An easy 7-day keto meal plan to boost your protein intake and cut carbs

  • This seven-day keto meal plan covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with meals like cauliflower pizza and salmon pesto zucchini noodle salad.
  • Eating a keto meal plan may help you lose weight and studies show it can reduce the severity of seizures in children with epilepsy.
  • However, you should not eat keto if you have a history of eating disorders or have a condition that affects your liver, pancreas, kidney, or gallbladder.
  • The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet has become widely popular in recent years, as celebrities like LeBron James and the Kardashian sisters have touted it as a surefire way to drop pounds fast.

In fact, a 2019 survey of registered dietitian nutritionists ranked the keto diet as the most popular diet in the US. Here’s how you can follow the keto diet and critical information to know about its health benefits and risks.

What is the keto diet?

 

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan. “[It is] low enough in carbohydrates that it would induce ketosis,” says David Levitsky, PhD, a professor in the division of nutritional sciences at the Cornell University College of Human Ecology.

Ketosis is a physiological state in which your body burns fat rather than carbohydrates9/* for fuel, which can help some people lose weight.

According to Levitsky, if you’re eating keto, you should minimize your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods, such as:

  • Bread
  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Root vegetables like potatoes
  • Grains like rice, oats, and wheat, as well as quinoa
  • Milk and yogurt

You should also aim to maximize your intake of fatty foods, such as:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dairy products such as cheese, butter, and full-fat Greek yogurt

7-day keto meal plan

Here is an example seven-day Keto meal plan you can follow. However, you should consult with a registered dietitian to determine the right serving size and nutritional breakdowns for your own unique health needs.

Day 1

a close up of food on a plate: Avocados are a good source of healthy fats. Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images© Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images Avocados are a good source of healthy fats. Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images

Breakfast: Baked avocado with egg and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

Lunch: Chicken salad with onion, feta cheese, olives, and a small amount of oil-based dressing

Dinner: Beef stew with carrots, shallots, bell peppers, and your choice of herbs and aromatics like thyme and garlic

Day 2

a pizza sitting on top of a metal fence: Roasted chicken is high in protein. Douglas Sacha/Getty images© Douglas Sacha/Getty images Roasted chicken is high in protein. Douglas Sacha/Getty images

Breakfast: Whole milk greek yogurt with almonds

Lunch: Roasted chicken breast topped with mozzarella cheese

Dinner: Fish tacos with lettuce wraps instead of tortillas – top them with guacamole, pickled red cabbage, radishes, and a squeeze of fresh lime

Day 3

a bowl of salad: You can add tuna salad over lettuce. DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images© DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images You can add tuna salad over lettuce. DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images

Breakfast: Crustless broccoli quiche

Lunch: Tuna salad with avocado, capers, and a small amount of mayo


Gallery: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Potatoes (Eat This, Not That!)

a plate of food: Many people coat their grills with oil to create a non-stick surface for food. But there's an easier way to create a non-stick surface, says Teddy Bricker, an award-winning chef and the owner of Soursop in Austin. "Halve a potato and rub the hot grates with them to avoid using a lot of oil. This will make the grill naturally non-stick," Bricker says.

Dinner: Cauliflower crusted white pizza with cheese (no sauce) and your choice of healthy low-carb toppings like basil, mushrooms, olives, jalapenos, pepperoni, or chicken

Day 4

a close up of a pizza: Top your omelette with sriracha for added spice. abbesses/Getty Images© abbesses/Getty Images Top your omelette with sriracha for added spice. abbesses/Getty Images

Breakfast: Southwest breakfast omelet with cheddar jack cheese, scallions, and bacon

Lunch: Hummus with carrots, bell peppers, and celery wrapped in freshly sliced turkey

Dinner: Riceless (or cauliflower rice) stir fry loaded with chunks of chicken, snap peas, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots with a sprinkle of peanuts

Day 5

a close up of food on a plate: Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. gbh007/Getty Images© gbh007/Getty Images Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. gbh007/Getty Images

Breakfast: Onion and green pepper hash with chicken sausages

Lunch: Deviled eggs with a small side salad

Dinner: Roasted salmon with a side of spicy Brussels sprouts

Day 6

a close up of food: Stuffed peppers are easy and delicious. BDMcIntosh/Getty Images© BDMcIntosh/Getty Images Stuffed peppers are easy and delicious. BDMcIntosh/Getty Images

Breakfast: Cottage cheese with ½ cup of raspberries

Lunch: Grilled shrimp lettuce wraps topped with a spicy chipotle aioli and side of unsweetened coleslaw

Dinner: Stuffed peppers with seasoned ground turkey and melted cheese on top

Day 7

a pizza sitting on top of a wooden table: Buttered chicken is high in protein. Cavan Images/Getty Images© Cavan Images/Getty Images Buttered chicken is high in protein. Cavan Images/Getty Images

Breakfast: Breakfast bowl with fried eggs, avocado, chopped green peppers and cauliflower rice

Lunch: Salmon pesto zucchini noodle salad

Dinner: Crockpot butter chicken with plenty of roasted vegetables and no rice

Keto diet benefits

Eating keto may improve your health in a few ways, according to research:

It can help you lose weight. A 2020 meta-analysis found that overweight or obese people lost more weight on the keto diet than they did on low-fat diets, especially those with type 2 diabetes.

 

Levitsky says that weight loss can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels, which is quite beneficial for people with diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as those who may be at risk for these conditions. However, people with type 1 diabetes should not try the keto diet, as it may cause serious side effects.

It can prevent epileptic seizures. The keto diet was originally invented as a possible treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. Some research in mice has found that it can reduce brain inflammation, though the exact mechanisms for how it can treat seizures in humans are unclear.

A small 2018 study found that 87% of adults with “drug-resistant epilepsy” reported that their quality of life had improved after three months on a keto diet. About 76% had less severe seizures, and more than 50% had fewer seizures overall.

Keto diet risks

Although eating keto does not have any known “long-term deleterious effects,” says Levitsky, it is not without risk. Some risks of the keto diet include:

  • Keto flu describes symptoms such as nausea, upset stomach, and fatigue that you may experience while your body adapts to ketosis.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Kidney stones
  • Constipation, most likely due to a reduced intake of fiber
  • Increased risk of heart disease due to high intakes of saturated fat and red meat
  • Increased risk of cancer due to high intakes of processed meat like bacon
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to reduced intake of fruits and whole grains

Therefore, it’s best to adhere to the keto diet for a short period of time, Levitsky says. The recommended minimum is two to three weeks – the typical length of time it takes to reach a state of ketosis – and the recommended maximum is six to 12 months.

Some people should avoid the keto diet entirely. This includes those with existing conditions affecting the following organs or body parts:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Anyone with a history of eating disorders

Insider’s takeaway

The keto diet is a relatively safe and effective way to lose weight in the short term. However, once you incorporate carbs back into your diet, the pounds will likely creep back on, Levitsky says. To lose weight, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who can help create an individualized plan for your goals.

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