The ketogenic diet has gained widespread popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits and weight loss results.
This low-carb, high-fat diet is designed to promote a state of ketosis, in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
But starting the keto diet can be daunting, especially for beginners. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide to starting keto, with everything you need to know to get started on your keto journey.
From understanding the science behind keto to calculating your macros and creating a meal plan, we’ll guide you through every step of the process.
Introduction To Keto Diet
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has become popular in recent years for its potential benefits for weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and other health benefits.
When you follow a keto diet, you drastically reduce your intake of carbohydrates, which are typically the body’s primary source of energy. Instead, you eat a diet high in fat and moderate in protein, which encourages your body to enter a state of ketosis.
In ketosis, your body begins to burn stored fat for fuel, producing ketones that can be used for energy by the brain and other organs.
While the exact macronutrient ratios vary, a typical keto diet might consist of 70-80% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. This means that you’ll need to avoid or severely limit high-carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, and sugar while eating plenty of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
The popularity of the keto diet in recent years may be due in part to its potential benefits for weight loss and blood sugar control, as well as the increasing recognition of the importance of healthy fats in the diet.
However, it’s important to note that the keto diet may not be appropriate or effective for everyone, and should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
How does it work?
In technical terms, the ketogenic diet works by restricting carbohydrate intake to a level that induces a state of fasting or starvation, which triggers the liver to produce ketones from fatty acids.
Ketones are water-soluble molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide an alternative source of fuel for the brain and other organs.
The primary goal of the ketogenic diet is to decrease insulin levels, which is accomplished by limiting carbohydrate intake.
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels. Insulin signals the body’s cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, which is used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
When carbohydrate intake is restricted, blood sugar levels decrease, which in turn reduces insulin secretion. With less insulin in the bloodstream, the body is forced to rely on fat for fuel, which is broken down into fatty acids and ketones by the liver.
An example of how this works in practice is as follows: let’s say a person consumes a high-carbohydrate meal, such as pasta with tomato sauce and garlic bread. The carbohydrates in the meal are quickly broken down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream and causes a spike in blood sugar levels. In response, the pancreas releases insulin to signal the body’s cells to absorb glucose and lower blood sugar levels.
However, if the same person were to consume a low-carbohydrate meal, such as a salad with avocado, olive oil, and grilled chicken, there would be minimal carbohydrate intake, and therefore a lower insulin response. This would allow the body to enter a state of ketosis, in which it would begin to burn stored fat for energy.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
- Weight loss: The keto diet may help individuals lose weight by promoting fat loss and reducing appetite. For example, John is an individual who struggled with his weight for many years. He decides to try the keto diet and, over time, loses a significant amount of weight. This helps him feel more confident and healthy.
- Improved blood sugar control: The keto diet can lower blood sugar and insulin levels, which may be beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. For example, Sarah has type 2 diabetes and has been struggling to control her blood sugar levels with medication and diet. She decides to try the keto diet and notices significant improvements in her blood sugar control, reducing her need for medication.
- Increased energy and mental clarity: Some people report feeling more focused and alert on the keto diet, potentially due to the increased production of ketones in the body. For example, Michael is a busy professional who often feels tired and foggy during the day. He starts following the keto diet and notices that he has more energy and can concentrate better on his work.
- Reduced inflammation: The keto diet may help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to numerous chronic diseases. For example, Lisa suffers from chronic pain due to an autoimmune condition. She starts following the keto diet and notices a reduction in her pain levels and overall inflammation.
- Improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels: Some studies have found that the keto diet can improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. For example, Tom has a family history of heart disease and is concerned about his own risk. He starts following the keto diet and, over time, sees improvements in his cholesterol and blood pressure levels, giving him peace of mind.
Possible Risks and Drawbacks
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Since the keto diet restricts several food groups, there is a risk of nutrient deficiencies if the diet is not well planned. For example, if a person is not consuming enough vegetables or fruits, they may not be getting enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Increased Cholesterol Levels: Some studies have suggested that the keto diet may increase levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), which can increase the risk of heart disease in some people.
- Keto Flu: When transitioning to the keto diet, some people may experience symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and nausea, which are collectively known as the “keto flu.”
- Risk of Dehydration: The keto diet can increase the risk of dehydration, especially if a person is not drinking enough water or electrolytes.
- Social Isolation: The keto diet can be challenging to follow in social situations, which may cause a person to feel isolated or excluded from group meals.
- Sustainability: The keto diet may be difficult to sustain over the long term, especially if a person finds it too restrictive or challenging to follow.
