Ready to jump into keto, but not sure where to start?
Planning is your key to success on the ketogenic diet. Knowing which foods to eat (and which to avoid), meal prepping and following a keto meal plan will help you reach your macro goals and stay in ketosis.
Below, a sample 7-Day Keto Meal Plan is laid out for you — perfect for your first week on keto. Feel free to follow it to the letter or tailor it to your individual goals.
Before you dive into the meals, review how to calculate your macros and which foods are keto-friendly. This will set you set you up for success after your initial week on the keto diet.
Which Version of Keto Should You Follow?
Why do you want to start a ketogenic diet? Do you want to finally lose the stubborn excess body weight you’ve been lugging around? Are you looking for better mental clarity and more energy? Or will you be using a ketogenic diet to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and find better overall health?
Your approach to keto will differ depending upon your individual goals. Below are a few common keto objectives, and the keto diet type best suited for accomplishing each.
For Fat Loss and Overall Health: Standard Ketogenic Diet
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) is the most common approach to keto, and the most highly recommended method for beginners. Those who follow SKD are typically looking to achieve weight loss or fat loss. They might also be looking to improve certain symptoms related to depression and mental health, inflammation and cholesterol levels.
An intake of 30 grams of net carbohydrates or less will typically induce ketosis.
For Improved Workout Performance: Targeted Ketogenic Diet
The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is ideal for maintaining exercise performance, and therefore best for athletes or those who follow a rigorous training schedule. How does it work? TKD allows for glycogen re-synthesis without interrupting ketosis for extended periods of time.
To follow TKD, use these guidelines:
Consume 25-50 grams of carbs per day
Consume highly digestible carbs 30 minutes to one hour prior to exercise
Consume high amounts of fats and moderate amounts of protein
For Bodybuilders or Athletes: Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) involves alternating days of strict keto and high-carb consumption. For example, a week on CKD would involve eating 20-50 grams of carbs for five consecutive days, then eating a high-carb diet (over 100 grams per day) for two days.
Athletes who follow a high-intensity, high-volume training schedule would be best suited for this approach. The goal of CKD is to completely deplete muscle glycogen between the carb loads while the TKD has a goal of maintaining muscle glycogen at a moderate level.
To follow the SKD, try this schedule:
For five days: Consume 20-50 grams of carbs per day
For two days: Consume over 100 grams of carbs per day
Following your two days of “carb loading,” return to restricting carbs to 20-50 grams
For Those Who Need More Protein: High-Protein Ketogenic Diet
If you lift four times or more per week, you might find you require more protein on the ketogenic diet. While the standard ketogenic diet typically limits protein intake to 20% of total calories, the high protein ketogenic diet (HPKD) requires 35% of total calories come from protein.
To follow HPKD, try this:
Consume 35% of total calories from protein
Consume 60% of total calories from fat
Consume 5% of total calories from net carbs
Calculate Your Macronutrients
Macronutrient ratios are very important on a ketogenic diet. The macro ratios on a keto diet typically look like this (for simplicity’s sake, the following percentages are based on the standard ketogenic diet approach):
High fat: 70-80% of your calories
Moderate protein: 20-25%
Low carb: 5-10%
Start by using our keto macro calculator below to help you determine what and how much of each category to eat based on your specific body composition and lifestyle. You’ll have a rough estimate of how many grams of fat, protein and carbs your meals need to cover over the course of one day.
Select the Standard Ketogenic Calculator for a classic ketogenic diet of 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrate (recommended)
Select Specialized Macronutrient Calculator to input specific amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate
Choose Calculator Type*
Unit of Measurement*
Choose what describes you best
Calorie Intake Goal
Input "0" to maintain your bodyweight
Input a surplus percentage for weight gain
Input a deficit percentage for weight loss
5-10% is a small deficit
10-20% is a moderate deficit
20-30% is a large deficit
Input Your Body Fat %
Input Your Protein Ratio
Guide to picking your protein ratio
To maintain muscle, leave protein ratio between 0.60 to 0.80 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.3 to 1.7 grams per kg LBM)
To gain muscle, the protein ratio should be between 0.8 to 1.2 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.7 to 2.3 grams per kg LBM)
Input Your Total Carb Intake
Input the grams of carbs you want to consume on a daily basis
Your Daily Macronutrient Goals
Plan Your Meals
Now that you’ve calculated your macros, pick one day each week to sit down and plan out your meals for the next seven days.
