If you find yourself in a discussion about dieting or weight loss, chances are you’ll hear of the ketogenic or keto diet.
That’s because the keto diet has become one of the most popular methods globally to shed excess weight and improve health.
Studies show that adopting a low-carb, high-fat diet can promote fat loss. It can also improve certain conditions like type 2 diabetes and cognitive decline.
This article explains what to eat and avoid while doing a keto diet and provides a one-week keto meal plan to get you started.
As a rule, the keto diet is very low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein.
When following a ketogenic diet, you need to reduce your carb intake to 50 grams daily at most.
Fats should replace the majority of cut carbs and deliver about 75% of your total calorie intake.
Proteins should account for around 10-30% of energy needs, while carbs are usually restricted to 5%.
This carb reduction drives your body to rely on fats for its primary energy source instead of glucose — a process known as ketosis.
While in ketosis, your body uses ketones — molecules produced in the liver from fats when glucose is inadequate — as an alternate fuel source.
Though fat is often avoided for its high-calorie content, studies show that a ketogenic diet is better at promoting weight loss.
Plus, keto diets reduce hunger and increase satiety, which can be very helpful when trying to lose weight.
The Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan
Switching over to a ketogenic diet can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be tough.
Your focus should be on decreasing carbs while increasing the fat and protein content of meals and snacks.
To reach and remain in a state of ketosis, carbs must be restricted.
While certain people might only achieve ketosis by eating 20 grams of carbs per day, others may be successful with much higher carb intake.
Generally, the lower your carbohydrate intake, the easier it is to reach and stay in ketosis.
This is why clinging to keto-friendly foods and avoiding items rich in carbs is the best way to lose weight on a ketogenic diet successfully.
Most people can consume up to 50g total carbohydrates per day and sustain ketosis. With an average of 20.5g net carbs per day, this keto diet plan will show you how to eat right, not less, while still enjoying a variety of satisfying foods.
Day 1: Monday
Total net carbs: 20.7g
- Breakfast (4.6g net carbs): Eggs Scrambled with Sautéed Onions and Cheddar Cheese
- Snack (2g net carbs): Atkins Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp Bar
- Lunch (5.8g net carbs): 6 oz deli ham over 2 cups mixed greens with ½ Hass avocado, 5 large black olives, ½ cup sliced cucumbers, and 2 Tbsp blue cheese dressing
- Snack (4.5g net carbs): 3/4 medium zucchini cut into sticks and 2 oz provolone cheese
- Dinner (3.8g net carbs): Baked Catfish with Broccoli and Herb-Butter Blend
KETO TIP: Low carb diets like keto have a diuretic effect, so make sure you’re drinking six to eight glasses of water each day. Not consuming enough water can lead to constipation, dizziness, and sugar/carb cravings.
Make sure you add extra salt to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. Try sipping on full-sodium broth or adding a little extra salt to your meal.
Day 2: Tuesday
Total net carbs: 20.6g
- Breakfast (5g net carbs): Frozen Farmhouse-Style Sausage Scramble
- Snack (4.4g net carbs): 1 cup sliced red bell pepper with 2 Tbsp ranch dressing
- Lunch (5.8g net carbs): Bacon-Cheddar Cheese Soup
- Snack (2.2g net carbs): 1 stalk celery with 2 Tbsp cream cheese
- Dinner (3.2g net carbs): 7 oz bone-in pork chop with Cauliflower-Cheddar Mash
KETO TIP: Get moving!
Exercising regularly can help you achieve ketosis by aiding your body in using up its excess glucose before storing it as glycogen.
It’s normal to feel a bit sluggish when starting a keto diet. So if you’re new to the low carb lifestyle, stay active with low-intensity movement like yoga and walking.
When you’re feeling more energized, add in some high-intensity exercise a few days a week.
Day 3: Wednesday
Total net carbs: 19.7g
- Breakfast (2.9g net carbs): Spinach and Swiss Cheese Omelet
- Snack (1g net carbs): Low-Carb Strawberry Shake
- Lunch (6g net carbs): Grilled chicken over baby spinach, tomato, and avocado salad
- Snack (2.2g net carbs): 2 oz ham, 2 Tbsp cream cheese, and 2 dill pickle spears
- Dinner (7.6g net carbs): Beef Sauteed with Vegetables Over Romaine
KETO TIP: If you are new to a low carb lifestyle, you might start to come down with what’s known as the keto flu.
A term coined by the keto community, this is a temporary side effect experienced by some people when they start the keto diet.
If you are experiencing headaches, weakness, and poor concentration, don’t throw in the towel! Electrolytes and water are quickly depleted when you first start a keto diet. So make sure you are drinking plenty of water and consuming a little extra sodium and potassium.
It also helps to get adequate sleep and make sure you are eating plenty of healthy fats.
