Keto Diet Menu: 7-Day Keto Meal Plan for Beginners

Diet keto weight loss

The chances are that you have heard of the ketogenic diet. It is currently one of the most in-demand diets for weight loss, and its popularity is only continuing to grow.

Followers of this diet rave about how the keto lifestyle has helped them lose weight and promote body fat loss.

Additionally, many individuals are adopting the keto diet for a variety of health benefits. Research has shown that high-fat, low-carb diets, such as keto diets, may help improve certain conditions, including type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and cognitive decline (1-3). The keto diet has also been linked to better blood sugar control, improvements in insulin levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a decreased risk of heart disease (4-7).

Are you curious about the ketogenic diet for weight loss but are not sure where to start? The following article will give you a comprehensive overview of this diet and provide a delicious keto meal plan to help you begin your weight loss journey.

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet plan. For this weight loss program, you drastically reduce your carb intake while consuming higher amounts of fat and moderate amounts of protein.

The standard ketogenic diet typically limits carbohydrates to 5-10% of daily calorie intake, which equals about 25-50 grams of total carbs per day.

This reduction in carbohydrates forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

When you limit carbs in your diet, the body turns to fat as its primary fuel source versus glucose from carbohydrates. Fat is broken down into ketones by the liver, which can then be used for energy by your brain and body tissues.

By switching your metabolism into ketosis, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat, ultimately leading to weight loss.

How Do I Start a Keto Diet?

The basic principle of the keto diet is to reduce carbs while emphasizing fat intake during meals and snacks. A standard ratio of macronutrients (or macros) for the ketogenic diet is as follows:

  • 60 to 75% of calories from fat
  • 15 to 30% of calories from protein
  • 5 to 10% of calories from carbs

When following a keto plan to lose weight, roughly 5 to 10% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, which equates to fewer than 50 grams per day. Some individuals may be able to achieve ketosis when consuming 50 grams of carbs per day, while others may need to limit their carb count to as few as 20 grams. 

However, counting carbs may become tedious and is not always necessary to achieve weight loss results on the keto diet. Overall, your goal should be to reduce carbs and eat more fat when following this approach. Generally, the lower your carb intake, the easier it is to reach and remain in ketosis. 

What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?

Beginning a keto weight loss diet may seem challenging at first since it requires eliminating certain foods due to their carbohydrate content. However, you will find that many healthy and nutritious food choices are also low in carbs. 

Below is a shortlist of low carb foods that you can include on your keto diet menu:

Meats and Protein

The keto diet consists of a moderate amount of protein, which equals about 15% to 30% of your daily calories. This is because the body can convert some dietary protein to glucose, which makes it more challenging to remain in ketosis. However, this generally occurs when protein intake is higher than 35% of daily calories. 

Since keto diets consist mainly of fats, you can feel free to choose fattier cuts of meat and protein. Some good protein options on the keto diet include:

  • Beef, preferably grass-fed when possible   
  • Seafood, including fish and shellfish   
  • Poultry, including chicken, turkey, and duck   
  • Pork    
  • Bacon 
  • Venison  
  • Eggs

Oils and Healthy Fats

As previously mentioned, fats make up as much as 75% of your daily calories on the ketogenic diet. Some fats are better for your health than others. Examples of heart-healthy, high-fat foods include fatty fish, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados. Below is a list of healthy fats that are perfect for the keto diet:     

  • Butter, from grass-fed cows, when possible  
  • Fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout     
  • Ghee
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil 
  • Olive oil 
  • MCT oil 
  • Nut and seed oils, including walnut oil  
  • Nut butters, such as almond butter     
  • Heavy cream 
  • Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt (Be sure to double-check the nutrition label for added sugar)    
  • Full-fat cheeses  
  • Whipping cream
  • Bacon

Low-Carb Vegetables

Low-carb or non-starchy veggies are an important staple of any healthy diet, including the keto diet. These vegetables are lower in calories and packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium. 

