Variety of healthy proteins and vegetables on table.

The Ultimate Food List for Keto Diet Beginners: What to Eat, How Much and When


If you’re new to the ketogenic diet, it can be overwhelming to figure out what foods are allowed and how much of them you should eat. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive list of foods that are suitable for a keto diet, along with portion sizes and meal timing tips to help you succeed on your weight loss journey.

Introduction to the Keto Diet for Beginners

Ketogenic diet concept with macro nutrients chart.

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has been shown to promote rapid weight loss while also improving overall health markers such as cholesterol levels and blood sugar control. On a keto diet, you aim to consume 70% of your calories from fat sources, 25% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates. This macronutrient breakdown helps to shift your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns stored fat for energy instead of relying on glucose from carbs.

The Ultimate Food List for Keto Diet Beginners: What to Eat, How Much and When

Here is a detailed list of foods that are suitable for a keto diet, along with recommended serving sizes and meal timing tips:

1. Fats: Avocado, nuts and seeds (such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds), coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee, lard, tallow, bacon grease, eggs, cheese, cream, full-fat yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, heavy whipping cream, fish oil supplements, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pesto, guacamole, hummus, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, mustard, hot sauce, salsa, dressings made with avocado or olive oil, herbs and spices like cinnamon, turmeric, garlic powder, salt, pepper, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, bone broth, soup, stew, curry, stir fries, roasted vegetables, grilled meat/fish/poultry, salads with leafy greens and veggies, smoothie bowls with berries and nut butters, bulletproof coffee/tea with MCT oil or butter, fat bombs made with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener of choice.

Measurements: Aim for at least 2 tablespoons of healthy fats per meal. For example, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a sauteed veggie dish or spread 1 tablespoon of nut butter onto a piece of lettuce. You can also use measuring cups to track portions – 1 cup of raw veggies, 1/2 cup cooked veggies, 1/4 cup nuts/seeds, 1 tablespoon condiments.

Timing: Consume healthy fats throughout the day, including at breakfast, snack time, and dinner. Try not to skip any meals or go too long without eating, as this can lead to hunger and overeating later in the day.

2. Protein: Grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild-caught salmon, cod, halibut, shrimp, scallops, egg whites, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, edamame, tempeh, tofu, seitan, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, avocado, almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, quinoa, almond milk, coconut milk, unsweetened applesauce, plain popcorn, roasted chestnuts, cashew butter, almond butter, tuna, anchovies, sardines, trout, haddock, tilapia, catfish, clams, mussels, oysters, pork tenderloin, pork chops, ground beef, venison, buffalo, turkey breast, duck, goose, rabbit, liver, heart, tongue, brain, skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, whey protein isolate, casein protein powder, collagen hydrolysate, gelatin.

Measurements: Aim for about 6-8 ounces of protein per meal, depending on your size and activity level. Use a kitchen scale or measuring cups to ensure proper portion sizes.

Timing: Consume protein at every meal, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re doing intermittent fasting, try to have your first meal within an hour of waking up to prevent muscle breakdown.

3. Vegetables: Spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, endive, radicchio, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, snow peas, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, jalapenos, poblano peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, olives, artichokes, hearts of palm, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bok choy, daikon radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, celery, cucumbers, pickles, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kombucha, kvass, pickled beets, pickled eggs, pickled onions, pickled carrots, pickled radishes, pickled turnips, pickled beans, pickled peppers, pickled anything!

Measurements: Aim for at least 1-2 cups of non-starchy veggies per meal, and more if possible. Use a salad plate or small bowl to visualize appropriate portion sizes.

Timing: Consume veggies at every meal, including snacks if desired. Experiment with different types of veggies and preparation methods to keep things interesting.

Common Mistakes to Avoid on a Keto Diet for Beginners

Dehydrated Man drinking water on sunny beach

While the keto diet can be incredibly effective for weight loss and overall health, there are some common mistakes that beginners often make. Here are a few to watch out for:

1. Not tracking macros closely enough: It’s essential to monitor your intake of carbs, fat, and protein to ensure that you’re staying in ketosis. Using a food journal or app like MyFitnessPal can help you stay on track.

2. Overconsuming dairy: While dairy products like cheese and cream are allowed on a keto diet, they can be high in carbs and calcium if consumed excessively. Stick to moderate portions and choose lower-lactose options when possible.

3. Ignoring hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial for overall health and can help prevent headaches and constipation associated with the keto diet. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day, and consider adding electrolytes or mineral drops to your water bottle.

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