Of all the diets and ways of eating that I’ve tried in my efforts to lose weight, I only feel compelled to write about the keto diet. In all reality, I wasn’t impressed with my initial results after strictly following the keto diets for nine weeks. I lost a whopping 2 pounds! I was miffed, but the silver lining was I also lost 1 inch off my waist, thighs, and arms, and my clothes started to feel baggy.
The poor weight loss aside, I found that my energy levels were greatly improved and my normally swollen ankles were once again normal. About the ankle thing, I have the ability to gauge how much carbohydrates or sugar I’ve consumed based on the size of my ankles. Over the years, I noticed that whenever I ate too many carbs or sugar the next day I would wake up with swollen ankles and insteps.
As you can imagine, this physical reaction to carbs is a very useful tool I use to figure out if I’m eating in the right way. This is where food choice comes into play for the keto diet. There’s no definitive list of foods for the keto diet, but there are some that make following the diet much easier and more pleasant to follow.
In this post I’ll outline a quick list of these foods and substitutes that can make following the keto diet a way of life that will make you thrive.
Fruits & Vegetables
There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables that we can choose from for the keto diet. The only caveat is that we have to choose fruits and vegetables that are low in carbs but high in nutrients. Since I’m all about quick and healthy meals, I’ll include the usual green, leafy vegetables and a few others that are easily available and easy to cook including:
- Spinach and Kale
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
- Cucumbers and Zucchini
Low carb fruits that are easily available and suitable for the keto diet include:
- Berries – Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries,
I especially recommend avocados for the keto diet. Its creaminess makes it a great vehicle for making other keto delights such as chocolate pudding or mousse. Avocados are also high in fiber and full of good mono and poly-unsaturated fats that keep you full for hours. If you choose to buy no other fruit, make sure you buy avocados.
Proteins are especially easy to find for anyone doing the keto diet, and you can eat almost any source of protein that suits your fancy. There are even good sources of vegetable-based protein for those who are following a vegan or vegetarian keto diet. Easy sources of animal-based proteins include:
Some sources of vegan/vegetarian proteins include:
- Beans and Lentils
- Tofu and Tempeh
- Beyond Meats (their burgers and sausages are awesome! The crumble styles are iffy depending on the flavor)
I’ve already written a post about sweeteners that may be suitable for the keto diet, so I’ll just touch on a few here. If you want more in-depth info on sweeteners, check out my article on sugar alternatives for diabetics. So which low carb sweeteners are suitable for keto? Quite a few actually. My top 5 recommended sweeteners for a low carb or keto diet include:
- Monk Sweet+ with Stevia
- Monk Fruit Extract
- Stevia (liquid or powder)
Using these approved sweeteners will make following the keto diet much easier. They each have their pros and cons but by using different sweeteners for different applications you can customize each to your taste. For example, I prefer to use liquid stevia to sweeten hot and cold beverages. I prefer to use monk sweet plus to sweeten my baked goods or for hot turmeric tea and hot chocolate.
Erythritol and xylitol are sugar alcohols and may have a cooling after-taste. They are, however, low in carbohydrates and do a pretty decent job of sweetening anything. Sugar alcohols do not spike blood sugar and are secreted from the body in the urine. One potential downfall of erythritol and xylitol is that they may cause bloating/gas if too much is used.
In summary, the keto diet can be somewhat challenging because of the lack of dessert options. Using any of these sweeteners will allow you to create desserts that are keto friendly and delicious.
Low Carb Bread, Pasta & Rice Alternatives
I’ve found the lack of bread to be the most challenging part of the keto diet. It’s not that I ate much bread, to begin with, it was just the idea that I could no longer have a slice of pizza or a curry roti whenever I wanted. I am a problem solver if nothing else, so I set about searching for alternatives to all things high carb, including bread, rice, and pasta.
I do my own baking, so the first low carb substitute I searched for was flour. My post on Low Carb Flour Substitutes shows that there are a LOT of low carb flour substitutes available. However, many of these low carb flour substitutes provide too much of a single nutrient that may bring adverse outcomes to our health.
For example, consuming a slice of bread or cake made with just almond flour will provide too many omega-6 fatty acids in one serving. As we all know, too much of anything is undesirable. High levels of omega-6 can induce inflammation in the body and raise the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
It’s for this reason that I recommend using low carb flour substitutes that are a blend of other low carb flours. Some of the best include:
- THM Bake Mix
- Carbalose Flour & Carbquick Bake Mix
- DIY Bake Mix (using variety of low carb flours – Tigernut Flour, Coconut Flour, Almond Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Coffee Flour, etc. – based on desired results)
Rice and pasta substitutes for the keto diet include:
- Konjac Rice/Shirataki Noodles
- Cauliflower Rice
- Spaghetti Squash
- Spiraled Vegetables
- Tofu Noodles
- Seaweed Pasta
These are just a few ideas that you can incorporate for your keto meals so you don’t miss having the high carb version. Any good recipe should make these options delicious.
The Bottom Line
The keto diet doesn’t have to be difficult and in fact, can be downright enjoyable. If you are on a weight loss journey, I really recommend you give the keto diet a try. Make it your own by including healthy high-fat foods like avocado, coconut, nuts, olives, and grass-fed dairy.
Add a variety of low carb vegetables and fruits and you will be on your way to creating the body you want. You will never feel hungry due to the high fat and moderate protein and you eat fewer calories overall leading to weight loss.
Are you doing keto or another type of diet? Let me know in the comments and until then: Happy Eating!