Are you an athlete looking for ways to improve your performance and focus?
Do you want to cut weight in scientifically-backed ways? Become a little leaner without sacrificing great flavor?
Do you like the sound of the following foods? Baked salmon. Spicy turkey chili. Greek yogurt with almonds.
Then the keto diet may be for you. It’s not some fad diet that leaves you starving or depraved (we’re looking at you, juice cleanse!). In fact, many of the foods eaten on the ketogenic diet leave you feeling fuller, longer.
The main thing to remember about going keto? It’s less of a diet plan and more of a lifestyle. If you can put in place the following ketogenic meal plan, you may find it changes your life.
Here are some yummy ideas to get you started!
What Is a Keto Diet?
What does a typical keto day revolve around? High fat, low sugar, minimally processed carbs, and limited proteins and fruits.
The point of the ketogenic diet is to change the body’s energy source. Many Americans’ bodies thrive off of processed carbs and sugar. Your body needs to function somehow, right?
But healthy fats can do the same thing for you – only better. Foods that are lower on the Glycemic Index (GI) will digest slower in your body and make you feel fuller longer. This means you’re less likely to overeat bad stuff later in the day (or week, or month.)
Your body goes into a state of ketosis when it starts running off of ketones. Less than 50 carbs a day will accomplish this. Your body will pull from other sources, such as fat.
This is why healthy fat needs to be a staple in the diet – your body still needs a fuel source. If you’re cutting out processed carbs and sugar, you need to supplement it with something else.
Your body converts processed carbs to energy pretty quickly. But it moves a little slower when it’s converting fats to energy. Because of this, more calories get burned, resulting in weight loss, too.
A keto diet means the body is using and producing less insulin. This results in slower growth of cancer cells; being less prone to acne and diabetes; and a slew of other great health benefits. This means the keto diet can be good for virtually anyone – not only athletes.
Let’s dive into a sample keto meal plan, starting with the most important meal of the day.
A Keto Breakfast
Put down the Sausage McMuffin!
Fewer carbs mean less bread – sorry. So put down the breakfast sandwich and pick up the banana, (no sugar added) yogurt, or a handful of almonds.
A big player in the keto diet is eggs. And luckily for keto dieters, cheese is on the menu, too. A nice big omelet with cheese can still meet your keto requirements. And there are perks for adding fresh spinach or avocado to it, too.
A Keto Lunch
Stick with the same ideas for lunch, too. (And snacks. And dinner.)
If you want salmon for lunch, go for it. Cook it in high fats like coconut oil or olive oil. Serve it with a side of low-starch veggies.
We’re not talking about a side of potatoes. Veggies like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are low-carb and high in nutrients. They also protect against damage to cells and decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease.
A Keto Dinner
You’ve made it to dinner time! Healthline also names many healthy dinner options.
If you’re a meat eater, don’t fret – a keto diet requires a small amount of protein, as well. Grass-fed meat and poultry make the diet list. But, keep your protein intake on the smaller side, about a quarter or less of your diet.
Salmon, sardines, and mackerel make the seafood list. They’re fatty, high in Omega-3s. This decreases insulin levels in some and promotes insulin insensitivity in others.
This means that you’re changing the way your body stores and uses the energy it needs to survive. It becomes intolerant of harmful processed sugars and carbs. Instead of thriving off of blood sugar, it thrives off of healthy fats.
On the side, consider a hearty helping of fresh spinach.
The options for keto snacks are plentiful.
If you’re a fan of coconut oil, a scoop or two alone can be a good keto snack. This applies to peanut butter, too.
If you want something a little more upscale, try an avocado drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkle a little spice, like chili powder, to elevate the flavors.
A handful of almonds or walnuts will do the trick.
Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries are best eaten whole, not juiced. This retains their fibers, keeping you fuller for longer. And although these contain sugar (fructose), it’s not the processed kind we’re avoiding.
Still, keep intake low.
What Foods Are Not on the Ketogenic Meal Plan?
Here are some foods to avoid if you want to remain in a state of ketosis:
- Processed sugar (you already know this by now – but stay away from candy, soda, and the like)
- White rice
- Bread, bread, bread – this may be one of the hardest but most necessary things to avoid on the keto diet
- Flour (such as flour tortillas – opt for a gluten-free spinach wrap instead)
- Alcohol such as beer, or liquor with soda or sugary juice mixers
You get the idea. The point of the ketogenic diet is to eliminate sugars and increase fat intake. Keep carbs at 5% or less of your diet; proteins about a quarter; and the rest healthy greens and fats.
Although this is a great template to get athletes started, it’s not all-inclusive. Dive a little deeper and see what other foods you can eat while still staying healthy. Consult your own preferences or allergies (or your doctor).
Make it work for you – so that the odds of success are higher.
If all this ketogenic meal plan talk has got you feeling hungry, check out our 10 best foods for muscle recovery. Hint: they’re keto-friendly, too!