When it comes to consulting with a professional before starting a keto diet, it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health status and dietary needs. They can help assess any potential risks and provide recommendations for how to safely and effectively follow a keto diet.
When consulting with a professional, be sure to come prepared with a list of questions and concerns. It can also be helpful to keep a food diary or track your meals for a few days to provide a clearer picture of your current diet. This information can help the professional tailor their advice and recommendations to your specific needs and goals.
Getting Started with Keto
Preparing for the transition
Preparing for the transition to a keto diet is an important step to ensure that you have a smooth and successful transition to this new way of eating.
Here’s an example of how someone who was previously on a high-carb diet might prepare for the transition:
- Educate yourself about the keto diet: The first step is to learn as much as possible about the keto diet. This includes understanding what foods are allowed and what foods are restricted, how to calculate your daily macronutrient goals, and the potential benefits and risks of the diet. This information can be found in books, online resources, or by consulting a registered dietitian.
- Start reducing carb intake: Before making the full transition to a keto diet, it can be helpful to gradually reduce your carbohydrate intake. This can help minimize the symptoms of the “keto flu” that some people experience during the initial transition period. For example, if you currently consume 200 grams of carbs per day, you might aim to gradually reduce that to 100 grams per day over the course of a few weeks.
- Stock up on keto-friendly foods: Once you’ve learned about the types of foods that are allowed on the keto diet, you can start stocking up on those foods. This might include healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and nuts, as well as low-carb vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
- Plan your meals: Planning your meals ahead of time can help you stay on track with your new eating plan. Start by creating a meal plan for the first week or two of the keto diet, making sure to include plenty of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and low-carb vegetables. You can also look up keto-friendly recipes for inspiration.
- Find support: Making a significant dietary change can be challenging, so it’s important to find a support system that can help you stay motivated and accountable. This might include joining a keto support group, finding an accountability partner, or working with a registered dietitian who specializes in the keto diet.
- Set realistic goals: Finally, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. While some people may experience rapid weight loss on the keto diet, it’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is different. Set small, achievable goals for yourself, such as aiming to stay within your daily carb limit or increasing your daily fat intake gradually over time.
Calculating your macros
The typical keto diet might consist of 70-80% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.
However, let’s say a 35-year-old woman weighs 150 pounds and is 5’6″ tall. She has a sedentary job and engages in light exercise 1-2 times per week. Based on these factors, her estimated daily calorie needs are around 1,700-1,800 calories per day.
To calculate her macros, we can use the following guidelines:
- Protein: 0.6-1.0 grams per pound of lean body mass
- Carbs: 20-50 grams of net carbs per day
- Fat: 70-80% of daily calorie needs
Let’s assume our person has a body fat percentage of 25%, which means her LBM is 112.5 pounds (75% of 150 pounds). Using the lower end of the protein range, her protein intake would be around 67.5 grams per day (0.6 x 112.5). For carbs, we’ll aim for 20 grams per day to ensure she stays in ketosis.
To calculate her fat intake, we’ll use a 75% fat ratio. To do this, we’ll multiply her estimated daily calorie needs by 0.75 (75%) to get the number of calories that should come from fat. So, 1,700 calories x 0.75 = 1,275 calories from fat per day. Since there are 9 calories per gram of fat, this means our person should aim for around 142 grams of fat per day (1,275 ÷ 9).
So, her macro split would look like this:
- Protein: 67.5 grams (270 calories, 16% of daily calorie needs)
- Carbs: 20 grams (80 calories, 5% of daily calorie needs)
- Fat: 142 grams (1,275 calories, 75% of daily calorie needs)
It’s worth noting that this is just one example. Here is how you can calculate your macros.
Determine your calorie needs: The first step is to calculate your daily calorie needs, which will depend on your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. You can use our macro calculator to get an estimate of your daily calorie needs or consult a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.
Set your protein intake: Protein is an essential macronutrient that provides the building blocks for muscle and other tissues. On the keto diet, it’s important to consume adequate protein to maintain muscle mass and support bodily functions. Aim for 0.6-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM). To calculate your LBM, subtract your body fat percentage from 100 and multiply that percentage by your current weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and have a body fat percentage of 25%, your LBM would be 75% of 150, or 112.5 pounds. Therefore, your protein intake would be between 67.5-112.5 grams per day.
Set your carb limit: Carbs are restricted on the keto diet to promote ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Most people on the keto diet aim for 20-50 grams of net carbs per day. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs in a food item. For example, if a food contains 10 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber, its net carbs would be 7 grams.
