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keto food pyramid

The New Keto Food Pyramid for 2020

This keto diet food pyramid, while not perfect, gives us a very basic representation of the ratio and types of foods to eat on a ketogenic diet. Instead of giving keto beginners a complete keto explanation, we could show them this pyramid and it would fulfill the age-old saying, “A picture tells a thousand words”.

What is the food pyramid?

A graphic representation of the types and amount of food you should eat for optimum health. The bottom (wide part) of the pyramid has the foods that you should eat more of, and the top part (thin) area of the pyramid represents the food you should eat less of.

What is the basis of the original food pyramid?

Published in 1992, the first food pyramid in the United States was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was commonly referred to as the “Food Guide Pyramid.”

In 2005 it was updated into “MyPyramid”, and then in 2011, the USDA went away from the pyramid concept entirely. As of 2011 they use an interactive website with targeted diet plans and call it “MyPlate”.

What is a keto food pyramid?

Similar to a standard food pyramid, the keto food pyramid represents the types and ratio of macronutrients based on the ketogenic diet.

The keto food pyramid attempts to display the common keto macronutrient ratio of 60-75% of calories from fat, 15-30% of calories from protein and 5-10% of calories from carbs. It’s the basis for a good keto diet food list.

What are macronutrients?

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

keto food pyramid
Keto Food Pyramid

An explanation of the above keto food pyramid

Challenging indeed because some of the foods have a diverse macronutrient ratio. For example, some high protein foods like salmon are also high in fat. Also, one of the problems with keto is keto constipation, so I included probiotics in the keto food pyramid.

Some foods are more nutrient-dense than others

This keto food pyramid doesn’t accurately represent nutrient density. For example, according to this keto pyramid, it looks like you should eat more meat and protein than vegetables. However, one or two helpings of steak would be more than enough protein, but you could eat up to five cups of broccoli a day and still be around your 30 carbohydrates a day limit.

Nuts are very nutrient dense and keto friendly, here is a list of the best nuts for keto. A common question that comes up: “Is it OK to eat peanut butter on keto?” I didn’t specify peanut butter in this keto diet food pyramid, but it should be listed up at the top with the nuts.

Don’t neglect eating fermented foods

I have the fermented foods categorized up with the cheese, but it probably should be at the same level as the vegetables. A lot of the prebiotics are found in starch and fiber. Those of us on a ketogenic diet don’t eat starch, so we need to make a concerted effort to get plenty of prebiotic, fiber-rich vegetables in our diet.

Eating fermented foods and vegetables can greatly enhance your digestive system and health. You can ferment almost any food, but here is a list of some common fermented foods:

It’s not about food quantity, it’s about quality

Research and search for the healthiest foods and fill up on those first. Let food be your medicine. You won’t be eating as much on the keto diet, so you might as well focus on quality. Here is a good list of the healthiest superfoods on the planet. When making food choices it’s always better to choose real, whole, fresh food as opposed to processed foods found in a box, can or carton.

Remember there are good fats and bad fats. The “bad” type of fat increases inflammation and oxidation in the body. Here is a list of the healthy keto fats to focus on.

Also, if you are going to eat fruit make sure you eat the entire fruit and not just drink the fruit juice. Remember, fruit juice is just sugar (fructose) and too much sugar is bad for you.

We might not need as much protein as we think

As I discovered when I conducted my research on improving and increasing our health span, restricting protein can initiate autophagy. Autophagy is how our body repairs itself and regenerates new cells. Excess protein stops this repair process.

I am not against protein, but the amount of protein you need depends on your goals and age. If you are younger, (25 years and below) you need plenty of protein for growth, and if are older you need protein to prevent muscle and bone loss.

Resistance training and proper protein intake can prevent sarcopenia (muscle loss). Sarcopenia is present in about 10% of the US population over 50 years old. Sarcopenia has also been shown to shorten life expectancy. Protein initiates mTOR which helps maintain muscle mass. Here is a good article on building muscle on the ketogenic diet.

However you need a balance of building up (anabolism) and breaking down (catabolism).

If you are middle aged and trying to lose fat you can probably get away with eating less protein. More importantly, like I alluded to earlier in my reference to how to increase life expectancy. It is very good for long term health to go for periods of time in a catabolic state. Growth is not always good.

Too much growth (mTOR) is associated with certain types of cancers and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and there’s even evidence that excess mTOR contributes to autism. Maybe that’s why the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for epilepsy and autism. Lowering glucose (blood sugar) also shuts down mTOR.

Remember protein, especially the amino acid leucine increases mTOR.

“In both aging and type 2 diabetes, the level of mTORC1 activity is elevated and drives both the disease and one of the aging processes.”


So limiting protein, at least occasionally, in conjunction with therapeutic, intermittent fasting can have amazing long term health benefits.

A keto pyramid is just a quick snapshot for visual purposes.

For a more detailed keto diet food list I recommend this article.

In 1992 the USDA got the food pyramid all wrong

1992 USDA Food Pyramid
1992 USDA Food pyramid

This food pyramid has made a lot of people sick over the years. Not enough healthy fats and way too many grains and bread. The majority of our diet in 1992 (according to the USDA) should come from crackers, bread, pasta, and rice?

Diabetes prevalence after the 1992 food pyramid
Percentage with diabetes by the year

Do you think it’s a coincidence that the percentage of those with diabetes has skyrocketed since 1992?

“The number (percent) of adults with diagnosed diabetes would increase from 22.3 million (9.1%) in 2014 to 39.7 million (13.9%) in 2030, and then reach 60.6 million (17.9%) in 2060”

Popular Health Metrics

If caught early enough, a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet has the potential to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes. Here is a good source for how keto can put type 2 diabetes in remission.

The exception to this keto food pyramid is during a pregnancy. Strict keto should not be followed during pregnancy. However, the principals of a lower carbohydrate diet can help someone with gestational diabetes.

So enjoy this keto food pyramid and good luck on your weight loss journey. If you have any questions, here is a comprehensive keto diet beginners guide. Additionally, if you think the low carb lifestyle is right for you I recommend this resource:

How to get started on the keto diet

Do you have any additional questions: See our Keto Frequently Asked Questions Page.

Robert Bryant
Robert Bryant

I’ve reached and maintained my target weight on the keto diet for over 2 years now. I created this keto diet food pyramid following the scientific principals that I have learned during my research into this low carbohydrate lifestyle.

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