Creating your keto diet plan might be a daunting task at the very beginning. It’s easy to slip on foods that contain carbs and you may also struggle with meal ideas at the very beginning.
Meal planning is a crucial part of any diet. It helps you to keep your focus and abstain from distractions. For this reason, I will cover numerous possible solutions for your very first keto meal plan.
I will start from tips and tricks on how to do it if you want to do it yourself. Then I will pay special attention to the famous 1200 calorie keto meal plan that maximizes the effects even further. In the end, I will provide a sample ketogenic diet plan that you can use as a template. Also, here you can find the keto macro calculator that will help you measure your portions.
How Does The Keto Diet Work?
If you’re new to low-carb diets, you may be wondering how to start a keto diet and what it involves.
At the very core of the keto diet, it’s all about cutting out carbohydrates. For many keto beginners it may sound harsh and even a little dangerous.
In some sense, there is truth in that. Any drastic dietary change can be a risky move. That’s why it should be done carefully and with a plan.
After all, it’s a well known fact that glucose (which comes from carbohydrates) is what fuels the human body, and especially – the brain. How can a human body sustain itself when the energy becomes scarce?
This is the answer is – ketosis. It is a natural process that kicks in whenever your body starts feeling like it’s low on glucose-based energy. During ketosis, your body starts breaking down fat and converting it to ketones. A ketone is a molecule that your body can consume as energy as well.
Because your body is in constant need of energy, this results in a weight loss situation that occurs day and night, without you needing to do anything.
Doesn’t that sound amazing?
How to Start Keto?
If you are wondering how to start keto, you need to put one thing in mind: your food habits (most likely) need to change.
In further sections of this article I will list the general foods that are okay to eat and foods that should be avoided. Whenever you’re in doubt, always keep this in mind: avoid any carbohydrates.
This includes soda, candies, fruit, pasta, rice and so on. Focus on meats, leafy greens, cheese and eggs. If you’re still unsure, you can always check the nutrition facts online or on the label of the product.
When I was researching how to start a keto diet, I originally found out that carbohydrates should consist of no more than 5% of my daily consumption. However, my tip for you is to ideally aim for less. Myself (as well as other people) tend to underestimate the amount of carbs in food.
Benefits of Having a Keto Diet Plan
There are countless benefits that you get by planning your meals. It’s a nice habit to get into and it makes your life easier throughout the day.
1. Saves you time
Knowing what you’re going to eat saves you time in advance. You no longer need to stress in the evening about what you should cook. It also saves you time in the grocery store because you know exactly what you need in order to prepare your meals.
Having your keto diet menu on hand also reduces your amount of trips to the store. You can get everything on a single weekly shopping.
2. Saves you money
When you’re planning your meals in advance, you can anticipate what kind of ingredients you’re going to need. This way you can adjust your plan in a way that you will minimize the leftovers.
Keto meals can sometimes get expensive because ingredients aren’t always cheap. If you’re on a tight budget, you can create your keto meal plan around discounts and coupons that are available in a grocery store.
In addition, committing to a plan reduces the chances of you eating out or getting a takeout meal.
3. You learn food
If you didn’t cook a lot before, first you might feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. However, create and use your keto diet plan for at least a couple weeks. You will feel much more confident in your ability to judge and plan your dishes.
Sticking to meal planning long enough will prove another benefit – you will start feeling much more confident in the kitchen. It’s very likely that after some time you will only use recipes as an inspiration that will help you produce your own delicious dishes!
4. You reduce food waste
This correlates with the money saving aspect of meal planning. Knowing the meals that you’re going to make allows you to make decisions what kind of products and in what quantities to buy them.
How many times have you thrown away a piece of vegetable that you bought for a specific dish and used only 1/10 of it? I’m guessing way too many. With a good keto diet plan, this can be the thing of the past!
Meal Planning vs. Meal Prepping
The terms sound similar and are often mistaken for one another. However, it’s not uncommon for people to do both.
Keto meal planning is when you gather a list of keto-friendly recipes that you’re going to use for the upcoming week. It’s simple, yet for many people a crucial part in succeeding.
Meal prepping, on the other hand, also involves prepping all of the foods for at least a couple of days in advance. This has the added benefit of minimizing your meal prep time during the week.
The downside of this is that you’re somewhat limited in what kind of food you can prepare (some foods can go bad quickly). In addition, people then usually eat the same or a very similar meal a couple of days in a row, which can get mundane.
However, keto meal prepping is also a great strategy that you can incorporate into your meal planning.
What to Include in Keto Diet Plan?
While meal prepping is a good habit, especially when you’re on a diet, it is only a part of the whole story.
The biggest part is knowing what you should and should not include in your meals. This will help you to not only to cook your own food but it will also give you the flexible knowledge that you can use later.
This will become very handy when you’re eating out with your friends or you just want to grab a snack to eat on your way home.
Foods to eat:
Anything rich in protein and especially – fat. Avoid any carbohydrates altogether. If the product you’re buying has a nutrition label, check it to make sure so you stay on track of your keto diet plan!
- Any meats (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, etc.)
- Any seafood (fish, shellfish, caviar, etc.)
- Oils (opt for healthy ones like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, etc.)
- Above-ground vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, etc.)
- Seasoning with herbs, spices, salt and pepper
You can find a complete keto shopping list here.
Foods to avoid:
Avoid everything that contains sugar or starch.
- Anything with sugar (candies, sugar)
- Fruit (with exceptions of blueberries and strawberries but in small portions)
- Grain or starch based foods (rice, pasta, cereal, etc.)
- Below-ground vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.)
- Most sauces (most store-bought sauces usually contain sugar)
- Most diet foods (most are usually very processed and contain a lot of carbs)
With drinks it’s a bit more difficult as many products that you buy can have added sugar, so you need to be careful with that.
- Unsweetened tea and coffee
- Diet sodas (in moderation)
- Protein shakes (double check the label)
- Champagne or sparkling wine (extra dry or Brut)
- Spirit alcohols (can be mixed with another low-carb drink)
Drinks to avoid:
Below are the drinks that should not be a part of your keto diet plan.
- Sweetened coffees and teas
- Beer, cocktails, non-dry wine
Mixed drinks like milkshakes and smoothies technically can be prepared in a keto-friendly way. However, such milkshakes are a rare sight. If you decide to make your own, be careful with the ingredients.
A word of caution regarding alcohol: during keto, your body becomes much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. Drink with caution and moderation!
Eating at Home
When you’re on a diet, eating at home is the best option. This is because you know what you put in your food and you can control the portion sizes. Creating a ketogenic diet plan will also help you to stick to the low-carb regime.
Eating at home is almost always healthier and cheaper. However, sometimes we have no other choice but to go out for some foods.
It could be either a business lunch, a dinner with your friends. Or you might even just be too tired to cook.
Restaurants usually don’t have nutrition data for their meals, so check the description of the dish carefully before ordering. Ask the waiter if it’s possible to make adjustments to a dish and skip certain parts of it.
Doing that might open you to more possible options on the menu. Like always, pay special attention to sauces. That’s where the carbs often hide.
There is another side of eating out and it involves fast food. Ideally, it would be great if fast food was not a part of your keto diet plan.
Whether on diet or not, it shouldn’t be a go-to place for food. However, sometimes you just need to grab a bite.
The good thing about fast food is that they normally have exact nutrition data available. If you order something that is very low on carbs, it should not kick you out of ketosis.
However, be aware of sauces and options that come with many dishes. An example would be a side salad from McDonald’s. While normally it is a keto-friendly dish, you should skip the breadcrumbs and the sauce. Both of them have extra carbohydrates that you should avoid.
In the end, avoid fast food whenever it’s possible. Most of the time, it is highly processed and not good for you in the long run.
How to Choose a Keto Diet Plan?
Your ketogenic diet plan should consist of specific dishes, planned for each day of at least the upcoming week. This will keep you on track and should prevent distractions and overeating.
If you want, you can use the plan I provided below. If you enjoy cooking and you have your own ideas, feel free to make your own!
Aside from the keto diet plan itself, there are some other strategies that you can incorporate to have even better results.
One very popular example is the 1200 calorie keto meal plan. It’s a type of diet that not only restricts carbs but it also limits the amount of calories you consume. This further maximizes the effects.
I will discuss most of the possible options below. Also, don’t forget that you can mix and match: take some of my suggestions and improve them with your own cooking ideas!
My Suggested Ketogenic Meal Plan
If you’re also willing to try intermittent fasting, feel free to skip a meal each day.
Your Own Keto Diet Plan
Now that you have a good idea of what to include into your keto diet menu, it should be no problem for you to come up with new dishes!
If you’re just like me and cooking is your passion, you will definitely enjoy a little challenge of preparing common dishes by avoiding carbohydrates. If you want an even bigger challenge, try limiting yourself to 1200 calories (read on for more details)!
Even if that is not the case for you, there are thousands of keto meal ideas on the internet. Use the list that I’ve compiled above as a starting point, then check out our articles about keto breakfast and keto dinner.
1200 Calorie Keto Meal Plan
In essence, food is energy. We all need it. However, we don’t always eat just to get energy. Sometimes food brings us comfort. The other times, it’s just because we are bored or stressed. In moderation that’s not bad but if that becomes a habit, then it can cause some problems.
For many people, it is the reason that causes the unwanted weight gain. People eat more than they need, but not because they feel hungry but because that’s what they want to do.
This is how the 1200 calorie keto meal plan came about. By counting your calories and forcing yourself to a ketogenic diet plan, you restrict the amount of food you eat. This makes it more likely for you to have even more success with keto.
Tips for 1200 calorie keto diet plan:
Diets that restrict the amount of food you can eat are arguably the most difficult to stick to. I’ve compiled are a couple of tips that will help you stick to the regime.
- Eat only when you feel hungry the most
Identify the times of the day when you feel the most hungry. For me personally, that happens in the evening. But I’ve met many others that can’t live without lunch, especially if they skip breakfast. Once you’ve identified yours, plan your biggest meals during that time of the day.
- Drink plenty of water
While water doesn’t directly reduce your feeling of hunger, it can definitely postpone it. For this reason, always carry a water bottle with yourself and stay hydrated.
- Don’t do anything extreme
This diet focuses on people who of average build and live a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t overexert yourself by limiting the food intake even further or combining this diet with vigorous exercise. Use your common sense and don’t push too hard. Diets take time and patience.
How to Start Keto with 1200 Calorie Diet
In the end, it’s the same story as with the regular keto diet. All you need to do is limit your carbohydrate intake by adhering to a keto diet plan. The only new twist involved is limiting the amount of food.
For this reason you can even use the meal plan that I’ve put above. Just reduce the serving sizes. Most of the recipe websites I’ve linked have the nutritional data specified, making this task easy.
The Bottom Line
Keto meal plan is something that every ketogenic diet beginner needs. It does not matter how you come up with one. All you need to do is make sure you know what to eat and what macro nutrients that food needs to have.
Keto diet might not be easy, especially at early stages. For this reason, it’s important to have delicious meals that would reduce the feeling like you’re missing something.
I truly hope that the recipes I’ve collected will give you a good head start for your low-carb journey.