Determine your fat intake: Fat is the primary fuel source on the keto diet, and it’s important to consume enough to meet your energy needs and promote ketosis. The amount of fat you should consume will depend on your calorie needs, as well as your individual tolerance and goals. A common recommendation is to aim for 70-80% of your daily calories from fat. To calculate your fat intake, multiply your daily calorie needs by 0.7 or 0.8, and divide that number by 9 (the number of calories in 1 gram of fat). For example, if your daily calorie needs are 2,000 and you want to get 75% of your calories from fat, your fat intake would be 168 grams per day (0.75 x 2,000 ÷ 9 = 168).
Adjust your macros if needed: Your macro needs may vary depending on factors such as your weight loss goals, physical activity, and individual metabolism. It’s important to monitor your progress and adjust your macros as needed to achieve optimal results.
Understanding net carbs
Net carbs are the total amount of carbohydrates in a food item minus the amount of fiber and certain types of sugar alcohols.
Fiber and some sugar alcohols are not fully digested and absorbed by the body, so they do not have the same impact on blood sugar levels as other types of carbohydrates.
By subtracting these indigestible carbs from the total carbs, you get the net carbs, which is the number of carbs that actually affect blood sugar levels and can impact ketosis on the keto diet.
In layman’s terms, net carbs are the carbs that your body can actually use for energy, minus the carbs that don’t get fully absorbed and digested.
This is important on the keto diet because the goal is to keep your carb intake low enough to enter and maintain a state of ketosis, where your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.
Here are some examples of common foods and their net carb content per serving:
|Food||Serving Size||Total Carbs||Fiber||Sugar Alcohols||Net Carbs|
|Chia Seeds||1 oz||12g||11g||0g||1g|
|Cheese (Cheddar)||1 oz||1g||0g||0g||1g|
|Chicken Breast||3 oz||0g||0g||0g||0g|
|Dark Chocolate (85%)||1 oz||14g||3g||8g||3g|
|Ground Beef (80/20)||3 oz||0g||0g||0g||0g|
|Greek Yogurt||6 oz||8g||0g||4g||4g|
You can also search for net carbs on our recipe discovery index:
Creating a Keto meal plan
Determine your daily calorie needs: The first step in creating a keto meal plan is to determine your daily calorie needs. This will depend on factors such as your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. You can use an online calculator or consult a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.
Calculate your macros: Once you know your daily calorie needs, you’ll want to calculate your macros for the keto diet. Macros refer to the three main macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A typical keto diet involves getting about 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates. You can use an online macro calculator to help you determine how many grams of each macronutrient you should aim for each day.
Choose keto-friendly foods: When creating a keto meal plan, you’ll want to choose foods that are high in healthy fats and low in carbs. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon. Foods to avoid or limit include grains, sugar, starchy vegetables, and most fruits.
Plan your meals and snacks: Once you know which foods are keto-friendly, it’s time to plan your meals and snacks. A typical keto meal might include a protein source (such as meat, fish, or tofu), a healthy fat source (such as avocado or nuts), and low-carb vegetables (such as broccoli or spinach). You can also add keto-friendly snacks, such as cheese, hard-boiled eggs, or nut butter.
Track your macros and adjust as needed: To make sure you’re staying within your macro goals, it’s a good idea to track your food intake using an app or online tool. This can help you see how many grams of each macronutrient you’re consuming, and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.
The Science of Keto
Ketones and Ketosis
Ketones are small molecules produced by the liver during the breakdown of fats in the absence of sufficient glucose. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which ketones become the primary source of fuel for the body instead of glucose.
When carbohydrates are limited, as is the case in a ketogenic diet, the body’s stored glucose (glycogen) is depleted within a few days. The body then turns to an alternative source of fuel, namely fatty acids, which are broken down into ketones by the liver.
The ketones are then transported to the rest of the body, where they can be used as energy by the brain, muscles, and other organs.
There are three main types of ketones:
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Acetoacetate is produced first and can be converted to BHB, which is the main ketone found in the blood. Acetone is a byproduct of acetoacetate and is excreted in the breath and urine.
Ketones are important in the context of the ketogenic diet because they allow the body to maintain energy levels and avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the absence of glucose.
They also have other potential benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, and enhanced cognitive function.
However, it’s important to note that ketosis can have potential risks as well. In some cases, it can lead to ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition in which the blood becomes too acidic due to an excessive buildup of ketones. This is more likely to occur in people with uncontrolled diabetes or other medical conditions.
Insulin and Blood Sugar Regulation
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas in response to rising blood glucose levels after a meal. Its primary role is to facilitate the uptake of glucose into cells for energy production or storage.
Insulin binds to specific receptors on cell membranes, which triggers the translocation of glucose transporters (GLUT4) from intracellular vesicles to the cell surface. This allows glucose to enter the cell and be used for energy or stored as glycogen or fat.