All the recipes we share list the macro breakdown so you don’t have to calculate it.
If you stumble on a recipe without a macro count, you can enter the ingredients into a diet app like KetoDietApp or MyFitnessPal to get the macros and calorie count of any meal sans complicated math equation.
If you come across other recipes you’d like to use, follow the keto diet cheat sheet at the end of this guide or visit the Ultimate Keto Diet Foods List to plan your ketogenic diet meals. Before you go grocery shopping, consider downloading the Perfect Keto Grocery List.
When planning your meals for the week, considering the following:
How many people in your home will be eating the meals (How many servings will you need to make?)
Do you want to make enough for leftovers the next day?
How you want to structure each day? Do you plan to eat breakfast every morning, or will you fast through breakfast and only eat lunch and dinner?
Once your meals are planned out, make a shopping list with the ingredients you’ll need for each meal and head out to the store.
You have your meals planned. You have your ingredients. Now everything comes down to the specifics.
Maybe you’ll want to prep and cook most of your meals on your day off and store them for easy grab ‘n go during your hectic work week. Consider what fits your schedule and lifestyle most. That’s the easiest way to stick with it.
One of the keys is keeping it simple. Check out this breakfast from Perfect Keto founder @dranthonygustin (and follow him for more keto food inspo!):
Fatty fish (including mackerel, tuna, sardines and salmon)
Fats to Avoid
Avoid unhealthy fats like seed oils and vegetable oils, which can become rancid when heated. Unhealthy fats and oils you should avoid on keto include canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil. Also avoid reduced-fat or grain-fed dairy products, as they can have added carbs and sugar.
Grass-fed beef: Choose fattier cuts like steak, veal, roast, ground beef and stew meat
Poultry: Chicken, quail, duck and turkey; try to focus on the darker, fattier meats
Pork: Pork loin, tenderloin, chops, ham, bacon and ground
Fish: Halibut, cod, catfish and mahi-mahi
Shellfish: Oysters, clams, crab, mussels, shrimp and lobster
Organ meats: Heart, liver, tongue, kidney and offal
Eggs: Always use the whole egg
Proteins to Avoid
Stay away from processed meats (salami, hot dogs and charcuterie) that contain suspect ingredients, sauces or added sugars. These can unknowingly increase your carb and sugar intake and derail your efforts.
Always purchase the highest-quality meat you can reasonably afford. Whenever possible, avoid grain-fed beef or poultry raised in overcrowded conditions.
Consume low glycemic load, low carb and non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens.
Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, bok choy, broccoli and romaine lettuce
Other low carb vegetables: Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, asparagus, celery, cucumber, radish, zucchini, cauliflower and mushrooms
Vegetables to Avoid
Avoid high-carb and starchy vegetables, also known as “tubers.” These are typically root vegetables grown underground, such as carrots, white potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips.
Fruits must be limited and eaten in VERY small amounts as they have a high sugar content. Fruits can be consumed either fresh or frozen. When you do eat fruits, choose lower-sugar options like:
Avocados: This is the one fruit that can be consumed in abundance
Berries: Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries
Fruits to Avoid
Most fruits, unless listed above, should be completely eliminated due to the high quantities of sugar and carbohydrates. Apples, pineapple, watermelon, mango, oranges and most other fruits should be avoided. Dried fruits and fruit juice are also not permitted on keto.
