As someone new to Keto, you may be wondering exactly what you can eat — and how tasty, expensive, and/or complicated your meals might get.
But there’s absolutely no need to worry. Contrary to what many people think about Keto, it’s not all bunless bacon cheese burgers and extra butter. Keto cooking can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, and either way, your meals can be loaded with good-for-you veggies and bursting with flavor.
As a beginner, it’s best to keep things simple, though — and that’s why we’ve assembled this Keto diet menu for beginners designed to ease you into Keto cooking (and blow you away with how delicious it is). Aprons on, everybody!
What Is Keto?
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein dietary pattern. It’s designed to help your body switch from burning carbs as its primary fuel to burning ketones, which are produced from fat. These ketones can come from fat in your diet, or from the stored fat on your body — which is one of the reasons so many have found weight loss success with Keto.
Here are some of the potential benefits of going Keto:
- Weight management. Keto may make it easier to burn excess body fat, and many people also report that their appetite and cravings are decreased when they’re in ketosis.[*]
- Blood sugar control. Keto can promote more stable blood sugar levels since it eliminates high-carb foods that can cause rapid blood sugar spikes.[*]
- Brain function and energy. Keto may also be helpful for brain function. There’s currently research into Keto diets for neurological disorders, and many people say that being in ketosis makes them feel more alert and energetic.[*]
What Can You Eat on Keto?
The most important part of Keto for beginners — the one change that will help your body shift from burning carbs to burning fat — is to drastically limit your carb intake to about 5% of your total calorie intake. That means things like bread, pasta, beans, tortillas, chips, crackers, honey, most fruit, sweets, sugary desserts, ice cream, and other starchy or sugary foods are off-limits.
Here are some things you can still eat and enjoy on Keto, though:
- Meats like beef, pork, chicken and lamb
- Seafood and fish
- Nuts and seeds, including nut butters like peanut and almond butter
- Non-starchy vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and salad greens (and many more, too)
- Low sugar fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and coconut
- Dairy products such as cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream
- Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, avocado oil and coconut oil
This leaves lots of room for some delectable meals and snacks. In fact, many people find Keto to be a deeply satisfying way of eating.
How to Start Keto for Beginners
Here are a few tips to help you get started on a Keto diet for beginners:
- Makeover your kitchen and pantry. Get rid of all of the sugary and high-carb foods that might be a temptation for you. It can be difficult to do this if you share a home with non-Keto dieters, but at least try to get the high-carb foods out of sight and clear out a spot in the pantry to fill with Keto-friendly options. Next, create a Keto shopping list and stock up on a variety of ingredients and easy snack foods (so you’ll always have something Keto available, even if you’re starving and in a hurry).
- Plan, plan, plan. Planning is essential for Keto success. Have a weekly meal planning session and ensure you have all the ingredients you need. Additionally, try to map out the next day’s food each evening. Think through where you’re going, what you’re doing, when you’ll be eating, and what you’ll be eating. Waking up every morning with a blueprint already in your mind will be a huge help.
- Use the Carb Manager app. Finally, the Carb Manager app is a really useful tool. Not only can it help you track macros, it’s also a Keto encyclopedia and recipe book at your fingertips. If you have Premium, then you can also use our meal planning tools to create your meal plans and generate custom shopping lists.
Keto Diet Plan for Beginners
Now, it’s time for the fun part — the recipes! These recipes can very easily be used to make a meal plan. If you really like to cook, and you’re not anticipating having any leftovers, then you can use these recipes to create a very comprehensive and varied 5-day meal plan.
However, many of us prefer batch cooking — at least for breakfast and lunch. If you prefer to meal prep for the week in advance, then you’re looking at just over a month of meals here — including desserts and beverages to keep it interesting.
Let’s dive in!
Keto Breakfast Recipes for Beginners
Make these on Sunday and have a filling breakfast all week long! If you need to take it on the go, chop up the egg and sausage and roll them up into a low-carb wrap.
