When following a keto diet, some people may find it difficult to work out the right foods to eat and when to eat them. Meal plans can help people get used to the diet or stick with it.
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Potential benefits of the keto diet plan include weight loss and fat loss.
Though various sources report different percentages, a keto diet comprisesTrusted Source approximately:
- 55–60% fats
- 30–35% protein
- 5–10% carbohydrates
A studyTrusted Source in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reports that those following a “well-formulated” keto diet typically consume under 50 grams (g) of carbs and approximately 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
In order to stick to these macronutrient ratios, most experts agree that meal planning for a keto diet is essential.
Read on to learn more about the keto diet and discover what a 7-day keto meal plan might look like.
A keto meal is one that contains under 50 g of total carbs or contributes about 30 g of net carbs per day. Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber.
Fiber is present in plants and is important to include in a keto diet because fiber protects gut bacteria, improves digestive function, and helps prevent constipation.
In the keto diet, the majority of daily calories come from fats, while lesser amounts come from proteins. Meat, fish, eggs, and dairy feature heavily in the keto diet.
When the body cannot rely on carbohydrates for energy, it must burn fat for fuel. This results in a buildup of acids called ketones in the body. This results in a bodily state of ketosis.
According to a 2012 studyTrusted Source, a keto diet may reduce fat mass, waist circumference, and fasting insulin levels.
Also, a 2012 review trusted Source of 23 studies indicates that a low carbohydrate diet, such as the keto diet, could lower some of the primary risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Many people follow a keto plan for a set amount of time before altering their diet to include more carbohydrates and less fat.
Below is a sample 7-day keto meal plan. People can tailor these meals and snacks to their liking, but they should be careful not to exceed 50 g of total carbohydrates daily.
||Egg muffins with Cheddar cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes
||Spiced cauliflower soup with bacon pieces or tofu cubes
||Garlic and herb-buttered shrimp with zucchini noodles
||Roast turkey, cucumber, and cheese roll-ups
Sticks of celery and pepper with guacamole
|Tuesday (Low fiber day)
||Scrambled eggs on a bed of sautéed greens with pumpkin seeds
||Chicken mayonnaise salad with cucumber, avocado, tomato, almonds, and onion
||Beef stew made with mushrooms, onions, celery, herbs, and beef broth
||Smoothie with almond milk, nut butter, chia seeds, and spinach
||Omelet with mushrooms, broccoli, and peppers
||Avocado and egg salad with onion and spices served in lettuce cups
||Cajun spiced chicken breast with cauliflower rice and Brussels sprout salad
Slices of cheese and bell peppers
||Smoothie containing almond milk, nut butter, spinach, chia seeds, and protein powder
||Shrimp and avocado salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil
||Garlic butter steak with mushrooms and asparagus
||A boiled egg
Flax crackers with cheese
||2 eggs, fried in butter, with avocado and blackberries
||Grilled salmon with a salad of mixed leafy greens and tomato
||Chicken breast with cauliflower mash and green beans
Slices of cheese and bell peppers
||Scrambled eggs with jalapeños, green onions, and tomatoes sprinkled with sunflower seeds
||Tuna salad with tomatoes and avocado plus macadamia nuts
||Pork chops with nonstarchy vegetables of choice
||Celery sticks with almond butter dip
A handful of berries and nuts
||Yogurt with keto-friendly granola
||Grass-fed beef burger (no bun) with guacamole, tomato, and kale salad
||Stir-fried chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers, with homemade satay sauce
||Sugar-free turkey jerky
An egg and vegetable muffin
Vegetarian and vegan keto meals
It can be challenging for vegetarians and vegans to follow a keto diet, as many of the calories in these diets come from carbohydrates. Even sources of nonanimal protein, such as lentils and beans, are often relatively high in carbs.
In the standard keto diet, animal products tend to make up a large portion of meals because these foods are naturally high in fat, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates.
Though tricky, it is possible to follow a vegetarian or vegan keto diet. Those who do not eat meat or fish can replace these products with high-fat plant-based foods.
Vegetarians can also eat eggs and some forms of dairy as part of their diet.
Foods to eat and avoid on a keto meal plan
|Meat and poultry
- grass-fed beef
- organ meats
- breaded meats
- processed meats
- low-fat meat, such as skinless chicken breast
- full-fat cheeses, including Cheddar, goat cheese, and mozzarella
- full-fat yogurt
- nonfat yogurt
- sweetened yogurt
- wild salmon
- whole eggs (pastured and organic when possible)
|Nuts and seeds
- macadamia nuts
- chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- unsweetened nut butter
- chocolate-covered nuts
- sweetened nut butter
|Oils and fats
- coconut products
- fruit and nut oils, such as avocado, coconut, olive, and sesame
- vegetable oils, including canola and corn oil
- leafy greens
- other nonstarchy vegetables
- butternut squash
- sweet potatoes
- other starchy vegetables
- citrus fruits
- dried fruits
|Beans and legumes
- all beans
- herbs and spices
- lemon juice
- mayonnaise with no added sugar
- salt and pepper
- salad dressings with no added sugar
- barbecue sauce
- maple syrup
- salad dressings with added sugar
- sweet dipping sauces
|Grains and grain products
- baked goods
- breakfast cereals
- almond or flax milk
- bone broth
- unsweetened teas and coffees
- water (still or sparkling)
- fruit juice
- sports drinks
- sugary alcoholic drinks
- sweetened tea
- low carb alcoholic drinks, such as vodka
- artificial sweeteners
- coconut sugar
- fast food
- processed foods
The following tips may help people stick to the keto diet:
- Set a start date.
- Reorganize the pantry and refrigerator so that they do not contain high-carbohydrate foods.
- Make a weekly meal plan. This is key to eating balanced meals and preventing hunger.
- Stock up on keto-friendly foods and beverages.
- Read product labels carefully and check the ingredients list and carb content of each item.
- Prepare meals ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate them in batches.
- If hunger pangs occur regularly, try eating five or six small meals, instead of three large ones.
- To avoid “keto flu” in the early stages, drink plenty of fluids and supplement with electrolytes.
- Consider taking to fill in nutritional gaps while following this diet.
- Consider temporarily reducing physical activity during the first week or two, while the body adjusts to the new diet.
- Discuss any queries or concerns with a doctor or dietitian.
The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet.
People following it should aim to consume under 50 g of total carbs each day. Meals tend to consist primarily of animal proteins and plant and animal fats with nonstarchy vegetables.
It is important to plan meals on the keto diet in order to adhere to the correct macronutrient ratios, meet fiber goals, and prevent hunger. It can also be helpful to work with a doctor or dietitian to ensure that nutritional deficiencies do not occur.