Keto Diet Plans: Step-by-Step Keto Meal Plans

Author Image

Written by Vanessa Roberts, Keto Expert and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

Imge of Keto Diet Plans: Step-by-Step Keto Meal Plans

Contents

[hide]

The secret to doing a ketogenic diet right is to plan, plan, plan.

Once you create a roadmap, all you have to do is follow it.

This guide explains how to lay a solid foundation and set yourself up for success. After reading, you will know what keto diet plans are, what they look like, how to make one, and much more. 

Topics covered include tips for getting started, healthy ingredients to include in your plan, foods to stay away from, how to organize a shopping list, advice for efficient meal planning and food preparation, tasty menu ideas, and plenty of samples and examples you are free to follow or use for inspiration.

Ready to hit the road?

 

What is a keto diet plan?

A ketogenic diet meal plan gives you a complete overview of what to eat each day to reach your goal of entering ketosis.

How does it work?

First, you use an online tool to calculate your keto diet plan macros or percentages. You do this by entering information such as your age, gender, how much you exercise, and your weight goals. Using these details, the calculator will give you a personalized reading of what your macros should be in terms of:

  • daily number of calories.
  • daily number of ounces/grams of fat, protein, and carbs to eat. 

Check out our full keto diet guide for beginners for more details.

Once you know how much you should be eating each day, the next step is to create a keto diet nutrition plan with meals designed to keep you within your daily limits. Usually each plan should be at least one week long.
 
You can create these programs yourself (read on to see how!) or use a ketogenic meal planning tool that will tell you what to prepare for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes snacks. The best ones come with a downloadable grocery list and easy-to-follow recipes for every meal.

 

How to do a ketogenic diet

Let’s zoom out for a moment to review what this way of eating is all about.

Basic rules of a keto diet:

  1. Eat around 70-80% fat, 15-20% protein and 5-10% carbs. (Exact amounts vary depending on your personal profile.)
  2. This very low carb intake allows you to enter ketosis, so your body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
  3. You undergo a transition period as your body makes the switch.
  4. Ta-da! Reap the benefits of ketosis, including weight loss, decreased appetite, increased energy, and more.

Here’s what not to do: eat whatever comes your way, then look up the nutritional information and hope that you have magically stayed within your daily limits. 

Instead, plan your meals ahead of time to guarantee you stay within your macros while eating a variety of healthy nutrients. 

So how do you plan a keto diet?

Schedule all your meals for the week, making sure to stay under your carb limit, get close to the protein limit, and have enough healthy fats to keep you full and satisfied. 

It sounds more complicated than it is! You’ll see examples of how to get this information written down and organized later in the guide.

 

Tips to start a keto diet plan

Before you make your first plan, there’s something you should know.

If you’re new to this way of eating, the best piece of advice is to take it slow in the beginning.

For most people, carbohydrates make up at least 50% of what we eat each day. On keto, you’re going to bring that number down to less than 10%. 

That’s a big drop. You can see why keto has the power to be so transformational!

But you don’t want to leap into the deep end before you know how to swim. Instead, go gradually so your body has time to learn and catch up.

How to start a keto diet plan step by step:

  • Begin to notice what you eat.
  • Stop consuming unhealthy sugars, like soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, and pastries.
  • Start to identify and cut out carbs, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and beans.
  • Eat more non-starchy vegetables, like spinach and leafy greens, cauliflower, and zucchini.
  • Try some keto recipes to get familiarized.
  • Calculate your macro amounts.
  • Continue to cut carbs and increase keto-friendly foods until you are almost able to reach the daily amounts needed to enter ketosis. 
  • When you are ready, make your first weekly plan and stick to it. You are now well on your way!

Ketogenic diet tips to keep in mind:

  • Drink more water (up to half your weight in ounces per day, i.e., 100 oz water for a 200-lb person).
  • Salt your food (with up to 1 teaspoon/ day) and get enough electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium).
  • Plan your meals ahead of time.
  • Focus on eating healthy ingredients.
  • Get lots of sleep and avoid stress.
  • Understand that there is a transition period.
  • Give your body and mind time to adapt. 

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN

 

How to eat keto: Foods to eat and avoid

So, when you’re thinking about what your diet is going to look like, which ingredients are keto-friendly and what foods are not allowed?

This keto diet plan chart gives you a good overview of the basics for getting started.
 

