You may have seen several celebrities doing the “keto” diet (and getting crazy results) and you are totally curious. Kim Kardashian seemed to bounce right back after her last baby and Megan Fox has never looked better. You decide you are going to give it a shot, but what exactly do you eat? How do you prepare a keto diet meal plan that actually works for you and your lifestyle?
What is the Keto Diet?
First, before planning any meals you need to understand exactly what the keto diet is. The ketogenic diet was first used in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy, so even though it might seem “new” it’s really not new at all. It fell out of favor for a long time because medications to treat epilepsy were a lot simpler to use. But, in the last few years it has come back in full force particularly because it is extremely effective for weight loss.
The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet. The recommended macronutrient breakdown is 5-10% of calories come from carbohydrates, 25-30% from protein, and 60-70% from fat. Usually carbohydrates are kept somewhere between 20-50 grams per day, depending on the calorie needs of the individual. The theory behind the diet is that the carbohydrates are kept low to force your body into ketosis, a state where you start to burn fat instead of sugar for energy.
The keto diet works for weight loss in several ways. Your body has unlimited fat stores, which means you don’t need to eat every few hours to prevent hunger. Your body just taps into the stores! Second, a high fat intake increases feeling of fullness, making you eat fewer calories overall. The keto diet also speeds up metabolism, switching to making energy from fat and other substances uses up a lot of calories. Lastly, it changes appetite hormones so you are simply not hungry. All of these changes help you burn more calories and eat fewer calories, resulting in quick weight loss (1).
What Foods to Eat
That may sound great right? A diet that burns extra calories and suppresses your appetite at the same time? Here is exactly what you can (and can’t) eat on the diet.
Foods not allowed on the ketogenic diet include anything that is high in carbohydrates, including:
– Grains: wheat, rice, barley, oats, etc.
– Milk and yogurt (unless it’s low carb)
– Starchy vegetables; potatoes, yams, peas, corn
– Any foods or beverages containing sugar, including honey, sugar, agave, etc.
Foods allowed on the ketogenic diet include:
– Meat, chicken, fish of all kinds
– Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.
– Cheese, heavy cream
– Non-starchy vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables.
– Nuts and seeds
-Sweeteners like stevia and swerve (as tolerated by the individual)
-The 131 Method does not recommend additional alternative sweeteners though many traditional ketogenic diets will
Putting a Keto Meal Plan Together
Now that you know what foods to eat on the keto diet, it’s time to start putting a meal plan together. First, take a look at the list of foods allowed on the diet and choose foods you actually enjoy. There is no point in trying to follow a diet that is full of things you hate. Just a note, if you don’t eat animal protein, this will be a very limited diet to follow, although it is possible.
Carve out some time on a Sunday to plan your meals. This may seem burdensome at first, but planning ahead is the best way to ensure success.
Next start building meals around three main items: protein, fat, and a vegetable. This will ensure you are getting balanced meals, helping you stay satisfied. Plan for three meals a day and a few snacks. You may find that because keto suppresses your appetite after a few weeks you might not need to eat that often. Here are some examples of how to build meals using that pattern:
Breakfast: Ham and cheese omelet with spinach
Protein: Eggs, Ham, Cheese
Lunch: Bun-less hamburger
Protein: Hamburger patty
Vegetable: lettuce, tomato, pickles
Dinner: Chicken and vegetables
Fat: Butter (for veggies)
Vegetable: a variety of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
Make a plan in a similar way for every day of the week. There are hundreds of websites that have keto recipes, including several amazing ones on the 131 Method Blog and even more inside the 131 Method program.
Choose recipes that are quick and easy to make or can be prepared ahead of time for busy nights. Start keeping a notebook with a list of recipes you enjoy, so you don’t need to search for new ideas every time. Also, plan for some leftovers for lunches or snacks, so you don’t have to cook for every single meal. Now you have seven days of meals and snacks ready to go, so you are not scrambling to figure out what to eat at the last minute.
Once your meal plan is complete make a list of ingredients you will need and head for the store. Be sure to not go hungry or you will end up with a ton of things that don’t match your plan. The key to sticking with your meal plan is having the right items on hand when you need them. You need to make it as easy as possible to reach for the right things.
If you have tons of items in your pantry that are not allowed on your diet it will be pretty challenging to stick with it, particularly the first week or so when you are still adjusting to the diet and the appetite suppression part hasn’t kicked in yet. Consider hiding foods that are triggers for you to over eat or give them to a friend.
If possible, once you return from the store spend a little time cooking and prepping for the week. Grill some chicken or steak for easy meals, make enough to last for three days so you don’t have to cook again until Wednesday. Use the protein to top salads or add a side of broccoli or cauliflower for a full meal. Chop some veggies or pre-portion a few nuts for snacks.
Planning meals a week at a time is the best way to be sure you stay on track. The important thing is to stay consistent. Meal planning and prepping can be time consuming, but without planning ahead and having the foods you need on hand it will be too easy to slip into old habits.
Inside the 131 Method, there is a short term period of eating a modified ketogenic diet (for a specific reason). If you want detailed recommendations, support and guidance. Come join our community here!