These mini quiches feature ham and kale, but you can use whatever extra meats or veggies you have. They’re miniature, so feel free to have an extra one or two if you’re feeling particularly hungry or if you’ve got a long morning ahead.
This delicious and lightly sweetened chia pudding is loaded with fiber and requires just 5 minutes of prep a night in advance.
Are pancakes a Saturday morning tradition at your house? They can still be! Have these with a drizzle of Keto-friendly syrup or some fresh berries.
Oats are too high in carbs for Keto, but this sweet porridge made with almonds and flax seeds is just as satisfying — and contains lots of protein and fat to keep you full.
Keto Lunch Recipes for Beginners
Got a mini waffle maker? You can also make these “chaffles” (cheese waffles) for low-carb sandwich bread.
Bunless burgers are a Keto mainstay, but making them at home will save you lots of money compared to a drive-thru — plus they’ll taste a lot better and be healthier for you, too!
Soup is a perfect winter lunch, and this creamy tomato option will warm you up with it’s perfect balance of heat and spice.
This chicken salad is simple and super versatile — eat it as is, on Keto bread or crackers, with carrots and celery sticks, in lettuce cups, or over salad leaves.
Here’s another way to enjoy chicken salad — between two slices of raw bell pepper for a crisp and flavorful bite!
Keto Dinner Recipes for Beginners
These easy fajitas make an impressive weeknight dinner. Got family that’s not on Keto? Just add tortillas.
Have these salmon burgers on Keto-friendly buns or in a lettuce wrap for a filling dinner. Lemony-roasted broccoli makes a great side.
Need a quick meal? Keep some Keto-friendly broccoli and cheddar soup on hand, along with some frozen pre-cooked chicken and frozen broccoli. Dinner in no time! For non-Keto family members, serve over rice.
Got a long day ahead? Set the slow cooker in the morning so dinner is waiting when you get back. This soup has all the flavors of classic taco soup, minus the carbs from beans and corn.
This stew is a warm, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs dinner. Have it with cauliflower rice for you and regular rice for family members who don’t eat Keto.
Keto Dessert Recipes for Beginners
Take this gorgeous lemony cheesecake to your next get-together, and no one will suspect that it’s Keto friendly.
These citrus mousse desserts are beautiful, with the right balance of tang and sweetness. The whole family will love them!
If you’ve got 5 minutes and a few Keto baking essentials on hand, you can have a warm and gooey Keto-friendly cake next time you have a craving for chocolate.
This peanut butter brittle is great for holiday parties — and deceptively simple, too.
Made with heavy cream, this is some of the smoothest, richest, and most satisfying ice cream you’ll ever have.
Keto Snack Recipes for Beginners
Mix up this easy Keto trail mix for your next outdoor adventure. It’s perfect for a hike, camping or on-the-go.
These sweet, peanut buttery bites come together quickly, and they can double up as dessert too.
Cheese chips are one of the best Keto cracker substitutes, and you can make them at home for a fraction of what they cost at the store.
Need something sweet but not sugary for your kids (or yourself)? These no-bake cookies are perfect as a snack or dessert.
Consider this a Keto snack board! Use whatever you have on hand — cheese, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, pepperoni or salami, nuts, berries, etc.
Keto Drink Recipes for Beginners
Enjoy this maple-butter coffee as a quick breakfast or an indulgent afternoon pick-me-up.
This refreshing smoothie is a great summertime treat. Add a scoop of vanilla protein powder to make it a post-workout recovery drink.
This tea contains immune-supportive ingredients like ginger and turmeric and is a great sip when you’re feeling under the weather.
A lot of people on Keto drink salted water to help maintain their electrolyte levels. This tea is a unique and flavorful way to get your electrolytes in.
Finally, this Keto chocolate milk recipe is perfect for kids and adults alike. You won’t miss the squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup!
As you can see from browsing through these recipes, there is nothing boring about Keto food. In fact, you may find that cooking Keto meals is a refreshing change of pace — especially since these meals will leave you feeling full and satisfied but not miserable and bloated.
Let us know in the comments how your Keto cooking adventures are going, or tag us in your creations on social media!