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The rumors are true: You can eat bacon on the keto diet.

That seems to be a sticking point for prospective dieters — and for good reason. The ketogenic diet is heralded as one of the strictest eating plans around, but the fact that greasy, fatty strips of meat get a stamp of approval makes it feel sorta-kinda doable.

The whole point of going keto is to reach ketosis, a cult-y sounding name for the metabolic process that happens when your body uses fat instead of carbs for energy. To get there, you’ve gotta do the obvious: eat a whole lot of fat and little to no carbs. It’s restrictive, but if you hack the the system just right, you can still create surprisingly delicious food — like taquitos and cookie dough bites. (These are our favorite keto recipes, by the way.)

This list is your ultimate guide to everything you can and can’t eat when you go keto — plus the foods you’re allowed to spring for every once in a while. Keep it with you everywhere you go: to the grocery store, to restaurants, to book club.

And fyi, Regina Georges of the world: Go for the butter; it’s not a carb.

PROTEIN


GETTY IMAGESJEREMY WOODHOUSE/CARL KRAVATS/CLAUDIA TOTIR/LAURIPATTERSON

*Look for wild-caught and grass-fed protein sources.

Always:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel)
  • Low-carb shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)
  • Poultry (dark meat)
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Bison
  • Organ meat (liver, tongue, tripe)
  • Full-fat dairy (milk, butter, yogurt)

Sometimes:

  • Poultry (white meat)
  • Bacon
  • Whey protein powder
  • Low-fat dairy (milk, butter, yogurt)
  • Tofu
  • Pasture-raised eggs
  • Greek yogurt

Never:

  • Cold cuts (ham, turkey)
  • Cured meats (salami, pepperoni, prosciutto)
  • Breaded meat

VEGETABLES


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*Look for low-carb, organic vegetables.

Always:

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, romaine, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens)
  • Bok choy
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Sprouts (alfalfa, bean)
  • Cucumbers
  • Summer squash (zucchini, yellow)
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Sometimes:

  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Jicama
  • Fennel

Never:

  • Ginger
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Leek
  • Corn
  • Beets
  • Winter squash (butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti)
  • Artichoke

FRUITS


GETTY IMAGESHELAINE WEIDE/ANN CUTTING/NATASHA BREEN

*Look for low-carb, organic fruit.

Sometimes:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Kiwi
  • Rhubarb
  • Coconut meat
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Honeydew
  • Tomato
  • Olives (black, green)
  • Avocado

Never:

  • Dried fruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Apricots
  • Mango
  • Cherries
  • Papaya

GRAINS AND LEGUMES


GETTY IMAGESPHILIPPE DESNERCK/JAMES AND JAMES/KEY05

Sometimes:

  • White kidney beans
  • Edamame
  • Black soybeans

Never:

  • Peanuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Popcorn
  • Rye
  • Rice (white, brown, wild)

FATS


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Always:

  • Avocado oil
  • Brain octane oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Fish oil
  • MCT oil
  • Olive oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Full-fat dairy (butter, cream, yogurt)

Sometimes:

  • Nut butters (almond, pecan, hazelnut)
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Never:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine
  • Cashews

HERBS, SPICES, AND CONDIMENTS


GETTY IMAGESREGINE MAHAUX/RICK GAYLE/ANNICK VANDERSCHELDEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Always:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Basil
  • Cayenne
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Paprika
  • Full-fat mayonnaise
  • Ranch

Sometimes:

  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup

BEVERAGES


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Always:

  • Bone broth
  • Herbal tea
  • Full-fat milk
  • Water

Sometimes:

  • Almond milk
  • Low-fat milk
  • Coffee
  • Seltzer

Never:

  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Fruit juice

OTHER


GETTY IMAGESDELISH/WESTEND61/DELISH

Sometimes:

  • Dark chocolate (70% or higher)
  • Fat bombs

Never:

  • Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol)

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