Chef Rachel Albert writes on The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet, Part II: Allowed Foods

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The Top 13 Foods & Food Groups to Eat

  • Healthy Fats & Oils (coconut oil, MCT oil, coconut butter, unsweetened canned coconut milk, unsweetened flaked coconut, coconut flour, avocados, olives, flax oil, extra virgin olive oil, hemp oil, macadamia nut oil, macadamia nuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Coconut products (coconut oil, MCT oil, coconut butter, unsweetened canned coconut milk, unsweetened flaked coconut, coconut flour, flax oil, extra virgin olive oil,
  • Dark Leafy green vegetables
  • Other fibrous, colorful, non-starchy vegetables
  • Healthy proteins (preferably 100% pasture raised, grassfed, or at least organic or hormone and antibiotic free meat—beef, lamb, bison, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, eggs)
  • Clear stevia extract powder
  • Herbs & spices free of starches, sugars, fillers (Non-irradiated, preferably organic)
  • Natural seasonings (coconut aminos, unrefined mineral rich sea salt: Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Sea Salt, or Redmond Real Salt, Wright’s liquid hickory smoke seasonings, raw apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, unseasoned rice vinegar,)
  • Other: psyllium husk powder, pure vanilla and almond extract, baking soda, non-aluminum baking powder, guar gum
  • Filtered or purified water
  • Sweetener (clear stevia extract liquid: best brand Nature’s Stevia; small amounts of vegetable glycerine)
  • Sparkling mineral water
  • Herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint, rooibos, hibiscus, licorice root, ginger, cinnamon, slippery elm, etc)

Friendly fats

The best fats to use are non-hydrogenated coconut oil, non-hydrogenated palm oil and palm shortening, MCT oil, avocadoes, olives, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, macadamia nuts and unsweetened nut butter made from the raw or lightly toasted nuts, butter, ghee, and heavy whipping cream (if dairy is tolerated and you do not have diabetes). Although olive oil, avocado and macadamia nut oil may be used, coconut oil and MCT oil are preferred because they are rich in medium chain triglycerides and are more ketogenic, meaning they are more easily converted into ketones by the body. They are digested differently than other fats. They can get into the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells where energy is created) without a carnitine shuttle. They bypass the normal routes used to digest and metabolize other fats and oils,

MCTs are burned more like carbohydrates. Because they turn to fuel so quickly, they can be used as a pick me up to boost ketones in the blood when your energy wanes. Caution: MCT oil can be laxative so build up gradually, starting with 1 teaspoon of the oil per meal. Coconut oil is well tolerated and does not cause digestive issues that pure MCT oil may cause in some individuals (loose stools).

What are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)?


“Medium-chain triglycerides are unique fatty acids, derived from coconut oil and possessing a molecular structure that different from those of fatty acids that we normally consume in foods ––such as from animal fats or vegetables oils. Compared to ordinary fats found in the diet, medium-chain triglycerides are shorter and more easily absorbed and digested by the body. While regular, long-chain fatty acids require enzymes from the pancreas in order to be metabolized into energy, medium-chain triglycerides can be absorbed directly by the digestive system and transported to the liver, where they’re used as a fuel source. This special property makes medium-chain triglycerides a potentially valuable health supplement for athletes, people with digestive issues, and people training to improve their body composition.

* MCT oil and coconut oil also help. I don’t use much olive oil now. I use MCT oil alone in dressings (Often combined with flax seed oil or hemp seed oil or a little avocado oil or XV domestic olive oil) or straight on veggies. MCT oil is a fraction of coconut oil; it’s the medium chain triglycerides isolated. Regular coconut oil is part MCTs part other fatty acids. MCT oil is 100% MCT. It can be burned in the mitochondria w/out requiring a carnitine shuttle to get inside the cell. It can provide almost instant energy. It also bypasses the usual processing in the liver. It is easily converted into ketones, more easily than coconut oil. I think both are good. You can use it to make mayo, vinaigrette, etc and it won’t lump up in the fridge like coc oil. It is good for people with liver and gallbladder problems, athletes, and people who have had their gall bladders removed or have difficulty digesting fats

* I take if off the spoon (by the tablespoon) with my turmeric extract almost every day (fat helps increase absorption of curcumin).

