Updated: Mar 9
Article by: Margaux Quinn
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, has gained a lot of attention in recent years, and it isn’t difficult to see why. This low-carb, adequate-protein, and high-fat diet can burn fat effectively, making it ideal for those who are trying to manage their weight and body composition. However, not all cuisines are ketogenic by nature. Many are actually quite heavy on carbohydrates, and this can make it difficult to shed pounds. However, Healthline lists some examples of international keto-friendly foods that can add some variety to your diet.
Here are some of the best ketogenic dishes you can try from different cuisines:
Asian: Pork Adobo
When it comes to Asian food, Southeast Asian dishes are often underrated. However, this region boasts of several cuisines that have excellent ketogenic options bursting with flavour. One country that loves its protein is the Philippines. Here, you’ll find a melting pot of Spanish, Chinese, American, and other Southeast Asian influences in the food. Some of the best local dishes to try when you’re in the Philippines include keto-friendly options, like pork sinigang and pork sisig, but none are as famous or as revered as adobo. It is characterised by the flavours of dark, salty soy sauce and vinegar, along with garlic, black peppercorns, and dried bay leaves. For the most ketogenic version of this dish, it’s best to use pork cutlets and lessen the amount of rice it is served with. Not only will it give you a good serving of fat and protein, but it will also absorb the adobo marinade well.
Italian: Chicken Piccata
Italian cuisine is famous for its huge variety of pasta dishes, pizzas, seafood, and meats. While it might feel like you’re navigating through a very carb-heavy diet with Italian food, there are still some great options for those on a ketogenic diet. The classic chicken piccata is typically covered in all-purpose flour, browned, and served with pasta or potatoes — very high-carb. To make a keto-friendly version, all it takes is substituting a few ingredients. You can opt for almond or tapioca flour instead of all-purpose flour and serve it alongside vegetables like roasted asparagus or broccoli. It’s also better to use chicken thighs for this recipe since they have a higher fat content than chicken breasts. If you skip the breading and increase the healthy fat in this recipe with your choice of sides and chicken parts, this classic Italian dish can be a keto superstar. You can have up to 39 grams of fat and 30 grams of protein with just 4 grams of carbs per serving! Not only that, but it is also grain-free and gluten-free, which is definitely a win-win.
Indian: Butter Chicken
When one thinks of Indian food, the word “spices” automatically comes to mind. The food from this country is so unique because the complicated combination of spices and herbs used gives it such a nuanced flavour. One of the most famous dishes from India anybody on a ketogenic diet should try is the flavorful, creamy, butter chicken. Just like the Italian chicken piccata, using the fattier parts of the chicken such as the thighs is recommended for this recipe. You can expect a rich combination of tender chicken, tomatoes, and a buttery sauce. Instead of serving it over basmati rice, you can make it more keto-friendly by opting for something like cauliflower rice, which complements the flavours just as well.
Not all ketogenic meals have to be full of fatty meat. You can have healthy vegetarian food like tabbouleh and meet your keto needs, depending on how you prepare it. Tabbouleh is an Arab dish that has no cholesterol, is high in fibre, and has plenty of essential vitamins. Made of parsley, mint, cucumber, bell pepper, and green onion seasoned with a dressing made from red wine vinegar, oil, and salt, this salad is perfect when paired with a protein, like chicken. While the recipes on this list have mostly used chicken thighs, it’s also great to use chicken breasts when trying this keto dish.
Looking for a simpler approach to keto?
Check out this Clean Keto Food List for Beginners to get you started!