Day 4: Thursday
Total net carbs: 19.3g
- Breakfast (4.7g net carbs): Cheese and Spinach Omelet Topped with Avocado and Salsa
- Snack (1g net carbs): Low-Carb French Vanilla Shake
- Lunch (6g net carbs): Frozen Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
- Snack (2.2g net carbs): ½ medium zucchini cut into sticks and 1 oz Monterey jack cheese
- Dinner (5.4g net carbs): 5 oz hamburger topped with 1 oz pepper jack cheese, 1 small tomato, ½ Hass avocado, and 2 romaine lettuce leaves
KETO TIP: Craving something sweet? Whip up a decadent dessert with this easy recipe for Chocolate Pecan Pie Bites suitable for all keto diet.
Note that one serving of this recipe will add 1.8g net carbs and 7.1g of fat to today’s menu.
Day 5: Friday
Total net carbs: 21.9g
- Breakfast (2.6g net carbs): 2 large eggs, ¼ cup shredded cheddar, and 4 Tbsp Salsa Cruda
- Snack (2g net carbs): Cafe Caramel Shake
- Lunch (6.9g net carbs): Frozen Chili Con Carne with a side of 2 cups mixed greens and 2 Tbsp Italian Dressing
- Snack (4.4g net carbs): 1 cup sliced red bell pepper with 2 Tbsp ranch dressing
- Dinner (6g net carbs): Half of a California Cobb salad with ranch dressing from California Pizza Kitchen
KETO TIP: It’s the end of the workweek, so meet up with your friends or family for dinner!
Living low carb doesn’t mean you have to cook every one of your meals. Stay on track when dining out by asking the restaurant for nutrition information, choosing meat and veggie dishes, opting out of starchy sides like mashed potatoes, and avoiding sugary condiments like BBQ sauce.
Day 6: Saturday
Total net carbs: 20.7
- Breakfast (4.9g net carbs): Red Bell Pepper Filled with Creamy Eggs and Spinach
- Snack (1g net carbs): Low-Carb Strawberry Shake
- Lunch (2.5g net carbs): Tuna salad with 4 oz tuna, 2 stalks celery, 1 dill pickle spear, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- Snack (4.5g net carbs): 1 portobello mushroom cap, ¼ cup Salsa Cruda, and 1 oz pepper jack cheese
- Dinner (7.8g net carbs): 5 oz Italian sausage, ¼ medium onion sliced, and ½ red bell pepper sliced with a side of 2 cups baby spinach, ½ cup sliced mushrooms, and 2 Tbsp Blue Cheese Dressing
KETO TIP: If you’re feeling celebratory or are out on the town, enjoy a low carb drink without throwing off your week.
One 3.5 ounce glass of dry red wine has 2.6g net carbs, and 1 ounce of bourbon has 0g net carbs. However, watch out for hidden carbs in mixers, and remember that these are additional carbs to today’s menu.
Day 7: Sunday
Total net carbs: 20.8
- Breakfast (2.9g net carbs): Pumpkin Flax Pancakes
- Snack (1.7g net carbs): 5 whole snap peas and 2 oz cheddar
- Lunch (3.1g net carbs): 6 oz chicken breast over 2 cups Romaine hearts with 5 radishes and 2 Tbsp Creamy Italian Dressing
- Snack (3.2g net carbs): 2 stalks celery and 2 Tbsp cream cheese
- Dinner (9.9g net carbs): Baked Salmon With Charmoula Over Broccoli
KETO TIP: Head to the supermarket and meal prep for the upcoming week to keep on track with your low carb lifestyle!
Switch things up by making some of your favorite meals with low carb ingredient swaps. And brush up on how to avoid the most common keto mistakes.
Keto-Friendly Foods to Eat
When doing a ketogenic diet, meals and snacks should center around the following foods:
- Eggs: Pastured, organic whole eggs make the best choice.
- Poultry: Chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Wild-caught salmon, herring, and mackerel.
- Meat: organ meats, grass-fed beef, venison, pork, and bison.
- Full-fat dairy: Yogurt, butter, and cream.
- Full-fat cheese: Cheddar, mozzarella, brie, goat cheese, and cream cheese.
- Nuts and seeds: Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and flaxseeds.
- Nut butter: Natural peanut, almond, and cashew butter.
- Healthy fats: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut butter, and sesame oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados can be added to practically any meal or snack.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Greens, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers.
- Condiments: Salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and spices.
Foods to Avoid
Stay out from foods rich in carbs while following a keto diet. The following foods should be restricted:
- Bread and baked goods: Whole-wheat bread, White bread, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, and rolls.
- Sweets and sugary foods: Sugar, ice cream, candy, maple syrup, agave syrup, and coconut sugar.
- Sweetened beverages: Soda, juice, sweetened teas, and sports drinks.
- Pasta: Spaghetti and noodles.
- Grains and grain products: breakfast cereals, wheat, rice, oats, and tortillas.
