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The Keto Food Pyramid: What To Eat And Avoid

Published January 16, 2019 (Revised: July 08, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>Remember when you were in kindergarten, or maybe even first grade and your teacher showed you a funny looking triangle with all of the food groups? For many of us this was our first time hearing terms like, food groups, nutrition, Standard American diet and so on. However, the Standard American Diet is built on the idea of consuming high carb foods and promotes an unbalanced diet.</p> <p>In today’s world, new diet approaches are increasing in popularity and making us question if the standard American way is really the best option….</p> <p>Take the ketogenic diet (“keto”), for example. Keto, a low carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein nutritional approach, is much different than the “Standard American Diet” (SAD) approach to eating.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll break down how the keto food pyramid works. This way, when you dive in, you’ll be more informed about how you should eat if you want to achieve your health goals.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is a Food Pyramid?</header> <p>Before we dive into the specifics of the keto food pyramid, let’s cover some bases. The first question is:</p> <p><i>What is a food pyramid, and where does the term come from?</i> </p> <p>You’ve most likely heard the term before but may not know exactly what it’s there for or where it came from. Basically, the original food pyramid was designed to make healthy eating easier.</p> <p>Foods in the food pyramid are categorized together into particular categories like “fruits and vegetables” or “meats and poultry.” While items in each category still have differences, they are largely similar. For example, a lean piece of chicken may have more fat in it than a pork chop. But they are both considered meats, not fat’s.</p> <p>By categorizing foods in a pyramid, the triangular shape offers a visual representation of how one might proportion out their food choices from what they should consume most of, to what they should consume the least of. </p> <p>Here’s where you can see the original <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Food Pyramid</a>. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="pyramids-egypt"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Ketogenic Diet</header> <p>If you’ve been around <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a> for a while, you know that we promote this low-carb diet approach called the ketogenic diet or <i>keto</i> (along with many other tools used by our community) to help people lose weight and transform their bodies.</p> <p>So <i>what is the keto diet</i>? It’s a low-carb nutritional approach where only about 5 percent (approximately fifty grams or 20 grams of net carbs) of your daily calories come from carbs. Keeping your total carbs this low allows your body to enter a state of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ketosis</a>, where your body begins producing ketones, allowing <i>fat</i> to be used as the primary fuel source for your brain, muscles, and everything else.</p> <p>On the keto diet, you fuel your body with high quality fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, green veggies, and lean meats. About 70 percent of your daily calories come from fat, with the remaining 25 percent (give or take) from quality protein sources. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="vegetables-in-market-for-sale"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Keto Diet Food Pyramid</header> <p>Okay, so we’ve looked at the Standard American Diet (with the ironic acronym ‘SAD’) and, we’ve reviewed the ketogenic diet. So, <i>what’s the keto diet food pyramid look like?</i></p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="keto-food-pyramid"> </picture> <p>In this section, we’ll break the keto food pyramid into two separate “tiers.” In the first tier, you’ll find the food groups that make up the majority of the ketogenic diet. In tier two, you’ll see some other keto-friendly foods that help keep your eating habits diverse and enjoyable.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Tier One</header> <div class="sub-head">1. High-Quality Fat Sources</div> <p>It’s probably not a surprise to see that high-quality fats like avocados, butter, ghee, olive oil, and coconut oil make up the base of the diet. After all, you need some way to make up the calories you’re not taking in from carbohydrates!</p> <p>Some of the best healthy fat sources include: </p> <div class="row"> <div class="column"> <ul> <li>Grass-fed butter or <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ghee</a></li> <li>Full fat dairy products</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">MCT oil</a></li> <li>Macadamia nuts</li> <li>Avocados</li> <li>Olive oil</li> <li>Fish and krill oil</li> <li>Fatty cuts of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">grass-fed</a> beef and red meat</li> <li>Fatty fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel</li> </ul> </div> <div class="column"> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Coconut oil</a></li> <li>Pumpkin seeds</li> <li>Chia seeds</li> <li>Flax seeds</li> </ul> </div> </div> <p>Add these to your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto grocery list</a>, and remember to keep it simple. Cook with quality oils and put them on your salads. Toss avocado in your salad. Eat some nuts and seeds, but make sure you're consuming small amounts. On the whole, stop fearing fat, because on keto, fat is your best friend. </p> <div class="sub-head">2. Protein</div> <p>Next on the keto diet food pyramid is protein. About 25 percent of your daily calorie intake will come from protein, which is roughly 125 grams of protein. Although protein is essential on the keto diet, you’ll want to be mindful of the amounts of protein you are consuming. Calculating your macros<sup>3</sup> will help you know exactly how many grams to consume each day.</p> <p>You’ll want to create some diversity with your protein sources and try to focus on lean protein most of the time.</p> <p>Here are some of our favorites:</p> <div class="row"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5"> <ul> <li>Shrimp</li> <li>Scallops</li> <li>Cod</li> <li>Clams</li> <li>Crab</li> <li>Mussels</li> <li>Lobster</li> <li>Chicken</li> </ul> </div> <div class="column"> <ul> <li>Halibut</li> <li>Mahi</li> <li>Oysters</li> <li>Salmon</li> <li>Eggs</li> </ul> </div> </div> <p>Now you may be asking yourself, “I thought I could eat steak on keto?” Don't worry, fatty cuts of meat are equally as important on a keto diet, and bring with them a wealth of nutrients that keep us healthy and thriving. However, these shouldn’t be your everyday go-to’s.</p> <p>When you are looking for fattier cuts always make sure they are grass fed and organic when possible.</p> <p>Some great options are:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Steak</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Lamb</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Organ meat</a> (hearts, liver, tongue and kidney)</li> <li>Pork</li> </ul> <p>Pop over to our keto <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">recipes section</a> to take a look at some of the tasty, keto-approved protein dishes we’ve come up with to help you succeed on the keto diet.