Insulin secretion is tightly regulated by a complex feedback mechanism that involves multiple hormones and signaling pathways.
When blood glucose levels rise, the beta cells in the pancreas release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin then acts on target tissues, such as muscle and liver, to stimulate glucose uptake and utilization. In addition, insulin suppresses the breakdown of glycogen in the liver and stimulates the synthesis of new glycogen.
When blood glucose levels drop, the alpha cells in the pancreas secrete another hormone called glucagon. Glucagon acts on the liver to stimulate the breakdown of glycogen into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream to maintain blood glucose levels. This process is known as glycogenolysis.
Another hormone involved in blood glucose regulation is cortisol, which is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol stimulates gluconeogenesis, which is the synthesis of new glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, such as amino acids and fatty acids. This helps to maintain blood glucose levels during prolonged fasting or stress.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells become less responsive to insulin, leading to elevated blood glucose levels and impaired glucose uptake. It is a common feature of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Insulin resistance is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, such as high-fat diets, sedentary behavior, and chronic stress.
Metabolic Pathways and Energy Production
Metabolic pathways and energy production are complex biological processes that involve numerous biochemical reactions and cellular structures.
Metabolic pathways refer to the interconnected series of biochemical reactions that occur within cells to convert nutrients into energy and other essential molecules. These pathways are categorized into two main types: catabolic pathways and anabolic pathways.
Catabolic pathways break down larger molecules, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, into smaller molecules, such as glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids.
This process releases energy that is stored in the chemical bonds of these molecules. Anabolic pathways, on the other hand, use this energy to build larger molecules, such as glycogen, lipids, and proteins, from smaller molecules.
One of the key metabolic pathways involved in energy production is the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle or tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. This cycle occurs within the mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles found in most eukaryotic cells.
The Krebs cycle begins with the oxidation of acetyl-CoA, a molecule derived from the breakdown of glucose, fatty acids, or amino acids.
The acetyl-CoA is then combined with oxaloacetate to form citrate, which is then converted to a series of intermediate compounds through a series of enzymatic reactions. These reactions generate high-energy molecules such as NADH and FADH2, which are used in the electron transport chain to produce ATP, the primary energy currency of cells.
Another important metabolic pathway involved in energy production is glycolysis, which occurs in the cytoplasm of cells. Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose into pyruvate, which can then be further metabolized in the Krebs cycle. Glycolysis generates a small amount of ATP and also produces NADH, which is used in the electron transport chain to produce additional ATP.
In addition to these pathways, there are many other metabolic pathways involved in energy production and other cellular processes, such as the pentose phosphate pathway, the beta-oxidation of fatty acids, and the synthesis and breakdown of glycogen.
These pathways are tightly regulated by enzymes, hormones, and other signaling molecules to ensure that cells have a steady supply of energy and other essential molecules.
The Keto Food List
Foods to eat on the Keto Diet
Foods to eat on the keto diet are primarily high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. You can find plenty of keto recipes on Meal Plan Weekly, in case you’re looking for inspiration.
This includes foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
It’s important to choose high-quality, nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed and refined foods that are high in carbs and unhealthy fats.
By focusing on these keto-friendly foods, you can maintain a state of ketosis and achieve the many health benefits of the keto diet, including weight loss, improved energy levels, and better blood sugar control.
|Proteins||Fats||Vegetables||Nuts and Seeds||Dairy|
|Chicken||Extra Virgin Olive oil||Broccoli||Chia seeds||Heavy cream|
|Turkey||Coconut oil||Cauliflower||Flax seeds||Sour cream|
|Pork||Avocado oil||Cabbage||Macadamia nuts||Cream cheese|
|Fish||MCT oil||Zucchini||Walnuts||Greek yogurt|
|Seafood||Ghee||Kale||Pumpkin seeds||Cottage cheese|
Foods to avoid on the Keto Diet
- Sugary foods: soda, candy, cakes, pastries, ice cream, etc.
- Grains: wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn, etc.
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, etc.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, etc.
- High-carb sauces and condiments: ketchup, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, etc.
- Processed foods: chips, crackers, packaged snacks, etc.
- Sugary drinks: fruit juice, sweetened tea, sports drinks, etc.
- Alcohol: beer, sweet wines, mixed drinks with sugary mixers, etc.
- High-carb sweeteners: sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.
And here are some foods that are surprisingly high in carbs and should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether on the keto diet:
- Certain vegetables: Some vegetables that are typically considered healthy, such as onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, can be relatively high in carbs and should be consumed in moderation.
