The Keto Meal Plan

Use these delicious recipes and two-week meal plan and learn to love the low-carb lifestyle.
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Life is cyclical. So, too, are diets, and once again, the low-carb trend is making a comeback — this time under the moniker ketogenic, or keto. And though keto converts are quick to pitch their lifestyle to anyone who will listen, it’s not always a viable option. Everyone has a different lifestyle and different needs — and we all want to live an enjoyable life. This sustainable, low-carb program is easy to follow and lets you have your cake — and actually eat it, too.

Woman eating an apple after working out

Ketosis helps boost body-fat loss, improves immunity and reduces inflammation.

Low-Carb Living

Once upon a time, human beings had to hunt and gather food, which was laborious and energy-consuming. These days, however, most of us are lucky to get in an hour of exercise three to five days per week, and as a species, we no longer need a super-high-calorie diet; any excess we eat will quickly turn to body fat — hence the obesity epidemic.

Since we can’t rewire our ancestral DNA, it’s necessary to take a different approach to the modern-day diet, and with this plan, the idea is to ingest your quick energy sources — carbohydrates — only when needed and avoid them when you don’t. Carbs are a great fuel source, and while you do need them for daily living and training, it’s also very easy to go overboard. Controlling your carb intake will allow you to round out your daily programming with nutrient-dense proteins and fats.

Can You Go Keto?

Ketosis ensues when your main energy source — stored glycogen/glucose from carbs — has been fully depleted. In the absence of glucose, your liver takes stored fat and produces ketone bodies to use for energy. This state is called ketosis.

A strict ketogenic diet contains less than 10 percent of your total daily calories from carbs, which is pretty hard to stick to if you’re not on top of it 24/7. Even if you overeat your carbs by just a few percent, you run the risk of interrupting your ketosis and you’re back to square one. For ketosis to work properly, you also have to moderate your protein intake. Too much meat can interrupt ketone production since your liver will naturally convert some of the protein into glucose, throwing you out of ketosis.

If you’ve been playing with the idea of trying keto but know for sure you won’t be able to resist the siren song of Krispy Kreme for the rest of your days, this plan is for you. This is not a hard-and-fast ketogenic plan but rather a sustainable low-carb program with periods of ketosis accomplished by short periods of fasting. Planning for one single day of fasting is simple, and you can still reach temporary nutritional ketosis and reap some of those benefits without having to eat a ketogenic diet all the time.

Raw vegetables

Fasting gives your body a break from digestion, helping reset your system and prevent disease.

Fasting and (Not) Furious

Caloric restriction is the most popular model for weight loss, but in the long term, this just leads to a slower metabolism. With fasting, however, your metabolism doesn’t change; your body simply adapts to metabolizing a different fuel source — in this case, ketones.

During a fast, your body cleanses itself of old cells and protein aggregates like brain plaque — the main culprit in cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Giving your body a break from digestion means more time to eliminate these wastes and help prevent disease.

A study from the University of Southern California showed that a short 72-hour fast can reset your entire immune system. Whether your gut is in distress because of antibiotics use or just poor food quality, these easy fasts can help rebuild your gut health. Use these tips to have a successful fast.

  1. If you’re new to fasting, start slowly. Try the short, easy fasts in this plan and work your way up to 72 hours.
  2. Don’t expect to train with the same intensity on your fasting days. Instead, go for a long walk, an easy hike or do a slower-paced resistance-training workout.
  3. Keep your electrolytes up to stay energized and hydrated. Add a little sea salt and a few drops of lemon juice to your water. Small amounts of citrus have a nice alkalizing effect.
  4. Drinking caffeine is fine during a fast, but skip the sweeteners; even artificial sweeteners can cause gut discomfort during a fast.
  5. Don’t binge afterward. Most people feel like they deserve a treat when completing a fast, but you can completely negate the benefits you earned with a single binge. Stick to your planned meals, and eat any treats in moderation.

Benefits of Ketosis

Boosts Body-Fat Loss

Ketogenic plans outperform other diets in terms of body-fat reduction, including the reduction of visceral fat, which can lead to a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers. In a 12-week study of military personnel, those with the largest improvement in body composition were subjects who followed a low-carb/ketogenic diet.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

In that same study (above), subjects showed a 48 percent improvement in insulin sensitivity. Researchers speculate that this is because of increased mitochondrial growth, part of the mechanism ensuring you’re efficiently using glucose when carbs are eaten.

Reduces Gut Inflammation

Grains, seeds, legumes and nuts contain high levels of phytic acid and lectin, which have been shown to cause an immunologic response. Repetitive stimulation of this immune reaction can mean poor gut health and could lead to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Benefits of Short-Term Fasting

  • Helps control blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance
  • Fights inflammation
  • Improves heart health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Boosts brain function and increases nerve cell synthesis
  • Aids with weight loss by boosting norepinephrine, thereby boosting metabolism
Zucchini chicken skewers recipe

Zucchini chicken skewers

Zucchini Chicken Skewers

Makes: 3 servings (6 skewers)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried savory

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

12 oz chicken breasts, cubed

1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

Directions

Heat grill to medium and submerge six bamboo or wood skewers in cold water. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate 10 minutes. Spread zucchini slices on a plate and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, or until soft. To build skewers, roll up a zucchini strip and pierce it all the way through, then add a chicken cube. Continue, alternating chicken and zucchini rolls, until all ingredients are used. Grill 6 to 7 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 F.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 skewers): calories 338, fat 18 g, protein 38 g, carbs 4 g

