11 Keto Foods to Add to Your MenuArticle posted in: Nutrition
You already have a general idea of what kinds of foods you should eat on a low-carb diet. (Right?) Of course you do: Proteins, Healthy Fats and Non-Starchy Vegetables. These types of keto foods contain the least amount of net carbs.
But what types of Proteins have the lowest amount of net carbs but are also full of nutrients? What kinds of Healthy Fats will help keep you full and satisfied long after you eat? What kind of keto foods should you be adding into your low-carb meal plan?
Here are 11 of our favorite keto foods to add to your menu:
To kick off our list of keto foods, we’ve got a versatile superfood that can be enjoyed an array of ways. Shrimp is a Protein and one serving equals about three ounces. With exactly one carb per serving and 90 percent of the calories coming from protein (the rest come from fat), we’re big fans of this mild, tasty and very accessible food. A closer look at the nutritionals tells us that shrimp contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals including 50 percent of your daily selenium, which. according to Healthline, reduces inflammation and promotes heart health. Seek out wild-caught shrimp to avoid antibiotics and it’s always a safe bet to purchase frozen shrimp because they’re frozen just after they’re caught. If you buy fresh shrimp, the shells shouldn’t feel slimy or soft, nor should they have a fishy, ammonia-like smell.
2. String Cheese
Nutrition doesn’t get easier or more portable than with another one of our favorite keto foods, string cheese. And, you can usually find string cheese on sale at the supermarket, giving it even more points in our book. A piece of Sargento String Cheese * has one net carb, 80 calories, eight grams of protein, and 20 percent of your daily calcium. Enjoy as a snack, part of your daily meal, or add string cheese to your DIY dinner plan. Stuff small pieces into meatballs or turkey burgers. Roll a piece inside some turkey deli meat (which contains less than one gram net carb).
*Nutritional information taken from Sargento website.
Flax gets a lot of flak. While it’s true that some unripe and raw flaxseed can contain toxins, toasted flax or flax that’s cooked or baked into foods are quite safe. Just one tablespoon of flaxseed contains one net carb, two grams of dietary fiber and two grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3s), according to Mayo Clinic. Flaxseed also contains 800 times more of a cancer-fighting phytochemical called lignan, than any other food. To ensure you get the most nutritional benefits from flaxseed, choose ground (not whole) flaxseed and refrigerate for longevity. Try adding mixing it into your olive oil-based mayo or blending it into your protein shakes.
In an October 2008 International Journal of Obesity study, overweight adults were calorie restricted and given either two eggs or bagels for breakfast. After eight weeks, those who ate eggs showed a 61 percent greater reduction in BMI, a 65 percent greater weight loss, a 34 percent greater reduction in waist circumference and 16 percent reduction in waist circumference. Studies like this one affirm why you’re following a low carb diet. And with three egg whites (one serving) containing zero grams net carbs, and one whole egg containing just one net carb, it’s the reason eggs must be part of your meal plan. According to Healthline, a whole egg provides six grams of protein, nine essential amino acids, iron, phosphorus, selenium, vitamins A, B12 and B5, and 113 mg of choline for your brain health—not to mention lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health. Hard-boil eggs for easy snacks, whip up omelets for breakfast, lunch or dinner or try out-of-the-box recipes like our Portobello Baked Eggs or Salmon Smoked Omelet.
Believe it or not, olive oil-based mayonnaise is a South Beach Diet-approved food. Just one tablespoon contains zero grams of net carbs. That’s right: zero. Imagine the possibilities—egg and chicken salads, dipping sauces for your veggies and meats, creamy dips, deviled eggs, BLT lettuce wraps…we can go on and on about the food. Nutritionally speaking, you’re getting some good stuff, too: According to the Mayo Clinic, mayo contains mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids from the olive oil and nutrients from eggs.
6. Coconut Oil
Not all oils are created the same and coconut oil is built for the low-carb diet. Here’s why: Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and when you eat foods with these specific fats, they go straight to the liver where they’re used as a quick source of energy (ketones). A February 2015 study, published in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, compared MCTs to LCTs (long-chain triglycerides which comprise most fats in our diets) and foods with MCTs helped subjects decrease body weight, hip and waist circumference, and several specific types of body fat. A similar study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found 13 to 50 grams of MCTs per day increased energy expenditure by five percent, which equates to approximately 120 calories per day.
You see lettuce; we see cruciferous. While leafy and green, arugula is a fiber-rich vegetable in the same family as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. According to Medical News, it offers 250 milligrams of nitrate (which has been shown to lower blood pressure), one gram of protein, 20 percent of your daily vitamin A (for eye health), more than 50 percent of vitamin K (for bone health) and eight percent of your vitamin C, folate and calcium. It’s terrific in salads but that peppery flavor adds substance to virtually every savory dish. Try growing it in your own windowsill; it needs just three hours of sunlight a day.
Just because you didn’t grow up eating endive doesn’t mean you can’t buy it, try it and learn to love it. Yes, endive is a member of the chicory family (along with radicchio and escarole) but it’s not overwhelmingly bitter; it’s mellow, crisp and refreshing. Endive chips curve making them terrific tortilla chip substitutes so you can still have that crunch while you eat salsa or guacamole. Roasted endive is a delicious alternative to your old standby veggies. And fresh endive is perfectly sized for a personal salad. To prepare endive for a salad, just halve the endive lengthwise and remove the core. Pull off the leaves and keep them whole if you’re serving crudités.
Dark, leafy greens are a super food because they’re low-calorie and incredibly nutritious. Sure, you’ve had kale, spinach, and mustard greens. But watercress is a less common leafy green that’s a member of the mustard family and has a spicy taste that can add brighten up salads, flavor soups, or make an award-winning omelet. From a carb standpoint, watercress contains zero net carbs. From a nutrition standpoint, it’s fat free, cholesterol free, contains virtually no sodium, and is a terrific source of fiber, potassium, protein, magnesium, folate, calcium and vitamins B6, A, and C. It’s the only food that was given a perfect score in a June 2014 nutrition study issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization wanted to determine which powerhouse fruits and vegetables were most strongly associated with reducing the risk of chronic disease. Watercress scored a 100.
While cauliflower contains the highest amount of net carbs on this list (three grams per one cup raw or ½ cup cooked), this keto-friendly vegetable is one of the most important. Why? It makes this diet more manageable for the long-term. From mashed cauliflower and cauliflower rice to cauliflower crusts, this cruciferous veggie can be manipulated into many of our favorite dishes so you’re never left feeling deprived. In the end, however, cauliflower is a veggie, so it’s naturally high in fiber and B vitamins with cancer-fighting antioxidants, choline for learning and memory, plus potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and folate. Use it in place of pasta and make cauliflower macaroni and cheese. Make a Cauliflower Crust Pizza. Or, try buffalo cauliflower instead of chicken wings.
11. Butter and Cream (Extras)
One teaspoon of butter contains zero net carbs. One tablespoon of cream (or half and half) contains zero net carbs. How is this possible? Fat is not off limits on alow-carb diet. Carbs in excess, however, are off limits. It’s true that large amounts of butter and cream can attribute to obesity and cause heart disease, but the opposite effect occurs when they’re consumed in moderation, as shown in studies published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2006 and June 2010. Stick to the serving sizes with these rich keto foods, but follow their lead and choose full-fat dairy products including sour cream, cream cheese and yogurt.