- Nuts and seeds: While nuts and seeds can be a healthy snack on the keto diet, they can also be high in carbs if consumed in large quantities. Examples include cashews, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.
- Dairy products: While dairy products such as cheese and butter are allowed on the keto diet, some dairy products such as milk and yogurt can be high in carbs.
- Sauces and condiments: Many sauces and condiments, such as salad dressings and marinades, can be high in carbs and should be used sparingly or avoided altogether.
- Processed meats: Some processed meats, such as deli meats and sausages, can contain added sugars and other carb-heavy ingredients.
It’s important to read food labels and pay attention to portion sizes when consuming these foods on the keto diet.
By avoiding high-carb foods and choosing keto-friendly alternatives, you can achieve optimal results and maintain ketosis.
Tips for Grocery Shopping and Meal Prep
- Plan your meals in advance: Before heading to the grocery store, plan out your meals for the week. This will help you stay on track with your macros and avoid impulse purchases.
- Make a grocery list: Based on your meal plan, make a list of the foods and ingredients you’ll need for the week. Or you can automate this process by building meal plans on our website. Stick to the outer edges of the grocery store, where you’ll find fresh produce, meat, and dairy products.
- Stock up on keto-friendly staples: Some essential items to keep in your pantry and fridge include:
- Meat (such as beef, chicken, pork, and fish)
- Low-carb vegetables (such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and peppers)
- Healthy fats (such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and butter)
- Dairy products (such as cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, and unsweetened almond milk)
- Nuts and seeds (such as almonds, macadamias, chia seeds, and flaxseeds)
- Keto-friendly sweeteners (such as stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit)
- Read labels carefully: When shopping for packaged foods, check the nutrition labels to make sure they fit into your macro goals. Look for foods that are high in fat and protein, and low in carbs and sugar.
- Meal prep in advance: One of the keys to success on the keto diet is being prepared. Spend some time each week meal prepping, such as:
- Cooking a big batch of protein (such as chicken or ground beef) to use throughout the week
- Chopping up vegetables and storing them in containers for easy access
- Making keto-friendly snacks (such as hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, or almond butter cups)
- Preparing a few different sauces or dressings to add flavor to your meals
- Invest in quality storage containers: Invest in good quality storage containers to keep your prepped meals and snacks fresh. Glass containers are a great option as they’re non-toxic, easy to clean, and can be used in the microwave and oven.
- Keep it simple: Don’t overcomplicate things with fancy recipes and exotic ingredients. Stick to simple meals that are easy to prepare and meet your macro goals. You can always experiment with new recipes once you get the hang of the basics.
Meal Planning and Recipes
Sample Meal Plans
- Breakfast: Keto Egg Muffins (23g protein, 2g net carbs, 22g fat)
- Lunch: Keto Taco Salad (24g protein, 6g net carbs, 26g fat)
- Dinner: Baked Salmon with Lemon and Butter (25g protein, 0g net carbs, 30g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Avocado Smoothie (14g protein, 7g net carbs, 28g fat)
- Lunch: Creamy Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles (21g protein, 4g net carbs, 27g fat)
- Dinner: Keto Beef Stroganoff (25g protein, 7g net carbs, 31g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Breakfast Bowl (21g protein, 5g net carbs, 28g fat)
- Lunch: Keto Chicken Caesar Salad (27g protein, 4g net carbs, 29g fat)
- Dinner: Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs (26g protein, 2g net carbs, 31g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Blueberry Muffins (8g protein, 3g net carbs, 21g fat)
- Lunch: Keto BLT Salad (22g protein, 4g net carbs, 28g fat)
- Dinner: Keto Italian Sausage and Peppers (23g protein, 6g net carbs, 25g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Chia Seed Pudding (12g protein, 4g net carbs, 25g fat)
- Lunch: Keto Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken (28g protein, 7g net carbs, 29g fat)
- Dinner: Slow Cooker Keto Pot Roast (29g protein, 4g net carbs, 37g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Spinach and Feta Egg Wrap (16g protein, 5g net carbs, 26g fat)
- Lunch: Keto Cobb Salad (27g protein, 7g net carbs, 33g fat)
- Dinner: Keto Garlic Butter Steak Bites (32g protein, 2g net carbs, 33g fat)
- Breakfast: Keto Chocolate Smoothie (23g protein, 6g net carbs, 27g fat)
- Lunch: Keto Bacon and Cheeseburger Salad (25g protein, 6g net carbs, 27g fat)
- Dinner: Keto Garlic Butter Shrimp and Broccoli (25g protein, 4g net carbs, 30g fat)
Keto Recipe Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
Keto Recipe Ideas for Breakfast:
- Keto-friendly smoothies made with almond milk, spinach, avocado, and berries
- Low-carb pancakes or waffles made with almond flour or coconut flour and served with sugar-free syrup
- Bacon and egg muffins made with eggs, bacon, spinach, and cheese
- Avocado and egg breakfast bowl topped with bacon and cheese
- Low-carb breakfast burritos made with almond flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, avocado, and bacon
Keto Recipe Ideas for Lunch:
- Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, avocado, nuts, and a vinaigrette dressing
- Zucchini noodles with chicken, pesto, and cherry tomatoes
- Cauliflower crust pizza with low-carb tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and toppings of your choice
- Bunless burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado
- Broccoli and cheddar soup made with heavy cream and chicken broth