Low-carb vegetables are also a good source of fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest or absorb. Due to their high fiber content, vegetables are lower in “digestible” or net carbs. 

The net carbohydrates in a food item are calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber (aka the non-digestible materials) from the total grams of carbs. For example, one cup of eggplant has 5 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber, meaning that this vegetable has 2.5 grams of net carbs per serving.  

However, keep in mind that this is not a perfect equation, and just because a food is lower in net carbs does not mean that it is carb-free. Therefore, it is still recommended to limit your intake of net carbs per day as part of the keto lifestyle change.

Low-carb vegetables to include on your keto diet menu are:

  • Bell peppers       
  • Broccoli    
  • Cauliflower
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce, and arugula)
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus   
  • Fresh herbs (cilantro, dill, basil, etc.)
  • Tomatoes       
  • Hot peppers
  • Mushrooms 
  • Zucchini       
  • Watercress
  • Cabbage

Low-Carb Fruits

Fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, some fruits are too high in carbs to work with the ketogenic diet

The good news is that certain fruits can still be enjoyed as part of the keto diet, although you will want to be mindful of portions to remain in ketosis. Keto-friendly fruits to include on your meal plan are:

  • Berries (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries) 
  • Watermelon
  • Lemons
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Star fruit
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds make an excellent low carb food choice on the ketogenic diet and are packed with fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats. Nuts and seeds also contain essential vitamins and minerals that many Americans don’t get enough of, including vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and copper.

Nuts and seeds to include on your keto meal plan are:

  • Coconuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts       
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts       
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts   
  • Cashews
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Nut butters (Be sure to read the nutrition labels for added sugars)

Dairy Products

Many followers of the keto meal plan love that cheese and other dairy products are encouraged as part of the keto diet. Dairy products are a good source of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

When choosing dairy products for your keto menu, be sure to select the full-fat versions and avoid skim and reduced-fat foods. You should also double-check the nutrition information labels because some dairy products, such as yogurt, may have added sugars or artificial sweeteners. 

  • Whole milk 
  • Heavy cream
  • Butter, preferably from grass-fed cows
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Feta cheese       
  • Goat cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Blue cheese
  • Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • Unsweetened Kefir

Keto-Friendly Beverages

Unfortunately, many popular drinks contain carbs and sugars, including juice, soda, and sweetened teas and coffees.

However, there are plenty of delicious, sugar-free beverage options that are perfect for the ketogenic diet. These include:

  • Water: Plain water remains the best option for hydration and should be consumed throughout the day. Try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to your water for extra flavor.    
  • Sparkling water: Sparkling water and sugar-free seltzers make an excellent alternative to both regular and diet soda.
  • Unsweetened coffee: Starting the keto diet does not mean that you need to sacrifice your morning cup of joe. Try enjoying your coffee black or with whole milk or heavy cream. Also, read up on bulletproof coffee!
  • Unsweetened tea, including black, herbal, and green teas     
  • Unsweetened milk alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk
  • Broth: Bone broth is higher in protein compared to other fluids and is a keto-friendly beverage.

Many alcoholic beverages are too high in carbs to work with the keto diet. However, some types of alcohol, such as tequila, rum, whiskey, and vodka, are lower in carbs and can be enjoyed in moderation. For example, tequila topped with sugar-free seltzer and lime juice is a keto-friendly drink that is great for special occasions.

What Can You NOT Eat on a Keto Diet?

As previously mentioned, carbs are heavily restricted on the ketogenic diet to help you remain in ketosis. 

The following is a list of foods that are a source of carbohydrates:

  • Bread including white and whole wheat bread, rolls, tortillas, pita, and crackers
  • Baked goods and dessert items such as cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, and doughnuts
  • Sweeteners and sugar such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, and honey 
  • Grains including pasta, rice, cereal, barley, and oats
  • Starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash 
  • Legumes and beans including black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans   
  • Certain fruits including pineapple, citrus fruits, bananas, and grapes 
  • Sugary sauces and condiments: Salad dressings, dipping sauces, and barbecue sauce are often sources of hidden sugars and carbs.     
  • Low-nutrition fats: Highly processed fats such as vegetable oils, canola oil, corn oil, shortening, and margarine should be used in moderation
  • “Diet” foods or low-fat foods: Foods that contain the word “diet” or “low-fat” frequently have added sugars or sweeteners for flavor and should be avoided on the keto diet plan. 

