There are lots of diets you can use to help you lose weight and burn fat. Most of them work through calorie restriction. By eating less, you force your body to burn more fat for fuel. Calories restriction can be useful, but invariably it leads to hunger, and hunger can undermine your willpower, making your diet harder to stick to.
In contrast, the ketogenic diet limits your consumption of carbohydrates. With no carbs for energy, your body uses more fat for fuel. However, it can’t use fat for all essential functions, so your body turns some fat into a substance called ketones. It then uses these ketones in place of carbs.
The process of turning fat into ketones is not very efficient, and it takes a lot of fat to make just a few ketones. This enhances weight loss. Also, eating fewer carbohydrates means eating more protein and fat, both of which are very filling. With less hunger to contend with, you’ll find sticking to your new diet much easier.
While ketosis will happen naturally when you eliminate carbs from your diet, and there are supplements that contain exogenous ketones, there are also foods that increase ketones. More ketones mean more energy, as well as faster fat loss.
In this article, we reveal some of the best ketosis-boosting foods. Please note that NO foods contain ketones. However, some foods can help your body produce more ketones naturally.
Foods That Increase Ketones
Fats & Oils
Your body makes ketones from fat, both body fat and dietary fats. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet for this reason. Almost all fats and oils are beneficial on the ketogenic diet, including butter, olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, and foods that are high in fat, such as red meat and oily fish.
However, one type of fat that is especially useful on keto is medium-chain triglycerides or MCT for short. MCT is a special kind of fat that is processed by the liver and turned very quickly into ketones.
Foods that contain an abundance of MCT include:
- Coconut oil (60% MCT)
- Palm oil (50% MCT)
- Full-fat dairy products (10-12% MCT)
There are also MCT oil supplements you can use to increase ketone production.
Low Carb Fruits & Veggies
A lot of people mistakenly believe that, on the low carb keto diet, foods like fruits and veggies are off the menu. While it’s true that you CAN’T eat potatoes, bananas, and other high carb plant foods and stay in ketosis, there are lots of very low carb fruits and vegetables that are very compatible with keto.
Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in abundance for their high vitamin, mineral, and fiber content. You need these substances to stay healthy. Not eating fruits and veggies, even if it is in the name of weight loss, could harm your health.
The best low-carb veggies and fruits for the keto diet include:
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
Proteins are the second most important food group on the ketogenic diet, with the first being fat. Protein is a vital food group because it helps preserve your muscle mass and your metabolic rate. It’s also satiating and boosts your metabolism. Most keto meals should contain a source of protein.
There are lots of high protein foods you can eat on keto, but some are better than others. Some, like deli meats, sausages, bacon, and other processed foods, are high in nitrates, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients. While you can eat these foods from time to time, they should not be keto diet staples.
Instead, most of your protein should come from healthy sources, such as:
- Free-range poultry and eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Wild game
- Line-caught and non-farmed fish
- Organic nuts and seeds
As a rule, the less processed a protein food is, the better it is for you, and the more helpful it will be on the keto diet and for weight loss.
Providing you have no lactose issues, dairy is a good food source on keto. It’s high in protein, usually contains fat, provides calcium and vitamin D, and tastes good too.
As a rule, you should choose high-fat dairy foods and skip reduced-fat products, as they tend to be higher in carbs and sugar. Good options include:
- Full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Whole milk
However, look out for hidden sugars, as some dairy foods are high in carbs. Read the nutrition label before eating.
Check out our delicious keto chocolate milk recipe here.
Keto means giving up most sweets. Sweets like candy and cake contain lots of carbs and sugar, and even a small serving will quickly kick you out of ketosis. Unfortunately, a lot of keto dieters find giving up sweets very difficult.
The good news is that you can tame your sweet cravings with chocolate. We’re not talking things like Mars Bars or Hershey’s here, but dark, low sugar chocolate that contains 70% cocoa solids.
Dark chocolate has a rich flavor, and a little goes a long way. Just an ounce is enough to satisfy most cravings and won’t derail your ketogenic diet. Dark chocolate can be a little bitter for some people’s taste, but some varieties are sweetened with stevia and other non-sugar sweeteners.
There are a few supplements that can be useful during a keto diet. While they are not a replacement for healthy keto foods, some well-chosen supplements can help plug any nutritional gaps in your diet. Useful keto supplements include:
Protein powder – a good low-carb keto-friendly protein powder can make it much easier to get enough of this critical nutrient. There are many varieties to choose from, including whey, casein, beef isolate, soy, hemp, and other plant-based proteins. Check the nutrition label and avoid protein powders with more than a few grams of carbs per serving.
MCT oil powder – while foods like coconut oil and some dairy foods contain keto-boosting MCT, there are also supplements you can use. MCT oil powder is very easy to use, and you can add it to almost anything to increase your intake of these keto-friendly fats.
Multivitamins and minerals – the keto diet SHOULD be a healthy diet but eliminating certain food groups can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Avoid shortfalls in your vitamin and mineral consumption by taking a simple multivitamin and mineral supplement. Think of this as a form of insurance; you hope you won’t need it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you do!
Exogenous ketones – a sure-fire way to increase your ketone levels is to use an exogenous ketone supplement. Exogenous ketones are simply ketones from an external source. Using exogenous ketone supplements can help you get into ketosis faster, reduce the severity and duration of any keto flu symptoms, fight off hunger, and speed up fat burning and weight loss. They’re also a source of carb and sugar-free energy.
Pre-workouts – pre-workouts give you energy for exercise. When you start keto, you may find that your energy levels take a dip, making working out much less appealing. A pre-workout can help motivate you to get back in the gym, speeding up weight loss in the process.
The Ketogenic diet is arguably one of the best diets around, and most newbie ketogenic dieters lose as much as ten pounds in the first two weeks alone. While a lot of this IS water weight, it’s a sign of things to come, and fat loss soon follows.
However, unlike almost every other diet, you don’t just eat less on keto; it’s what you eat that matters most. Even a small serving of carbs could put you out of ketosis, undoing the benefits of this popular diet and setting you back several weeks. After all, it can take anywhere from 3-5 days to two weeks to achieve nutritional ketosis.
Getting and staying in ketosis means making significant changes to your diet. Bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and potatoes are off the menu, and so are most processed foods and sweets. There are also a few fruits and veggies that are unsuitable for keto.
However, while there are several things you can’t eat on keto, there are LOTS of foods you CAN eat. There is no need to go hungry or suffer cravings on keto!
In fact, keto-friendly meals can be every bit as tasty and healthy as the foods you have to give up. And they’ll help you lose weight too. Contrary to popular opinion, keto is not all meat and salad, you can even have Chinese food!
Build your ketogenic diet around the foods outlined in this article, and you’ll soon be on your way to fast and easy weight loss.