Keto Recipe Ideas for Dinner:
- Grilled salmon with roasted asparagus and cauliflower rice
- Baked chicken thighs with a garlic and herb rub, served with a side salad
- Cauliflower and sausage skillet made with ground sausage, cauliflower rice, and diced vegetables
- Low-carb lasagna made with zucchini noodles, ricotta cheese, ground beef, and marinara sauce
- Spaghetti squash with meatballs and low-carb tomato sauce
Keto Recipe Ideas for Snacks:
- Hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper
- Almond butter and celery sticks
- Cheese crisps made by baking shredded cheese until crispy
- Sugar-free jerky made with beef or turkey
- Guacamole and low-carb tortilla chips
Tips for Eating Out and Traveling
Do your research beforehand: Before going to a restaurant, look up their menu online to see if they offer any keto-friendly options. You can also call ahead to ask if they can accommodate your dietary needs.
Stick to simple dishes: When in doubt, opt for simple dishes like grilled meats or fish with a side of veggies or a salad. Avoid dishes with sauces, breading, or starchy sides like pasta, rice, or potatoes.
Customize your order: Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or modifications to fit your keto needs. For example, you can ask for extra veggies instead of rice or potatoes, or request that your dish be cooked in olive oil instead of butter.
Watch out for hidden carbs: Some sauces, dressings, and condiments may contain hidden sugars or carbs, so ask for them on the side and use them sparingly. You can also bring your own keto-friendly condiments like mayo, mustard, or hot sauce.
Choose keto-friendly snacks: When traveling, bring along keto-friendly snacks like nuts, seeds, jerky, or cheese to keep you satisfied between meals. You can also find keto-friendly snacks at most convenience stores, such as beef jerky or hard-boiled eggs.
Research local food options: If you’re traveling to a new city or country, research local keto-friendly foods and dishes. For example, in some cultures, meat and vegetables are a staple, while in others, bread and rice may be more common.
Plan ahead for flights: Many airlines offer keto-friendly meals or snacks on their flights, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own snacks just in case. Nuts, seeds, and beef jerky are good options that don’t require refrigeration.
Stay hydrated: Traveling can be dehydrating, so make sure to drink plenty of water and bring a refillable water bottle with you. You can also bring along electrolyte supplements or packets to replenish your electrolytes on the go.
Supplements and Tools for Keto
Recommended Supplements for the Keto Diet
|Supplement||What it does||Benefits|
|Electrolytes||Regulate fluid balance and nerve/muscle function||Prevent dehydration, cramping, and fatigue; support healthy heart function|
|Magnesium||Supports bone health, nerve function, and energy metabolism||Reduces muscle cramps and headaches, improves sleep quality, supports healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||Essential fats that support brain function and heart health||Reduce inflammation, lower risk of heart disease, support brain and eye health|
|MCT Oil||Medium-chain triglycerides that are easily digested and converted to ketones||Boosts energy and mental clarity, supports fat burning and weight loss, may improve cholesterol levels|
|Probiotics||Beneficial bacteria that support gut health and immunity||Reduce inflammation, support healthy digestion, boost immune function, may improve mood and mental health|
|Vitamin D||Supports bone health, immune function, and mood||Regulates calcium absorption, reduces inflammation, may reduce risk of chronic diseases and depression|
|Zinc||Supports immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis||Boosts immune function, reduces inflammation, may improve insulin sensitivity|
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and individual needs may vary. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
Keto-friendly Snacks and Desserts
|Snacks and Desserts||Description||Where to Buy|
|Nuts and Seeds||Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats and protein, and low in carbs. Try almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like Amazon or Nuts.com|
|Beef Jerky||Beef jerky is a high-protein snack that’s low in carbs and can help satisfy cravings. Look for brands that are free from added sugars and preservatives.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like Chomps or Epic|
|Pork Rinds||Pork rinds are a crunchy and savory snack that’s high in fat and low in carbs. Look for brands that are free from added flavors or seasonings.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like 4505 Meats or Utz|
|Cheese||Cheese is a good source of fat and protein, and can be a satisfying snack on its own or paired with other foods. Try cheddar, mozzarella, brie, or goat cheese.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like igourmet or Cheese.com|
|Dark Chocolate||Dark chocolate is a low-carb dessert option that’s high in antioxidants and healthy fats. Look for brands that are at least 70% cacao and free from added sugars.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like Lindt or ChocZero|
|Keto Bars||Keto bars are a convenient and portable snack that are specifically formulated to be low in carbs and high in healthy fats. Look for brands that are free from artificial sweeteners and fillers.||Online retailers like Perfect Keto or Bulletproof|
|Nut Butter Packets||Nut butter packets are a convenient and portion-controlled snack that can be enjoyed on their own or paired with other foods. Look for brands that are free from added sugars or oils.||Local grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers like Justin’s or Artisana|
Common Challenges and Solutions
Dealing with Carb Cravings
Carb cravings are a common experience for many people who switch to the keto diet, as the body adapts to a lower-carb intake.
