If you're new to the ketogenic diet, you may feel fixated on the foods to eliminate, like sugar and carbs. Still, once you get familiar with the eating style, you'll realize that the lifestyle is more about enjoying a new set of excellent options than imposing limitations.
Sure, eating cane sugar is off the table, but the rainbow of sugar alternatives more than make-up for its absence. Plus, other ingredients like flour and bread crumbs or batter-dipped frying dredge are easy to replicate with fewer carbs using some simple swaps.
Also, when it’s clear that pork rinds and beef jerky are in play, people's interests are often piqued. There is a vast landscape of foods with low or zero carbs to enjoy on a ketogenic diet—and some provide added fiber to aid in satiety and promote digestive health, as well.
Grab a Konscious Keto chia smoothie, settle in, and let's take a look at the beautiful world of super-low and no-carb foods to feast on while eating a keto diet. We promise, the options don’t disappoint.
No Carb Meats
Beef: Feel free to enjoy beef if you're opting to focus on consuming no and low-carb foods. All cuts of beef are technically acceptable on a keto diet, but grass-fed and grass-finished options with an 80/20 protein-to-fat ratio are preferred.
Plus, consuming grass-fed beef provides all kinds of extra healthy components like vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids that can lower your risk of heart disease!
Chicken: Chicken breasts were once the dieter's darling, even before keto became all the rage. Chicken is packed with mostly lean protein and provides a moderate to a high level of satiating fat.
Plus, chicken is incredibly versatile. Start with a rotisserie chicken at the top of the week and parlay that into sandwiches, a stir-fry, or a creamy chicken salad to remaster this single ingredient into an endless variety of meals as days pass.
- Lamb: Lamb contains nourishing B12 to help form healthy red blood cells. Plus, this young meat is more tender with a hearty feel.
Pork: Eating bacon with reckless abandon is the image conjured when thinking of the keto dieter. Encouraging followers to enjoy butter and bacon once again after decades of the health community shunning those ingredients feels liberating to many.
Rest assured that consuming bacon is perfectly fine on a low-carb diet as it's free of carbs by default. However, you'll want to monitor food labels and double-check ingredients to ensure it's void of hidden sugars or other subprime ingredients.
Other Zero-Carb Meats
- Veal: This moist meat of calves is a favorite of chefs and foodies alike because of its delicate texture and amplified beef flavor. Plus, it's completely free of carbs!
Venison and other game: Deer and other gamey meats are beneficial as they tend to be low in calories and fat and high in protein, providing about 25 grams per 3-ounce serving.
Plus, venison is wild and grass-fed—tending toward leaner cuts of meat containing less saturated fat.
Although we seek to consume healthy fat on keto, there are times when controlling fat and caloric intake is especially important, like in cases where people want to lose weight or lean out.
Duck: Decadent and known for its high-fat content, duck or duckling is the meat of various bird species in the Anatidae family.
Duck is exceptionally high in iron and more nutrient-dense than you may realize. In addition, duck's fat mainly contains unsaturated fat. And the abundant fat of the duck is usually rendered away in the cooking process to reveal a crispy and delightful skin that gives chicharrones a run for their money.
Hot dogs: Although most hot dog brands offer a zero-carb links option, some brand's ingredients are cleaner than others.
Plus, there's no need to tether hot dogs to a bun; consider making kebabs or searing them and serving them to top a salad brimming with dark leafy greens—and stick to varieties free of nitrites and nitrates.
Try the following brands to keep carbs low and sugars far from sight:
- Just FreshDirect 100% Grass-Fed Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs: Enjoy these franks freely as they contain zero carbs, eight grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat—nice macros!
- Applegate Organics – The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs: With a delicious catalog of products from bacon and pepperoni to deli meats, Applegate Farms delivers a high-quality hot dog option, as well, free of added sugars or other questionable ingredients.
- Teton Waters Uncured Beef Hot Dogs: These tasty hot dogs are made with grass-fed and grass-finished beef and are void of sugars, nitrates, nitrites, and MSG.
- Wellshire Farms Old Fashioned Beef Franks: These flavorful franks are a fantastic option on a keto diet. These beef links have a short 5-ingredient list and are free of antibiotics and preservatives.
- Hebrew National Hot Dogs (2 grams carbs per serving): Known for its premium ingredients and high standards, these links are free of added nitrites and nitrates and are processed according to strict Kosher dietary guidelines.
