The Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet

A high-fat, moderate-protein, and extremely low-carbohydrate diet is the ketogenic diet. Although the body prefers to get its energy from carbohydrates, just 5% to 10% of the calories in a rigorous ketogenic diet come from these sources. The body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis when carbohydrate intake is reduced. When the body begins converting stored fat into molecules known as ketone bodies for energy without circulating blood sugar from food, this process is known as ketosis. Most cells will use ketone bodies to produce energy once the body enters ketosis until you resume eating carbohydrates.

The ketogenic diet was previously solely applied to treat epilepsy in children in clinical settings. According to studies, there is currently a lot of interest in how well the diet works in treating other neurological diseases, cancer, diabetes, PCOS, obesity, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Those trying to lose weight also eat keto.

Even if you are aware that you must follow a diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates, rich in fat, and moderate in protein, it might be difficult to know which items to eat. Here is our guide to foods you can consume while on a ketogenic diet, foods you should limit, and foods you may have in moderation. There are also Keto friendly supplements available.

Foods You Can Eat on the Ketogenic Diet

Keto Friendly Food List

Here is a list of all the low-carb, keto-friendly foods that are appropriate to eat when you're following keto.

  • Fish and seafood
  • Low-carb veggies
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, seeds and healthful oils
  • Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Berries
  • Unsweetened coffee and tea
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
  • Fish and Seafood

Fish is a protein-rich, carb-free food that is high in B vitamins, potassium, and selenium. According to a 2017 review article published in Lipids in Health and Disease, omega-3 fats, which are abundant in salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, and other fatty fish, have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and boost insulin sensitivity. Another research indicated that regular fish consumption has been connected to a lower risk of chronic disease as well as better mental health. This review was published in Advances in Nutrition. Weekly, try to eat two 3-ounce portions of fatty fish.

Low-Carb Veggies

Nonstarchy veggies are abundant in nutrients, such as vitamin C and a number of minerals, yet low in calories and carbs. They also have antioxidants, which help defend against free radicals, which harm cells. Choose non-starchy veggies with a cup serving containing no more than 8 grams of net carbohydrates. Total carbohydrates less fiber equals net carbohydrates. The appropriate vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, and spinach.


Cheese has zero carbohydrates and is high in fat, making it an excellent fit for the ketogenic diet. It's also rich in protein and calcium. Make note that a 1-ounce slice of cheddar cheese has about 6 grams of saturated fat, which the American Heart Association recommends limiting to lower your risk of heart disease.

Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

Both yogurt and cottage cheese are calcium- and protein-rich. 20 grams of protein and around 8 grams of carbs can be found in seven ounces of plain Greek yogurt. Just over 6 grams of carbs and 28 grams of protein are included in eight ounces of cottage cheese. The Journal of Nutrition and Nutrients studies have demonstrated that protein and calcium can both increase feelings of fullness and decrease hunger. Cottage cheese and yogurt with higher fat content might help you feel fuller for longer, and full-fat foods are permitted on the ketogenic diet.


Choose heart-healthy fats like avocados, which are rich in potassium, a mineral that many Americans lack, and monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. About 6 grams of total carbohydrates‚ÄĒ4.5 grams of which are fiber‚ÄĒare present in one-half of a medium avocado. According to a 2018 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, replacing animal fats with plant fats like avocados will help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Meat and Poultry

On the ketogenic diet, meat is regarded as a staple food because it is a source of lean protein. Fresh meat and poultry are high in B vitamins, many minerals like potassium, selenium, and zinc, and they don't include any carbs. While processed meats like bacon and sausage are permitted on the keto diet, a 2021 review published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that they aren't great for your heart and may increase your chance of developing some forms of cancer. Limit processed meats and increase your consumption of poultry, fish, and beef.


Protein, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are all abundant in eggs. Almost 12 grams of protein and no carbs may be found in two big eggs. It has been demonstrated that eggs cause the release of hormones that heighten feelings of satiety and maintain steady blood sugar levels. They also include antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which, according to a 2020 study published in Clinical Nutrition, assist safeguard eye health.

Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Oils

Healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein can all be found in nuts and seeds. Moreover, they have extremely little net carbohydrates. The two oils suggested for the keto diet are coconut oil and olive oil. Due to its high oleic acid content, olive oil is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Despite having a lot of saturated fat, coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can boost ketone synthesis. MCTs may speed your metabolism, which would aid in losing weight and belly fat. While ingesting any healthy fat, watch your portion quantities.

Carb counts for 1 oz. (28 g) of nuts and seeds (net carbohydrate equals total carbs minus fiber):


Antioxidants found in berries lower inflammation and guard against disease. They are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates.

Carb counts for 1/2 cup of some berries:

Unsweetened Coffee and Tea

Simple coffee and tea have no grams of fat, protein, or carbs, thus they are acceptable on the keto diet. Also, a 2022 study revealed coffee consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Tea offers more antioxidants than coffee and less caffeine overall. Drinking tea may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, aid in weight loss, and strengthen your immune system, according to a 2015 analysis that was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

The amount of carbohydrates in them depends on the kind and how much you eat, so read the label carefully. Dark chocolate includes flavanols, which may lessen the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy arteries, according to an overview published in Diseases in 2016. Cocoa has been dubbed a "superfruit" because it is rich in antioxidants.

Foods To Limit on the Keto Diet

Due to the keto diet's low carb intake, some foods with higher carb counts may need to be avoided, including:

  • Grains
  • Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits
  • Sweetened yogurt
  • Juices
  • Honey, syrup or sugar in any form
  • Chips and crackers
  • Baked goods including gluten-free baked goods

Avoid being too dejected. According to studies and dietitians with the Keto Hope Foundation, there are no forbidden foods when following the ketogenic diet. It has to do with your overall calorie intake and how you decide to "spend" your carbohydrates. Generally speaking, you should limit your daily carbohydrate intake to 20 to 40 grams. Depending on the person, a carb prescription may range from 10 to 60 grams per day in order to establish ketosis. This amount represents net carbohydrates, or total carbohydrates minus fiber. Those who are active can eat more carbs (perhaps more at the 40-gram level) than someone who is sedentary.

High-Carb Foods That Most People Limit on the Keto Diet


High-carb foods include cereal, crackers, rice, pasta, bread, and beer. Even the new bean-based pasta and whole-wheat spaghetti are heavy in carbohydrates. Take into account lower-carb substitutes like spiralized vegetables or shirataki noodles. Both sugary morning cereals and nutritious whole-grain cereals contain a lot of carbohydrates and should be consumed in moderation. Since a piece of bread contains 11 grams of carbs on average, you could theoretically eat one slice a day without exceeding your daily carbohydrate allowance, according to scientific studies. "You could have a TON of vegetables for the same amount of carbs."Low-carb diets can include moderate beer consumption. Better possibilities include dry wine and spirits, but all alcohol use should be moderate.

Starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits

Vegetables that are starchy should only be consumed on the ketogenic diet since they contain more digestible carbohydrates than fiber. They include beets, corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Restrict high-sugar fruits as well because they contain more carbohydrates and cause your blood sugar to rise more quickly than berries do (get a full list of low-carb fruits ranked from lowest to highest).

Carb counts for high-sugar fruits:

Carb counts for starchy vegetables:

  • Corn¬†(1 cup): 32 g net carbs (36 g total carbs)
  • Potato¬†(1 medium): 33 g net carbs (37 g total carbs)
  • Sweet potato¬†(1 medium): 20 g net carbs (24 g total carbs)
  • Beets¬†(1 cup, cooked): 14 g net carbs (17 g total carbs)

Sweetened yogurts

Limit added sugars by sticking to plain yogurt (aka carbohydrates). Greek yogurt has a lower carbohydrate content and a higher protein content than ordinary yogurt.