As with all diets, you may also want to limit your intake of highly processed junk foods. These include fast food, packaged meals, and processed meats, to name a few. Diets high in processed foods have been linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased risk of certain health issues and diseases (8). 

One Week Sample Keto Diet Menu 

Below is a 7-day keto diet meal plan complete with keto meals and snacks. As with all meal plans, it is recommended that you individualize these recipes according to your daily carb allowance and to accommodate for any food intolerances or allergies. 

Day 1

  • Breakfast- Scrambled eggs topped with sliced avocado and tomato salsa 
  • Snack- Roasted sunflower seeds sprinkled with sea salt
  • Lunch- Grilled chicken breast salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing
  • Snack- Turkey or beef jerky 
  • Dinner- Grilled steak with shrimp scampi served over zucchini noodles

Day 2

  • Breakfast- Mushroom frittata with fresh herbs and parmesan cream sauce
  • Snack- Keto “chocolate milk” made with cocoa and unsweetened almond milk
  • Lunch- Pork chops with cauliflower mash
  • Snack- Handful of mixed nuts and bell pepper sticks
  • Dinner- Mediterranean chicken thighs with olives and balsamic glaze. Served with steamed broccoli.

Day 3

  • Breakfast- Full-fat Greek yogurt topped with fresh raspberries
  • Snack- Ham and cheese slices 
  • Lunch- Tuna salad on top of leafy greens
  • Snack- Egg omelet with bell peppers and cheddar cheese
  • Dinner- Grilled salmon with asparagus and lemon juice

Day 4

  • Breakfast- Breadless bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich 
  • Snack- Blueberries topped with coconut cream
  • Lunch- Keto crab cakes made with almond flour and served over lettuce
  • Snack- Full-fat Greek yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts
  • Dinner- Beef stir-fry served over cauliflower rice 

Day 5

  • Breakfast- Mixed berry protein powder smoothie with spinach and almond nut butter 
  • Snack- Egg salad wrapped in butter lettuce 
  • Lunch- Grilled shrimp topped with a lemon butter sauce and a side of broccoli 
  • Snack- Peanut butter, coconut oil fat bombs 
  • Dinner- Chicken curry made with coconut milk and served over cauliflower rice

Day 6

  • Breakfast- Full-fat Greek yogurt “parfait” made with strawberries and toasted walnuts
  • Snack- Cheese and olive plate
  • Lunch- Blackened catfish with diced tomatoes and jalapeños 
  • Snack- Chocolate peanut butter smoothie prepared with cocoa, peanut butter, and almond milk
  • Dinner- A personal pizza made with cauliflower crust and topped with sausage and mozzarella cheese

Day 7

  • Breakfast- Spinach, mushroom, and feta cheese omelet 
  • Snack- Bacon-wrapped asparagus
  • Lunch- Grass-fed ground beef burger in a lettuce “bun” topped with avocado and a side salad.
  • Snack- 1-ounce serving of 85% dark chocolate
  • Dinner- Chicken pesto served over zucchini noodles

Healthy Ketogenic Diet Snack Options

Adding keto snacks to your diet plan doesn’t have to be hard. Below is a list of some straightforward, keto-friendly snacks that will fit perfectly with any keto meal plan:

