The low-carb way of eating is awesome.
One of the best things about it, is that people usually don’t need to count calories.
As long as carbs are kept low, appetite tends to go down.
This causes people to automatically restrict calories, without having to consciously regulate their food intake.
This simple method is proven to lead to significant weight loss… about 2-3 times as much as a calorie restricted low-fat diet (1, 2, 3).
Interestingly, there are numerous incredibly satisfying low-carb friendly foods that most people would only consider an occasional indulgence.
These foods can be eaten regularly on a low-carb diet, until fullness, while still reaping all of the metabolic benefits.
Some of these foods are even very healthy, at least in the context of a low-carb diet(although adding them on top of a high-carb diet could be a problem).
Here are 6 “indulgent” foods that are low-carb/keto friendly.
1. Butter (and Other High-Fat Dairy Products)
Butter used to be a dietary staple.
Then it was demonized for being high in saturated fatand people started eating margarine instead.
Well… butter has been making a comeback as a health food, especially among low-carbers.
Just make sure to choose quality, grass-fed butter, which is higher in heart-healthy nutrients like Vitamin K2 (4, 5).
Keep in mind that butter should be eaten with a meal, not as the meal… I don’t think replacing breakfast with a bunch of butter in your coffee is a good idea.
Calorie breakdown: 99% fat, 1% protein (6).
Other high-fat dairy foods like cheese (fat and protein) and heavy cream (mostly fat) are also perfect on a low-carb diet.
2. Nuts and Nut Butters
It’s a mistake to assume that low-carb diets are all about meat and fat.
Besides all the vegetables, there are plenty of other plant foods that can be eaten on this diet.
One great example is nuts… including almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and various others.
Nuts are incredibly nutritious, being loaded with healthy fats and important nutrients like Vitamin E and magnesium.
Numerous studies show that people who eat nuts are at a lower risk of various diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes (7, 8, 9, 10).
Nut butters can also be eaten, as long as they are just made with nuts and salt and not laden with some unhealthy oil.
The only problem with nut butters (and sometimes the nuts themselves) is that they’re so energy dense and tasty that it can be easy to eat excessive amounts.
Calorie breakdown for almonds: 74% fat, 13% protein, 13% carbs. An ounce (28 grams) contains only 5 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber (11).
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a superfood.
It is loaded with nutrients, fiber and powerful antioxidants.
In fact, it contains even higher antioxidant activity than blueberries (12).
Studies show that chocolate leads to very impressive benefits for heart health.
It can lower blood pressure, raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, protect LDL from oxidation and reduce insulin resistance (13, 14, 15).
One study even showed that people who eat chocolate 5+ times a week have up to a 57% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (16).
Chocolate often contains some sugar, but if you choose one with a high cocoa content (70-85%), then the amount will be minimal and most of the calories will be from fat.
Calorie breakdown: 64% fat, 5% protein, 31% carb. A 1 ounce (28 gram) piece may contain about 10 net carbs, depending on the brand (17).
4. Pork Rinds
Pork rinds are delicious.
They are basically just fried pork skin.
Pork rinds are high in protein, but of a different nature than the protein in muscle meats.
Some paleo folks have argued that eating too much muscle meat can make someone deficient in the amino acid glycine.
This amino acid is found in large amounts in other parts of the animal, including the organ meats and gelatinous cuts like tendons and skin.
Pork rinds happen to be very high in glycine.
Pork rinds are also high in monounsaturated oleic acid, the same fatty acid that is found in abundance in olive oil.
The problem is that pork rinds can also be pretty high in Omega-6 fatty acids and aren’t as nutritious as other parts of the animal, so I wouldn’t eat too much of them.
Calorie breakdown: 52% fat, 48% protein, no carbs (18).
Avocados are another super healthy low-carb plant food.
They are technically a fruit and happen to be very high in certain nutrients, especially fiber and potassium.
Most of the fats (over 60%) are monounsaturated, with small amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Avocados appear to be beneficial for metabolism and heart health as well… which makes perfect sense given the nutrient breakdown.
One study in people with high cholesterol found that 7 days of an avocado-enriched diet lowered LDL and triglycerides by 22%, while raising HDL by 11% (19).
Calorie breakdown: 77% fat, 4% protein, 19% carbs. Most of the carbs in avocados are fiber (20).
Bacon is often referred to as “meat candy.”
This is not surprising, given how incredibly delicious it is.
Bacon has been demonized for two reasons… for being high in saturated fat, as well as for being a processed meat.
Disregarding the fact that saturated fat is completely harmless, what most people don’t realize is that the majority of bacon fat (about 2/3rds) is unsaturated.
That being said, most store-bought bacon is processed meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other diseases (21, 22, 23).
For this reason, it is important to try to find quality, unprocessed bacon, preferably from pasture-raised pigs. Getting bacon that is truly nitrate/nitrite-free is best.
The bacon I eat is basically just salted pork belly, also called side pork.
Although I definitely wouldn’t call bacon (or any other processed meat) a “health food,” it can be eaten regularly on a low-carb diet without problems.
Calorie breakdown: 70% fat, 29% protein, 1% carbs (24).
Take Home Message
Keep in mind that if you eat too much of these incredibly delicious foods (especially the nut butters), then they can prevent you from losing weight.
The majority of foods on a low-carb diet should be unprocessed, real foods… meats, fish, eggs, all sorts of vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, maybe even some fruit.
But you can still eat all those indulgent foods while enjoying the amazing metabolic benefits of a low-carb/ketogenic diet.