Keto Meal Plan: Enhance Fat Burning and Reduce Cravings
The keto diet is all over the media lately and you may wonder about its benefits. While keto is popular, it’s not a fat. Instead it is an incredibly healthy way of eating. If you follow a keto meal plan you may experience powerful health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved fat burning, and reduced cravings.
In this article, you will learn about what the keto diet is, the benefits of ketosis, how to follow a real food keto diet, and how keto and intermittent fasting go together. I will also share with you my favorite keto recipes you may try on a keto meal plan.
Benefits of Ketosis
The ketogenic, or keto diet is a very low-carb diet plan (about 60 to 80 percent fat, 20 to 30 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbs) that dates all the way back to the 1920s. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center found that fasting helped their participants reduce their seizures, blood sugar, cholesterol, hunger, and body fat (1, 2).
Since long-term fasting is not feasible in many cases, they developed the keto diet to mimic the benefits of fasting. They found that by strictly limiting glucose from carbohydrate foods, the keto diet tricks the body to think that it’s fasting and create ketosis for an array of health benefits (1, 2).
Normally, your body burns glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates for energy. Ketosis occurs in your body when it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy. When this happens, your body turns to fat as a source of fuel and makes ketones for fuel and energy (3).
Weight loss is one of the most popular benefits of ketosis that you might’ve heard or read about. However, ketosis has many other health benefits, including (4, 5, 6, 7, 8):
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved fat burning
- Mental clarity and sharpness
- Abundant energy
- Clear skin
- Reduced cravings
- Mitochondrial biogenesis
- Anti-aging benefits
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
To learn more about the benefits of ketosis and the keto diet, read this article.
Real Food Keto vs Dirty Keto
The keto diet can certainly have some powerful health benefits to offer. However, it is important that you do keto the right way to experience maximum benefits. For optimal results, I recommend that you eat a real food keto diet and avoid following a dirty keto diet.
Dirty keto is a form of keto diet where you are still achieving ketosis by restricting your carb intake and getting your calories mainly from fat, but without paying attention to your micronutrients. While the real food keto diet requires a lot of research, planning, meal prep, and cooking, dirty keto only requires you to follow the right keto macro ratio. Eating a dirty keto diet, you may eat processed foods and junk foods, such as deli meat, refined oils, burgers from a fast food chain without a bun, or diet sodas as long as your carb intake remains under 5 to 10 percent of your calories (9).
You may not be surprised to hear this, but despite following a low carb plant, dirty keto has its serious drawbacks. Without focusing on clean, healthy, and nutrient-dense foods, you will be missing out on essential micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Without these micronutrients, you are running a risk of inflammation, rebound weight gain, low energy, cravings, poor gut health. compromised immunity, weak bones, and other health problems. Processed foods are usually also high in sodium, preservatives, and artificial ingredients that may lead to dehydration, constipation, bloating, puffiness, and inflammation.
Benefits of Real Food Keto
If you want to avoid inflammation, pain, and disease, and experience maximum benefits from ketosis, you have to follow a real food keto meal plan. The real food keto diet is also referred to as the clean keto diet due to its focus on clean, real, and whole foods. The real food keto diet is basically a healthy way of eating the keto-way.
The real food keto diet includes nutrient-dense organic whole foods from quality sources such as grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, wild-caught fish, free-range eggs, and lots of nutrient-dense, low-carbohydrate vegetables, low glycemic index fruits, herbs, and spices. On the real food keto diet, you will be avoiding conventional and processed meat products, sugar, gluten, refined oils, fried foods, conventional dairy, casein, artificial sweeteners, table salt, and tap water, and basically all junk food and most processed foods.
To learn more about the benefits of the real food keto diet and why you need to avoid dirty keto, read this article. To learn more about how to the real food keto diet, read this article about the keto food pyramid for a keto meal plan.
Intermittent Fasting and Avoiding Snacks
One of the main benefits of the real keto diet and following a keto meal plan is ketosis. During fasting, including intermittent fasting, your glycogen stores and insulin levels both drop forcing your body to start burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. As a result, intermittent fasting also encourages your body to reach ketosis and consequent health benefits. Combining keto and intermittent fasting while following a real keto meal plan may jump start the process of ketosis and maximize your health benefits.
Various forms of fasting have been employed throughout history for both religious and health reasons. Fasting is simply a practice when you are not eating any food for a certain period of time, opting for non-caloric beverages, such as water or herbal tea, or nothing instead.
Intermittent fasting is a particular form of fasting strategy that is easy and usually safe to incorporate into your life. Intermittent fasting is a fasting strategy where you are moving between calorie restriction, or fasting, and normal food consumption, or feasting for a specific period of time.
