The Ketogenic Meal Plan For Beginners
(with ketogenic shopping list and recipes)

Losing weight and getting back in shape can be one of the toughest personal challenges for most people. If you are one of the millions of Americans who are trying to shed a few pounds, then you know what I am talking about, don't you? I mean, the crazy diets, the grueling gym sessions, the cleanses; it can bring even the toughest person to their knees. And the worst part- not seeing the scale budge even a little bit. But, is it really necessary to put your body through such a hell? Can there be a way to lose weight that will not starve you to death or exhaust you to it? Well, as it turns out, there is, and it is called a 'Keto diet' so here's the ketogenic meal plan.


If you haven't been living under a rock for the last few years, you will have at least heard ofthe Keto diet. Just in case you haven't for some reason, (including, but not limited, to living under a rock!), allow me to elaborate a bit.

So, a 'Keto' diet, simply put, is a diet that restricts a number of carbohydrates in your diet to a bare minimum. Rather than relying on carbohydrates or proteins, the keto diet relies on fats to provide the bulk of calories needed for your body. It is a radical departure from the 'fats are bad for you' propaganda that has been around for as long as you can remember. But the truth is that cutting down carbs in your diet can have a huge impact on your journey to skinnyville! Don't take my word for it though; there is ample scientific evidence to back the keto diet. And there is a growing list of celebrities and professional sportsmen and sportswomen who swear by the keto diet.

You see, when you cut down the carbohydrates in your diet, the fat that is stored in your body starts to 'oxidize'. In other words, you reprogram your body to burn fat rather than store it. The end result: you start to lose weight and yet have more energy than you have had in years! You can read more about the principle of a keto diet and how it works here.

Although the keto diet is awesome, it can be a bit tricky for the beginners to adapt it, especially if you have just started out. Well, whether you have already made the switch or are thinking to hop on board the keto train, you have come to the right place.

In this article, I will be talking about how to manage your caloric intake, and get the best out of a keto diet. I will also be laying out a two-week keto diet plan that is easy to implement if you have just started out. So, let's get right to it, shall we?

Why is Planning Your Keto Diet Necessary?

Planning is the key to succeed with keto. Although there are a ton of people who have had an amazing experience with the keto diet, there are a few who have not. The reason for most failures is not that the keto approach does not work, it is because of lack of compliance.

If you jump into the keto diet without a proper plan, there is a good chance that you will not be able to go through the early, challenging days. Adopting a keto diet is a big change and it can be difficult to cope with it if you don't plan ahead. Many people make the mistake of not thinking it through before taking the leap and set themselves up for failure. The beauty of a keto diet lies in the fact that if you get through the initial testing phase, success is almost guaranteed.

So, yes, planning is the way to go, as far as going keto is concerned.

Now that out of the way, let's begin by first understanding the basics of your diet.

What are Macros?

One of the most important terms to understand regarding the ketogenic diet is 'Macros'. In simplest of terms, macros (or macro nutrients, in full) consists of three key nutrients that are most abundantly found in the food that we eat- Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.

Almost every food that you eat contains a varying amount of these three macronutrients or macros. For instance, bread or potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates while meat predominantly contains proteins and fats. But the most important thing to remember is that most foods you eat contains all the three.

Let's talk a bit about these three macro nutrients as it is necessary to understand their role in a keto diet.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, sometimes also called sugars, are molecules that are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Chemically speaking, these can be incredibly complex (such as starch) or simple (such as glucose). But they have one thing in common- they all can provide your body with the fuel it needs to make energy.

All the carbohydrate you consume (including the whole grains) are converted into glucose by the digestive system of the body. The glucose, in turn, is metabolized to generate energy.

So, you may think 'what's wrong in that?' Well, nothing, really. Glucose has been thought to be one of the prime sources of energy to your body. So, why does a keto diet alienate these apparently helpful macros? Well, the answer to this lies in the fact that carbs can be is a double-edged sword.

You see, when you consume too many carbs, your blood glucose level rises, your body stores fat and a whole lot of bad things accompany this phenomenon. Your body is primed to rely on glucose for its energy and you don't lose weight even after trying really hard.

