Keto Food Pyramid: What To Eat and Avoid On Keto Diet?

The keto food pyramid is an illustration of different types of foods we should eat in specific proportions and quantities when on ketogenic diet.

It is much different than the traditional food pyramid put out way back in 1992 by the US Department of Agriculture.

For ketogenic dieters, there aren’t any grains on the pyramid.

Certain sections — such as meats and poultry — are further classified into sub-sections to help dieters understand how much of their diet should be made of up lean proteins versus fatty proteins.

More specifically, keto-friendly diet focuses on eating 5% to 10% calories from net carbs (total carbs minus grams of fiber), 15% to 30% of calories from protein, and at least 65% to 75% calories from fat (or more) to ensure the production of ketones in the liver.

The keto food pyramid not only lists specific food categories but also depicts how freely or seldom the foods within each should be consumed.

You can eat certain foods freely, while you should consume some in limited quantities to maintain low carb intake. The keto food pyramid also outlines some food and beverage products that can be consumed or avoided altogether.

So, what exactly does the keto food pyramid look like? What food groups should you be focusing on, and what specific foods in each group should you be avoiding?

Let’s dig a little deeper into each category of the food pyramid to find out what foods you should be eating or avoid altogether in your meal plan.

We’ll start with categories of foods that you can eat in large proportion, gradually leading to categories with foods that should be consumed in limited quantities or avoided altogether.

Fatty Fish and Meat, Organ Meats, and Eggs

Since the ketogenic diet is predominately focused on consuming healthy fatty foods, let’s begin with the section on fatty fish and meat, organ meats, and eggs.

Essentially, the fattiest types of animal proteins are listed in this particular category.

Here are the foods that you should eat while on a low carb keto diet:

  • Beef
  • Pork (pastured, not farm-raised)
  • Bacon (beware of added starch and preservatives)
  • Lamb
  • Goat
  • Venison
  • Wild-caught fish and seafood
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Eggs

There are plenty of animal protein sources listed in this category that you can eat, but there are also a number of them that should be avoided:

  • Hot dogs
  • Sausages
  • Breaded meats and fish
  • Meat products that have starchy or sugary sauces

Healthy Fats and Oils

While many diets tout low-fat as an effective means of losing weight, the ketogenic diet has the opposite premise.

Instead, this unique diet focuses on healthy fats as the predominant source of calories, and including the following healthy fat sources and oils can help you achieve the coveted ketogenic state to start burning fat faster and more efficiently:

Saturated fats:

  • Lard
  • Chicken fat
  • Tallow
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil

Monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Avocado

Polyunsaturated fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Nut oils
  • Sesame oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Avocado oil

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the most stable and have the highest smoke points, making them ideal and safe for cooking.

In fact, the majority of your fat consumption should come from these particular types of fat.

Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, are unstable and aren’t suitable for cooking in high heat. These are best for flavoring or very light cooking.

Fats and oils to avoid:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Margarine
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Corn oil

Some of the above-mentioned oils might seem healthy because their names are associated with vegetables, seeds, and legumes, but they’re all bad for your health.

That’s because they’re often made from genetically-modified products and are oxidized when cooked in high heat, creating free radicals.

These oils are linked to inflammation, poor gut health, high cholesterol levels, coronary heart disease, and even an increased risk of cancer.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

There’s really no limit to the amount of non-starchy vegetables you can eat while on the ketogenic diet since the net carbs are next to nothing and the caloric content is very low.

You should be eating the following veggies while on a ketogenic diet:

  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Bok choy
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Chives
  • Radicchio
  • Endive
  • Kale

You can eat different other vegetables as well, but not necessarily in unlimited quantities because many have a higher carb content. Some of those vegetables that you should eat in limited proportion are:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Fennel
  • Turnips
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Leek
  • Winter squash (such as pumpkin)
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Bean sprouts
  • Peas
  • Artichokes
  • Rhubarb

Full-Fat Dairy

Dairy products tend to be high in fat which is why they are a part of the keto food pyramid.

Incorporating dairy products can help keep your fat content high, but they should only be consumed in moderate amounts compared to healthy fats and high-fat meats.

That’s because their fat content is not as high and they still have a certain trace of net carbs.