Intermittent Fasting Strategies
There are different forms of intermittent strategies you can practice. The easiest way to start out is the Simple Fast, where you are fasting for 12 hours and have a 12-hour eating period. By gradually increasing your fasting window, you can move up to the Cycle Fast with a 16-hour fasting window, or a Strong Fast with an 18-hour window. Other popular intermittent fasting methods include the Warrior Fast and Fat Fasting.
You may learn about various forms of intermittent regimens in this article. For women, I recommend Crescendo Fasting. You may learn about it here. Those who have been familiar with and practicing intermittent fasting for a while may want to try the One Meal a Day Diet (OMAD) as outlined in this article.
When you are fasting, it is absolutely essential that you are actually fasting during your fasting window. This means that you have to avoid snacking. Avoiding snacking during your eating window may also be beneficial for achieving ketosis and experiencing the benefits of a keto meal plan. Eating a real food keto diet with a delicious keto meal plan and consuming enough calories (feasting) during your eating period is not only essential for optimal results but may also help you to eliminate your need for snacks.
Keto Meal Plan Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast is your first meal of the day. In theory, breakfast could be any time of the day when you break your fast. For some people, they feel best eating in the morning while others, like myself, prefer to fast until the early afternoon.
If you are eating breakfast, it is incredibly important that you start your day right without causing blood sugar fluctuations or inflammation. If you want to fast you can still consume water, black coffee or herbal tea. If you want to break your fast with only fat, a great option is to do a keto coffee where you add in butter and/or MCT oil.
If you want something light that also contains protein, you can do a keto protein shake with coconut or almond milk and a good quality protein powder. You could also try throwing 1/2 or a full avocado in the shake to add more fats and make it like a pudding. When I make a keto protein shake, I enjoy adding an avocado and a tsp of the Keto Brain MCT oil.
If you want real food, some good options would be chicken sausage and eggs, turkey or grass-fed beef bacon and eggs or an omelet. You could do veggie omelets or even enjoy some leftovers from your lunch or dinner the day before. Try these keto meal plan breakfast ideas for some powerful results.
Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee
You want a good cup of coffee in the morning. Why don’t you try my Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee? It’s perfect for a keto meal plan. It is full of anti-inflammatory turmeric, cinnamon, and MCT oil, and just a bit of grass-fed butter for some food fats.
Cinnamon Keto Pancakes
Pancakes are a delicious breakfast option that will remind you of your childhood every time. Choose these Cinnamon Keto Pancakes to experience full health benefits and forget about guilt on a keto meal plan. Thanks to some healing spices and bone broth protein, these pancakes won’t throw off your blood sugar nor inflame your gut.
Tomato Basil Omelet
Omelets are a classic breakfast option. They are an easy way to load up on healthy fats, herbs, and veggies on a keto meal plan. Try my favorite Tomato Basil Omelet with tomato, basil, garlic, and bell pepper. Don’t be afraid to experiment by adding your favorite veggies, herbs, and spices.
For more delicious keto meal plan breakfast recipes, check out this article for 17 mouth-watering ideas.
Keto Meal Plan Lunch Ideas
For many people following a ketogenic lifestyle, lunch may actually be the first meal of the day! Most of the time, I wait until 1 or 2pm each day before having my first meal as I enjoy getting a really good 18-20 hour fast each day and then I enjoy a great lunch which would technically be my “break fast” meal.
Some good options here would include any of the breakfast options I discussed above including the keto protein shake which I often enjoy. Lunch is also a great time to load up on veggies and you could do a big salad with healthy fats coming from avocado, olives and olive or avocado oil. You can add in some healthy meat or some nuts to get protein on your salad.
If you want some cooked food you could do a chicken, turkey or beef soup or stew as long as you don’t have potato or carrots in it. Fill your soup or stew with celery, kale, broccoli and onions along with a good bone broth and meat.
If you are on the go, you could always make an extra large dinner and bring the leftovers in a glass container (plastic lid is fine) with you to work the next day. Finally, some people enjoy eating warm dinner like foods around the middle of the day and fasting through dinner. If that is you, have your steak and steamed veggies at lunch.
One caveat is that if you eat your largest meal earlier in the day, your body will need to drive a lot of blood flow into your digestive system and you may notice less energy and mental clarity. You may also feel like you need a siesta or mid-day/mid-afternoon nap. If this makes you less productive at work, then consider having a lighter meal at lunch like a keto protein shake or a salad like I described above.
Keto Meal Plan Dinner Ideas
For many of us, dinner is going to be our largest and most hearty meal of the day. Meanwhile, others may prefer to practice their intermittent fast through the evening hours. You have to decide the timing of your fasting and eating schedule that works best for your body and your daily demands.
