35 Super Healthy Keto Foods Packed with Protein with Descriptions
With the ketogenic diet growing in popularity, many people are wondering how to follow the diet without sacrificing their favorite foods—in particular, foods that offer the most nutritional bang for their buck. Here’s your guide to the super-healthy keto foods packed with protein, and descriptions of what each food has to offer:
1. Salami or Sausage
Salami is a popular keto food that’s loaded with protein and other nutrients. “The majority of its protein comes from pork, but it also contains small amounts of beef or chicken”, says registered dietitian and chef Julee Rosso. According to one USDA study, about 20 percent of the salami sold in supermarkets are made with pork. Another advantage to making your own salami? “You can control the amount of fat and sodium you include”, Julee says.
2. Hard Cheese
The versatility of cheese is endless—and that includes hard cheeses. “Havarti is pretty versatile and can be enjoyed in many ways, from sandwiches to soups,” says registered dietitian and sports nutritionist Joy Bauer. If your favorite hard cheese isn’t keto-approved, Joy suggests asking your local grocer if they sell it or look for a similar version with lactose-free protein.
3. Nuts or Nut Butter
A handful of nut butter each day can make a big difference in your diet. “If you’re going to include nuts or nut butter in your meals, it’s best to keep them to a handful or less,” says registered dietitian and registered master chef Laura Theodore. “Otherwise, you can use the snack as a meal or reward yourself with another portion of the food.” One thing’s for sure: Nuts are super-delicious and filling! They contain a ton of vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of protein.
Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fat, and are a great source of vitamins E, K and B6. One study published in Nutrition Journal found that avocado consumption may reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Low Carb Wraps/Tortillas
“They’re a great way to pack protein and fresh veggies in, without the need for meats or carbs”, says registered dietitian Kelsey Cane. Check labels to find wraps and tortillas that have a lower carb count, such as egg wrap shells.
6. Preserved Meat or Jerky
Dried meat is one of the oldest forms of preserving food, and it is still a great source of protein. “Jerky contains protein from the meat itself, as well as from the fat that drips off to make it moist,” Joy says. This type of meat will keep for up to two years in an airtight container.
7. Keto Trail Mix
If you’re craving a crunchy snack, try making your own keto trail mix. “Mix almonds and other nuts, seeds, dried fruits and dark chocolate chips together,” Joy says. “It will be high in fat and lower in carbs.”
8. Low Carb Protein Bars
“A keto protein bar is a great way to get extra protein to keep you going and be fuel for your workout or daily activities”, says registered dietitian Lauren Bodenheimer. “It’s also very portable, works well if you’re on the go and doesn’t need to be cooked or cooled.”
9. Keto Granola Bars
“Keto bars are a great resource for those in need of a snack to get through the day”, says registered dietitian Lauren Bodenheimer. “They’re low in carbs, and high in fat, which helps you get into ketosis.” “On top of that, they’ll fill you up and keep you satisfied until your next meal”, she adds.
10. Mayo/Olive Oil/Coconut Oil Packets
These may not seem like a food, but they are—and they are a great source of healthy fats. “Olive oil, mayo and coconut oil packets can be used in cooking or as dressing,” says registered dietitian Kelsey Cane. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol and prevents the formation of blood clots—which is especially beneficial for those who are at-risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke.
11. Mct Powder or Heavy Cream Powder
These are both great on-the-go options to help you reach your daily fat goals. “Mct powder is a great addition to coffee, and heavy cream powder works well in meals when you want to add extra creaminess, such as for a casserole or shake,” says registered dietitian Kelsey Cane.
Coffee and tea are both low-carb, nutrient-dense drinks that can help you lose weight. “They’re a great way to add extra fat to your day”, Joy says. Choosing an unsweetened variety is a smart move in general, but especially if you’re sensitive to sugar. If you can handle lactose, dairy is OK on a keto diet, but be aware of the extra carbs it carries. The same goes for sugary drinks: check the label for hidden carbs. Alcohol, too, becomes a concern when you’re trying to lose weight.
What, dinner? Yep, dinner is a food group on keto! “Since dinner is the nighttime meal, you want to make sure it’s big enough to sustain you until breakfast,” says Joy. “A great keto dinner should include a large portion of healthy fats, like salmon and avocado.” She also suggests adding in some cooked veggies for bulk and fiber. The best part? You can totally make a keto dinner in advance, so you have less time stressing in the kitchen.
14. Salad Dressings and Sauces
A keto diet doesn’t need its own dressing or sauce. Just use olive oil, balsamic vinegar or another vinegar, and some seasonings—which is why you can use your favorite bottled salad dressing on the keto diet. Sandwiches, burgers, pizza and even pancakes can be dressed with a little light mayonnaise or salsa. The choice is yours. The one thing you’ll want to avoid, though, is keto salad dressings and sauces that are heavily loaded with sugar.
One of the biggest concerns with going keto is eating a diet high in fat and protein, and low in carbs. Well, that’s all wrong. “Venison is a great choice because it’s a leaner red meat that cuts out the fat,” Joy says. “Venison also provides a good amount of protein to help fuel your workout or daily life.”
16. High-Protein Cereal
Soy and almond milk are especially high in protein, and make for a great choice for a keto cereal. “For the best results, mix them with dried fruit and nuts to add flavor and sweetness,” Joy suggests. She also adds that it’s okay to enjoy those childhood cereals as they are—just ditch the sugar and your parents’ diets.
“Tempeh is made out of fermented soybeans, but it’s also a great source of protein”, says registered dietitian Lauren Bodenheimer. “A single 8” serving contains 21 grams of protein. That makes tempeh an excellent replacement for meat. For more keto-friendly protein options, try nuts and seeds, or check out these recipes:
Halibut is a white fish, so it’s a slow-burning source of protein and helps keep you fuller for longer. Halibut is very high in omega 3s, which are great for the heart and brain.
19. Almond Flour
This flour is derived from blanched almonds, making it a great source of vitamins and minerals.
20. Snacking Cheese
“Keto-friendly cheese is great because they’re rich in healthy fats and protein,” says Joy. Two of her favorite brands are Cabot’s cheddar and string cheese, which has just three grams of net carbs per serving.
“Nuts and seeds should be a big part of your keto diet if you’re not vegetarian,” says Joy. Keeping your carbs low while increasing healthy fat will help keep you satiated, too. She recommends keeping some pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia nuts on hand to enjoy with your keto diet.
Salmon is a rich source of protein, a great way to get more omega 3s, and is keto-friendly.
Eggs are one of the best foods for keto dieters, especially low carb egg beaters. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day—and it doesn’t have to be limited to just
24. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to regular yogurt, for those who can tolerate dairy. “Greek yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium,” says registered dietitian Diego Hernandez. Many brands of Greek yogurt carry the same number of carbs as regular yogurt, so be mindful of what you buy. For example, Chobani Greek Yogurt is only 1-2% fat and has 3 carbs per serving while Fage Total is 4% fat and has 19 grams of carbs per 6 oz serving.
It’s low in fat and calories, has no saturated fat, and zero grams of carbs per one-ounce serving.
Eggs are a low-carb, high protein food you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They’re also loaded with essential vitamins. Use them to add fat or protein to a satisfying keto meal. You can’t go wrong with eggs, especially the easy-to-cook scrambled variety.
An avocado can be a great way to add more fat to your ketogenic diet. At only 3 grams of net carbs, it’s also low-carb enough that you can eat it without having to worry about hitting your daily carb quota. However, because it is higher in natural fats, the calories can add up quickly if you’re not careful.
Seitan is a great meat-substitute if you’re vegetarian, low carb or just want to try something new and healthy. It’s made from soy and is completely gluten free.
These soy beans are a low-carb source of protein, fiber and iron. They’re also delicious in salads or with dipping sauce.
30. Mozzarella Cheese
This low carb cheese is a great dairy alternative when you can’t have dairy.
Almonds are a delicious, low-carb food that can be eaten anytime, anywhere. Plus, they have tons of vitamins and minerals — including magnesium, selenium and zinc.
32. Deli Turkey Meat
The deli meat is made from turkey and other meats.
33. Chia Seeds
Rich in plant-based omega 3s and fiber, chia seeds are the perfect topping for any keto-friendly berry smoothie bowl. Blend them with the rest of your ingredients or enjoy them on their own.
34. Unsweetened Peanut Butter
The only saturated fat you can consume on keto is provided by grass-fed butter (and pastured ghee), and a small amount of palm oil (which you can make for yourself from coconut oil).
35. Pumpkin Seeds
These seeds are a great source of zinc and magnesium, which are very low in carbs.
There are many options for those who want to enjoy or stick to the keto diet. The key is to know which foods you can eat in moderation and which ones are best avoided altogether. Once you understand how to make more food choices that are in line with the diet, you will find making it much easier and you’ll be able to avoid stress and any binge-eating urges.