Ready to put together a ketogenic diet meal plan? Let’s dive into all the details about this low-carb way of eating!
To start, here’s a quick history lesson. The diet gets its name from a fat-burning metabolic state called ketosis, which occurs when you limit carbs (50 grams or less per day) and force your body to use fat as fuel instead of its preferred energy source, glucose. This produces compounds called ketones, which are your body’s signal that you’re officially in ketosis or “fat-burning” mode.
Although some keto diet devotees focus on weight-loss benefits, it’s not the reason this diet was first created. In the 1920s (before modern advancements in anticonvulsant drugs) neurologists found that epilepsy patients who fasted drastically reduced their number of daily seizures. Since fasting all day wasn’t practical long-term, doctors put together a diet that would be easy to follow but still produce ketones. In addition to reducing seizure activity (priority #1), patients started burning fat quickly, too (a nice side benefit).
Keto Foods to Avoid
Before we get into all the foods available to you, here’s a quick round-up of the main ingredients to avoid.
- Grains (rice, pasta, quinoa, and wheat)
- Processed food
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Vegetable oils
- Higher-carb nuts (pistachios and cashews)
- Starchy root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, corn, and parsnips)
In limited amounts, you can still enjoy the following foods in your diet:
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers)
- Root vegetables
- Starchy vegetables (like potatoes)
Ketogenic Diet Food List
Now let’s turn our attention to everything you can use to make your meals! The ketogenic diet is made up of rich fats and moderate amounts of protein. It includes lots of eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, nuts and nut butters, seeds, plant-based oils, and some non-starchy veggies. Be sure to check out our Ketogenic Diet page to find products to help you stay on track!
Here’s a tip: Be sure to fill your water glass to the brim and stay hydrated. Since this diet doesn’t include as much fiber, constipation is a potential side effect but extra fluids can help move things along.
Fats and Oils
Opt for natural sources like nuts, meat, and saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil.
Whenever possible, stick with organic, pasture-raised, and grass-fed meat, just be mindful that you don’t overload your plate with too much protein.
- Fatty fish (cod, halibut, mahi mahi, salmon, trout, and tuna)
- Organ meats (liver, kidney, and tongue)
- Poultry (chicken, duck, and wild game)
- Shellfish (clams, oysters, lobster, mussels)
- Unsweetened nut butters (almond and macadamia)
- Whole eggs
Enjoy fresh or frozen, but stick to non-starchy veggies, especially those that are green and leafy.
- Bok choy
- Green beans
- Romaine lettuce
- Swiss chard
Raw and organic dairy can be a great way to add extra fat to your meals. Of course, everything in moderation!
- Cottage cheese
- Greek-style yogurt
- Hard cheese (aged cheddar, parmesan, feta)
- Soft cheeses (mozzarella, colby, brie)
Nuts & Seeds
Snack on nuts and seeds occasionally, especially fattier nuts like almonds or macadamias. They’re great for adding texture to your meals!
Whenever you can, make your own dips, spreads, and broths so you control what goes inside, or be extra vigilant when reading labels.
Spices & Herbs
No restrictions here! Use your favorites to add depth and flavor to every dish.
Ketogenic Meal Plan
Now that you’re prepped with a list of approved foods, here are a few recipes to get your diet started! You’ll find everything from savory egg breakfasts to hearty lamb burgers to enjoy all week long.
Keto Breakfast Recipes
Get fancy with your breakfast and enjoy this easy-to-make baked egg recipe where golden yolks are nestled into a skillet and cooked with dairy-free coconut creamed spinach. This meal makes a great weeknight dinner, too!
Tomatoes and eggs are a match made in breakfast heaven. You get all the benefits of a perfectly creamy yolk, but without the hassle of poaching!
Keto Lunch Recipes
Hop on board the cauliflower rice train and use it in place of the starchy grain. We love it as a base for sautéed veggies and tender, roasted salmon. The flavor is amped up with a medley Middle Eastern spices.
This version of classic pesto has a mild flavor that works on everything from pasta to chicken, and everything in between. Toss with shirataki noodles to make it a meal.
“Eggs and soldiers” is a classic British breakfast of runny, soft-boiled eggs served alongside buttered toast. We made gluten-free dippers with fresh asparagus spears and wrapped them in bacon for extra flavor.
Keto Dinner Recipes
Try this satisfying lunch or dinner from The Primal Kitchen Cookbook, written by PK founder Mark Sisson. It’s keto-approved, juicy, and topped with an unexpected but complimentary flavor—pistachio!
Grilling this weekend? Don’t forget the lettuce! Bunches of romaine are ideal for adding charred flavor to your salad. Drizzle the bowl with creamy avocado dressing for a show-stopping side.
Looking for the ultimate Sunday supper? Look no further! This impressive meal is actually a snap to put together, and it's perfect for a crowd.