The keto meal plan is the consumption of low carb foods that keeps your daily intake of carbohydrates usually under 25g.
A proper meal plan:
- Accounts for a proper ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, with fat making up the largest portion of the ratio.
- Ensures that other nutrients such as minerals and vitamins aren’t underserved.
Before going into details about a keto meal plan, we need to define the keto diet.
What is Keto?
Keto is short for ketosis. Ketones appear when your body starts using fat as fuel instead of glucose. When your body converts fat into energy, it produces ketones and pushes you into ketosis. The average body holds up to 2 days worth of glucose in your muscle stores, but these stores become depleted when the body is subjected to low carbs over a 48-hour period. After a few days, ketosis awakens.
Don’t confuse ketosis with the deadly, dangerous state of ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a safe alternative to our normal state of glucose-fueled energy. 25g or fewer net carbs per day triggers ketosis. Net carbs are the remnants of subtracting the amount of fiber and sugar alcohols from a food’s total carbohydrate amount.
Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
Weight loss is one reason why people start eating the keto way. Once your body stops getting 200g-300g of carbs daily, you begin shedding water weight. This could mean experiencing a slimmer silhouette in just a few days. After a week, your body’s carb stores are depleted, turning its fat stores into energy. Those push-ups you perform each morning? You’re burning fat!
It’s not unusual to lose up to 10lbs in the first month. Individuals with heavy amounts of weight begin shedding pounds very quickly. This process normalizes over time, allowing you to lose weight at a healthy pace.
Under normal diet plans, the initial weight you lose is water, muscle, and fat. Under a keto meal plan, your body loses fat and water but retains muscle mass. When you exercise, you can either grow or strengthen your muscles depending on the fitness regimen. Exercise isn’t essential for keto weight loss, but it’s helpful. Short bursts of resistance and muscle fitness (aka HIIT: high-intensity interval training) garner the best results.
Diabetics are one of the main advocates of the keto diet. Not feeding your body sugar in the form of carbs, and lowering your insulin levels, leads to healthy blood sugar levels in the body.
LDL cholesterol levels drop while HDL (good) cholesterol rises. Cholesterol is involved in controlling your hormones; a healthy balance is essential to your overall wellbeing.
It’s speculative, but the keto way of eating is currently being studied as a way to treat cancer patients. Cancer cells feed on sugar at up to 10 times the rate of other cells, leading them to expand at a rapid pace. Deprive them of this sugar through a keto meal plan and the cells, in theory, begin to starve.
Because cancer cells cannot easily devour fatty acids, following a ketogenic diet can aid their demise.
Your Keto Meal Plan
These are some tips for following a successful keto meal plan:
- Stay below 25g of net carbs per day. Try to obtain carbohydrates from vegetables instead of starchy foods such as potatoes. Green, keto-friendly vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals.
- Abstain from bread as much as possible since most breads contain high levels of carbohydrates.
- Use our keto calculator tool to determine the minimum and maximum amount of macros (calories, fat, carbs, protein) to consume daily. It’s recommended to verify the findings with your doctor.
- Utilize a food label calculator or keto search to measure the number of net carbs in a food and discover more low-carb foods.
- Track your macros (net carbs, fat, protein, and calories) until you’re familiar with the nutrition amounts in your foods.
Keto Food List
Now that you’ve read the benefits of a keto diet, here’s a tantalizing glimpse of the food options available that can fit into your meal plan:
- Meats like beef, lamb, pork (BACON!), chicken, turkey, poultry, etc
- Fish, including oily fish and white
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, eggplant, etc.
- Full fat cheese and dairy
- Fats like coconut oil, olive oil, animal fat
- Nuts and seeds, especially those high in fat, like macadamias, walnuts, etc.
- Avocados and olives
- Low-carb sweeteners like stevia and erythritol
- Dark chocolate
- Certain fast foods
With these options, you’ll be able to cook mouthwatering meals like lamb shank and creamed spinach, a killer mousaka, and low-carb pizza.
You don’t need to restrict calories to starvation-rations on a keto meal plan. Intuitive eating is best—feast until you’re pleasantly full but not stuffed and bloated.
Most people keep a ratio of around C5/P25/F70. This means 5% of calories come from carbs, 25% from protein, and 70% from fat. (note: KetoFoodist highlights foods with net carb amounts that are within 10% of a food’s total calories)
Fat is necessary because it’s your new fuel. Plus its calorie-dense properties can temper your hunger. Keep your fat intake high to maintain energy levels and lower your cravings throughout the day.
As your body loses the fluids associated with its carbohydrate stores, you’ll need to replenish them by drinking more water. Ketosis makes you thirsty; drinking extra H2O is the solution.
As your body depletes its glucose and water stores, it also loses sodium. To counter this, add salt to your foods. Use a potassium-sodium blended salt to replenish the potassium your body loses. One alternative to salt is a sweet, low-carb tablet that you can drop in water—called Nuun electrolyte tablets (aff link). Each tablet contains 4g of carbohydrates, with 1g of sugar.
Keto is a great way of eating, but you may find it restrictive or tiring because you need to track your carbs and be mindful of it.
Armed with research, your list of health benefits, a food search engine, and a beginner list of delicious foods, you can now build your personal keto meal plan. Keep carbs low, fats high, and watch your proteins. Discover more about getting started with the keto diet. Here are some more guides you can read for living the keto way:
- How to Maintain a Keto Diet
- Top Keto Mistakes
- The Keto Diet for Athletes
- Keto-friendly Guide for Drinking Alcohol
- Keto and Intermittent Fasting
Want to discover other foods that are keto-friendly? Start your search today, or browse a list of restaurants with keto-friendly food options you’ll love.