  Keto-friendly Avoid Watch your portion
Beans and legumes  green beans    chickpeas, lentils,
most beans (watch your portion size)
 
Condiments and sauces

 herbs and spices

 lemon juice

 olive oil and vinegar

 salt and pepper

 BBQ sauce

 honey

 ketchup

 salad dressings with added sugar

 
Dairy and substitutes

 almond milk, coconut milk (plain, unsweetened)

 butter

 plain yogurt with no added sugar

 most cheeses

 heavy cream

 ice cream

 margarine

 milk, oat milk

 sweetened yogurt

 keto ice cream
Drinks

 coffee

 sparkling water

 tea (unsweetened)

 water

 fruit juice

 most beers

 soft drinks

 sports drinks

 low-carb alcoholic drinks
Eggs  eggs    
Fish and seafood  fresh fish and seafood from all animals, including clams, lobster, crab, shrimp

 breaded fish

 fried shrimp

 
Fruit  avocado

 dried fruits

 berries

 most fruits

Grains  

 bread

 cereal

 crackers

 oats

 pasta

 pizza crust

 rice

 tortillas (corn, wheat)

 wheat

 oats
Meat and poultry  meats, poultry, organ meats from all types of animals

 breaded meats

 fried meats

 processed meats, such as bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, sausages

Nuts and seeds

 almonds

 chia seeds

 flaxseed

 pecans

 pumpkin seeds

 walnuts

 cashews

 peanuts

 pistachios

Sweeteners and sugars

 monk fruit

 stevia

 agave

 brown sugar

 honey

 syrup

 white sugar

 

 Splenda

 xylitol

Vegetables  non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, eggplant, leafy greens

 corn

 potatoes

 pumpkin

 

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of everything you should and shouldn’t eat. But it’s a good starting point!

When in doubt about whether something is keto-friendly:

  • Read the label on packaged foods to see if they’ll take you over your daily carb limit (or, less commonly, protein limit).
  • For whole, natural foods with no label, you can look up the nutrition facts on the USDA’s online food nutrition database.
  • Many recipes include nutritional information. Just pay attention to the serving size!

And remember, what really defines what you can include in your keto meal plan is your personalized daily number of calories and the amount of each macronutrient (fats, proteins, and carbs) you are aiming for.

 

How to eat healthy on keto


Since you are taking the time and effort to look after your diet and pursue a healthy lifestyle, know that it is also important to take into consideration the quality of the ingredients you put in your body. 

Just because something fits your macros doesn’t mean it’s healthy. (Case in point: a double bacon cheeseburger from a fast food restaurant only has 4 g of net carbs without the bun.)

Read the labels of your foods, not just to find hidden carbs and sugars, but also to stay away from ingredients that just plain aren’t good for you.

Here's a visual guide of how to approach a healthy keto meal plan:

Eat ingredients that are whole, fresh, natural, grass-fed, free-range, and wild-caught. Avoid food that has additives, added sugars, artificial ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or a long list of ingredients.

Keto meal plan shopping list

One of the great things about planning your meals ahead of time is how much time and hassle it saves.

The best keto meal plans come with a weekly shopping list so you can do a one-stop shop at the grocery store to pick up supplies. Then you don’t have to go back until the following week. 

This saves you time and money, plus it cuts down on temptations and impulse buying.

Regardless of what meals you’ve got coming up, there are some staple items that are always good to have on hand.

Basic keto diet grocery list

  • Extra virgin olive oil: a healthy fat with natural antioxidants and a long shelf life. Use it to drizzle over salads, marinade meat or fish before cooking, or saute vegetables.
  • Avocado oil: ideal for cooking thanks to its high smoke point.
  • Raw almonds: good for snacking, a salad topping, or grinding into almond butter.
  • Avocados: a delicious source of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Get a mixture of ripe and unripe avocados so they last longer. 
  • Berries: these are one of the few fruits you can eat, so stock up when they’re on sale and keep them in the freezer.
  • Canned fish: you’ll also want to include fresh fish and seafood, but canned goods keep for far longer and are easier on the wallet. Tuna and sardines are great options.
  • Eggs: a healthy source of protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals. Easy way to start the day, just add vegetables to make an omelet.
  • Veggies: broccoli, spinach, artichokes, mushrooms, and many more. Buy fresh or frozen. 
  • Meat and poultry: rich sources of protein, iron, and zinc. These foods help prevent muscle loss often experienced with weight loss. Experiment with homemade marinades to add different flavors.

