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The Best Keto Cheat Sheets for Starting a Ketogenic Diet

By Fitoru | 31 July 2019
plate of keto pancakes with strawberry and cream

Starting a ketogenic diet can be very daunting at first, so much so that many suggest you begin with a week of moderate-carb eating to help temper the severity of keto flu symptoms. Your body has to adjust to a new energy source (ketones instead of glucose), and your mind and your habits have to adapt too. That is where keto cheat sheets come in. Ours feature some quick food lists and substitution charts you can bookmark, print out, or refer back to until you know your keto foods from A to Z and from noon til night.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, aka keto diet, is a weight-loss strategy that leads to rapid yet safe body fat loss and can help improve your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity (two risk factors for type 2 diabetes). The keto diet is based on macronutrient ratios of your caloric intake: you should aim for getting 75% of your calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and 5% or less from carbohydrates. This is how you portion out a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet.

When your net carbs go over even a little bit each day, it takes you that much longer to reach a state of ketosis, meaning more time spent with keto flu symptoms like brain fog and keto breath. Luckily we’ve created some keto cheat sheets you can refer to as you get started, in the hopes that they’ll help you reach ketosis faster.

Keto Cheat Sheet: Approved Foods

When it comes to keto-friendly meal plans, many first timers don’t know how to create keto recipes as easily as they can create a pasta dish or microwave a TV dinner

We’ll start first with the whole foods that are safe to eat on keto. For keto substitutions that may be more helpful for meal planning, skip to the next section, but if you’re hungry right now and just don’t want to slip, here’s your ketogenic diet food list.

The best keto cheat sheets.

Dairy

So many dairy products are full of healthy, natural fats, not to mention calcium. If you love cheese, you may find switching to keto an easier transition than most. Keto dairy foods include:

  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Solid cheese (mozzarella string cheese, wheels of Babybel cheese)
  • Heavy cream
  • Sour cream
  • Milk alternatives (cashew, soy, coconut, and almond milk)
  • Greek yogurt

You’ll want to avoid whipped cream and flavored yogurts because of their sugar content—just be sure to check the labels for any unwanted additives before you buy.

Meat

Here’s where your moderate protein comes in. Keto-friendly meats and animal products include:

  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Deli meats
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, goose, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Steaks and ground beef
  • Organ meats

So long as you eat your meats plain (not breaded, glazed, cured with honey or sugar, etc.), you’re good on just about any available meat.

Fruits

The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice, and the more antioxidants you’re likely to find as well. If you miss sugar while on keto, try replacing it with the natural sweetness of fresh or dried fruits.

  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries 
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Avocados (surprise—avocados are classified as a single-seeded berry)
  • Lemons and limes

Other fruits like mangoes and oranges, while not bad for you, are higher in sugar, and therefore carbs, than the others. They’re not forbidden, but keep an eye on how often you eat them.

Vegetables

Here’s where you’ll get your vitamin K while on keto.

  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Celery and cucumber
  • Greens (turnip, beet, mustard, collard, radish, and micro-greens)
  • Swiss chard
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Seaweed, herbs, and wheatgrass 

A quick rule is that dark, leafy greens are always good, while some vegetables are starchy and should be kept to a minimum (like carrots, corn, yams, potatoes, and squash).

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are full of healthy fats, and seeds are a food that humans almost never get enough of in today’s modern world. Here are the ones you should look for on keto.

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds (along with almond butter and almond flour)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamias
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts (and peanut butter)
  • Hazelnuts (and hazelnut butter)
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Sesame seeds (and tahini)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Coconuts (plus coconut oil and coconut flour)

Cashews are a little bit higher in carbs than you may prefer, but if you find them in a trail mix you don’t have to spit them out, just try not to feast on them.

Treats and Snacks

Here are some keto-friendly desserts and snacks you may not have thought of yet.

  • Pork rinds
  • Beef jerky
  • Pepperoni slices
  • Kale and spinach chips
  • Spinach and artichoke dip
  • Sugar-free puddings and Jell-O
  • Low-carb tortillas
  • Popcorn
  • Dark chocolate
  • Low-carb ice cream

Just watch out for added sugars and you can still enjoy desserts.

Keto Cheat Sheet: Meal Substitutions

Now you’ve got your list of keto-friendly foods that you can eat on the fly, but what about the foods you put on your shopping list? What if you don’t want to forage for nuts and berries all day, but instead wish to sit down and make a real keto meal plan? Well, here’s a list of keto diet foods that you can substitute in for some of the ingredients you’d otherwise have to say goodbye to.

The best keto cheat sheets.

Breakfast

Some foods stay the same for breakfast on keto, like eggs and bacon, but here are some of the replacements you can make for the carb-heavy breakfast staples.

  • Cereals and oatmeal: Flax granola, toasted nuts, chia seed pudding
  • Flavored yogurt: Coconut milk yogurt or full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Waffles and pancakes: Gluten-free buckwheat waffles and cream cheese pancakes

Lunch

Now on to lunch options for keto, with ideas for foods you can pack or buy if you’re on-the-go.

Dinner

Dinner is often the biggest meal of the day, especially for those utilizing intermittent fasting techniques. Here’s your cheat sheet for hardy keto replacements.

Dessert

To end your perfect keto day, here are the substitution tricks for dessert.

Cheaters Can Be Winners

You’re now armed with two keto food lists to help take the guesswork out of living your new keto lifestyle. Be sure to check out these tips for keto diet adherence as you begin this journey to burn fat like it’s your job, and rest assured that once you reach ketosis, your energy levels will improve and your physique will be on fire!

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STRUGGLING WITH MEAL PLANS?

We’re putting the delicious back in dieting, so that, as your body kicks into ketosis, you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing anything…not taste, not enjoyment, and certainly not fulfillment.

  • 5-10% Carbs

  • 15-25% Protein

  • 65-75% Fat

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