If you eating a large meal in the evening, some great options include a tasty grass-fed steak with steamed or sautéed veggies like broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, etc. I enjoy putting butter or olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and herbs on the steak and veggies for more flavor and healthy fats.
You could also do bunless burgers or grass-fed hot dogs with a tasty cauliflower mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus which is one of my favorite dinner meals! My family also enjoys doing coconut flour wraps and we make chicken fajitas! Here are some other great options and I will also provide you with some additional side dish and main course ideas as you read on.
Keto Meal Plan Side Dishes
The problem is that traditional side dishes are full of carbs or unhealthy fats. Using some keto meal plan side dish recipes, you can ensure that you stay healthy while enjoying your favorite sides.
This Avocado Pesto is a perfect side dish on a keto meal plan. The avocado provides lots of healthy fats to support your real food keto diet. The kale adds detoxifying benefits and lots of minerals. The lemon juice and Italian herbs add a beautiful flavor to turn this recipe into your favorite. Pesto is perfect with sliced cucumbers and carrot stick for dipping, on a slice of keto bread, or with zucchini noodles.
Coconut Flour Bread
Speaking of keto bread, this Coconut Flour Bread is my family’s favorite on a keto meal plan. Coconut flour is a fantastic, keto-friendly alternative to other flours with lots of prebiotics for your microbiome. It is fantastic with guacamole, butter, or over-easy eggs.
Homemade Keto Crackers
You don’t have to give up crackers on real food keto meal plan. These Homemade Keto Crackers are healthy and delicious. They are made with sunflower and sesame seeds for healthy fats and protein. They are perfect for dipping and even as a snack for your kids. My boys certainly love them.
For more side dish ideas on a keto meal plan, check out this article for 20 keto side dish recipes.
Keto Meal Plan Main Courses
Main courses are an incredibly important part of your diet. They may serve as lunch or dinner, or if you following OMAD, part of your one meal a day. A good main course nourishes your body and keeps you stay fuller helping you to avoid snacking and to stay on your fasting and keto regimen. Make sure to choose a healthy main course from a keto meal plan. Check out some of my favorites.
Coconut Flour Pizza Crust
Chances are, pizza is one of your favorite foods. I have good news. You can eat pizza on a keto diet. All you have to do is to use this Coconut Flour Pizza Crust to stay on a keto meal plan. Add low-carb tomato sauce, raw grass-fed cheese, and your favorite herbs and veggies. I love making this with olives, fresh basil, roasted broccoli, and some beef salami from US Wellness Meats.
Tenacious Taco Lettuce Wraps
Tacos are another classic main dish and comfort food that you don’t have to give up on a keto meal plan. Load up these Tenacious Taco Lettuce Wraps with veggies and healthy fats. I love them with Creamy Lemon Superfood Guacamole and Chunky Tomato Salsa.
Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
If you love Asian-inspired dishes, this Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai is a powerfully nutritious main dish on a keto meal plan. Thanks to all the zucchini noodles, avocado oil, broccoli, and homemade almond butter pad Thai sauce, it’s healthy and delicious. Add pasture-raised chicken for some clean protein.
To try more main course recipes on a keto meal plan, take a look at this article with 20 delicious keto options.
Keto Meal Plan Desserts
When people commit to a healthy diet, they are afraid that they have to give up dessert. This is not true. You can eat dessert on a keto meal plan as long as you choose nutritious keto options. Let’s try some examples.
Keto Almond Butter Fudge Cups
Chocolate and nut butter together are heaven. Try these Keto Almond Butter Fudge Cups. They are full of antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and mood-boosting compounds from cacao. They are not only healthy but simple and quick to make as well.
Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are a classic favorite. My wife, Angel makes these delicious Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies that my kids and I love. They are sugar-free and flourless and perfect on a keto meal plan. They taste like your childhood favorite while still protecting your health.
Raw Keto Brownie Bites
Brownies are another classic you can still enjoy on a keto meal plan. Instead of the inflammatory, sugary version, try these Raw Keto Brownie Bites with healthy fats, such as coconut oil and almond butter. For healthy protein, add some chocolate bone broth protein.
These brownie bites are delicious like your grandma’s, except healthier. For more keto meal plan dessert ideas, read this article with 25 delicious options.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Keto Meal Plan
As long as you follow a real food keto meal plan, the keto diet has powerful health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved fat burning, and reduced cravings. Try my favorite recipes I shared with you in this article to create your own keto meal plan and improve your health and well-being with keto.
If you are looking for more great keto meal ideas than check out our complete Navigating the Ketogenic Diet program here