When you’re just starting a ketogenic diet, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the best foods for weight loss versus those that will help you score muscle gains.
Although all keto-friendly foods will help you stay in ketosis and get all the benefits of the keto diet, some of them are on the higher end of fat and calories.
These healthy fats are awesome for your body and will keep you feeling full for hours. But if you’re serious about weight loss, it is important to keep your eye on calorie intake.
So in this guide, you’ll learn how to spot the best foods for weight loss and discover 12 options to add to your shopping list. You’ll also find links to the yummiest keto recipes using these choices.
The best foods for weight loss share a few traits in common. When you’re at the grocery store or a restaurant, try to look for:
High-Fiber Fruits, Veggies, and Seeds
Most people aren’t getting enough fiber, especially keto dieters. While traditional fiber choices often include whole grains, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, and legumes, these are typically too high in carbohydrates for a ketogenic diet. The same goes for veggies that grow below ground (like potatoes and sweet potatoes).
However, fiber is your friend. It’s connected to better heart health and lower blood sugar levels. And meeting your fiber goal promotes regular bowel movements, which can help move the scale in your favor[*].
Fiber is also a natural appetite suppressant. It takes longer for your body to digest, which means it stays in your stomach longer and keeps you feeling full[*]. This may prevent snacking and overeating so you can stay within your daily calorie range.
Men should aim for 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day, and women should shoot for 21 to 25 grams per day (depending on age)[*]. You can easily meet your needs with some of the high-fiber, low-carb fruits, veggies, and seeds on today’s list.
Protein may be the most important food group when you’re losing weight. So even though you may be paying more attention to your daily card intake, it’s essential to figure out how much protein you need on a keto diet. If you don’t eat enough protein, you may feel weak and hungry all the time, causing you to crave more calories.
You could also lose muscle mass going low protein, which is the last thing you want[*]. Muscle not only burns more calories at rest, but it also helps your body look toned, so your weight loss wins really pop.
Researchers had 27 overweight/obese men eat 750 calories below their daily energy needs for 12 weeks. They split participants into two groups: one that consumed higher protein (25% of their calories) and another that consumed a “normal” protein diet (14% of their calories).
The higher protein group experienced greater fullness throughout the day and lower late-night desires to eat[*].
While lean protein options may add fewer calories to your daily intake, don’t be scared of red meat or fatty fish like sardines and tuna. Switching to a keto diet means your body will be burning fat for fuel, so these staples may aid in your fight against obesity all the same.
High Water Content
You have to drink more water on a keto diet because your body doesn’t store as much of it when you ditch carbs. But water can also support your weight loss goals.
In one study of 84 obese participants, half were asked to drink 500 milliliters (~ two cups) of water 30 minutes before their main meals while the other group skipped it. The water preloading group lost 1.2 kilograms (~2.6 pounds) more than those who didn’t[*].
Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually just thirsty. So, in addition to drinking more H20, you can also include water-rich fruits, veggies, and low-calorie beverages in your diet to stave off those hunger pangs.
12 Best Foods for Weight Loss on a Ketogenic Diet
Fill up on the best foods for weight loss, and you may eat fewer foods that cause weight gain. These foods fit into a lower calorie eating plan and still fill you up, so you can power through your fasts, melt away pounds, and reach a healthy weight sooner:
Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in your refrigerator and one of the best for reaching your weight loss goals. They keep you satiated and take almost no time to make. One large egg contains 6.26 grams of protein, 4.74 grams of fat, and less than half a carb[*].
In one small study, researchers gave 21 men an egg breakfast or a bagel. They noticed those who ate the eggs consumed fewer calories at lunch and over 24 hours than those who ate the bagel[*]. So you may want to start your day with a few eggs or consider breaking your fast with them to keep your calories in check.
Try this spicy keto deviled egg recipe to combine eggs and calorie-torching capsaicin (more on this next!).
Ever hear of the Master Cleanse? This fad juice fast required dieters to mix and drink freshly squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.
One of the reasons this became so popular was because scientists say the capsaicin found in spicy peppers (i.e., the compound responsible for the heat) can help you lose weight.
Studies show it can induce satiety, lower your desire to snack between meals, and reduce your intake of calories during the day[*][*]. Researchers also learned spicy red peppers might boost your metabolism, so you can burn more calories[*].
Cayenne, green and red chili, and tabasco peppers contain high amounts of capsaicin, while sweet peppers contain around 25% less. Try a mix of both as sweet peppers deliver more vitamin C than high-carb citrus fruits like grapefruit or oranges.