If you are eating food that is rich in carbs, your body is going to rely on the carbs that you eat to provide all the energy it needs. There is no incentive for the body to burn fat when you are on a high carb diet.

Unfortunately, most Americans eat too many carbs in their diet, way too much. The result? We are a nation of overweight people.

Proteins

Proteins are made from compounds called Amino acids. I am sure you must have heard about how the proteins are necessary for maintaining the wear and tear on the body. And all that you have read or heard about proteins is true, well, mostly true.

While the notion that proteins are necessary for the repair and maintenance of your body is based on the truth, it is slightly misleading. The fact is that if you are doing something that causes a heavy wear and tear such as lifting weights, doing strenuous exercise or a similar task, then sure, your body does need a substantial amount of protein to maintain itself.

Meat Meal

However, most of us are not doing any kind of strenuous exercise at all. In fact, most of us have a rather sedentary lifestyle. When your diet has a ton of protein that your body does not need in the first place, guess what happens to it? It is either excreted or gets converted into glucose.

So, summing up, if your diet contains a ton of proteins in lieu of carbs, the problem is still there. In absence of any carbs in the diet, the body will convert the proteins into glucose and burn that glucose to derive energy. The fat? It remains untouched.

Fats

Fatty foods

Now over the last few decades, fats have received a bad rep. I mean ask anyone about the worst part of any diet and they will instantaneously shout fats!

There are many 'types' of fats and to lump them all in one and categorize them as bad is preposterous.


As a matter of fact, fats are not bad for you at all and you should not be avoiding them like the plague as many people might have you thinking.

Fats are essential macro nutrients that perform a variety of tasks for the proper maintenance of our bodies. However, due to serious misinformation, fats are viewed as the enemy.

The notion that you can lose weight while eating fat sounds just bizarre, even to the more well-informed person. The whole basis of the keto diet lies in the fact that you can lose weight by eating fat.

Unlike proteins and carbs, fats don't get converted into glucose after metabolism. When fats get metabolized in the body by an oxidative process, they are converted into something called 'ketone bodies'. These are small molecules that can be used by the body in place of glucose to generate energy.

The whole aim of the keto diet is to make your body shift from a glucose burning machine to ketone bodies burning machine. Once that is achieved, your body will no longer rely on the glucose for its energy but start burning fat to generate ketone bodies. When you achieve this stage, you are in a what is called a state of metabolic ketosi
s.

How to Calculate Your Macros?

So, the next obvious question is: what is the ideal proportion of these macros in a ketogenic diet?

Well, as a rule of thumb, a ketogenic diet will have the following proportion of the three macronutrients.

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    Carbs: 5-10%
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    Protein: 15-20%, and
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    Fats: 70-75%

As you can see, this is a gigantic change in the way you have been eating these macros in your diet. Whether you are coming from a carb-heavy or a protein-heavy diet, this is a huge change for you.

If you want to achieve metabolic ketosis, then sticking to these limits matters the most. If you are not following this pattern steadily, then there is a good chance that you will never achieve ketosis and the whole exercise will be a gigantic waste of time.

Macronutrients for the ketogenic diet

How many calories to eat?

It is perhaps one of the most common questions in the mind of any keto newbie. Basically, there are two schools of thought in this regard. While some people are of the opinion that calories don't matter as long as you are keeping your macros in the proportions that we discussed, some beg to differ.

Your body is like a machine and it works on energy, If you are going to supply it the limitless amount of energy, the excess energy must go somewhere, right? Besides, the energy balance of the human body is not a simple math equation. There are a ton of variables involved and there are a ton of other factors that dictate the state of the energy equilibrium.

Without going into the great details of the biology of the human body, let's see the issues of calories in more familiar terms. If you want to lose weight, you want your body to burn off the stored fat, right? Well, this can't happen if you supply all the energy that your body needs through the diet.

Calories

If your diet contains all the energy that your body will need to function, there is no incentive for your body to burn the stored fat, now, is there?

So, yes, what you eat matters. Keeping a track of your calorie counts is also important. One thing that I want to point out explicitly is the fact that counting calories matter but it is useless until you have the proportions of your macros right.