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, corn, peas, and pumpkin.
- Beans and legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans.
- Fruit: Citrus, grapes, bananas, and pineapple.
- High-carb sauces: Barbecue sauce, sugary salad dressings, and dipping sauces.
- Certain alcoholic beverages: Beer and sugary mixed drinks.
Though carbs should be avoided, you can still enjoy low-glycemic fruits such as berries. Although, consume them in a limited amount.
Be sure to select healthy food sources and steer clear of processed foods and unhealthy fats. The following items should be avoided:
- Unhealthy fats: Margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils such as canola and corn oil.
- Processed foods: Fast food, packaged foods, and processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meats.
- Diet foods: Foods that include artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners like sugar alcohols and aspartame.
Sugar can be found in various beverages like juice, soda, iced tea, and coffee.
While on a ketogenic diet, high-carb drinks must be avoided just like high-carb foods.
It’s no small matter that sugary beverages have also been linked to various health issues — from obesity to increased diabetes risk.
Thankfully, there are many tasty, sugar-free choices for those on the keto diet.
Keto-friendly beverage choices include:
- Water: Water is the best choice for hydration and should be consumed throughout the day.
- Sparkling water: Sparkling water can make an excellent soda replacement.
- Unsweetened coffee: Try heavy cream to add flavor to your cup of joe.
- Unsweetened green tea: Green tea is delicious and provides many health benefits.
If you want to add some extra flavor to your water, try experimenting with different keto-friendly flavor combinations.
For example, tossing some fresh mint and lemon peel into your water bottle can make hydration a breeze.
Though alcohol should be restricted, enjoying a low-carb drink like vodka or tequila mixed with soda water is fine.
Keto Diet Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Ketogenic diet adheres to a nutrition plan that’s high in fats and low in carbs.
The goal of a keto diet is to achieve ketosis. It is a metabolic state, which means that your body is burning stored fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates and sugar.
Keto diets are thought to help speed up the weight loss process and stave off cravings simultaneously.
Originally, the classic ketogenic diet was developed by physicians to treat epilepsy. Classic keto is considered very restrictive and done under medical supervision.
Today, many people thrive on keto diets similar to Atkins. Here are the top keto mistakes and how we can help you avoid them.
1. Going no-carb instead of low-carb
Keto dieters jump in too quickly, eliminating all carbs and consuming only fat and protein without researching.
Unfortunately, changing your diet in such a manner can lead to falling off the low-carb wagon. So, don’t be surprised if, after a couple of days, you find yourself binge-eating your favorite high-carb, processed junk food.
Our advice: Start slow to avoid this common keto mistake. A Keto diet sets you up for success with plans personalized to your lifestyle, as well as an incredible library of recipes.
2. Eating too much protein
A keto diet calls for high levels of fat, a bit of protein, and very low carbohydrates levels.
Many keto dieters overdo the protein intake, which can prevent the body from going into ketosis.
When following a keto diet, ensure that most of your calories come from good, healthy fats rather than proteins.
3. Not eating enough fat
If you find yourself getting hungry between meals, you may not be consuming enough healthy fats. This includes polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, and fish.
Up your intake of these good sources of fat, and you’ll likely find relief from hunger pangs between meals.
Remember that healthy fats provide the main bulk of calories on keto diets.
4. Ignoring your vegetables
Leafy green veggies are a healthy staple of any ketogenic diet.
It can be all too easy to make the keto mistake of filling your plate primarily with meat or fats. But vegetables are an excellent source of nutrition, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Choose non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms.
5. Not drinking enough water
Water plays a crucial role in helping the body’s systems function regularly, including metabolism. Low carb diets have a diuretic effect on the body, causing it to lose both water and electrolytes.
Many keto dieters do not consume enough water or electrolytes, especially during the beginning days of their diet.
Not drinking enough water can also lead to constipation, dizziness, and weakened willpower; this is also known to many as the “keto flu.”
You can also combat this side effect with broth or adding a little extra salt to your food.
When going keto, it is advisable to keep your macros at 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.
Focus on high-fat, low-carb foods like eggs, dairy, meats, and low-carb vegetables, as well as sugar-free beverages. Be sure to limit highly processed items and unhealthy fats.
The ketogenic diet’s fame has made it easier than ever to find a wide array of exciting and healthy keto meal ideas online.
Using this article as a guide to get started on the keto diet can set you up for achievement and make transitioning to a high-fat, low-carb diet a breeze.
- Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes
- Effect of a ketogenic meal on cognitive function in elderly adults: potential for cognitive enhancement
- Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets
- More sugar? No, thank you! The elusive nature of low carbohydrate diets
- Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship
- Effects of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance: the Mihama diabetes prevention study
- Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in Thai adults: results from an 8-year prospective study
- A Week of the Keto Diet: 7-Day Keto Meal Plan
- Top Keto Diet Mistakes and How to Avoid Them