Sausages: Peppers and sausage are a fantastic duo and substantial enough to serve as a meal on its own. Plus, grilling some sausage to place in a keto-friendly bun with some kraut and mustard are the perfect end-of-summer dish to dine on as we enjoy these last days of summer. As always, check ingredients and select nitrate-free, sugar-free varieties.
Try the following brands to keep carbs low and sugars at bay:
- Aidells Cajun Style Andouille Sausage: Add a Creole touch to any meal with these flavorful and hearty andouille sausages. Plus, these lovely links are the perfect addition to add to gumbo or any other low-carb savory stew.
Bilinski’s Organic Mild Italian Brats: These mild Italian chicken sausages consist of free-range organic chicken fed a 100% vegetarian diet.
Plus, these brats are gluten and soy-free, as well, for those on an elimination diet or who are otherwise sensitive.
Deli meats: Companies like Dietz & Watson and Applegate Farms offer a robust catalog of keto-friendly deli meats to enjoy freely. A collection of their zero-carb offerings would make the perfect charcuterie platter for one or more for any occasion.
Also, whether it's roasted and sliced turkey, ham, pastrami, there are loads of keto-friendly deli meats to consume on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Remain mindful to read labels and verify ingredients to ensure your deli slices are free of added sugars, nitrates, or nitrites, along with any harmful preservatives or antibiotics.
Most organ meats, except liver: Organ meats are rich in vitamins and minerals and are generally an excellent option to incorporate into your meal plan on a keto diet.
Kidneys, gizzards, heart, and tripe contain fewer than 0.5 g net carbs per 100 g serving, so they’re pretty keto-friendly.
No-Carb Fish and Seafood
Seafood is virtually always a fantastic option when restricting carbs. Plus, there are many sea selections with zero carbs to add to your meal plan to get a quality source of protein and possible omega-3 fats, as well.
While certain seafood like oysters, shrimp, crab, mussels, lobster, and other shellfish, contain a trace amount of carbs, the content is negligible and highly unlikely to impact metabolic ketosis when eaten in moderate amounts.
Plus, fish and seafood help create lighter fare for those who feel a bit more weighed down when eating meat like beef or lamb, which requires more energy output to assimilate and digest.
Here are some fabulous seafood and fish options to consider adding to your low-carb lifestyle:
- Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent source of healthy fat to support brain health and ketone body production, plus its high-fat content helps you feel satiated faster and for longer.
- Tuna: Consider the amount you consume if pregnant, per possibly high levels of mercury in a specific catch. But tuna is a viable option from a macronutrient standpoint: it's rich in protein and offers a reasonable serving of fat.
- Catfish: A favorite in Cajun cooking and a perfect meaty variety for frying; catfish is a succulent and hearty selection that's packed with protein and satiating fats.
Other Zero-Carb Fish
- Trout: Dine on this fish for a selection abundant in niacin, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sardines: Keep cans of sardines handy and stocked in your prepper pantry for a fantastic fatty fish option to enjoy in some keto cakes or a low-carb stew.
Plus, sardines are rich in vitamin B12, which promotes cardiovascular health and aids in boosting energy.
Cod: Not only is this fish ideal for making the perfect summer sandwich, but it's also free of carbs and super filling too!
Plus, codfish contain essential minerals like selenium, iodine, and phosphorus, which all promote heart health.
- Bass: Black sea bass is said to contain lower levels of mercury and is rich in selenium while low in calories and fat. Plus, the bass is an excellent source of vitamin B12, as well.
- Haddock: Choosing a mineral-rich fish like haddock is the perfect way to support bone strength building and maintaining a well-regulated heart rate.
No-Carb Fats and Oils
Although achieving and maintaining ketosis is directly tied to eliminating carbs rather than consuming fat, incorporating premium fats into your diet enhances satiety and boosts morale.
Plus, adding fats into your meals is the perfect way to ease your transition away from carbs and sugars that provide jolts of endorphins when eaten along with subsequent glucose crashes hours later.
Here are some of our favorite zero-carb fats to consider using generously in your keto meal plans:
- MCT Oil: The ketogenic diet and MCT oil are a match for the ages. The medium-chain fatty acids found in the oil are incredibly bioavailable and provide an immediate and high-performance energy source to the body.
- Butter: Grass-fed unsalted or salted butter comes in handy in so many recipes you'll want to make on keto. You can use butter in anything from sauces to the perfect baked goods.
Ghee: Butter's clarified sibling, ghee is a nuttier and more full-bodied clarified form of butter—having separated the milk solids (fat) from the whey.
Plus, ghee provides an exceptionally high smoking point making it perfect for a wider variety of higher-heat cooking applications.
