Table of Contents
A low carb diet that is followed by Ketogenic dieters consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to less than the recommended 45% level of one’s total energy intake. However, different places in the world have varying views on what constitutes low carbohydrates. So, in this guide, we will try and remove all doubts surrounding the low carb diet and especially focus on food groups that are allowed from the standpoint of a Ketogenic diet. You can also take a look at our low carb ingredients list for more great ideas.
According to the Low Carb pyramid the segregation of different food groups is as follows:
Protein (5-8 servings daily based on 1700 to 2000 calorie per day diet)
Often; people believe that low carb ketogenic diet is a high protein diet. However, Ketogenic diets are actually moderate protein diets. So the amount of servings of protein in your food should not exceed 5 to 8 servings. Additionally, one should only focus on organic, non grain-fed meat. The meat cuts should be sourced from reliable sources and should not have hormones or antibiotics in them. Best protein sources include:
- Meat cuts: Beef, veal, wild game, goat etc are allowed. Preferably opt for organic grass fed varieties.
- Whole milk dairy: 4 ounces of milk will give you 4g protein
- Seafood or 1 ounce of fatty fish-This will give you 7grams of protein
- Soy milk- 4ounces should give you 5g protein
- ½ cup cooked lentils- These will give you 9 grams of protein
- 2 tbsp peanut butter- This will give you 8 grams of protein
- Cheese-1 cup cottage cheese will give you 28 grams of protein and 1 ounce of other varieties will typically give you 7 g protein. Always choose full fat, aged and alpine cheeses on this diet. Examples are goat, cream and sheep cheeses.
- 1 egg large- 6 g of protein
- Firm tofu 3 ounces -13g protein. Do note the carbs in tofu before buying. Soy is a good source of protein for vegetarians following the low carb Keto diets.
Since ketogenic diet focuses on high fat, always opt for fattier meat products of the un-breaded kind. Milk can also be supplemented with whey powder, pea, or other protein rich supplementing powders. Opt for tuna, chicken, beef salads etc. Beans like Lima, Garbanzo also provide moderate amounts of protein. Your dietician can come up with an exact protein requirement based on your daily calories needs.
Vegetables and Fruits (5 to 6 servings daily based on approx 2000 calorie diet)
Since ketogenic diet is low in carbs, most people stay away from vegetables and fruits. But, to maintain nutritional levels, eating 5-6 fruits servings daily is recommended. Now, different fruits have different carb content. To maximize health benefits of fruits and vegetables, always choose fresh organic varieties and know their carb content. It is best to avoid, sweetened, dried or candied fruits. If required, buy sugar free dried varieties. Always steam the vegetables to preserve nutritional value. Opt for veggies high in fiber, antioxidants, heart healthy fats and fiber. Typical examples include Avocados, Broccoli, artichokes, leafy greens etc. In addition, the following list might help:
- Strawberries-1/2 cup has 5 carbs
- Blueberries-1/2 cup has 5 carbs
- Broccoli- 100g raw will yield only 1.3 carbs
- Bell peppers or green capsicum- raw 100g will yield 2.6 carbs
- Leafy green vegetables-100g raw spinach has 1.3 carbs
- Brussels sprouts and Alfa Alfa sprouts- These in 100g have only 4g carbs
- Cabbage –boiled 100g has 0.6 carbs
- Cauliflower-100g boiled yields 2.3 carbs
- All mushrooms
- All lettuce varieties
Remember: a low carb diet can be successfully followed by eating fruits and vegetables which are all complex carbs, provided you know which ones fall in the low carb category.
Vitamins, minerals and Micronutrients
As a part of the Ketogenic low carb diet, supplementation with a multi vitamin and multi mineral supplement is necessary. This is especially true when you are making a sudden switch from high carbohydrate diet to low carb diet. So, the body will require extra supplementation as it goes through a period of adjustment.
Sugar and Starchy Foods
The Low Carb keto diet is a ‘No starch No sugar’ diet. So if you want, in the beginning at least, try and limit your sugar intake to 20g a day and slowly taper off. Remember that following foods are completely prohibited in Low Carb Ketodgenic diet:
- Avoid flour based breads-Replace them with low carb bread made using almond meal. Use butter, margarine as spreads or go in for fruit spreads with zero carbs. Many are available in natural food stores.
- Rice-Avoid completely
- Pasta- Replace with spaghetti squash
- Baked goods- Avoid anything with flour, or starch like sago, potatoes, etc
Always read the food labels while shopping. Remember that sugar can also come in following forms like molasses, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, icing sugar, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, etc. Opt for sweeteners like Stevia, Liquid Splenda® etc in moderate quantities. Do note that cold cuts and Salamis often have sugars added for improving their taste.
Nuts and Seeds (1 daily serving per 1700 to 2000 cal diet)
Nuts like walnuts, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts are all good for the low carb dieter. They are rich in good essential fatty acids and omega 3 and 6 EFAs and may be taken ground or crushed in salads, curd cheeses etc. Do note that Cashew nuts do not fall in the “low carbohydrates category” and must be avoided. Sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds etc are all great for Ketogenic diet.
Oils for cooking
Following oils are good for cooking when preparing meals the Ketogenic way:
Coconut oil, margarine, butters, high quality cold pressed vegetable oils, and olive oil may be used for cooking. Opt to take hempseed, flaxseed, rapeseed, grapeseed oil and fish oils on a daily basis for their high fatty acid content. Never heat these oils; rather store them in airtight containers. Try and consume 4-6 grams of omega 3 per day (this means 4 capsules of Fish Oil supplements each having 1000mg). You could alternatively opt for fresh Linseed oil since only 1 tbsp or 10 ml of this would supply you with your daily essential fatty acid content.
These are the main components of Food groups in Low carb Ketogenic diet. If are still having trouble understanding why foods make you fat you should check out some of our additional resources.