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The world is finally catching on to the amazing benefits of the ketogenic diet. Individuals turn to keto to lose weight, cut body fat, improve memory function and combat a variety of ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.
By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information to rock the keto diet and build a meal plan that works for your lifestyle.
Breaking Down the Ketogenic Diet: Knowing Your Macros
Let’s start with the most important factor of the ketogenic diet: the macronutrient breakdown.
Success on the ketogenic diet comes from being in ketosis — when the body uses up all its carb stores and begins breaking down fat for energy. A lot of amazing things can happen in ketosis, which we’ll discuss below. However, carbs (transformed into glucose) will always be your body’s preferred energy source. When carbs are present, they will inhibit your body from elevating its ketone levels, thereby burning fat for fuel.
Fat should make up the majority of your ketogenic diet, protein should be eaten often, and carbs should make up a small portion of your overall macros. To calculate, use this macro calculator to figure out your personal keto diet macros.
Select the Standard Ketogenic Calculator for a classic ketogenic diet of 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrate (recommended)
Select Specialized Macronutrient Calculator to input specific amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate
Choose Calculator Type*
Unit of Measurement*
Choose what describes you best
Calorie Intake Goal
Input "0" to maintain your bodyweight
Input a surplus percentage for weight gain
Input a deficit percentage for weight loss
5-10% is a small deficit
10-20% is a moderate deficit
20-30% is a large deficit
Input Your Body Fat %
Input Your Protein Ratio
Guide to picking your protein ratio
To maintain muscle, leave protein ratio between 0.60 to 0.80 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.3 to 1.7 grams per kg LBM)
To gain muscle, the protein ratio should be between 0.8 to 1.2 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.7 to 2.3 grams per kg LBM)
Input Your Total Carb Intake
Input the grams of carbs you want to consume on a daily basis
Your Daily Macronutrient Goals
A keto meal plan should be comprised of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% total carbs. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, that would come out to 1,500 calories/167 grams of fat, 400 calories/100 grams of protein and 100 calories/25 grams of carbs. You would need to make sure you stay at or below 25 grams of carbs each day.
A Quick Note on Protein
You know why you should limit your carb intake (carbs prevent you from entering ketosis), but what about protein? Is protein truly limited on keto?
When it comes to PUFAs, quality matters. Many PUFAs — such as seed oils including canola and vegetable oil — become rancid when heated.
PUFAs include both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are essential, meaning we must get them from foods. It’s best to shoot for about a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s. Too many Omega-6 oils — such as corn, sunflower, soybean, safflower and canola oil — can lead to inflammation in the body.
Unfortunately, Omega-3s are much less common in foods than Omega-6s so focusing on consuming adequate Omega-3 fats is essential on a ketogenic diet. Common sources of Omega-3s include flaxseeds and flaxseed oils, fatty fish and fish oils and grass-fed meats.
Healthy PUFAs on keto include:
Animal fats: Fatty fish (like salmon) and fish oil
When it comes to meats, choose the highest-quality meat you can reasonably afford. Grass-fed, grass-finished and fattier cuts are best. If grass-fed meat doesn’t fit within your budget, select a leaner cuts, then pair with a fatty side dish or topping to increase the fat-to-protein ratio.
For seafood, select wild-caught fish whenever possible. Wild fish are raised in their natural habitat, while farmed fish are fed commercial feed. This has posed some health concerns, including elevated levels of dioxins (herbicides) that may pose cancer risks[*].
Ketogenic diet meat and seafood includes:
Beef: steak, veal, roast, ground beef
Poultry: turkey, chicken, duck, quail, wild game
Seafood: wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, all shellfish (including crab, lobster, clams, mussels and oysters), tuna (pole-caught is best), crawfish, cod, shrimp
Pork: bacon, tenderloin, pork loin, ham, ground, chops
Other low-carb veggies: cauliflower, asparagus, celery, cucumber, zucchini, mushrooms, kohlrabi and moderate amounts of onions, bell peppers and spaghetti squash
For the most part, fruits should be avoided on a ketogenic diet. Fruits are high carb and packed with sugar. Sugar is the carbohydrate you most want to avoid on a ketogenic diet.
In addition to its addictive, disease-promoting effects, sugar consumption causes an immediate spike in blood sugar. This leads to excessive cravings and can immediately halt fat burning — everything you’re trying to avoid on keto.
Avocados are the only fruit which can be enjoyed in abundance on keto. Due to their low carb and high-fat content, avocados follow the macronutrient breakdown you’re looking for.
Keto-friendly fruit includes:
Fruit to enjoy in abundance: avocados
Fruit to enjoy sparingly: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
Some of the low-sugar fruits can be eaten in very small quantities. For reference, just a cup of blueberries contains about 17 net carbs.
Supplements to Include in Your Ketogenic Diet Plan
Supplements can help you get into ketosis, combat various nutritional deficiencies and improve your weight and at loss results. Below, you’ll learn which supplements are best included in your ketogenic diet plan.
Many people are not reaching the recommended vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps regulate many functions in the body, including regulating sex hormones and immune health, fighting inflammation and helping our bodies utilize calcium to promote strong bones. We should have around 65-75 nanograms/milliliters of vitamin D in our bodies[*].
We can get vitamin D from:
Foods: mostly fortified dairy products, fish or fish oils, egg yolks and beef liver
Shoot for 1000-1500 International Units per every 25 pounds of body weight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning that it is absorbed better when consumed with a fat source. Take it in the morning with some healthy fat to promote optimal absorption and utilization in your body.