Benefits of coconut oil

Forty percent of the fat in coconut fat comes from lauric acid, a fat that has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral actions. A form of lauric acid naturally occurs in human mothers’ milk and helps to keep infants from being infected by viruses and bacteria. This fat is also included in infant formulas. Lauric acid has been shown in various scientific studies to contain bacterial and anti-viral properties, making it especially important for immune-suppressed individuals, such as those undergoing treatment for cancer, lupus, and other disorders. MCT oil is an isolated version of these fats derived from coconut oil. You can use pure (virgin) coconut oil in addition to isolated MCT oil on the ketogenic diet. The easy absorption of MCT oil can help you get and stay in ketosis. It can also help with chronic inflammation of the intestines, for example in cases of irritable bowel disorder, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Celiac Disease, to aid in blood sugar control, proper thyroid function, mal absorption disorders, and many other conditions. You can use coconut oil for oil-pulling, an ancient ayurvedic practice that improves the health of you teeth and gums and can help the body get rid of toxins. Google it. When I do it, I add food grade/therapeutic grade essential oils from DoTerra; usually peppermint, lemon, maleluca or On Guard (an antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial blend that has been shown to also kill Mersa; when I was in the hospital for a week, I diffused that and Wild Orange essential oils in my room to avoid getting a hospital-induced infection). MCT oil can also be used as an aid to athletic performance, in lieu of high carb drinks, bars, and meals.

Allowed foods on the ketogenic diet include generous amounts of healthy fats, get the recommended amount of protein each day, and avoid carbohydrates as much as possible. For your convenience, I’ve included a shopping list in chapter in my forthcoming book, The Ketogenic Cancer Care Cookbook, due out as n E-book this spring or Summer and later as a hard copy book. Choose your carbs wisely. Fibrous non-starchy vegetables will help you meet your nutritional needs, providing vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. They will also allow you to enjoy variety in taste and texture, and color, and feel more satisfied.

Fattier cuts of meat are better because they contain less protein than lean cuts. If you are eating some meat that is not 100% grassfed, lean cuts are best to focus on. Choose wild caught seafood, organic eggs and organic or grass fed animal foods when possible to minimize bacteria, antibiotic, pesticide, herbicide, and steroid hormone intake. Websites such as or can help with locating local sources of clean, grass fed meats and poultry. Also check for farmers’ markets and local farmers in your area.

Sources of protein

From the E-book, Fight Cancer with a Ketogenic Diet by Ellen Davis & other Sources

•           Fish or seafood of any kind, preferably wild caught. This includes anchovies, calamari, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, sardines, scrod, sole, snapper, trout, and tuna. Canned tuna and salmon are acceptable but check the labels for added sugars or fillers, including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, broth, and MSG. (Exception: Avoid breaded and fried seafood.)

•           Shellfish such as clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters. (Exception: Imitation crab meat. It contains sugar, starch, gluten, and other additives.)

•           Lox (cold smoked salmon) from wild (not farmed) salmon. Look for a product with zero grams of sugar per 2 ounce serving on the nutrition the label.

•           Whole eggs. These can be prepared in various ways: deviled (Angeled), lightly fried, hard- boiled, in omelets, poached, scrambled, or soft-boiled.

•           Nuts and seeds: macadamias are the highest in fat and lowest in carb, but pecans, almonds and walnuts are good choices with a few more carbs. Cashews are much higher in carbohydrate and all nut intake must be tracked carefully to avoid going over your carb limits. (Avoid already roasted nuts that contain added sugars, preservatives, starches, MSG, or other additives. It is best to buy them raw and dry toast them at home or soak overnight and then drain and dehydrate until crispy.)

•           Meat such as beef, lamb, bison, veal, goat and wild game. Grass fed meat is preferred.

•           Beef and turkey jerky free of grains, gluten, starches, sugar, soy, and MSG, preferably from grassfed animals (see blog post here). Try Nicks Sticks. He has sugar-free preservative-free beef and turkey jerky snack sticks. I have a longer list I posted here.

•           Poultry such as chicken, turkey, quail, Cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant. Free range or pastured is better, if it’s available, otherwise look for organic. In Phoenix, AZ, I suggest Trader Joes, Rocky the Range Chicken from Sprouts Market, or Mary’s Air Chilled Chicken from Whole Foods Markets.

•           Bacon and sausage: check labels and avoid those cured with sugar or that contain fillers such as soy or wheat. Some brands contain sugar but so little that the serving size says zero grams of carbs per 1-2 slices. Specialty health food stores carry most brands of sugar-free bacon.

Safe Sources of carbohydrate:

Fibrous green leafy and flowering veggies: kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, bok choy, spinach, argula, lettuces, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, jicama, celeriac (celery root), green beans, yellow wax beans, spring greens, boston, bib, iceberg, romaine, endive, escarole, butterhead, green leaf, red leaf, oak leaf, and other lettuces, parsley, cilantro, fresh mint, micro greens.

Other fibrous vegetables: cucumbers, fennel bulb, sweet bell peppers, tomatoes (in small amounts, celery, mushrooms, leeks, scallions, spaghetti squash, radishes, zucchini, summer squash, artichoke hearts (in modest amounts).

Lemon and lime juice, avocado, avocado, nuts, and the coffee alternative, Dandy Blend also contain carbohydrates as does Teeccino Herbal Coffee Alternative. As long as you count these in as part of your total daily carb allotment you can use these.

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