Fruit juice‚ÄĒnatural or not‚ÄĒis high in fast-digesting carbs that spike your blood sugar. Stick to water.

Honey, syrup and sugar in any form

Reduce your intake of sugar, honey, maple syrup, and other sugars because they are low in nutrients and heavy in carbohydrates.

Chips and crackers

Keep chips, crackers and other processed, grain-based snack foods minimal, which are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.

Gluten-free baked goods

Gluten-free does not equal carb-free. Many gluten-free breads and muffins are as high in carbohydrates as traditional baked goods. They can also lack fiber.

Foods and Drinks You Can Sometimes Have on the Keto Diet

On the keto diet, you can eat anything as long as it doesn't exceed your daily carbohydrate goal. However, these items lie in the middle of the high- and low-carb dietary spectrum.


Many B vitamins, potassium, and calcium are all abundant in milk. Yet, a cup contains 12 grams of sugar (lactose). Replace it with almond, coconut, or similar low-carb milk.

Beans and Legumes

Although they are high in fiber, protein, and are a vital component of a heart-healthy diet, beans and other legumes are also high in carbs. On a ketogenic diet, they are allowed in moderation. Nonetheless, they might account for a significant portion of your daily carb intake.

Pros of the Ketogenic Diet

According to medical studies, there is strong evidence to support the use of the ketogenic diet in those with epilepsy who experience drug-resistant seizures. Those who follow the program report losing weight quickly. Studies have shown, "Recent research has shown promise in conditions like autism, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, migraines, and Alzheimer's, as well as some research on type 2 diabetes and ketogenic diets, including reducing insulin needs, fasting blood sugar levels, lowering A1C, and achieving significant weight loss." However, much more research is required to support these claims, and any advantages would only apply to people who can effectively adhere to the stringent diet.

Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

Studies advise it might be challenging to meet nutritional demands while following a ketogenic diet. "Constipation and the "keto flu" are two unfavorable side effects that frequently accompany it. Also, it is unclear what effects there will be on long-term health." Extremely restrictive diets are notoriously difficult to stick to and may have a negative effect on the dieter's relationship with food. Find out more about the many detrimental side effects of the keto diet, such as poor breath, hair loss, and compromised gut health.

Supplements & Ingredients that may enhance the effects of the Keto Diet

  • Bladderwrack

Bladderwrack has been touted as an amazing tool for sustainable & natural weightloss due to the highly bioavailable form of Iodine. Iodine is known to stimulate metabolism which in turn leads to weightloss. Iodine can also impact and improve healthy thryoid function which is yet another benefit Bladderwrack is used for. Bladderwrack is also rich in beta-carotene , fucoxanthin and fucoidan which Chinese scientists are heralding as "eye nutrients of the future."

  • Turmeric

Besides reducing inflammation associated with obesity, consumption of turmeric increases the metabolic rate which helps burn calories faster in the body. Turmeric is also an Antioxidant and may help treat skin conditions

The Bottom Line

It's not a one-size-fits-all treatment, so seeing a nutritionist is necessary to make sure you're getting the nutrients you need while staying in ketosis. There has been some research on the ketogenic diet's potential health advantages for a variety of diseases, but most people find it very difficult to stick with it over the long term. Also, further research is required to better understand the long-term implications on general health. Not to mention, at EatingWell, we don't think it's healthy to restrict yourself to only eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Work with a dietician to develop a strategy if you choose to go keto.

Kayla Thomas


Kayla Thomas, a 34-year-old sports and fitness coach living in Connecticut, USA. With seven years of hands-on experience, she's all about helping folks get fit and strong. Kayla's fitness journey began when she was a sports-loving kid, and she followed her passion to college, where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and picked up personal training and sports coaching certifications. But what really lights her up is empowering women through fitness, breaking barriers and making fitness feel welcoming for everyone. Her clients see her as not just a coach but a motivating friend. In her downtime, you'll find her swimming and cycling, always on the move. And you can follow her fitness journey on Instagram ‚Äď she's all about sharing that empowerment vibe.