I mean I see people counting their calories all the time and feeling happy if they stayed under whatever goal that they have set for the day. But the truth of the matter is that if your diet contains that the wrong proportions of the macros, caloric restriction is to going to work as efficiently as you think it will.

How Much Should I Eat?

In light of what we just discussed, it is clear that you have to up your fat intake and cut down your carbs. But the question is how many carbs are too many carbs? Or how much protein is too much protein?

The carb intake

Well, for most people, anything more than 20-30 grams of carbs a day will prevent them from getting into nutritional ketosis but, from personal experience, this was too low for me and I needed around 60 grams to stay out of starvation ketosis. Eating this amount of carbs can be very difficult, especially if you are not accustomed to it. I mean everything you eat has some carbs in it. Even the so-called healthy foods such as fruits can have tons of carbs in them.

So, make sure that you are eating anywhere between 20-60 grams of carbs. Personally, I prefer to stay close to the 30-gram mark. As you will begin your experimentation, you will soon realize that cutting down the carbs is not that bad and if you plan your meals properly, you can get to this figure quite easily.

The protein intake

How about protein? Well, thenumber of proteins you should eat depends on the amount of lean muscle you have in your body. As a general starting point, you should eat between 0.6 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean mass that you have.

Make a note that I said 'lean mass'. So, if you have 15% body fat and you weigh 170 pounds, you can calculate a number of proteins as follows.

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    You have 170 X 15% fat or, 25.5 pounds of fat
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    So, your lean mass will be 170-25.5= 144.5 pounds
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    The amount of protein that you should be eating will be between (144.5 X 0.6) 86.7 grams to (144.5 X 1) 144.5 grams

In this hypothetical scenario, anything below 86.7 grams may not be enough and anything over 144.5 grams will be too much.

Before you start any serious attempts to get into ketosis, you must calculate your specific requirements based on your fat percentage and your weight.

The fat intake

The amounts of fat that you should eat on a ketogenic diet is the easiest to calculate. Simply fill your daily calorie needs with fats after deducting the calories coming from carbs and proteins.

One of the best things about the ketogenic diet is that it is great whether you want to gain or lose weight. If you plan on losing weight, just cut down your caloric intake by about 200-500 calories. As the ketogenic diet does not rely on the externally supplied calories for generating energy, you will never feel exhausted and drained of energy.

However,decades ofmisinformation, have created certain misconceptions regarding the role of fats in our diets. We have been led to believe that the root cause of all that is bad with our health is the fat in our diet. But the truth couldn't be any further from this misplaced notion.

There are a ton of research papers that prove that the increased fat consumption in a ketogenic diet can actually help you shed pounds faster than any other diet.

Diet Tracking

Tracking your progress is one of the best ways to stay on top of things. There are a ton of apps and programs available on iOS as well as Android platform that can help you track your daily intake quite easily. If you prefer the old fashioned way, even a small notebook will do.

The important thing is to keep a track of whatever you are eating throughout the day. Making sure that you are not going over your stipulated carbs and proteins is crucial. Trust me, it is very easy to go over your carb limits and ruin it.

There are no off days when it comes to a keto diet. If you mess up, you will be thrown out of ketosis before you even realize it and it can get difficult to get back in the keto mode. So, long story short, make sure that you are maintaining a journal of your food.

Our favourite app for tracking your diet:
Myfitnesspal

Ketogenic Diet Tips for Beginners

Adhering to a diet can be difficult, especially if we are talking about ketogenic diet. With the keto diet, you are bound to see a seismic change in your life. Trust me, it is not easy to stick to a keto diet if you don't know what you are doing.

If you are not prepared, things can get quite difficult, fast. Thankfully, there are people like myself, who have successfully gone through the most trying initial phases of the diet. And I can assure you that there are certain things, hacks, if you will, that can help you cope up with the initial stress of a keto diet. Here are some of the hacks/tips/pointers that worked the best for me.

Start with a goal in mind

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    Start with a goal in mind

One of thebest pieces of advice that I received when I was starting out, was to have a goal in mind. Trust me, it helps tremendously and keeps you on track. For me, I had a weight goal that I wanted to get to when I started.

