create artisanal versions made from organic, pasture-raised antibiotic-free pork. Look for these in grocery stores near you or check out the selection offered by online retailers.
As with fruits, many vegetables are just too carb-dense to be keto-compliant. Not so for zucchini! One medium zucchini yields 6 grams of total carbs and 2 grams of fiber, which works out to a mere 4 grams of net carbs! Plus it makes a wonderful replacement for verboten foods like spaghetti and pizza crust.
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