- Coconut Oil: Like MCT oil, coconut oil is an excellent saturated fat to enjoy on a keto diet. Plus, like ghee, it can handle somewhat higher cooking heats without degrading in quality.
Avocado Oil: Some swear by canola oil for frying, but it's partially hydrogenated fat content makes it a subprime option long-term.
Try frying and cooking at higher heats with avocado oil: it provides a neutral flavor and handles very high heat well.
- Olive Oil: Save your high-quality extra virgin olive oil for your dressings and other low-heat applications to preserve the oil’s integrity. Plus, it’s healthy fat content is a perfect tool to leverage on a keto diet.
Other Zero-Carb Fats and Oils
- Lard: Our grandmothers and their parents before that knew all about the many culinary uses for lard. It's a fat that will last shelf-stable for years if stored properly, and it imparts fantastic flavor to baked goods and other recipes.
Suet (raw, hard fat of beef, lamb, or mutton): Saturated fats were given a bad name in the 80s and replaced with margarine and the like, but the tide has turned, and folks are returning to the fat sources of their ancestors.
Besides, in addition to delivering enhanced flavor, suet also helps reduce food waste since you can render it from raw animal meat. Plus, suet is non-inflammatory when used to cook foods at high heat—it's super versatile!
Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat): We love butter and other commonly-used oils, but schmaltz is a buttery alternative that's worth considering. Central European and Jewish cuisines often cook with schmaltz to amplify flavor and increase their dish's yum factor.
Plus, rendered chicken or goose fat is brimming with essential nutrients and offers several surprising health benefits—like reducing unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol and supporting healthy and supple hair, skin, and nails.
Tallow: Pure rendered fat is a marvelous fat medium to use when cooking recipes on a low-carb diet. It's a great way to stretch your food budget by using every part of the animal.
Plus, tallow fat helps the body absorb more nutrients in the food eaten with it. And, fat in this form offers a soothing antioxidative effect while providing generous amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B1!
While there are many keto-friendly, healthy fats and oils to enjoy, you'll want to avoid others as they can enhance inflammation. Steer clear of the following oils and fats on a low-carb, high-fat diet:
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
The value of food goes beyond its calorie and carbohydrate count. The quality of its fat source is crucial, too. Opt for grass-fed and organic options that are cold-pressed when applicable to ensure you're using the best possible fat selections in your recipes.
Also, it's worth noting that fats from 100% grass-fed and grass-finished animals contain fewer hormones and antibiotics but boast potentially superior fatty acid profiles—something to keep in mind when grocery shopping.
Water is the original and the ultimate keto-friendly beverage. Plus, nutritional ketosis is a metabolic state that requires increased hydration to compensate for the more significant amount of fluid lost when running on ketones and fat for energy.
Keep a nifty bottle of water on you and sip throughout the day to never get parched. Plus, plain, seltzer, mineral, and tonic water are fantastic options to help you insert customized flavor combinations into your water offerings without the unwanted carbs or sugars.
Go for black coffee at times when you're craving your favorite morning beverage but have no carbs to spare in your dietary budget.
Try adding healthy fats, like MCT oil and grass-fed butter to your cup of joe. You can also add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream with minimal effect on carb count.
Try some mildly caffeinated fruity or floral tea, as well as green tea options like the super nutrient-dense matcha, which is a fantastic accompaniment to any keto diet.
Stick to a splash of lemon and a few drops of stevia to add some pizzazz to your chosen brew and steer clear of cream or any non-keto-friendly sweeteners to avoid hidden sugars.
Other Zero-Carb Beverages
- Diet soda: Gravitate toward keto-friendly soda brands like Zevia, sweetened with stevia with spot-on flavors and zero sugar. There are also options like Coke Zero if you're a bit more liberal regarding sugar-free sweeteners.
Clear, unflavored liquors: Hard spirits like vodka, tequila, and whisky are great adult beverage options when keeping carbs at zero.
Just remain mindful of added spritzers, flavorings, and syrups to avoid unintentionally adding carbs and sugar to your libations.
- Water with lemon or lime: Give your body a boost of hydration and add alkalinity with a spritz or two of fresh, organic lemon or lime juice.
Aside from sourcing the best quality foods available, seasoning and salt are the elements that add endless variety and flavor to keto meals.
Here are some staple seasonings to keep in stock in your working pantry to flavor your meals well with zero carbs:
Everything Bagel Seasoning: You can find it in the aisles of Trader Joe's and online outlets as other brands who've caught onto customers' craze for the delicious blend now offer options.
