Keto Diet Menu: 7-Day Keto Meal Plan for Beginners
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet plan. For this weight loss program, you drastically reduce your carb intake while consuming higher amounts of fat and moderate amounts of protein.
The standard ketogenic diet typically limits carbohydrates to 5-10% of daily calorie intake, which equals about 25-50 grams of total carbs per day.
This reduction in carbohydrates forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
When you limit carbs in your diet, the body turns to fat as its primary fuel source versus glucose from carbohydrates. Fat is broken down into ketones by the liver, which can then be used for energy by your brain and body tissues.
By switching your metabolism into ketosis, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat, ultimately leading to weight loss.
How Do I Start a Keto Diet?
The basic principle of the keto diet is to reduce carbs while emphasizing fat intake during meals and snacks. A standard ratio of macronutrients (or macros) for the ketogenic diet is as follows:
60 to 75% of calories from fat
15 to 30% of calories from protein
5 to 10% of calories from carbs
When following a keto plan to lose weight, roughly 5 to 10% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, which equates to fewer than 50 grams per day. Some individuals may be able to achieve ketosis when consuming 50 grams of carbs per day, while others may need to limit their carb count to as few as 20 grams.
However, counting carbs may become tedious and is not always necessary to achieve weight loss results on the keto diet. Overall, your goal should be to reduce carbs and eat more fat when following this approach. Generally, the lower your carb intake, the easier it is to reach and remain in ketosis.
What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
Beginning a keto weight loss diet may seem challenging at first since it requires eliminating certain foods due to their carbohydrate content. However, you will find that many healthy and nutritious food choices are also low in carbs.
Below is a shortlist of low carb foods that you can include on your keto diet menu:
Meats and Protein
The keto diet consists of a moderate amount of protein, which equals about 15% to 30% of your daily calories. This is because the body can convert some dietary protein to glucose, which makes it more challenging to remain in ketosis. However, this generally occurs when protein intake is higher than 35% of daily calories.
Since keto diets consist mainly of fats, you can feel free to choose fattier cuts of meat and protein. Some good protein options on the keto diet include:
Beef, preferably grass-fed when possible
Seafood, including fish and shellfish
Poultry, including chicken, turkey, and duck
Oils and Healthy Fats
As previously mentioned, fats make up as much as 75% of your daily calories on the ketogenic diet. Some fats are better for your health than others. Examples of heart-healthy, high-fat foods include fatty fish, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados. Below is a list of healthy fats that are perfect for the keto diet:
Butter, from grass-fed cows, when possible
Fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout
Nut and seed oils, including walnut oil
Nut butters, such as almond butter
Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt (Be sure to double-check the nutrition label for added sugar)
Low-carb or non-starchy veggies are an important staple of any healthy diet, including the keto diet. These vegetables are lower in calories and packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium.
Low-carb vegetables are also a good source of fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest or absorb. Due to their high fiber content, vegetables are lower in “digestible” or net carbs.
The net carbohydrates in a food item are calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber (aka the non-digestible materials) from the total grams of carbs. For example, one cup of eggplant has 5 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber, meaning that this vegetable has 2.5 grams of net carbs per serving.
However, keep in mind that this is not a perfect equation, and just because a food is lower in net carbs does not mean that it is carb-free. Therefore, it is still recommended to limit your intake of net carbs per day as part of the keto lifestyle change.
Low-carb vegetables to include on your keto diet menu are:
Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce, and arugula)
Fresh herbs (cilantro, dill, basil, etc.)
Fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, some fruits are too high in carbs to work with the ketogenic diet.
The good news is that certain fruits can still be enjoyed as part of the keto diet, although you will want to be mindful of portions to remain in ketosis. Keto-friendly fruits to include on your meal plan are:
Berries (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds make an excellent low carb food choice on the ketogenic diet and are packed with fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats. Nuts and seeds also contain essential vitamins and minerals that many Americans don’t get enough of, including vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and copper.
Nuts and seeds to include on your keto meal plan are:
Nut butters (Be sure to read the nutrition labels for added sugars)
Many followers of the keto meal plan love that cheese and other dairy products are encouraged as part of the keto diet. Dairy products are a good source of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus.
When choosing dairy products for your keto menu, be sure to select the full-fat versions and avoid skim and reduced-fat foods. You should also double-check the nutrition information labels because some dairy products, such as yogurt, may have added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Butter, preferably from grass-fed cows
Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt
Unfortunately, many popular drinks contain carbs and sugars, including juice, soda, and sweetened teas and coffees.
However, there are plen
Breakfast- Scrambled eggs topped with sliced avocado and tomato salsa
Snack- Roasted sunflower seeds sprinkled with sea salt
Lunch- Grilled chicken breast salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing
Snack- Turkey or beef jerky
Dinner- Grilled steak with shrimp scampi served over zucchini noodles
Breakfast- Mushroom frittata with fresh herbs and parmesan cream sauce
Snack- Keto “chocolate milk” made with cocoa and unsweetened almond milk
Lunch- Pork chops with cauliflower mash
Snack- Handful of mixed nuts and bell pepper sticks
Dinner- Mediterranean chicken thighs with olives and balsamic glaze. Served with steamed broccoli.
Breakfast- Full-fat Greek yogurt topped with fresh raspberries
Snack- Ham and cheese slices
Lunch- Tuna salad on top of leafy greens
Snack- Egg omelet with bell peppers and cheddar cheese
Dinner- Grilled salmon with asparagus and lemon juice
Breakfast- Breadless bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich
Snack- Blueberries topped with coconut cream
Lunch- Keto crab cakes made with almond flour and served over lettuce
Snack- Full-fat Greek yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts
Dinner- Beef stir-fry served over cauliflower rice
Breakfast- Mixed berry protein powder smoothie with spinach and almond nut butter
Snack- Egg salad wrapped in butter lettuce
Lunch- Grilled shrimp topped with a lemon butter sauce and a side of broccoli
Snack- Peanut butter, coconut oil fat bombs
Dinner- Chicken curry made with coconut milk and served over cauliflower rice
Breakfast- Full-fat Greek yogurt “parfait” made with strawberries and toasted walnuts
Snack- Cheese and olive plate
Lunch- Blackened catfish with diced tomatoes and jalapeños
Snack- Chocolate peanut butter smoothie prepared with cocoa, peanut butter, and almond milk
Dinner- A personal pizza made with cauliflower crust and topped with sausage and mozzarella cheese
Breakfast- Spinach, mushroom, and feta cheese omelet
Snack- Bacon-wrapped asparagus
Lunch- Grass-fed ground beef burger in a lettuce “bun” topped with avocado and a side salad.
Snack- 1-ounce serving of 85% dark chocolate
Dinner- Chicken pesto served over zucchini noodles
Healthy Ketogenic Diet Snack Options
Adding keto snacks to your diet plan doesn’t have to be hard. Below is a list of some straightforward, keto-friendly snacks that will fit perfectly with any keto meal plan:
Hard-boiled eggs with sea salt and black pepper
A green spinach smoothie with avocado
Mixed nuts with dark chocolate chunks
Raw almonds and cheddar cheese cubes
Avocado filled with chicken salad
Chocolate keto smoothie made with cocoa, unsweetened almond milk, and avocado
Spicy guacamole with veggie sticks
Cucumber slices topped with cheese
Berries topped with whipped cream
Bell peppers and celery dipped in cream cheese
Onion soup with bacon bits
Handful of olives
Mini “sandwich” rolls made with sliced turkey and cheese
A Simple Ketogenic Diet Shopping List
When planning your keto shopping lists, be sure to include plenty of low carb produce, heart-healthy fats, and moderate amounts of protein. Try using the following food list to help plan your keto recipes and make meal prep simple and easy.
Meat and protein: Chicken, beef, pork, and turkey (Try to buy free-range, pasture-raised, and/or organic when possible)
Fish: Especially fatty fish like sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel
Shellfish: Oysters, scallops, clams, and shrimp
Dairy: Heavy cream, full-fat yogurt (unsweetened), butter, and sour cream
Cheese: Brie, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and goat cheese
Heart-healthy oils: Olive, avocado, and coconut oil
Low-carb fruits: Berries, avocados, lemons, limes, and olives
Nut butters: Almond, peanut, and cashew butter
Seeds: Sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds
Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, pecans, and macadamia nuts.
Low-carb vegetables: Mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Fresh, frozen, and canned (with no added sugars) are all good options.
Condiments: Herbs, spices and spice blends, vinegar, mustard, mayo, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and salsa. However, be sure to double-check the ingredients list for added sugars before purchasing.
The standard ketogenic diet is a low carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet that consists of 50 grams of carbs per day or less. You can accomplish this by restricting your carbohydrate intake and emphasizing a high-fat diet.
Many people are turning to the ketogenic diet to help them lose weight and improve their health. Research studies have shown that high fat, low carb diets, such as the keto diet, may help with weight loss, especially during the first six months of dieting (5). However, as with any weight loss program, it only works if you can stick with it for the long run.
To set yourself up for success, try to focus on foods that are naturally high in fat and/ or low in carbs. These include eggs, meats, cheeses, and