These cravings can be difficult to resist, but there are several strategies you can try to manage them.
Some of these include:
- Drink plenty of water and other non-caloric beverages to help fill you up and stay hydrated.
- Eat keto-friendly snacks that satisfy your cravings, such as nuts, cheese, or veggies with dip.
- Keep healthy keto meals and snacks on hand to avoid getting too hungry and giving into temptation.
- Find ways to distract yourself when you feel a craving coming on, such as going for a walk, calling a friend, or engaging in a hobby.
- Consider incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
From a scientific perspective, carb cravings can be driven by a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors.
When you consume carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose, which is used by the body as a primary source of energy. When you switch to a low-carb or keto diet, your body must adapt to using fat as its primary fuel source instead.
This can lead to a temporary drop in blood sugar levels, which can trigger cravings for carbs and other quick sources of energy.
In addition to these physiological factors, psychological and environmental factors can also contribute to carb cravings.
For example, stress, boredom, or social pressure can all trigger cravings for comfort foods that are high in carbs. Food addiction and reward pathways in the brain can also play a role in driving carb cravings.
To manage carb cravings from a scientific perspective, it’s important to take a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physiological and psychological factors involved. This may involve strategies such as:
- Gradually reducing your carb intake over time to minimize the impact on blood sugar levels.
- Consuming keto-friendly snacks and meals that are high in healthy fats and protein helps keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Addressing underlying psychological factors that may be driving your cravings, such as stress or emotional eating.
- Practicing mindfulness and self-awareness to identify triggers for your carb cravings and develop strategies for managing them.
- Seeking support from a healthcare professional, nutritionist, or counselor as needed to help you navigate the challenges of transitioning to a low-carb or keto diet.
Overcoming Keto Flu
“Keto flu” is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that some people experience when they first start the ketogenic diet and it’s totally normal.
These symptoms can include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and irritability. While the exact cause of keto flu is not fully understood, it is believed to be related to the body’s transition from using glucose (sugar) as its primary fuel source to using ketones (produced from fat) instead.
When you eat a diet that’s high in carbohydrates, your body uses glucose as its main source of energy. However, when you switch to a low-carb, high-fat diet like keto, your body begins to burn fat for energy instead.
This process is known as ketosis, and it occurs when your liver produces ketones from stored fat to fuel your body. While ketosis is a natural and healthy process, it can take some time for your body to adapt to using ketones instead of glucose.
During the transition period, your body may experience a temporary shortage of glucose and electrolytes, which can lead to keto flu symptoms. Additionally, your body may be producing more ketones than it’s used to, which can cause an imbalance in your blood pH levels and lead to dehydration.
To overcome keto flu, it’s important to support your body’s transition to ketosis by following these steps:
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids like bone broth or coconut water to replenish your fluids and electrolytes.
- Increase your salt intake: Since your body loses sodium during ketosis, adding more salt to your food or drinking saltwater can help maintain your electrolyte balance.
- Get enough rest: Fatigue is a common symptom of keto flu, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep and allowing your body to rest as needed.
- Gradually reduce carbs: If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, you may want to gradually reduce your carb intake over a period of several days or weeks instead of making a sudden switch.
- Consider supplements: Some people find that taking magnesium, potassium, or other supplements can help alleviate keto flu symptoms.
It’s important to note that while keto flu can be uncomfortable, it is usually temporary and should resolve on its own within a few days to a few weeks.