Whether you want to reduce weight, gain weight or maintain your weight, you must have a clear idea of what you want.

Get your body fat analyzed: Get an app to track your carb intake: 'Carbo-clean' your kitchen:Don't fall for the 'low-carb' crap:

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    Get your body fat analyzed: If you are trying to lose weight, I would strongly encourage you to get your body fat percentage analyzed. There are a ton of kits available that can get you some idea of your body fat percentage. It gets easier to calculate your macros once you know your body fat.
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    Get an app to track your carb intake: There are a ton of apps out there that are great at counting those carbs. Make sure you are taking advantage of the technology that you have at your disposal in this journey toward a healthier you!
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    'Carbo-clean' your kitchen: Take a look around your kitchen and eliminate anything that is heavy on carbs. I am talking about anything that contains refined sugar and/or starch. So, no sweets, chips, bread, cookies or any packaged snack. In the sections below, I will give you a list of what to stock your kitchen with, instead of the usual fare.
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    Don't fall for the 'low-carb' crap: Many people who start out fall for the so-called 'low-carb' alternatives on the market. In reality, all these packages products will do more harm than good to your body.

Remember, a keto diet is not a special diet that needs some special food. If you follow this guide, I am sure that you will be able to find food items that will work for you no matter what your dietary preferences are.

You will need more time to cook and plan your meals

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    You will need more time to cook: A ketogenic diet relies on 'real food'. There are no shortcuts when it comes to a good keto meal. As a result, you will have to spend some time making these meals, in the kitchen! So, make sure that you have set some time aside for cooking.
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    Plan your meals to the t: As I said earlier as well, planning is the key. If you are not thorough and don't plan your meals, chances are, you will lose the track quite easily. Make sure that you are planning every meal of the day.

Don't worry, I will be laying out a plan for your first two weeks in the sections below!

Drink a lot of water, check whether you have attained the coveted ketosis and ketosis testing strips

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    Drink a lot of water: When you cut down your carb intake dramatically, your body starts to dump all the water it was retaining before. As a result, your kidneys start working overtime and you lose a ton of water. If you don't replenish the lost water, there is a good chance that you will get dehydrated. Make sure that you are drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water every day.
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    Check whether you have attained the coveted ketosis: After a couple of weeks on a keto diet, you should be able to see a change in the way your body functions. As the primary energy source of your body's energy changes from carbs to ketones, you can feel the change. If you want to be certain, however, you can test the levels of ketones in your urine and even in your blood. There are a ton of ketosis testing strips available on the market. These strips are a great way to tell if the diet is working or not.

What to Eat?

The biggest thing as far as a ketogenic diet is concerned, is the diet itself! Get it? LOL

Pardon my lame attempt at a joke, but it is the truth. How much you are eating is not the least bit as important as what you are eating when it comes to the ketogenic diet. So, it is vital that you understand what you should be eating. Read out ketogenic food list here.

I know how difficult it can be to plan out a keto meal if you haven't done any meal planning before. A keto meal can be especially difficult to plan for the newcomers.

Well, if you are a bit anxious about planning your meal, I have you covered. Here is a detailed list of meals that should last you for a couple of weeks and keep you on track.

Ketogenic Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day.

The problem is, most of us are used to sugary things such as cereal, oatmeal, and bread for breakfast. 

But now that you have embraced the keto lifestyle, all these sugary treats are off the table! You need to replace the high carb fare at your breakfast table with some high fat and protein.

Here are some ketogenic breakfast recipes that should last you for a couple of weeks.

A. Cream cheese pancakes (Monday, Wednesday)

These are one of my favorite breakfast items. They are easy to make and quite filling as well. Here is a quick recipe.

Ingredients:
Cream cheese ……………..2 ounces

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    2 count

Cinnamon powder…………To taste
Sugar substitute……………To taste

Instructions:

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    Blend all the ingredients in a blender
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    Let the batter settle for a couple of minutes so that all the air bubbles are out
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    Pour the batter on a heated griddle as you would do with regular pancakes
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    Cook on both sides till golden brown
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    You can eat these pancakes with some sugar-free syrup or fresh berries

B. Coconut porridge (Tuesday, Thursday)

If you are longing for a hot cereal, then this keto-friendly recipe has you covered. It is a tasty low-carb, high-fat breakfast that will keep you satisfied for long.

