I’m at around the 7 month mark on the Ketogenic diet. At this point I’ve lost 40kgs, which people seem to notice, and probably the most common question I get asked now is “What do you eat?”.
Once I tell people what I do and don’t eat, then I get the usual response “Oh, I couldn’t give up bread/potatos/chips/pasta”. I used to be an avid aficionado of all carbs great and small, but now I couldn’t care less about them. The only thing I really miss about them is the convenience/prevalence, but better preparation takes care of that.
Anyway, here’s a list of everything I’ve been eating lately. I did eat a lot more bacon + eggs in the beginning, but that got old pretty quick so I try to mix things up a lot more now.
- Pork Steaks, just with cheese & butter on top.
- Pulled Pork. I just put a big chunk of pork roast in the pressure cooker with some onion, spices, and reduced sugar BBQ sauce. After about 90 minutes it’s in a shreddable state. I usually just eat this with shredded cheese mixed in.
- Beef Stew, made in the pressure cooker with vegetables added (small amount of onion & carrot for flavour, the rest is celery, pumpkin, zucchini, etc. with some fresh herbs). I also do the same for Osso Buco.
- Bacon & Eggs with Avocado & Aoili.
- Chicken thighs, roasted and usually served with cheese and butter.
- Buffalo Wings. I buy the Sweet Baby Ray’s wing sauce which is very low carb, and make them from fresh chicken now using this recipe.
- Supermarket roast (rotisserie) chicken, pulled apart and mixed with cheese, garlic aoili and sauerkraut. This is my 5-minute dinner when I’m too tired to cook.
- Salad with ingredients like capsicum, cucumber, red onion, olives, fetta cheese and dressed with Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar.
- Grilled asparagus spears.
- Grilled brussels sprouts, topped with cheese.
- Grilled cauliflower, topped with cheese.
- Fat head pizza, topped with pulled pork, or whatever I’ve got lying around in the fridge.
- Greek Yoghurt with vanilla bean paste + a small amount of sweetener. Yoghurt can be pretty high in carbs, but this brand is the lowest I’ve found.
- Canned whipped cream + sugar free jelly. The key is to get cans of catering whipped cream (I get mine from Costco), which doesn’t have any sugar added. Combined with Jelly it tastes a bit like trifle.
- Dessert Cream. This stuff is amazing. It’s pretty much the best part of cheesecake, and I stop after eating 2 tbps of it because it’s so rich. I use philly cream cheese, vanilla bean paste, more butter and a little more cream than the recipe calls for to get it to the right consistency.
- Maple Pecan tart. Most Aus supermarkets stock a sugar-free maple syrup which I use in it.
- Buttery walnat slice. I basically start making the tart above, but instead just mix walnuts with the butter & erythritol mixture and pour that into a tray (without a base) to set in the fridge.
- Cappuccinos with Almond Milk. These can be a gamble though, as Almond milk has a lower burning point to normal milk, and like 50% of the cafes I’ve been to aren’t aware of this.
- Tea with Almond Milk or Cream.
- Smokehouse Almonds. These taste like bacon.
- Peanut butter cookies made with sweetener and almond coconut flour.
- Quest bars. My favourites are Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Brownie.
- Bare Bars (although I’ve stopped eating these now as they have a type of fibre in them that doesn’t agree with my gut biome).
- Atkins Lift bars. These are new, and not maltitol sweetened like the other Atkins branded bars. They’re pretty much like quest bars.
- McDonalds Double quarter pounders with bacon, and I just take the bun off (make sure you’ve got napkins, it gets messy). Here in Aus you can get custom-made burgers using lettuce wraps instead of bread, but they cost significantly more.
- Grill’d - They offer a low-carb (oopsie bread) bun, so I just get anything that looks low carb with that bun.
- Thrive - These guys make great bulletproof/mountain coffee. They offer keto food too, but I haven’t had the chance to eat from there yet.
- I avoid pre-made products that use not-so-natural oils, like sunflower or canola oil. Most pre-made Aoili’s/Mayonnaises are made like this. Even ones that claim they’re made with Olive oil are, but they’ve blended the Olive Oil with something like Canola (presumably to cut costs). I’m not 100% strict with this though, so I will occasionally buy them out of laziness.
- I cook only with coconut oil, cultured butter or olive oil. I’ve tried to eliminate all bad oils from my diet, although they’re still in a fair few of other the foods I eat, (like fast food) but I’m willing to tolerate them on the rare occasion.
- I avoid all trans fats. They are just terrible for you, and are being phased out now anyway.
- I try to avoid anything with maltitol. I’ve had varying results with maltitol-sweetened foods. Some of them cause weight loss stalls for me, some of them don’t.
- Lean, or “heart smart” branded meats. Chicken is probably the exception to the rule here, but I now opt for thigh or wing meat instead (and it’s cheaper too!).
- High Protien/Fat foods tend to be expensive (as to be expected from higher nutrient density), so I try to buy in bulk from places like Costco to make it more bearable.
- I will still have a normal milk cappuccino on occasion, but only when Almond milk is not an option. In these cases I usually get a smaller size, or I’ll just get a long black instead.
- I still drink diet soft drinks. Through research on pubmed and google scholar I haven’t found compelling evidence (that is, multiple clinical trials that have the same result) that sweeteners (like aspartame) are actually bad, so I’m happy drinking them for now. If you have evidence of the contrary, please send it to me.
- I sometimes will buy a maltitol-sweetened snack, like a HPLC bar, as it’s the only thing on sale at the supermarket (that’s the downside to protein bars: they’re expensive!).
- I had chocolate eggs at easter. Whilst we gave each other small amounts, the accumulative effect of all the family giving small amounts of chocolate amounted to a fair haul for us in the end. I just ate a couple a day to enjoy them, and tried to keep under 50gms of carbs a day for a couple of weeks.
Note that I only have a “meals” category. The only consistent meal I eat is dinner, the rest are very unstructured. For instance I might skip breakfast or lunch, or just eat a protein bar for one of those meals.
In addition, my lean body mass is pretty high. From using body fat percentage reference images, I estimate that it’s around 95kgs, so my daily protein limit is about 150gms. This is why I don’t care about eating low-carb protein bars, as I have to eat quite a lot of protein to go over. If your lean body mass is lower, then you may need to be more careful about how much you’re eating.
There are some great keto recipe and food guides on the net. If I’m looking for something new, then these are usually where I go for ideas:
- Low-carb Foods - The Complete List
- 2 Keto Dudes Recipe List
- Caveman Keto
- The Diet Doctor Recipes
- Ketogenic Forums
Seriously, keto is boring if you just eat bacon and eggs. It’s not hard to make it way more exciting, and after a couple of months you’ll stop caring about pasta/rice/potato/etc.
The internet is riddled with fantastic information and communities for Keto, which is where I get all of my information from. These are the my main sources of info. A few of these sites have paid offerings, but the free content they offer is enough to get started (I personally haven’t paid for anything, just food):
- Ketogenic Forums
- Diet Doctor
- Butter Bob
- Intensive Dietary Management
- Found My Fitness
- Chris Kresser
- 2 Keto Dudes
Be wary of information you read on the internet though. People and organisations will happily make claims about what is and isn’t healthy (especially on Reddit or News sites) but not back up their claims with any quality science. If they do happen to refer to a study, they’ll most often be referring to a study that is only associative, or funded by someone with an agenda. It’s best to do your own research, but make sure it’s not crappy science and check who funded it.