This spicy ginger salmon buddha bowl pairs spicy red pepper flakes with the next amazing food for weight loss (and tastes way better than takeout!).
Salmon is bursting with essential omega-3 fatty acids and protein. A three-ounce filet contains almost 22 grams of protein and 6.91 grams of healthy fat for just 155 calories and zero carbs[*].
Besides filling you up, protein can also help increase leptin sensitivity[*]. This hormone regulates your feelings of satiety, so you may feel fuller quicker and longer, which is great for keeping your calories in check.
In one study, 324 participants were assigned to one of four diets: one without seafood, one with lean seafood (such as cod), one with fatty fish (like salmon), and one including fish oil. After four weeks, men who ate lean or fatty fish lost approximately 2.2 pounds more than those skipping the seafood[*].
Try this refreshing smoked salmon keto avocado toast recipe to take advantage of the protein and healthy fats found in both star ingredients.
Avocado is the king of keto fruits (yes, it’s a fruit!). Unlike other lower-carb fruits such as blueberries or raspberries, avocados contain less than half a gram of sugar. But the real secret to this superfood’s weight loss benefits come from the healthy, satiating fats and its ultra-filling fiber.
According to one study, eating just half a Hass avocado during lunch increased satisfaction by 26%. It also decreased participants’ desire to eat by 40% three hours later[*].
Need a new way to enjoy this superfood? Check out the top 40 keto avocado recipes that go way beyond toast next!
Ok, so you definitely shouldn’t drink apple cider vinegar straight (it’s way too acidic). However, there are several science-backed reasons to add it to your meals and beverages, as we spotlighted in this guide.
One of the best reasons? Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a natural appetite suppressant. Research on apple cider vinegar for weight loss highlights its ability to increase satiety and combat sugar cravings:
When obese Japanese participants in one study drank either ACV or a placebo for 12 weeks, those drinking the ACV lost more body weight and belly fat than those who didn’t. They also lowered their BMI and waist size[*].
In another study, participants were asked to eat 250 fewer calories per day and given either ACV or a placebo for three months. While all participants lost weight, the ACV group lost more and reported lower appetite scores[*].
For this study, researchers served 12 healthy subjects different amounts of ACV with a portion of white bread (which raises blood sugar) after an overnight fast.
Those consuming more ACV had lower blood sugar levels and more satiety than those who consumed the least. Researchers believed the ACV helped regulate blood sugar and insulin spikes, which may result in fewer sugar cravings and energy dips that lead to higher cravings for carbs[*].
For a quick meal combining ACV, capsaicin-rich chili paste, and our next fave food, get on this weeknight keto cashew chicken recipe.
Despite eating plans like DASH or the Mediterranean diet promoting nuts to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease, all nuts are not created equally on a ketogenic diet[*].
The best keto nuts — pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts — are all bursting with healthy monounsaturated fats, pack a bit of protein, and are low in net carbs. Perfect on-the-go snack? We think so.
Researchers say nut consumption is associated with lower BMI, body weight, and belly fat compared with nonconsumers[*].
While almonds are slighter higher in net carbs than keto nuts, they still make a fantastic addition to weight loss diets.
During a study of 65 overweight and obese adults following a lower calorie diet, adding almonds instead of complex carbs resulted in a 62% greater reduction in weight/BMI, a 50% greater decrease in waist circumference, and higher ketone levels in just 24 weeks[*].
Just make sure to watch your portion sizes with nuts and nut butters, as you can quickly rack up calories and tip over your deficit goals.
Treat yourself to this recipe for scrumptious and nutritious keto nut butter cookies!
Dark and leafy greens are some of the best vegetables to eat on a keto diet because they’re so low in carbs, sugar, and calories. Plus, leafy greens are incredibly filling, thanks to their high water content. This helps you add volume to your meals without overdoing it on fat, carbs, or calories, which may allow you to go longer between eating.
Add a handful of greens to your smoothies, use them as a bed of salad for your main protein, or snack on them guilt-free between meals. The net carbs in 100 grams of these greens won’t burst your daily macro goals:
- Watercress 0.79 grams
- Butterhead lettuce 1.10 grams
- Romaine 1.19 grams
- Collard greens 1.40 grams
- Spinach 1.43 grams
- Arugula 2.05 grams
- Swiss chard 2.14 grams
- Alfalfa sprouts 3.78 grams
- Broccoli 4.01 grams
- Brussels sprouts 5.20 grams
Add more fiber, filling fats, and potassium to your day with our creamy keto spinach artichoke dip recipe.
Crunching on celery delivers a myriad of health benefits and antioxidants[*]. One medium stalk of this practically zero calorie, zero carb food contains 96% water, which will help you feel fuller longer and aid in hydration[*]. Crunching on celery can also keep emotional snacking of sweets at bay when you’re stressed[*].
If you’re struggling with constipation on keto, you may notice weight gains/stalls from not being able to get rid of what you’re eating. Celery’s fibrous nature remains relatively intact, providing roughage to clean out your gastrointestinal system. More bowel movements may lead to more scale victories.
Adding nut butter to a few celery stalks makes a killer keto snack for weight loss.
Whether your yogurt of choice is Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt, or French, make sure it’s high-protein, full-fat, and low in sugar. Skip the low-fat yogurt; it typically contains more added sugar and fillers to make up for the healthy fats removed during processing.
Yogurt makes a wise choice for weight loss because you’ll find high-quality protein (20% whey protein and 80% casein protein), which may help preserve and build lean muscle mass. It can also increase feelings of satiety[*].
During a study of 32 obese adults, researchers noticed those following a high-calcium diet or a high-dairy diet lost more body weight and body fat than those following a standard diet[*].
You may be more familiar with whey protein shakes for muscle gains, but is whey protein good for you if you want to lose weight? Absolutely!
One of the major benefits of whey protein is that it’s a complete protein source. This means it contains all nine essential amino acids, which your body cannot produce on its own[*]. It also adds branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to your diet. These all-stars assist in both muscle building and recovery[*].
So what does this have to do with weight loss?
If you’re slashing carbs and exercising, you may lose muscle mass instead of fat. But whey supplementation combined with a keto diet can ensure your body burns off stored fat instead. You’ll achieve a more toned physique, and the results of your weight loss will be much more noticeable.
In a meta-review of 13 studies, researchers noticed that participants supplementing with whey had more lean body mass (as opposed to fat) than those who didn’t[*].
And in a study of 25 people, participants were given a low-calorie or keto diet with whey. While whey in the low-calorie group helped participants lose weight, the keto whey group lost more weight and maintained their muscle mass (because muscle burns more calories)[*].
When comparing your options, opt for grass-fed whey since it boasts more nutritional benefits and supports sustainable farming practices.
Though they may be small, these seeds are mighty. Here’s why:
Chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber on a keto diet. A one-ounce serving contains 9.75 grams of fiber and almost five grams of satiating protein[*]. What’s magical about chia seeds is that they absorb over ten times their weight in water[*].
When you soak chia seeds, they turn into a jelly-like substance that boosts feelings of fullness and helps move along digestion. You’ll likely eat less and feel the urge to snack less often. Add them to smoothies or yogurt, or make guilt-free chia pudding.
Sesame seeds and flax seeds contain a specific plant compound known as lignans. In one study, researchers observed that women who consumed high levels of lignans tended to weigh less and gain less weight over time than those who skipped them[*].
Hemp seeds are a keto dieter’s secret weapon. You can throw back a handful of these nutty seeds pre- or post-workout, pack some for a quick snack, or add them to your fave recipes. A three-tablespoon serving delivers 10 grams of protein, 13 grams of beneficial fats, and 45% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium[*].
But the cherry on top? The fiber in hemp seeds nets out all or most of the carbs. So you get all the above perks without eating into your carb intake for the day.
Fatty acids known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) come from coconut oil. Your liver absorbs and quickly processes MCTs, so they get converted to ketones (i.e., fat-based energy) faster than other types of fats.
When it comes to MCT oil for weight loss, it can increase satiety and feelings of fullness, so it’s easier to fast and stick to your calorie goals[*][*]. They may also boost your metabolism to help you torch more calories[*].
When eight healthy, young men added just 10 grams of MCTs to their breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one study, scientists noticed they burned more calories during the day[*]. And participants in another study lost more body weight, fat mass, and belly fat consuming MCT oil than those consuming olive oil[*].
Check out this guide on how to use MCT oil (including 9 recipes) next!
These 12 healthy foods pull double-duty as the 12 best foods for weight loss on a ketogenic diet. Add them to your healthy eating plan, and they’ll help you feel satiated despite limiting your daily calories.
If you’ve ever felt starved on other diets, the filling fats, protein, and water in this healthy dozen will help you banish carb cravings, so it’s easier to score scale victories and reach your weight loss goals.
Try out a few of the keto recipes we shared today, and you may find a keto diet easier to stick to — especially when you notice more fat loss and muscle gains in the mirror.