Ingredients:

Butter ………………………………...1 ounce
Eggs……………………………………1 count
Coconut flour………………………..1 tablespoon
Ground psyllium husk powder….a pinch
Coconut cream………………………4 tablespoons

Instructions:

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    Mix all the ingredients in a non-stick sauce pan on low heat
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    Cook for a few minutes till you achieve your desired consistency
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    You can serve this porridge with coconut milk or coconut cream on the side

C. Scrambled eggs (Friday, Saturday)

There is nothing more comforting than scrambled eggs! The good news is, they make an 'egg-cellent' breakfast option for keto as well.

Ingredients:

Butter ………………………………...2 ounce
Eggs……………………………………3 count
Pepper…………………………………a pinch

Instructions:

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    Whisk the eggs with a fork
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    Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet or a pan, making sure that the butter does not turn brown
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    Pour in the egg mixture and fold gently with a spatula till the eggs are cooked to the desired creaminess

D. Bacon and eggs

What is more American than eggs and bacon in the morning, right? Well, they make an excellent breakfast for a keto diet.

Ingredients:

Bacon slices …………………………1.5 ounces
Eggs……………………………………1 count
Cherry tomatoes…………………….a few

Instructions:

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    Fry the bacon in a pan like you do and set it aside
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    Crack the eggs in the same pan as you cooked bacon so as to fry them in the bacon grease
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    If you like cherry tomatoes, you can lightly grill them as well on the griddle
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    Garnish with parsley

Lunch/Dinner options

When it comes to lunch or dinner, you want something that is filling and at the same time is quick to make. Below we suggest some tasty and simple recipes but you might like to check out our friend's King Ranch Chicken recipe.

Here are some options to get you started for the first two weeks.

A. Creamy chicken casserole (Monday, Wednesday)

This is a great recipe for someone who likes to get their ketogenic cooking done quickly. I love this recipe as it istasty and easy to make. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

Chicken Thighs ……………..8 ounces
Grated cheese of choice……2 ounces
Heavy whipping cream……..5 Tablespoons
Cauliflower florets……………3 ounces
Cherry tomatoes………………1 ounce
Green pesto, lemon juice, salt and pepper…….to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F

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    Mix the whipping cream, salt, pepper, green pesto and lemon juice
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    Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and fry them in butter
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    Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish and pour in the cream mixture
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    Chop the cherry tomatoes and cauliflower florets and top the chicken with these veggies
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    Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes

B. Low-carb pizza (Tuesday, Thursday)

Giving up on your favorite starchy foods can be difficult. It is only natural to have a hankering for a pizza every once in a while. While you can't eat a regular pizza on a keto diet, I have a fantastic alternative for you. Here is a great recipe for a keto-friendly pizza.

Ingredients:

Eggs …………………………………..2 count
Shredded cheese……………………3 ounce
Tomato paste………………………..1.5 tablespoon
Olives and pepperoni……………….for topping the pizza
Dried oregano and basil……………to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F

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    Blend the eggs and cheese into a smooth batter. Spread this cheesy, egg batter on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the base of the pizza gets golden brown
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    Increase the temperature to 450F
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    Spread the tomato paste on top of the pizza crust and top it off with some mozzarella cheese, dried oregano, and basil leaves​​​​
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    Bake for another 5-7 minutes until golden brown

C. No carb tortilla (can be used to make any dish with tortilla)

Tortillas are very versatile. You can make a ton of dishes with tortillas such as burritos, enchiladas, tacos and a lot more. But there is one problem. Tortillas are made from wheat and are mostly carbs. Well, not anymore! Here is a great and quick recipe for the carb-free tortilla.

Ingredients:

Egg (whole) …………………………..1 count
Egg white………………………………from 1 egg
Cream cheese…………………………3 ounce
Coconut flour………………………….one tablespoon

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F

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    Whisk the egg and egg white in a bowl and keep whisking till it has a frothy consistency
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    Add the cream cheese and continue to whisk till the batter is smooth and pourable
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    Add the coconut flour in the mixture and keep mixing till the whole thing is smooth
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    Spread the batter on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until the tortillas are golden

D. Hamburger patties with fried cabbage

What is more American than eggs and bacon in the morning, right? Well, they make an excellent breakfast for a keto diet.