If your symptoms persist or are severe, however, you should consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions.
Keto and Exercise
How exercise affects Keto
Exercise can be a helpful complement to the keto diet for several reasons. First, exercise can help burn more calories and promote weight loss, which can enhance the benefits of the keto diet.
Second, exercise can help build and maintain muscle mass, which is important for overall health and metabolic function.
Also, exercise can improve mood, energy levels, and overall well-being, which can make it easier to stick to the keto diet long-term.
Here are a few key points to consider:
- Exercise can help deplete glycogen stores: Glycogen is the storage form of glucose in the body, and it’s the primary source of energy for high-intensity exercise. When you follow the keto diet, your glycogen stores may be depleted due to the low-carb nature of the diet. However, exercise can accelerate this depletion, which can promote ketosis and fat burning.
- Exercise can increase insulin sensitivity: Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and promotes the storage of nutrients such as glucose and amino acids. When you exercise, your muscles become more sensitive to insulin, which can improve glucose uptake and reduce insulin resistance. This can be beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, which are common conditions associated with obesity and metabolic dysfunction.
- Exercise can increase fat burning: When you exercise, your body requires energy to fuel the activity. If you have limited glycogen stores due to the keto diet, your body may turn to fat stores for energy instead. This can increase fat burning and promote ketosis, which can enhance the benefits of the keto diet.
- Exercise can increase protein requirements: Exercise can increase protein turnover and promote muscle protein synthesis, which can increase the demand for dietary protein. This means that individuals on the keto diet who exercise regularly may need to consume more protein to support muscle recovery and growth.
- Exercise can cause stress on the body: While exercise has many benefits, it can also be a stressor on the body. High-intensity exercise can increase levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can promote muscle breakdown and impair immune function. It’s important to balance exercise with adequate rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and promote overall health.
Types of exercise that work well with Keto
It’s important to note that any type of physical activity can be beneficial for overall health and well-being, regardless of whether or not you’re on the keto diet.
However, some types of exercise may be particularly well-suited to the keto diet due to their ability to support muscle mass, fat-burning, and overall metabolic health.
Resistance training, for example, is important for preserving muscle mass and promoting fat loss, while HIIT and LISS can help improve cardiovascular health and increase metabolism.
Yoga and stretching can help promote relaxation and flexibility, while sports and recreational activities can provide a fun and engaging way to stay active.
Ultimately, the best type of exercise for you will depend on your individual goals, preferences, and physical abilities.
|Type of Exercise||Benefit|
|Resistance training (weightlifting, bodyweight exercises)||Helps build and maintain muscle mass, which can boost metabolism and prevent muscle loss during weight loss|
|High-intensity interval training (HIIT)||Can improve cardiovascular health, increase metabolism, and promote fat burning|
|Low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS)||Can help improve endurance, promote fat burning, and aid in recovery|
|Yoga and stretching||Can improve flexibility, balance, and relaxation, and may help with stress reduction|
|Sports and recreational activities (e.g. hiking, biking, swimming)||Can provide a fun and enjoyable way to stay active and burn calories|
Advanced Topics in Keto
Intermittent Fasting and Keto
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary strategy that involves alternating periods of fasting and eating.
The most popular form of IF is the 16/8 method, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window each day. For example, you might skip breakfast and only eat lunch and dinner between 12pm and 8pm.
When combined with the keto diet, intermittent fasting can help to enhance the benefits of both approaches. The ketogenic diet encourages the body to enter a state of ketosis, in which it burns fat for fuel instead of glucose.
Intermittent fasting can further promote fat burning and weight loss by extending the period of time during which the body is in a fasted state, when it is more likely to use stored fat for energy.
Here’s an example of how intermittent fasting and keto might work for a professional worker:
- 6am: Wake up and drink water or black coffee
- 12pm: Break the fast with a keto-friendly lunch, such as a salad with avocado, chicken, and olive oil dressing
- 3pm: Have a small keto snack, such as a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg
- 7pm: Enjoy a keto dinner, such as grilled salmon with asparagus and butter sauce
- 8pm: Begin the fast again until noon the next day
During the fasting period, the worker would drink plenty of water and may also consume tea, coffee, or other non-caloric beverages to help curb hunger and provide some mental stimulation.
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting and keto may not be appropriate for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or nutrient deficiencies. It’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or fasting regimen.
We are dedicated to providing the best and most effective meal plans to help you stay on track with your goals. Our team constantly tests and experiments with different recipes and approaches to ensure our offerings are of the highest quality. We also collaborate with a network of nutrition and data experts from around the globe to bring you innovative and advanced meal plans.