 

Keto meals

As you know, about 70-80% of your daily calories will come from fat, 20% from protein, and just 5-10% from carbs.

The biggest challenge for most people is to stay under the limit for carbohydrates, so that will be one of your main focuses. Every ketogenic meal is low in carbs.

Even with bread, potato, pasta, and rice out of the picture, you’ve still got a whole world of flavors to play around with. When you think about it, a lot of those foods you used to eat were just a blank culinary canvas you used to build colors and flavors on. Take the canvas away, and you’re left with the essence of what makes the dish delicious.

So what exactly does that look like? In this section, you’ll see some practical examples of meal ideas to include in your keto menu.

How to make a keto meal plan

  1. Calculate your macros so you know your daily goals for the number of calories and amount of fats, proteins, and carbs.
  2. Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (optional) snacks for each day, making sure to stay within your daily goals.
  3. Vary the types of foods you’re eating on different days so you get a full range of nutrients. For example, alternate between meat, fish, plant-based, and dairy options.
  4. Include easy-to-make meals that you already know and love, but also add some new ideas or recipes to expand your horizons and keep it interesting.

 

Menu ideas for a keto diet meal plan

Here are some quick keto meal plan ideas to get you thinking about all the possibilities. 

You can use these as a starting point to build your own unique menu based on what you like and what’s on sale or in season. Or use the basic meal concept, and once you master the recipe you can try it with different ingredients to switch it up and keep things interesting.

For example, if spinach is not your jam, replace it with asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, or broccoli. If you’ve already got chicken in the fridge, use that instead of pork or beef. 

A single recipe can turn into several different keto meal options. It’s fun to experiment with flavors, plus you’ll introduce a wider variety of nutrients into your diet.

  • Tasty breakfast options: egg cups with turkey and cheese; yogurt and raspberries; almond-crusted quiche.
  • Lunch ideas for keto diet: wrapped salmon burger; grilled beef skewers with ribbon zoodles; baked chicken breast.
  • Low-carb dinners: spinach and feta turkey burger; pork with olives, pistachios, and cherry tomatoes; roasted halibut with garlic sauce.
  • Healthy snacks: carrot nacho chips; cheese rollups; blueberry smoothie.
  • Delicious desserts: whipped cream and strawberries, low-carb chocolate cake, coconut milk ice cream.

 

Simple keto meal plan for beginners

Your menu should have a recipe to follow for each dish, plus you’ll want to keep track of the amounts of calories and macronutrients.

Here’s a full day of an easy-to-follow keto jumpstart meal plan:
 

     Calories   Carbs (g)   Proteins (g)   Fats (g) 
Breakfast   Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar cheese  364  3.1  18.9  30.1
Morning snack  Yogurt with strawberries  107  11.1  3.9  3.9
Lunch  Eggplant and walnut salad with romaine lettuce  376  18.9  18.9  41.1
Dinner  Turkey meatballs  435  1.1  45.9  28.1
Evening snack  Toasted pumpkin seeds  96  13.9  1.9  5.1

 

7-day sample keto meal plan

Rather than going day by day, it’s best to plot out weekly keto meal plans so that you can include a variety of different foods (and therefore nutrients!) in your diet. Balance out your protein sources (beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood) and your vegetables so you don’t get tired of any one thing.

Below is a 1-week keto meal plan to give you an idea of what’s possible. 

Keep in mind that for any dish you cook, you can make a double recipe and freeze the leftovers. Put each serving in a separate container or ziplock bag, and in the weeks to come you’ve got that meal ready to go. The first week’s meal plan requires the most cooking and preparation, but later in the month, that hard work will come in handy! 

If you are pressed for time, choose just a few favorite dishes, make double recipes, and use the refrigerated leftovers for repeat meals later in the week.

Here's an example of what your 1-week keto meal plan might look like.
 

1 full week of keto meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack.

As you can see, there are all sorts of ingredients and flavors to play around with in the kitchen.

 

GET YOUR PERSONALIZED KETO PLAN

 

How to meal prep on a keto diet plan

Take your keto meal planning to the next level! 

