keto friendly foods on white table

You’ve decided to give the keto diet a go and now you may be wondering what you’re supposed to eat. Keep reading because we’ve got you.

While saying ‘bye-bye’ to your beloved bread, bagels, rice, pasta can be challenging for some, ketogenic diets are filled with delicious alternatives to satiate and satisfy your dietary needs—and appetite. Plus, watching your body burn ketones made from fats[1] for fuel (rather than carbohydrates[2]) can help keep you motivated as you adapt to the keto diet.

Since this is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet, a common misstep is to load up on butter, bacon and burgers and forgo veggies. It’s still important to choose healthy fats,[3] eat high-quality protein and eat lots and lots of vegetables[4] to support overall health. This may mean you need a pantry and fridge overhaul, so follow the keto grocery list below to help get you started.

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Fruit

raspberries and blueberries in a white bowl on a wooden table

If you have kids, most likely your fridge is filled with fruit; but, following a keto fruit list is extra important because most fruits are too high-carb and can knock you right out of ketosis with only a few bites. A good rule of thumb is the tarter the fruit, the more keto-friendly it is.

Fruits to Enjoy

Fruits to Avoid

  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Apple
  • Pear

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Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables (from left to right): Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce.

Vegetables should make up a significant part of your diet, but on a keto diet, opt for non-starchy ones and follow a keto vegetables list to know which ones to buy. Starchier veggies like squash and root veggies like beets, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes may be higher in carbohydrates or sugar than some other vegetables.[5] While leafy greens, peppers, zucchini and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are often lower in carbs and sugars. Plus, cauliflower can be purchased frozen to keep it budget-friendly.

 

Vegetables to Enjoy

 

Vegetables to Avoid

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Beets
  • Parsnip
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Carrots
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Did You Know
According to Health Canada,[6] 5% Daily Value (DV) or less is low and 15% DV or more is high for most nutrients, including sugar. Where do you find this info? Check the values on the Nutrition Facts table on foods containing one.

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Meat and Seafood

Various grilled meats on a cutting board. Counter-clockwise (from top left): 2 barbecued chicken drumsticks, grilled pork ribs, barbecued pork with grill marks, steak with grill marks, chicken breast with grill marks.

Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, pork, fish and shellfish are high up on the list of keto friendly food. Meat and seafood tend to be good sources of complete protein and depending on the cut or variety they can also contain healthy fats, like omega-3s found in salmon.[7] If ever in a pinch, these quick Turkey Burgers, minus the buns, are a perfect keto meal to whip up for lunch or dinner. Be mindful of any sugary rubs or marinades that season these meats and seafood, they can raise your blood sugar and kick you right out of ketosis.

 

Meat and Seafood to Enjoy

 

Meat and Seafood to Avoid

  • Bacon with added sugar, such as maple syrup
  • Breaded meats and seafood, as they could contain unnecessary carbohydrates

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Dairy and Eggs

Dairy products on a white wooden table. Cottage cheese, milk, cheese, brown eggs, white eggs.

Dairy products like plain yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and cheese are keto staples for many. You want to be mindful of saturated fat in dairy and not overdo it.[8] Eggs make a wonderful keto breakfast, like these egg muffins, since they’re quick-to-prepare, budget-friendly and are high in protein.

 

Dairy and Eggs to Enjoy

 

Dairy to Avoid

  • Buttermilk
  • Flavoured or sweetened yogurt
  • Cheese with added sugar, such as those with dried fruits.

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Grains and Legumes

Sliced cubes of tofu in a white bowl (left), buts in a wooden spoon (right)

Grains and legumes are a bit of a no-no on the keto diet. It’s always best to look for alternatives like this cauliflower rice and tofu stir fry, that swaps out rice for the veggie substitute. You can also find bagels, breads and crackers made from nut and seed flours rather than grains. Beans and legumes are not ideal for this diet.

 

Grain and Legume Alternatives to Enjoy

 

Grains and Legumes to Avoid

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Granola
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Cereals

 

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Fats

Olive oil in a bottle, sliced avocado with pit, green and black olives in a white bowl, coconut cut open in half.

You’ll find nuts, seeds and healthy oils on every keto food list for beginners. Fats make up the majority of the keto diet[9] and a little goes a long way. You want to focus on good-quality fats like omega-3, which can be found in foods like fish, walnuts, flaxseed oil and chia seeds,[10] like this incredible chia cherry jam.

 

Fats to Enjoy

 

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Condiments and Toppings

Counter-clockwise: Ketchup in a bowl, mayonnaise in a bowl, mustard in a bowl.

Condiments and toppings like ketchups, mayo, BBQ sauces and salad dressings can be high in sugar[11] and definitely don’t make the list of keto-friendly foods. Luckily, there are companies that make alternatives, and you can always make your own, if so inclined. Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and sugar are out, but you can use alternatives like monk fruit and stevia to add sweetness to any condiment or topping.

 

Condiments and Toppings to Enjoy

 

Condiments and Toppings to Avoid

  • Ketchup
  • BBQ sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Jam
  • Sriracha
  • Balsamic glaze

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Drinks

On a wooden plate, left to right: cappuccino in a white mug next to a spoon, herbal tea in a a glass mug.

When it comes to drinks and keto, there’s usually one question on people’s minds: Can I still have my coffee? The answer is yes, but not with sugar. Cream or a little splash of milk in your coffee are both ok. Unsweetened teas, unsweetened nut milks and most kombuchas are also a great choice. For kombucha, check the label first and ensure the sugar content is low.  Some companies are now even making kombucha with only 1 gram of sugar per serving. Obviously, you want to skip fruit juices and fruit smoothies.

 

Drinks to Enjoy

 

Drinks to Avoid

  • Fruit juice
  • Sweetened soft drinks
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Energy drinks

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Desserts and Bakery

Chocolate chip cookies in a row on a baking sheet

Just because you’re eating keto, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a treat. Lots of companies make keto desserts and keto snacks for you to enjoy without kicking your body out of ketosis.  These are often made with alternative sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia and alternative flours like almond flour and coconut flour.

 

Desserts and Baking Ingredients to Enjoy

 

Desserts and Baked Goods to Avoid

  • Muffins
  • Cake and Cupcakes
  • Donuts
  • Cookies
  • Bread and Buns
  • Bagels
  • Granola Bars

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Article Sources

1. Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California San Francisco. Ketones.

2. Government of Canada. What’s the deal with the Keto diet?

3.  Canada’s Food Guide. Choose foods with healthy fats.

4. Canada’s Food Guide. Make it a habit to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods.

5. Government of Canada. Nutrition Value of Some Common Foods.

6. Health Canada. Understanding Food Labels: Percent Daily Value.

7. Government of Canada. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

8. Health Canada. Fats.

9. Government of Canada. What’s the deal with the Keto diet?

10. Harvard Medical School. No need to avoid healthy omega-6 fats.

11. Health Canada. Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods.