You probably learned about the food pyramid in elementary school: that ranking of the ideal servings of the basic food groups one should eat each day. The government no longer uses it, but the idea still holds a big place in many people’s minds, making the keto food pyramid very important! The visual hierarchy adapts to the regimen you’ll have to follow to reach ketosis, with the widest part reserved for healthy fats.
The Base: Healthy Fats
The widest part of the keto food pyramid belongs to healthy fats. These will be the “foundation” of your ketogenic diet, much like in the pyramid! Ghee, grass-fed butter, tallow, lard, bone marrow and broth, extra virgin olive oil, cod liver oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, and MCT oil are all excellent bases for cooking and baking. They will provide you with an energy source your liver can use to replace carbohydrates.
We say “healthy fats” because many dieters believe they should avoid fat like the plague. While some fats are bad, there are many more essential options for healthy living: they help your body function properly, improve heart health, and give your body much-needed vitamin K2. Instead of avoiding fats that like butter and tallow, use these nutrient-dense foods to your dieting advantage!
The Second Level: Proteins
It’s important to forget what you learned about the food pyramid in grade school, as it had a whopping 3 – 5 servings of bread, potatoes, and other grains and starches on the second level. There’s no bread in our keto version; rather, the second level is for protein like meat, eggs, and fish. Fatty fish like salmon and cod, seafood like shrimp, certain chicken cuts like thighs and wings, grass-fed beef, pork, and eggs have acceptable levels of protein. Remember, the fattier, the better!
The Third Level: High Fiber, Low Starch Vegetables
Vegetables don’t lose their importance in the keto food pyramid; they provide the nutrients you need for overall health. However, you’ll want to keep them as non-starchy as possible when on the keto diet. The vitamins and minerals you need might differ from another person, so factor in any unique health concerns.
The Fourth Level: Nuts, Seeds, And Full-Fat Cheeses
The pyramid’s getting skinnier as we move towards the top, but there’s still plenty of room for fatty nuts, seeds, and cheese! Pecans, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and seeds make ideal snacks between meals, keeping you full with small quantities. Any dairy you eat should be full-fat with almost no carbs; if cheese isn’t your thing, consider full-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt.
The Very Top: Berries And Low-Sugar Fruits
Adding some variety to snack time, low-sugar fruits are excellent in small quantities. On top of the avocado we’ve already mentioned, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and coconut are filled with micronutrients. Be aware that fruit can spike your blood sugar levels, which can throw you off ketosis – which is why they are at the very top of our pyramid!
Drinks On The Side
We haven’t forgotten beverages, and you shouldn’t forget to drink plenty of water! Your body will need it as it sheds water in the fat stores. If that sounds boring, perk it up with some lemon or berries. Most diet drinks are also keto-friendly and should help you move past your sugary pop cravings. Whole milk, coffee (blend in some ghee and MCT oil for a keto kick), and tea are also acceptable.