Simple keto meal prep for beginners:

  • Do batch cooking for the entire week.
  • Plan ahead and pack your freezer with:
    • Raw ingredients (meat, veggies, berries).
    • Prepared ingredients and sauces (tomato sauce, vegetable medley).
    • Cooked keto meals (quiche, lasagna, soup, meatballs).
  • Freeze individual portions separately so you can thaw/defrost one at a time.

Batch cooking

Many people prefer to carve out a chunk of time during the weekend (1-2 hours) to do the weekly food prep because it frees up a lot of time and mental space during the hectic work week. 

Plus, you get to actually enjoy cooking instead of cranking it out to get the food on the table ASAP. Turn on some tunes and get in the cooking zone! Finding pleasure in cooking can be a fun and effective part of building a healthy relationship with food.

Freezing

You can also prepare and freeze food that you’ll eat within the next few months. This is a great way to take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free sales or buying in bulk. 
 

Here's a downloadable template to guide your weekly meal planning.

 

Ketogenic meal plans

There is more than one way to follow this way of eating. And that's a good thing! Each individual has a unique set of needs depending on their personal situation, food choices, and goals.

Check out the different categories below and choose the best keto diet plan for you. 

 

Keto diet plan for beginners

When you’re new to this way of eating, it’s helpful to follow a roadmap that was made with beginners in mind. These keto starter meal plans include easy-to-follow instructions and explanations. 

This helps to ease your transition to this lifestyle and bring you up to speed on important concepts. This way, you can avoid common mistakes and get off to a running start. You’ll be an expert in no time!

 

Vegan keto meal plan

People who don’t eat animal products must be especially mindful when planning their diet to ensure they get all of the necessary nutrients. 

You want a plant-based keto meal plan that already excludes meat, dairy, and eggs, so you don’t have to make an extra effort to modify recipes or find substitutions. Luckily, there are lots of yummy ingredients for plant eaters to enjoy, from seitan, tofu, and chia seeds to vegetables, nuts and healthy oils.

 

Vegetarian keto diet plan

Non-meat-eaters have a wide range of healthy and delicious ingredients available to incorporate into their diet. You want a plan packed full of nutrients and flavors, with sprinkles of creativity and a dash of the unexpected.

The keto diet program for vegetarians does include eggs and dairy (cream, yogurt, cheese, butter), but excludes all meats, poultry, fish, and seafood. 

 

Keto diet plan for weight loss

If shedding pounds and slimming your waistline are part of your health goals, you want a program that’s designed for weight reduction. Most people see results within the first week! 

Enjoying visible (and often dramatic!) results fast can be a great motivator, although the first 7 days you’ll be losing mostly water weight. By week 2 you should be in ketosis, so your body will be switching over to burning fat quickly and effectively.

There are different options you can choose:

 

1,200-calorie keto meal plan

This low-calorie keto diet plan can be used to shed pounds quickly. You eat less than in other types of programs, so you combine the power of ketosis with a caloric deficit.

Consuming fewer than 1,200 Kcal. a day can slow down your metabolism and make you feel tired, so following a set program will help ensure you are eating enough to keep your body and mind running smoothly.

 

Speed keto: OMAD keto meal plan

Combine the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting in one plan for outstanding results. The One Meal A Day (OMAD) methodology sets you up for success with time-restricted eating. 

If you have hit a plateau in your dieting journey, this can be a good way to kick it back into gear. Plus, think of all the extra free time you’ll have when you only prepare food, eat, and clean up once a day!

 

Keto diet plan for women

Women have unique needs and challenges when it comes to dieting. 

For example, they naturally have a higher percentage of body fat. Also, hormonal fluctuations throughout the month can increase food cravings, especially for high-carb and sugary products. 

It can be helpful to follow a program designed with these issues in mind, like a female keto diet plan, for instance.

 

Keto meal plan on a budget

There is a common misconception that this way of eating has to be expensive. This affordable and low-cost keto meal plan incorporates money-saving strategies that make each dollar go farther.

Its recipes call for fewer ingredients (less things to buy) and are built around everyday products that are cheaply available in any small town grocery store.

Here's a program that proves it's possible to make healthy and delicious dishes that don't break the bank.

 

Keto diet meal plan for bodybuilding

The ketogenic eating technique can be leveraged to grow muscle, but you have to be intentional about it. Protein is an important part of the formula, but it’s not the only variable to keep in mind. 

This keto program for building muscle incorporates high-quality proteins (containing more amino acids) and keeps you at a calorie surplus (unlike most plans) without kicking you out of ketosis. That’s a delicate balance!

