Want to start the keto diet but don’t know what to eat?
Here, you’ll learn the basics of the ketogenic diet, what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how to do keto meal prep the right way so you can save time.
When starting a new diet, knowing what you can and cannot eat is often the most stressful part of the transition. Here, all the guesswork is taken away for you. A ketogenic diet meal plan is laid out for you so you know exactly which recipes to follow for each meal.
The meal plan below is simplified into a 7-day plan, which you can download here.
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to put your body in a metabolic state of ketosis and support your health. Ketosis is a state in which you burn mainly fat — rather than carbs — for energy. Ketosis has been shown to provide multiple health benefits, including weight loss, better mental performance, blood sugar control, and disease management.
On keto, the majority of your caloric intake will come from fa and some protein and very few carbs. Most people can enter ketosis following these guidelines:
- Consume 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass at a minimum
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams of total carbohydrates
- Any remaining calories should come from healthy fats
This “starves” your body of carbohydrates, which would otherwise be converted into glucose in the liver. With no glucose available, your body burns ketones as its primary energy source, transitioning your body into a fat-burning state.
Preparation is an important component of the keto diet. Planning your meals in advance will save time, money and energy, and prevent you from reaching for carb-laden snacks when hunger hits.
As you put together your shopping list, take note of which foods are (and are not) keto-friendly.
For a complete overview, dive into The Full Keto Diet Food List.
- Fats and oils: olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, butter, ghee, walnut oil, flaxseed oil
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, almond butter, chia seeds, walnuts, walnut butter, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews
- Full-fat, organic, grass-fed dairy: heavy cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, hard and soft cheeses
- Grass-fed beef: ground beef, veal, steak
- Organ meats: liver, heart, tongue
- Pasture-raised pork: ham, bacon, pulled pork, pork loins
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck
- Wild-caught seafood: salmon, mussels, cod, crab, tilapia, clams
- Leafy green vegetables: kale, swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli
- Other vegetables: cauliflower, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, celery, cucumber
- Low-carb fruits: avocado, blueberries, raspberries, cherries
You can also use some condiments, ideally homemade or made without sugar. Low carb sweeteners can be used in moderation.
To make your meal prep as simple as possible, it’s helpful to know which foods to avoid. Avoid the grocery aisles containing the below food groups. If they’re currently stocked in your cupboards, it may be best to throw them out, or donate any unopened packaged foods.
Foods to avoid on keto:
- Sugar: White sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
- Grains: White and wheat bread, whole grains, oats, rice, quinoa, couscous, pasta
- Fruit: Apples, mangoes, melons, oranges
- Legumes: Black beans, kidney beans, soy, lentils
- Starch: Sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, other starchy vegetables
As a beginner to the keto diet, it’s important to understand your macros.
The three macronutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrates. While a standard American diet weighs heavily in carbohydrates and low in fat, a ketogenic diet plan takes the opposite approach. On the keto diet, you will eat high quantities of fat, moderate amounts of protein and very few carbs.
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 or 167 grams of fat, 400 calories or 100 grams of protein and 100 calories or 25 grams of carbs. You would need to make sure you stay at or below 25 grams of carbs each day to stay in ketosis.
These percentages are estimates only. To calculate your macros precisely, use the Perfect Keto Macro Calculator.
How active are you?
What is your weight goal?
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Enter 1 to 50%
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- 5 to 10% is a small gain/loss
- 10 to 20% is a moderate gain/loss
- 20%+ is a large gain/loss
What is your body fat %
How much do you want to consume?
We’ve prefilled these consumption amounts for beginners to intermediate keto-ers for the best results. If you’re more advanced, adjust as needed.
Grams of protein per pound of lean body mass
Adequate protein should be eaten on a ketogenic diet. For most people, it is undesirable to lose muscle mass. Set this ratio at a minimum of .8g/lb of lean body mass. Increase the ratio based on your strength goals and exercise demands.
Net Carb Intake
It is highly recommended that on a ketogenic diet, you keep your carb intake to 5% or less of total calories. This works out to be an average of 30g net carbs a day.
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Worried that this is too much protein? Most keto macro calculators will tell you that your protein needs to be only 10-15% of your total calories. We don’t agree. Check out the video below by our founder Dr. Anthony Gustin to understand why he made this macro calculator with higher than most protein recommendations:
Foods to Avoid on Keto
- Unhealthy vegetable and seed oils: corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil
- Processed meats: hot dogs, salami, meats made with casings
- Farm-raised seafood
- Grain-fed beef, pork and poultry
- All grains: rice, wheat, bulgar, bread, cereal, oatmeal, barley, rye, couscous, quinoa
- Starchy vegetables: white potatoes, sweet potatoes, most squash, corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots
- High carb fruits: pineapple, apples, watermelon, dried fruit, fruit juice, mango
Most alcohol, sugar and artificial sweeteners, fast food and processed condiments are also off-limits on keto.
It’s always a good idea to have a backlog of go-to meal ideas. If you follow a strict work schedule or hectic lifestyle, these meals can be made quickly, without having to refer to a recipe. Here are a few Perfect Keto favorites:
- Bulletproof coffee: Popular amongst many who follow a low carb or keto lifestyle, bulletproof coffee has many health benefits. It provides a sharp mental boost and satiety from the fat, plus it helps you get into ketosis first thing in the morning.
- Salads: No, salads do not have to be boring. Pile your salad high with lots of leafy greens, good oils such as coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, and healthy protein like salmon, bacon and hard-boiled eggs.
- Collagen smoothies: Most smoothie recipes are loaded with fruit, and therefore loaded with sugar. By tweaking your smoothie recipes to include a healthy dose of fat and protein, adding a serving of collagen and topping with chia seeds or another keto-friendly topping, you have the perfect on-the-go snack or meal.
- Intermittent fasting: If you’re not hungry, don’t force it. Keto supports intermittent fasting, which can provide various health benefits such as enhanced mental focus and weight loss.
The following sample meal plan outlines three days on the ketogenic diet. Your meals may differ slightly based on your lifestyle, weight loss goals and body type.
Lunch: Easy White Turkey Chili and salad greens with olive oil and pine nuts
Breakfast: Keto Grand Slam
Lunch: Tuna Zoodle Casserole and roasted broccoli with olive oil
Dinner: Southing Keto Chicken Soup
Breakfast: Two Cheesy Low Carb Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon and half an avocado
The first two weeks of any new diet are the most challenging. During this time period, you’ll adapt to a new way of grocery shopping, meal prepping and eating. On keto, an added challenge is the dreaded keto flu — flu-like withdrawal symptoms associated with transitioning to a low carb diet.
To make this transition easier, Perfect Keto is loaded with additional resources. Recipes, guidance, and articles are at your disposal to help you see success on keto. View the keto recipe library to plan a week’s worth of meals, check out the dessert page for when you’re overcome with carb or sugar cravings and view the Perfect Keto products for supplements to help you enter ketosis more easily.
For additional reading, check out the Perfect Keto knowledge base to help plan your meals. With a little diligence, a lot of preparation and a bit of patience, you will reach your goals.