  • Hard-boiled eggs with sea salt and black pepper 
  • A green spinach smoothie with avocado
  • Mixed nuts with dark chocolate chunks
  • Salted peanuts
  • Raw almonds and cheddar cheese cubes
  • Avocado filled with chicken salad
  • Chocolate keto smoothie made with cocoa, unsweetened almond milk, and avocado
  • Spicy guacamole with veggie sticks
  • Cucumber slices topped with cheese
  • Berries topped with whipped cream
  • Bell peppers and celery dipped in cream cheese
  • Beef jerky
  • Cheese roll-ups
  • Onion soup with bacon bits
  • Handful of olives
  • Mini “sandwich” rolls made with sliced turkey and cheese

A Simple Ketogenic Diet Shopping List 

When planning your keto shopping lists, be sure to include plenty of low carb produce, heart-healthy fats, and moderate amounts of protein. Try using the following food list to help plan your keto recipes and make meal prep simple and easy.

  • Meat and protein: Chicken, beef, pork, and turkey (Try to buy free-range, pasture-raised, and/or organic when possible)      
  • Fish: Especially fatty fish like sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel
  • Shellfish: Oysters, scallops, clams, and shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Dairy: Heavy cream, full-fat yogurt (unsweetened), butter, and sour cream
  • Cheese: Brie, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and goat cheese      
  • Heart-healthy oils: Olive, avocado, and coconut oil
  • Low-carb fruits: Berries, avocados, lemons, limes, and olives
  • Nut butters: Almond, peanut, and cashew butter
  • Seeds: Sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, pecans, and macadamia nuts.
  • Low-carb vegetables: Mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Fresh, frozen, and canned (with no added sugars) are all good options. 
  • Condiments: Herbs, spices and spice blends, vinegar, mustard, mayo, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and salsa. However, be sure to double-check the ingredients list for added sugars before purchasing.

Last Words

The standard ketogenic diet is a low carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet that consists of 50 grams of carbs per day or less. You can accomplish this by restricting your carbohydrate intake and emphasizing a high-fat diet. 

Many people are turning to the ketogenic diet to help them lose weight and improve their health. Research studies have shown that high fat, low carb diets, such as the keto diet, may help with weight loss, especially during the first six months of dieting (5). However, as with any weight loss program, it only works if you can stick with it for the long run. 

To set yourself up for success, try to focus on foods that are naturally high in fat and/ or low in carbs. These include eggs, meats, cheeses, and non-starchy vegetables. Foods that are moderate in carbs, like berries, dark chocolate, and certain alcoholic beverages, can be enjoyed on keto meal plans in moderation. 

While the transition to a low carb diet may seem like a challenge at first, there are steps that you can take to make going keto easy and enjoyable. Try following the 7-day keto diet menu and using the keto-friendly shopping list as a guide to get started on your ketogenic diet journey. 

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  2. Ota, M., Matsuo, J., Ishida, I., Hattori, K., Teraishi, T., Tonouchi, H., Ashida, K., Takahashi, T., & Kunugi, H. (2016). Effect of a ketogenic meal on cognitive function in elderly adults: potential for cognitive enhancement. Psychopharmacology, 233(21-22), 3797–3802.
  3. Zupec-Kania, Beth A, and Emily Spellman. “An overview of the ketogenic diet for pediatric epilepsy.” Nutrition in clinical practice : official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition vol. 23,6 (2008): 589-96. doi:10.1177/0884533608326138
  4. Daly, M E et al. “Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in Type 2 diabetes–a randomized controlled trial.” Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association vol. 23,1 (2006): 15-20. doi:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2005.01760.x
  5. Foster, Gary D et al. “A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.” The New England journal of medicine vol. 348,21 (2003): 2082-90. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa022207
  6. Hussain, Talib A et al. “Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 28,10 (2012): 1016-21. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2012.01.016
  7. Feinman, Richard D, and Mary Makowske. “Metabolic syndrome and low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets in the medical school biochemistry curriculum.” Metabolic syndrome and related disorders vol. 1,3 (2003): 189-97. doi:10.1089/154041903322716660
  8. Marti, Amelia. “Ultra-Processed Foods Are Not “Real Food” but Really Affect Your Health.” Nutrients vol. 11,8 1902. 15 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11081902
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