When compiling a ketogenic shopping list, the main question to answer should be:
“which foods bring the most nutritional benefit while making it easier to stay in ketosis?”.
Being and staying in ketosis boils down to the amount of carbohydrates consumed daily. It follows that your keto shopping list should contain as fewer carbs as possible.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Let's see how to compile this super-list...
It is all about carbs
Using carbohydrates as "filter", we can quickly rule out entire categories of foods. Bread and wheat-based products are totally off the list (pasta, pizza, focaccia, pastries, ...).
In the same way, everything sweet is off-limits. In fact, sugar is a form of carbohydrate so it should be avoided at all costs.
In just two sentences we ruled out half of the supermarket from our list. Awesome... we like it simple, don’t we :)
We are now left with a wide choice of vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats, fish.
Let's narrow it down further by using carbs on the opposite side of the spectrum.
Meat and fish contain no carbs at all. This means that any type of meat and any type of fish can be eaten without problem and can be included in our keto-approved food list.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you have to work a little harder to build your ketogenic meal and you are going to love the tool I came up with to help you choose the best foods to put on your list.
NOTE: If you are interested in reading about vegan ketogenic diet, have a look at this page.
Maximizing Food Nutrients
In the rest of this article, I assume that your main goal for eating keto (or daily fasting) is to lose the excess fat.
When you are on a diet for losing body fat, you need to eat as less as possible... that is a no brainer but we tend to forget it, especially during trips to the supermarket.
So, keeping this in mind, you should aim to maximize the nutrients you get from the small amount of food you eat. This is especially important if you are daily fasting and you are allowed to have only ONE meal per day.
Does this make sense? ...indeed it does.
When I talk about nutrients, I mean things like vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K, ...), folic acid, calcium, iron, zinc, chromium, magnesium. All these elements are vital for a good health and they should be present in the food you choose to eat.
Since we are limiting our food choices, we must make sure we pick foods that are rich in those elements.
How do we do that without going crazy consulting nutritional food facts???
Ladies and Gentlemen... say welcome to the ANDI score!
The ANDI Score
ANDI is an acronym for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. This index has been developed by Dr. Fuhrman and it is based on the very concepts that healthy foods are those bringing more nutrients per amount of calories eaten. In other words: Health equals Nutrients divided Calories ...literally translated into a mathematical formula as H = N/C.
Dr. Fuhrman classified virtually every kind of food composing a list ordered by his ANDI score.
It is worth to mention that the ANDI score is calculated based on normalized calorie content. In other words, for each food, the ANDI score compares equal amounts of calories, not weight. This ensures a fair comparison between iper-caloric foods and foods that bring along fewer calories.
So the ANDI score makes it easy to come up with a well-sorted list of super nutrient foods.
But can Dr. Fuhrman's list be our ultimate keto food list?
The answer is NO.
The problem is with carbohydrates.
Since we want to stay keto, we must keep carbs under strict control.
In a previous article on the ratio of ketogenic macronutrients, I proposed the three rules for a good balance of fats, proteins, carbs.
If you remember, rule #3 says: "daily limit of carbs to stay in ketosis is around 40g".
Now, the problem here is that on the top of Dr. Fuhrman list there are lots of vegetables, fruits, and legumes and many of those have very high content of carbs.
These pretty, colorful and nutrient foods are like poison for those like you and me who are and want to stay keto.
So how do we get rid of those unwanted items from our ideal ketogenic food list?
Introducing the SKF score
SKF is an acronym for Smart Ketogenic Fasting and I just made it up to keep it in line with the work of Dr. Fuhrman.
Nevertheless, the SKF score is a rigorous mathematical coefficient that is calculated using the ANDI score and the carbs content of each food.
If you think about it, foods with high content of carbs should move towards the bottom of the list while foods with less carb content should move to the top.
We can achieve this effect by dividing the ANDI score by the grams of NET carbs contained in the food (fibers shall not be counted as carbs).
This gives a measure of the nutrient density per gram of carbohydrate... in other words, it tells how many nutrients we are going to get for each gram of carbs we eat. On a ketogenic diet, you really want to maximize this number!
Is this enough for us to be happy with our super ketogenic shopping list?
Let's dig deeper.
If you paid attention, you remember that the ANDI score is calculated for normalized calories. This means that foods containing more fat are "penalized" from a nutritional standpoint. In fact, for the simple fact that they have more calories, they rank lower on Dr. Fuhrman's list.
But fat is totally transparent for keto dieters, therefore this discrimination for foods containing more fat should not apply.
To overcome this issue, we could simply multiply the newly calculated SKF score by the grams of fat contained in the food. However, this incautious operation would end up boosting up the list all the fatty foods with consequent loss of the nutritional properties of the list itself.
To avoid messing up the benefits of the ANDI score, I opted for using again carbs as the element of discrimination.
In fact, dividing the SKF score by grams of carbs for a second time, all foods high in fat and proteins become suddenly "preferred" to those containing more carbs.
The SKF score now looks like:
[ANDI score] / [NET carbs]2
Finally, in order to have "pretty" numbers on the bottom of the list, I multiplied the SKF score by 125.
This way, the last item on the list "french fries" gets an SKF score of 1.
SKF = 125 x [ANDI score] / [NET carbs]2
Using the List for Shopping
Dr. Fuhrnam's list of super-foods can now be sorted by SKF score and this will give us the ultimate ketogenic food list.
When you build up your menus and meals and when you pick foods for your own ketogenic shopping list, you shall pick items from the top of the list.
If you are not vegan or vegetarian, I recommend to cover your protein needs with meat and fish and use the list to integrate your meals with nutrient side dishes and condiments.
If you do not eat meat and fish, it is going to take more effort to compile a juicy meal but, there in the list, you have all the ingredients and information you need to make it happen.
Additionally, you can scout the internet for recipes and use the list as a filter to make sure you do not eat anything which does not bring nutrients or which contains too many carbs.
At this point, I want to bring your attention on nuts and seeds.
There is plenty of supposed nutritional Gurus on YouTube advocating how nuts and seeds are good for keto dieters. Well, I beg to disagree.
If you look at the list you can clearly see that most nuts and seeds fall on the bottom, due the extremely high content of carbs and the relative low nutrition density.
If you are dieting with the objective of losing fat, you should definitely stay off nuts and seeds.
If you want to remain keto for a long time, you better follow these hacks ;)
The Ketogenic Food List
Here I publish the most popular 44 food items from the complete list.
If you want to have a specific food included in the list, ask in the comments below the article.
As explained, the foods in the bottom of the list bring along fewer nutrients and have more carbs. Personally, I draw a line at Parmesan Cheese... so I am always sure that what I eat is safe for me to stay in ketosis.
Of course, it depends also on quantities!
Take walnuts for example, are in my red zone but they bring "only" 7 carbs per 100g. So, if you eat just a few it won't make a difference... the problem is that one tends to eat much more than a few :)
Best viewed horizontally on mobile devices.
|Food||ANDI Score||Calories [kcal]||Fat [g]||Protein [g]||Net Carbs [g]||SKF Score|
|32||Low Fat Plain Yogurt||28||63.0||1.5||5.2||7.0||71|
|41||Whole Wheat Bread||30||247.0||3.4||13.0||34.0||3|
|43||Vanilla Ice Cream||9||207.0||11.0||3.5||23.3||2|
I hope you enjoyed the reading...
Looking forward to your comments below ;)