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="vegetables-in-basket"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">3. Low-Carb Vegetables</div> <p><i>“Whoa,” you’re thinking. “Vegetables are third on the list? The ketogenic diet must not be that healthy after all!”</i></p> <p>True, vegetables don’t “make up” the bulk of the diet like the other food models you may see. But there’s a reason for that, and it’s probably not what you think.</p> <p>The truth is, keto dieters should eat a <i>lot</i> of vegetables―like at most, if not all, meals. The nutritional and health benefits of vegetables are tremendous. Any healthy diet is going to incorporate a variety of veggies to give you a substantial dose of the various <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">micronutrients</a> found in them. Weight loss or not, a healthy body is one that gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. And that’s easily achieved when you eat a diet full of vegetables.</p> <p>But if you’re eating vegetables at every meal, why aren’t they the base of the diet?</p> <p>Well, that comes down to calories. Keep in mind that vegetables, especially low-carb veggies like spinach and kale, are quite low in calories. 100 grams (about three cups) of spinach is only twenty three calories <sup>1</sup>. </p> <p>When choosing vegetable focus on green leafy veggies that have a low carb count and are high in fiber. Vegetables are a staple of the ketogenic diet, but calorically speaking, they pale in comparison to fats and proteins.</p> <div class="sub-head">Are There Vegetables I Shouldn’t Eat?</div> <p>While the micronutrients in most vegetables alone give us reason to say “Absolutely not!”, there is some truth in the fact that on the ketogenic diet, not all vegetables are created equal.</p> <p>Root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes) are packed with nutrients and are quite healthy. However, they also contain a lot more carbohydrates than things like broccoli or kale.</p> <p>We’re not saying don’t eat veggies by any means, but remember the goal of ketosis is to stay in ketosis until your cheat day. Some veggies may make that harder to do than others.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Tier Two</header> <p>We’re entering a separate territory in this section. These foods are keto-approved and technically make it onto the keto food pyramid. But they wouldn’t necessarily be great staples for your diet. Keep that in mind.</p> <div class="sub-head">4. Berries</div> <p>Due to the vitamin and mineral contents of most fruits, we shouldn’t feel the need to ostracize apples or consider them unhealthy. But based on the goals of the ketogenic diet, which is to achieve ketosis, most fruits are off limits or must be consumed sparingly.</p> <p>If you were going to eat one type of fruit on the keto diet, choose berries.</p> <p>Berries, like blueberries, are nutritional powerhouses. They also make the list of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto superfoods</a>. Don’t eat two cases of them, but don’t feel bad about having something sweet and nutritionally dense for your carb intake on occasion.</p> <div class="sub-head">5. Fermented Foods</div> <p>Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and low-carb probiotic drinks like kombucha offer a host of benefits<sup>1</sup>. More and more, science shows us that a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">healthy gut</a> equals a healthy human. Fermented foods go a long way towards helping us stay healthy by regulating digestion, improving the absorption of key micronutrients, and restoring good bacteria in our guts.</p> <div class="sub-head">6. Natural Sweeteners</div> <p>We’ll keep this section brief, if only to mirror how <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sweeteners</a> should be added to your keto diet. There are a few natural sweeteners out there, like stevia and monk fruit, that do not impact blood sugar. In theory, you can consume them on occasion and stay in ketosis.</p> <p>All in all, you should try to avoid anything that is going to cause your body to start running on glucose again. Stick to wholesome ingredients and tasty keto recipes with tier one foods. Natural sweeteners can have a place in your diet, but it should be a small one.</p> <div class="sub-head">Quality Matters</div> <p>When we deep dive into the keto food pyramid, you’ll notice that all of the foods listed are natural, unprocessed, wholesome foods. At Warrior Made we continually encourage our tribe members to focus on the quality of food they are buying. When shopping keep an eye out for these things: </p> <ul> <li>Grass-Fed</li> <ul><li>Grass-fed applies to things like meat and dairy. Grass-fed dairy has shown to contain more omega 3 fatty acids <sup>2</sup> and antioxidants. </li></ul> <li>Organic</li> <ul><li>When in doubt choose <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">organic</a>! Pesticides and antibiotics are commonly found in conventionally grown food <sup>1</sup> so choosing organic will ensure you are keeping yourself safe from the dangerous impact pesticides and antibiotics have on your health. </li></ul> <li>Unrefined</li> <ul><li>Refined vs Unrefined is simply referring to how something is processed. At Warrior Made we like to consume things that have been as minimally processed as possible, so we try to stick to unrefined products when we can.</li> </ul> <li>Pasture raised & Free range</li> <ul><li>Animals were meant to live in natural open environments…. Period.</li></ul> </ul> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Putting It All Together</header> <p>The keto food pyramid, like any food model or diagram, is designed to help you better understand how to make smart choices about your healthy eating. While a model is a useful representation it’s important to note that whatever diet you choose is only half the battle. Healthy living is a lifestyle that is achieved through both diet and exercise.</p> <p>If you decide to dive into the ketogenic diet, you’ll find certain foods you like, how to use macros that work for you and your health goals, and keto recipes you can’t live without. Experience, ultimately, trumps any diagram. Use the keto food pyramid to inform your early choices as you gain that experience. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to incorporate the keto food pyramid in your meal plans pop over to our recipe section for tasty, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto-approved meals</a>. From <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto pancakes</a> to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">buffalo chicken salad</a> to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">beef and cabbage stir fry</a>, we’ve got you covered with healthy, wholesome food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources:</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in milk</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Keto Calculator: The Easy Ketogenic Macro Calculator</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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