 

Keto family meal plan

This keto diet plan for families focuses on kid-friendly recipes so everyone can enjoy sitting down around the dinner table together.

Keep in mind that except for rare cases, growing children should not be following a strict diet. In addition to the dishes you share, they can incorporate extra ingredients on the side and eat more healthy snacks.

 

More ketogenic diet plans

 

The best delivery services for a keto meal plan

Even for people who love spending time in the kitchen, it’s nice to take a break every now and again. Luckily, there are dozens of companies that will deliver keto-friendly meals right to your door. 

This is a great way to ensure you always have a few ready-made meals up your sleeve. This will help you stick to the diet even on unexpectedly busy days, which are bound to happen!

Here are just a few examples:

  • Ketoned is committed to supporting the health of not just people, but also the planet. They are committed to regenerative agriculture and use pasture-raised poultry and pork, grass-fed beef, and biodegradable packaging. Items are delivered frozen so you can stock up and pull them out to heat and eat at any time.
  • Green Chef provides healthy meal kits for people who enjoy cooking but want it to be faster and easier. With this service, you don’t have to go to the store or prepare the ingredients. Everything comes pre-prepped, so each recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make. No GMO’s, pesticides or antibiotics!
  • Fresh n’ Lean offers clean keto meals, and they update their menu every week so you never run out of new options. The website is super user-friendly, and each dish clearly states the number of calories and the breakdown of macronutrients.
  Ketoned Green Chef Fresh n' Lean
 Subscription required No Yes No
 Cost per serving (approx) $15 $13 $13
 Shipping Free for 10+ meals $9/box Free
 Keto options Yes Yes Yes
 Frozen Yes No No
 Cooking/preparation required No Yes No

 

Keto diet meal plan frequently asked questions

Curious to learn more? See answers to common questions about this way of eating. 
 

Most people notice the scales move in the first seven days. However, most of this is water weight. When carbs are stored in your body, they bind to water. When you cut down on carbohydrates, you burn off the stored reserves, and a large amount of water gets eliminated.

So while you may lose up to 10 pounds in the first week, fat loss doesn’t usually start until week 2, after you have entered ketosis.

You can lose weight very quickly, but each person is different. Heavier people can shed fat faster, and lifestyle also plays a role. For example, exercise can speed up the process.

Normally your plan will includebetween 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day. However, the exact amount depends on your personal characteristics (age, gender, weight) as well as your activity level and goals.

In a typical month, you can lose about 4 to 10 pounds (1 to 2 lbs per week). However, the first month you begin it’s not unusual to see a bigger drop due to the loss of water.

In most cases, you begin to see measurable results in the first 7 days. This is a fast-acting diet, which is a great motivator for many people. Seeing it work from the very beginning creates positive momentum and makes it easy to keep going.

Many plans are organized into 5 daily meals: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, dinner, and evening snack. However, it’s totally up to you (unless you are doing intermittent fasting).

The basic guideline is to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Experiment and see what feels right for your body. Just be attentive to stay within your daily limits for calories and macronutrients.

When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to plan 5 meals a day (including snacks). But again, this is something you can play around with until you find what feels right for you.

If you go too long without eating, you might get hungry and either (1) give in to an unhealthy craving or (2) overeat later.

Your appetite actually decreases as your body adapts to the new way of eating, so you may naturally reduce the number of times you eat daily.

Eating healthy fats (like avocados, olives, almonds, pistachios, pecans, and chia and flax seeds) can help you get into ketosis. But the most important thing is actually what not to eat, and that is carbs. Each person’s macros are different, but usually you’ll limit your net carb intake to 20 - 50 grams per day. Also make sure to stay under your protein macro count.

No, you do not. You can drop pounds without being in ketosis. However, entering this metabolic state will help you burn fat more efficiently and feel less hungry. Both of these factors make you lose weight faster and easier, which is part of what makes the ketogenic diet so effective.

Week 1 is an exciting time. Many people lose several pounds, which is a great way to jumpstart the diet. You are feeling freshly motivated, and seeing results helps create momentum.

You should be aware that some people experience negative side effects as the body transitions into ketosis. If you feel low on energy, especially around days 3 and 4, take it easy. Drink lots of water, replenish electrolytes, and get quality sleep to help your body adjust.