Turkey Italian Bowl

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil

¾ cup onions, chopped

2 cups bell peppers, any color, diced

2 packages (40 oz) extra-lean ground turkey

1 tsp garlic salt

10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tbsp oregano

1 cup low-sugar tomato sauce or paste

Directions

Place a skillet over medium heat and melt coconut oil. Add onions and peppers and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until meat is no longer pink. Add spices and tomato sauce and mix well.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 228 calories, fat 8 g, protein 32 g, carbs 7 g

Apple Cider Vinegar–Brined Chicken Breast and Broccoli Side

Chicken Makes: 10 servings

Broccoli Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients - C

32 oz water

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp MCT oil, or coconut oil

2 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp dried thyme

4 whole cloves

2 star anise or fennel bulbs

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp peppercorns

10 (4 oz) chicken breasts

Ingredients - Broccoli

1 cup broccoli florets

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp ginger soy dressing

Directions - Chicken

In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add all ingredients except chicken. Mix well and allow to cool. Spread chicken breasts in a large bowl or flat baking dish and add brine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, remove chicken from brine and discard. Preheat grill to medium. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 F.

Directions - Broccoli

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss to coat. Heat a large skillet or saucepan to medium. Add broccoli and cook to desired tenderness.

Nutrition Facts (one breast + broccoli side): 285 calories, fat 9 g, protein 26 g, carbs 16 g

grilled chicken Caesar salad

Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

½ clove garlic, minced

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced in half

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

6 oz cooked chicken breast, sliced

2 tbsp Caesar salad dressing

½ cup tomatoes, diced

Directions

Preheat grill to medium. Place olive oil, salt and garlic in a large zip-close bag and shake well. Add lettuce halves, close and shake gently until thoroughly coated. Remove and place on grill, cut-side down, 1 minute. Flip and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, then remove and plate. Divide cheese, chicken, dressing and tomatoes between salads and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 390, fat 22 g, protein 26 g, carbs 11 g

Greek Ground-Beef Skillet

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients

1 tbsp ghee or butter

⅓ small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

6 oz ground beef

1 oz (¼ bunch) kale, chopped

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried savory

3 oz goat cheese

¼ cup (2 oz) pitted green olives

1/8 cup (1 oz) pitted Kalamata olives

Directions

Add ghee or butter to a cast-iron skillet and melt over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned. Add kale, oregano, parsley and savory and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ½ goat cheese. Sprinkle top with olives and remaining goat cheese and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until olives start to wrinkle and cheese turns golden.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 329, fat 24 g, protein 19 g, carbs 7 g

asian broccoli dish

Beef stir-fry

Beef Stir-Fry

Makes: 3 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 lb 90% lean ground beef

1 cup broccoli

½ cup pea pods

½ cup sprouts

¼ cup shredded carrots

1 cup bell peppers, any color, sliced

2 tbsp coconut oil

10 basil leaves, thinly sliced

salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat a wok or large skillet to medium and add coconut oil. Add beef and cook halfway through, leaving meat mostly pink. Then add veggies, basil and salt (to taste), stirring frequently. Cook until beef is cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 472 calories, fat 28 g, protein 40 g, carbs 8 g

BLT Cobb Salad

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients

1 cup arugula, chopped

1 cup butter lettuce, chopped

½ cup sweet corn

½ cup grapes, halved

½ avocado, diced

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1 lime

2 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped

2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

4 oz cooked turkey breast, diced

Directions

In a large bowl, combine arugula, lettuce, corn, grapes, avocado and tomatoes and toss well. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and lime juice and toss to coat. Add bacon and feta and toss lightly. Divide between plates and serve with turkey on top.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 380, fat 21 g, protein 32 g, carbs 12 g

green juice smoothie recipe

Gut doctor smoothie

Gut Doctor Smoothie

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients

8 oz coconut water

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small cucumber, sliced

2 cups kale, stems removed

handful fresh parsley

1 small piece of lemon peel

½ tsp ginger

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender cup and blend on high until smooth.

Nutrition Facts: 253 calories, fat 9 g, protein 24 g, carbs 19 g

Blue Green Hulk Smoothie

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients

½ cup frozen blueberries

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

2 cups raw spinach

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp flaxseed oil

handful ice

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender cup and blend on high until smooth.

Nutrition Facts: calories 315, fat 14 g, protein 24 g, carbs 22 g

Carrot Cake Protein Bars

Makes: 8 servings (16 bars)

Ingredients

1 cup oat flour

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

2 tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp allspice

⅛ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

4 large egg whites

¾ cup powdered stevia

1 cup grated raw carrots

4 oz water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F and coat a square glass baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine protein powder, oat flour, spices, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg whites, stevia, carrots and water. Add wet and dry ingredients and mix to combine. Pour into prepared dish and bake 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 2 bars): calories 77, fat 1 g, protein 8 g, carbs

The Sustainable Two-Week Keto Plan

Use these low-carb recipes and implement the sample two-week meal plan to give this modified keto plan a whirl. Who knows — you may be a lifelong low-carb convert!

If you're new to fasting, beginning with short, easy fasts like the ones in this program can ease you — and your metabolism — into the process.

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