Ingredients:

Ground beef …………………………1.5 pounds
Eggs……………………………………1 count
Feta cheese……………………………3 ounce
Butter ……………………………..….1 tablespoon
Olive oil………………………………...1 ounce
Salt and pepper ………………………to taste
Heavy cream…………………………...1.5 cups
Tomato paste……………………………2 tablespoons
Shredded green cabbage……………..1.5 pounds

Instructions:

1. Mix the beef, egg, salt, and pepper

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    Make patties and fry over medium heat in olive oil until you get the classic burger color
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    Pour the heavy cream and tomato sauce into the pan when the hamburger patties are almost cooked
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    Stir and let the sauce thicken a bit
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    Sauté the shredded cabbage in the remaining olive oil and butter for 15 minutes until tender
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    Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with the hamburger patties in sauce

Desserts

Indulging doesn't need to be forgotten on a ketogenic diet! You probably can't eat the desserts in restaurants but you can definitely eat these!

How does Tiramisù, amaretti biscuits, custard tarts or New York style cheesecake sound? 

Check out our favorite Keto-friendly dessert list!

keto desserts, ketogenic desserts, keto cheesecake

Beverages

When it comes to beverages, make sure that you are avoiding all alcohol. Although an occasional drink is okay, I would suggest avoiding alcohol, especially during the first couple of weeks.

One of my favorite beverages is a coffee with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of butter. Although this coffee is an acquired taste, it is a great beverage for a keto diet.

All said and done, the best beverage for people just starting out is water.

The Ketogenic Shopping List

  • Coconut flour, 1⁄3 oz
  • Feta cheese, 5 oz.
  • Parmesan cheese, 2⁄3 oz.
  • Shredded cheese, 15 oz.
  • Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Cauliflower, 5 oz.
  • Paprika powder, 1⁄10 oz.
  • Sea salt, 0.5 g
  • Bacon, 22⁄3 oz.
  • Italian sausage, 22⁄3 oz.
  • Cheddar cheese, 6 oz.
  • Heavy whipping cream, 2¼ cups
  • Butter, 72⁄3 oz.
  • Sesame oil, ½ tablespoon
  • Cherry tomatoes, 2 oz.
  • Pepper
  • Coffee, 2¼ cups
  • Chicken thighs, 1¾ lbs
  • Pepperoni, 1¾ oz.
  • Cream cheese, 6 oz.
  • Mozzarella cheese, 2 oz.
  • Ricotta cheese, 22⁄3 oz.
  • Coconut oil, 1 oz.
  • Unsalted butter, 1 oz.
  • Green cabbage, 12⁄3 lbs
  • Salt, 2⁄5 oz.
  • Green pesto, ½ oz.
  • Ground beef, 21⁄3 lbs

Eating Out

Eating out can be a problem when you are on a keto diet. That said, it is not totally impossible to eat out and still maintain your diet under control. There are a few things that you can do to not leteating out ruin your keto diet. Here are some tips to make it possible.

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    Eliminate all type of starchy entrees
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    If you are planning on getting a burger, use a lettuce wrap rather than a bun (makes for great ketogenic fast food)
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    Substitute carbs in the entrees with fresh veggies
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    Ask for extra butter and olive oil as restaurant meals are heavy on carbs and if you eliminate them, it can be difficult to fill up
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    Make sure that you are not overdoing those condiments. Almost all condiments such as sauces, ketchup etc., have a ton of sugar in them
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    Make sure that you are picking the right beverage. Avoid sugary sodas and wines. If you are planning on ordering alcohol, go for hard liquor rather than beer or wine
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    Make sure that you are avoiding the dessert! Restaurant desserts are notoriously rich in sugars

Maintaining a keto diet can be difficult, but I am sure that with proper planning and guidance, you can stick to it. Trust me, the first few weeks are the hardest and things are going to get a lot easier in the following weeks. Stay on target and keep going!

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