Most dairy products get the green light on keto, on a few conditions. Opt for the full-fat version (low-fat versions remove fat and add sugar) and preferably organic and raw, if possible, like:
Hard cheeses like parmesan, swiss, feta and cheddar
Soft cheese like brie, Monterrey jack, mozzarella and blue
Condiments, Spices and Sweeteners
When it comes to toppings on the keto diet, homemade is always best (so you can control the sugar count).
Since life is hectic, here are some pre-made condiments and keto-friendly recipes that are safe to use:
High-fat salad dressings with low or no added sugars
Herbs and Spices
You’ll need to toss most of your prepared spice mixes as many contain sugar or carbs as fillers. As long as you stick to dried herbs and spices only, you should be in safe flavortown.
A few examples include:
Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme
Cilantro, cayenne, chili powder, cumin
Cinnamon and nutmeg
Garlic and turmeric
Lemon or lime juice
Salt and pepper
Sweeteners can be tricky on keto, but they do exist. Stick to low glycemic index sweeteners that won’t affect your blood sugar levels, and avoid sugar alcohols (even low or no-sugar ones). These include maltitol, dextrose or maltodextrin.
Stevia: Preferably in liquid form as the powder can sometimes have dextrose or maltodextrin added as a binding agent.
Erythritol: Which is not digested by the body and doesn’t have any carbs or glycemic load when digested.
Monk fruit: Extracts from this fruit are 300 to 400 times sweeter than cane sugar, but it doesn’t have any effect on your blood sugar.
These are the basics of your ketogenic grocery list. If you want to take your fat burning to the next level, you’ll need to get on board the supplement train.
Supplements can help you get into ketosis and help you reach your goals. However, it’s important to use only safe, keto-friendly supplements.
The purpose of exogenous ketone supplements is to provide your body with extra ketones (i.e., energy). Ketone supplements can be a huge help when you’re transitioning into a state of ketosis or entering a fasted state.
Exogenous ketones help you get back into ketosis at any time, instead of having to wait a couple of days. You can take them between meals for a quick punch of ketones or before a workout to help you slay gym day.
MCT Oil and Powders
MCT is short for medium chain triglyceride. MCTs are precursors to ketones and help your body burn fat instead of burning carbs. They’re beneficial for weight loss, energy and digestion because they can be readily used for energy by your body and do not have to be shuttled around your digestive system first.
There are over 10,000 types of proteins in your body yet collagen is the most abundant one. Accounting for 25-35% of all your body’s protein, it’s considered the glue holding your body together.
While most other animal-based protein powders contain casein and whey, which can be inflammatory and hard to digest for some people, collagen protein from grass-fed beef is made low and slow to preserve the nutrition.
Since you have to cut out several starchy fruits and veggies when you’re on keto, you miss out on all the vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, causing nutrient deficiencies.
Keto Micro Greens is the solution to getting enough nutrition from produce while staying in ketosis. You can read how to supplement with it here.
Keto Micro Greens contains:
Greens and Veggie Blend of raw, organic greens and vegetables from 12 different sources.
Berry and Fruit Blend of raw, organic berries and fruits from 10 different sources.
MCT Powder, which is made from coconut oil. MCTs helps you absorb the vitamins, minerals and nutrients from the greens and fruits and give you a boost of energy, too.
Liver Support and Digestive Enzymes to help you get the most out of this micronutrient blend. These enzymes help make sure all these goodies are absorbed and used by your body.
Now You’re Ready to Start (and Dominate) Keto
Whatever your reasons for wanting to start a ketogenic diet, you’re more than prepared to crush your new keto life with today’s guide in your back pocket.
Once you figure out your macros, it’s all about finding low carb foods you like to meet your goals. Use our 7-day Keto Diet Meal Plan to start and then use our list of approved keto foods to create your own winning meal plan.
Toss in a few supplements to boost your health and your body’s fat burning potential and you’ll be a few pounds lighter and have more energy than you know what to do with.
Lauren Ciccarelli is a writer and former carb addict. Since going keto, she not only lost 35+ pounds and banished her PCOS symptoms, she also found more energy to be awesome and less distaste for lifting weights. Say hi to her on Twitter @ciccarelli.