Plus, feel free to use 'everything' seasoning in keto bread recipes or atop eggs; it's a super versatile and sugar-free seasoning.
- Mustard Powder: Sauces, dressings, and other creative condiments are made better with the addition of aromatic mustard powder.
Salt: Using various sea salts adds complexity and dimension to meals and essential minerals needed more than ever when following a ketogenic diet.
Enjoy some of the following salt options for a mineral-rich flavor boost that enhances any meal's flavor.
- Himalayan pink sea salt
- Celtic salt
- Kosher salt
- Fleur del sel
- Kala Namak (black Indian salt)
- Flake salt
- Black Hawaiian salt
- Red Hawaiian salt
- Smoked salt
- Pickling salt
- Black Pepper: Impart some spicy heat to your dishes with black pepper. Plus, it's a classic that never gets old over eggs with a pinch of salt.
Other Zero-Carb Seasonings
- Herbs de Provence
- Italian seasoning
- Curry powder
- Onion powder
No-Carb Condiments and Dips
Aside from seasonings and salt, there's nothing else that can elevate or remake a dish like a premium keto-friendly condiment or dip. Plus, there are so many creamy, cheesy, or otherwise savory flavor combinations to play with that it's virtually impossible to get even slightly bored.
Your imagination only limits you in terms of the combinations you can create as you dabble and experiment with the condiments and dips shared below. Enjoy!
- Liquid aminos
- Hot sauces (e.g., sriracha, etc.)
Other Zero-Carb Condiments
- Olive oil + herbs and other seasonings
- Dijon mustard (usually zero)
- Sriracha and different chili garlic sauces
- Spicy mayo
Sugar, honey, agave, date, or coconut sugar are all unacceptable on a ketogenic diet. But with that said, there's no shortage of keto-friendly alternatives to sugar that will make you wonder why you've waited so long to make the switch. The following are some of our favorite sugar substitutes:
- Monk fruit
- Pork rinds
- Beef sticks/jerky (sugar-free)
- Other dried meats
- Salmon skins
Almost No-Carb Foods
We would only eat zero-carb foods in a perfect uber-keto world, but we need some foods containing controlled amounts of carbs and many other nutritional elements in real life.
Here are a few of your best low-carb fruit options:
- Olives (e.g., kalamata, Thaso, Arbequina, etc.)—yes, olives are a stone fruit like mangoes, peaches and dates!
Carbs can appear in foods with many coveted nutrients, and the more dark veggies you eat on a keto diet, the better! Plus, piling plates high with cruciferous and fibrous produce options is a great way to aid in digestive health and promote natural appetite suppression.
Here are a few of your best low-carb vegetable options:
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts exist on a broad spectrum per their carb counts, so it's essential to watch macros and portions to stay focused on your nutritional goals.
But, there are many low-carb nut options that we can enjoy without concern; and they make some of the tastiest and healthy fresh kinds of creamy butter and milks you'll ever try.
Here are a few of your best low-carb nut and seed options:
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Pili nuts
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
It's imperative to be picky when eating dairy to avoid extra carbs. Always opt for the highest fat-content dairy available and select organic, grass-fed varieties whenever possible.
Here are a few of the best low-carb dairy options if you're committed to keeping carbs low:
- Heavy cream
- Asiago cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Provolone cheese
- Cheddar Cheese
- Blue cheese
- Goat cheese
The ketogenic diet offers a vast spectrum of foods to eat and combine in an endless amount of unique configurations. But losing weight is personal, and finding the right combination of recipes and types of food that are best to support you along your weight loss journey is specific to you.
Check out our brief 30-second quiz to instantly gain access to a customized keto meal plan for weight loss that's tailored to your needs and preferences—a surefire way to set yourself up for success!
Finding ample zero-carb foods is relatively easy when eating a ketogenic diet once you know where to look.
Plus, adjusting our filter to seek premium fats like MCT oil over partially hydrogenated options like canola oil will boost nutrition and reduce inflammation when consumed regularly.
Or selecting to feast on a beautiful charcuterie board lined with lush olives, peppers, wedges of cheese, and an assortment of zero-carb meats will soon become the default over bingeing on bread and sugary drinks.
The great news is that the zero-carb and low-carb options available are vast, and you could include them in your daily diet without having to repeat exact selection combinations often if you choose.
Use zero-carb foods to control your macro budget with the power of fiber, quality dietary fats, and premium proteins. You won't even miss the starchy foods you used to love that never could return the favor. And the endless zero-carb options at your disposal will expand your dietary options rather than restrict them. Happy eating!
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