- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
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
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
Breakfast: Crustless broccoli quiche
Lunch: Tuna salad with avocado, capers, and a small amount of mayo
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
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
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
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
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:
- Anyone with a history of eating disorders
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.