So you’re thinking of going “keto”? It’s an eating style that’s growing in popularity, but there are probably fewer people subscribing to this diet tribe than it appears. Of the 36 percent of people who reported followed a specific eating plan in our 2018 IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey, only 3 percent claimed keto.
What exactly is “keto”? Briefly, it’s an abbreviated way of saying “ketogenic diet,” which is a high-fat and very-low-carbohydrate eating plan. The goal of this diet is to put your body in a state known as “ketosis,” in which its main fuel source shifts from carbs (e.g., glucose) to fats (e.g., ketones). On keto, “high-fat” means that about 55–60 percent of calories in the diet are derived from fat, and “very-low-carbohydrate” means that 5–10 percent of calories are derived from carbs—with the remainder of calories coming from protein.
Keto keeps it simple with one mantra: Veto almost all carbohydrates from your diet. Given the simplicity of this direction, it’s easy to see why someone might give it a try. However, most nutrition recommendations advise keeping fat intake lower and carbohydrate intake higher than keto’s guidelines, which is why many nutrition professionals aren’t sold on the keto life.
With a laser focus on severely restricting carbohydrates, you may be wondering how—or if—fruit gets the boot on a keto diet. After all, fruits contain sugars and are essentially carbohydrate-rich vehicles for vitamins, minerals and fiber. While some fruits are higher in carbohydrates and sugars, there are fruits that can be keto-friendly due to their high fiber-to-total-carbohydrate ratio. Dietary fibers are a type of carbohydrate, but because they aren’t efficiently digested or metabolized for fuel like other carbohydrates are, their impact on ketosis is lower.
Therefore, the keto diet doesn’t have to be fruitless, but the choices are limited. Here are a few fruits to include if you decide to go keto:
Avocado is one the most nutritionally complete fruits that you’ll find. It’s unique for a few reasons: It isn’t sweet or tart and it’s high in calories and fat (mostly monounsaturated). Because of their nutritional attributes and the fact that they have a high fiber-to-total carbohydrate ratio, avocadoes are considered a good fit for keto dieters. One medium avocado provides about:
- 218 calories
- 20 grams of total fat
- 3 grams of saturated fat
- 13.3 grams of monounsaturated fat
- 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 11.6 grams of total carbohydrate
- 9 grams of dietary fiber
- 1 gram of total sugars
- 2.7 grams of protein
Blackberries are a sweet treat with a high fiber-to-total-carbohydrate ratio. One half-cup of blackberries provides about:
- 31 calories
- 0.35 grams of total fat
- 7 grams of total carbohydrate
- 3.8 grams of dietary fiber
- 3.5 grams of total sugars
Raspberries are another sweet treat with a high fiber-to-total-carbohydrate ratio. One half-cup of raspberries contains about:
- 32 calories
- 0.4 grams of total fat
- 7.35 grams of total carbohydrate
- 4 grams of dietary fiber
- 2.7 grams of total sugars
- 0.75 gram of protein
It’s well documented that most Americans don’t eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, and the principles of the keto diet don’t seem likely to improve this fact. Keto dieters should be mindful not to eliminate entire food groups (such as fruit) and the nutrients that come along with them (e.g., fiber, potassium, magnesium), all of which have known health benefits. If you’re curious about keto or have just started it, consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in your area to make sure your diet is as healthy as it can be.
This article includes contributions from Ali Webster, PhD, RD and Alyssa Pike, RD.