Omega-3s help support our brain and heart health, combat depression and other mental health issues and lower inflammation.
Unless you’re eating a couple servings of well-sourced fatty fish each day and large amounts of leafy green vegetables with each meal, you can probably benefit from an Omega-3 supplement.
Taking a fish oil capsule containing 3000-5000 per day is a good place to start. Make sure it contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), which are the two most useful forms of Omega-3s. Look for fish oil with a five-star International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) rating and the Friends of the Sea (FOS) stamp of approval. Source matters!
When someone begins a low-carb ketogenic diet, there is an initial loss of water weight. With this release of water, electrolytes in your body (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) are flushed out along with it. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes on a daily basis.
Below are a few electrolytes you should consume on keto.
Conventional wisdom says excess sodium (salt) is bad, but when it comes to a low carb diet, sodium is very important. More sodium is excreted from the body in a low carb, ketogenic state. Unless a medical condition requires you to control your sodium intake, consuming extra sodium on the keto diet is beneficial.
Getting extra sodium is easy. You can drink bone broth, add sea salt to your meals and eat salty sea vegetables like kelp, nori or dulse. According to keto experts like naturopath and nutritionist Dr. Marc Bubbs, it’s best to aim for 1,000-2,000 extra milligrams of sodium per day on keto.
Supplement forms of potassium can be toxic, so it’s best to get it from keto-friendly vegetables like spinach, kale, avocados or mushrooms or from a salt substitute like No Salt.
You consume magnesium from leafy green veggies and nuts, but those often won’t provide enough. Take 500 milligrams of magnesium each night at bedtime.
The recommended daily intake of calcium is around 1,000 milligrams. You can get calcium from fish, dairy sources and vegetables like kale, broccoli and bok choy. If your intake of these are not high enough, you might need to supplement. Take no more than 500 milligrams at a time, as the body can’t absorb more than that at once. Make sure your supplement includes vitamin D, too, as it’s needed to absorb the calcium.
Not a fan of vegetables? There’s another way to get your greens.
One way to ensure you get enough micronutrients on keto is by taking a greens powder, like Keto Micro Greens. It contains 14 servings of 22 different fruits and vegetables plus MCT fats to promote optimal absorption.
Perfect Keto Micronutrient Greens Ingredients
Greens and Veggie Blend: 4.5 grams of raw and organic greens and vegetables from 12 different sources.
Berry and Fruit Blend: 4.5 grams of raw and organic berries and fruits from 10 different sources.
MCT Powder: 3.5 grams of MCTs made from 100% coconut oil so you can adequately absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Liver Support and Digestive Enzymes: To help absorb the micronutrients found within the ingredients.
Exogenous ketone supplements give the body extra ketones for energy. This can help you get into ketosis initially, return to ketosis after a carb-laden meal or help prevent keto flu symptoms, such as headaches and withdrawal.
Typically, it takes days of consuming high fats and low carbs to enter ketosis. With exogenous ketones, you can get into ketosis within hours.
Take exogenous ketones in between meals for a quick boost in ketones or even before a workout for extra energy.
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat that can be used by your body for energy. MCTs help our bodies produce ketones and switch into fat-burning mode. MCTs also support our gut microbiome by fighting harmful parasites and bad bacteria.
MCT oil powder can be added to coffee, tea or smoothies for a quick and easy dose.
Collagen has been shown to improve the health of your skin, hair, nails, joints, gut, brain and tissues. For a quick dose of protein, collagen protein is a great option. It’s made from grass-fed beef and produced in the same way as bone broth — heated slowly to preserve its nutrition.
For those who work out often and need a boost beforehand, a ketogenic pre-workout powder can provide clean energy without any fillers or other junk.
Perfect Keto Perform Pre-Workout contains everything you need for healthy energy: exogenous ketones, MCTs, creatine, branched chain amino acids, beta-alanine, l-citrulline and caffeine from green tea.
Results to Expect on a Keto Diet
While the benefits of a ketogenic diet vary depending on the person, there are some common results you can expect.
Weight and Fat Loss
Most people following keto for weight loss get amazing results, especially after first starting the diet. There are several reasons for this:
Ketosis puts the body into a fat-burning state
Ketogenic diet foods are whole foods, so switching to this diet cuts out a lot of junk that people normally eat
The switch from burning carbs to burning fat causes the kidneys to flush out water, leading to less bloat and initial water weight loss.
Increased HDL Cholesterol
The high intake of healthy fats on a ketogenic diet may help increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve LDL cholesterol and triglycerides — all of which are important for maintaining a healthy heart and preventing heart disease[*].
Increased Energy and Cognition
When our bodies are in ketosis and avoiding insulin-spiking carbs, we’re less likely to experience spikes in blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day. This can help improve focus and concentration when you need it most — such as at work or during a workout. A ketogenic diet has been shown to support better mental performance, including memory, productivity and cases of mild cognitive impairment[*].
Ketosis can be used to reduce inflammation, the root cause of many common diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis and even acne[*].
A low carb ketogenic diet is rich in anti-inflammatory foods and devoid of foods that spike insulin levels and inflammation like refined sugars and carbohydrates.
How to Start a Ketogenic Diet
Hopefully, this ketogenic diet plan helps you reach your health goals. If it seems overwhelming, try focusing on a little at a time: