The big three offenders are ubiquitous in processed, packaged, and frozen foods; in restaurant and fast-food offerings; and even in “healthy” stuff from natural foods markets.
Oils to eliminate: Refined high polyunsaturated vegetable and seed oils (canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, etc.); butter-substitute spreads and sprays (margarine, Smart Balance, Promise); processed and packaged food containing vegetable oils or trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats).
Refined grain products to eliminate: Baguettes, cereal, corn, crackers, croissants, danishes, donuts, energy bars, frozen snacks and meals, graham crackers, granola bars, muffins, pasta, pizza, pretzels, protein bars, rice, rolls, saltine crackers, tortillas, Wheat Thins, chips (corn, potato, tortilla), cooking grains (amaranth, barley, bulgur, couscous, millet, rye), puffed snacks (including popcorn and rice cakes).
Refined sugar products to eliminate: Agave syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, fruit bars and rolls, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, powdered sugar, raw sugar.
What you can eat
Remember, ketogenic eating is ultra-low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in natural, nutritious fats. Choose the foods you prefer from this ancestral- inspired list of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and assorted approved modern foods such as high-fat dairy products and high-cacao-percentage dark chocolate.
- High-fat fruits such as avocados, coconuts, olives, and their derivative oils
- Nuts, seeds, and their derivative butters and non-dairy milks
- Fatty cuts of meat from naturally raised animals
- Fish, especially oily cold water fish from the SMASH hits group (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring)
- Butter, ghee, lard, bacon fat, and tallow
Generally, you can make high-fibre, above-ground vegetables such as the leafy green and cruciferous family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) a dietary centrepiece.
These foods are some of the most nutrient-dense on the planet and also support a healthy intestinal microbiome. Due to their high fibre and water content, they do not stimulate the insulin response that can compromise keto efforts. While it is recommended to stay below 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, you can give yourself a free pass to consume as many above-ground, high-fibre vegetables and avocados as you want. In contrast, carbohydrates from foods that are starchier or calorically denser should be limited during formal nutritional ketosis efforts.
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Approximate calories in popular keto foods
Seafood (per 100 grams)
- Wild salmon = 169
- Sardines (canned in oil) = 208
- Mackerel = 305
- Shrimp and prawn = 99
- Crab meat = 84
- Fresh tuna = 144
- Mussels = 86
- Cod = 90
Low-carb vegetables (per 100 grams)
- Arugula = 16
- Spinach = 24
- Eggplant = 25
- Mushrooms = 22
- Broccoli = 33
- Cauliflower = 27
- Zucchini = 20
- Bell peppers = 31
- Fennel = 29
- Cabbage = 24
- Celery = 17
- Brussels sprouts = 35
- Raw kale = 8
- Medium-sized tomato = 24
- Medium-sized avocado = 250
- Blackberries (100g) = 43
- Raspberries (100g) = 53
- Blueberries (100g) = 57
- Strawberries (100g) = 33
- Coconut (100g) = 354
- Lemon (100g) = 29
- Lime (100g) = 30
Meat, poultry and eggs (per 100 grams)
- Chicken breast = 165
- Chicken thigh = 177
- Roasted turkey = 189
- Eye fillet = 324
- Venison = 158
- Pork loin = 242
- Ham = 145
- Uncooked bacon = 417
- Lamb = 294
- One large egg = 78
Nuts and seeds (1 serving = 30g)
- Macadamia nuts = 215
- Flaxseed = 165
- Brazil nuts = 186
- Chia seeds = 138
- Walnuts = 185
- Pecans = 207
- Hazelnuts = 176
- Sesame seeds = 170
- Pumpkin seeds = 127
- Almonds = 167
Dairy products (per 100 grams)
- Cottage cheese = 98
- Plain full-fat Greek yoghurt = 150
- Heavy whipping cream = 354
- Butter = 717
Oils (1 tablespoon)
- Extra-virgin olive oil = 119
- Coconut oil = 117
- Avocado oil = 124
- Macadamia oil = 120
- Coconut butter = 120
Keto approved condiments (1 tablespoon)
- Mustard = 10
- Unsweetened ketchup = 15
- Olive-oil mayonnaise = 45
To create a calorie deficit, you first need to work out the number of calories your body will likely burn per day – this is often called your estimated energy expenditure.
For the average woman, it’s 2000 and the average man burns about 2500 calories per day.
To maintain their weight, that’s what they’d aim to consume per day.
For a weight loss of approximately 0.5 kg a week – an amount I recommend to be a safe number for a long term strategy – multiply your base calories by 0.75 to give you a number that is 75 per cent of your estimated energy expenditure.
So, our average couple would aim for 1500 and 2000 calories respectively.
How do you calculate your magic number?
Everyone’s estimated energy expenditure is so different. Factors that affect how many calories YOU will burn in a day depends on your height, age, weight, activity level, gender and much more.
You’ll find online calorie calculators where you can enter all of your personal details to work out the estimated number of calories you burn per day, however a lot of them are inaccurate.
You want to look for one that is formed using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, a formula that has been shown to be a fairly accurate way of estimating calorie needs in numerous studies.
This one is a good one.
Please remember that this is still an estimation.
If you want to lose weight and you’ve never considered calories before, use your estimated intake as a guide and then use a food tracker app to help you log your calories. Research shows that people who log calories lose more weight and are likelier to keep the weight off in the long run.
Other great apps include MyFitnessPal, Lose it and FatSecret.
Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly – remember that the calculator may be wrong. No one knows your body better than you, so it can take some trial and error.
Also keep in mind that the quality of the calories you consume counts just as much as the number.
What this means is that you want your calories to be nutrients from wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds as these will nourish and support your overall health. Calories from processed junk foods such as candy, chips and crackers offer little nutritional value.
If you still aren’t seeing results, it’s so important to remember that weight loss can be a difficult journey for some and working with a trained, qualified professional can help you reach your goals.
Remember to speaking to a qualified health expert before making any changes to your diet.