Dairy products on the food pyramid of ketogenic diet include:

  • Cheese (cheddar, havarti, mozzarella, etc)
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Full-fat yogurt (look out for sweetened yogurt products)

Nuts and Seeds

Be wary of dairy products that are labeled “low fat.” You should avoid these products to remain in ketosis.

Also to be consumed in moderate amounts are certain nuts and seeds:

  • Macadamia nuts – These are the best types of nuts to consume because they’re very high in healthy fat and low in carbs.
  • Pine nuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Beverages to Consume and Avoid

Of course, you can have an unlimited amount of water as it’s calorie-free and necessary for proper hydration. You can also consume other kinds of beverages like:

  • Coffee – You can have it black or even add cream or coconut oil; just avoid the sugar.
  • Tea

Any beverages that have added sugar or lots of calories should be avoided. These include:

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sugary alcoholic beverages

Believe it or not, but you can actually have some alcohol while on the ketogenic diet.

But if the goal is to lose weight, you might want to steer clear of it until you’ve reached your desired weight.

That said, be sure to stick with only dry wines (no sweet or ice wines) and spirits. Beer should be avoided because it’s high in carbs and calories.

Condiments

Adding condiments to your foods brings out the flavor and makes certain types of foods much more palatable. Condiments you may consume freely on the ketogenic diet include:

  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pesto
  • Bone broth
  • Pickles
  • Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc.)
  • All herbs and spices
  • Lemon and lime juice

Other condiments can be included on this diet but should be consumed in more limited qualities:

  • Ketchup
  • Salsa

Foods and Beverages to Avoid Completely

The keto food pyramid includes plenty of foods that you can enjoy while on the ketogenic diet.

But there are also several food products that should be avoided completely. Some products have already been mentioned above, but are included again in the list below:

  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Farmed meat and fish
  • Processed foods
  • Most fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Sugary beverages (soda, juice, sugary alcoholic drinks)
  • Vegetable oils
  • Low-fat products
  • Baked goods

Why The Keto Food Pyramid Matters?

A lot of times we notice people get mistaken that the keto diet is a high protein diet just like Paleo or Atkins.

It’s not.

The keto diet is a low carb diet with moderate protein and high fat.

When making food choices, you should define protein as 25% of your daily calorie intake. That accounts to 125 grams of protein if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet.

To stay in ketosis, you should be eating the recommended amount of protein your keto calculator shows you.

This is also where the keto food pyramid helps you: by giving you a list of food to select from and to avoid.

You’ll also notice that a lot of food items you should be eating on the ketogenic diet are minimally processed ingredients. That’s the key to your weight loss.

If you are eating pre-packaged food or even some random ready-made meals, you can’t accurately keep track of your macros. There are certain ingredients that aren’t always reported or some measurement scales can be difficult to interpret.

The only way to a maintaining a good overall health when on keto diet is eating healthy food. Eating food items that are free of preservatives, harmful additives or hidden carbs can be turned into great keto recipes and low carb foods that are both healthy and tasty.

Include more grass-fed butter. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that can supplement the deficiency in our body, which almost always exists.

Also, make sure you are eating organic vegetables. Food that are grown without pesticides and antibiotics contain good amount of nutrients like magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin C, and iron. When you consume more organic food, you might even not require additional keto supplements.

Leafy greens that are high in fiber, low in carbs are also great for keto diet. These also help protect our body against age-related mental decline. Plus, these rich in vitamins and mineral sources are great for our eyes.

When making oil selections, you need to ensure you are consuming oils that are 100% fat. Macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are great choices. You can also supplement these with MCT oil to meet your daily requirement.

When making meat or dairy choices, it’s also best to go with pasture and free raised products. This is because animals grown this way are healthier and are a good source of ingredients that you need to have when on keto diet.

The Bottom Line

The keto food pyramid is pretty detailed and provides a solid basis for ketogenic dieters to follow.

Essentially, the foods included are whole foods, and the foods to avoid are typically loaded with sugar and refined oils.

By sticking with foods that are not processed and are high in healthy fats, you can be well on your way to a healthy ketogenic lifestyle that will see you lose stubborn fat and transform your body for the better.

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