One thing many people love about keto diet meal plans is that tracking your food is optional. "One of the biggest benefits of the ketogenic diet is that there's no need to meticulously track your calories like you may in other diets," notes Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and cofounder of Ancient Nutrition. "Because you're filling up on fat and protein, you're more likely to feel satisfied and energized all day long, which causes you to naturally eat less." This isn't to say that food tracking on keto is discouraged. "Some people may find calorie counting a useful tool to be more mindful and aware of what they're eating, but it's not necessary on the ketogenic diet," says Dr. Axe, but there's no need to get too stressed about hitting a certain caloric goal, especially if you're not trying to lose weight. (Related: The #1 Reason to Stop Counting Calories)
Lots of apps and website offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
This keto-compliant soup by The Castaway Kitchen is an easy weekday meal. Just cook it in a pressure cooker for 50 minutes or a slow cooker for 4-6 hours, for a dinner that doesn’t require a lot of prep time. A serving has only 3 grams of net carbs and 23 grams of fat. And you can freeze leftovers in an airtight container for future meals if you’re not a big fan of leftovers.
Remember: Just because something fits your macros doesn’t mean it’s super healthful and providing a balance of nutrients. High consumption of certain foods (like hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats) and under consumption of healthier foods (nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, whole grains) are linked with certain health conditions and death from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and that’s important to keep in mind even if we don’t necessarily have a causal link or recommended limit.
Plus, the creativity behind the recipes meant I didn't miss takeout or dining out. Navigating restaurant menus can be tough when you're on such a restrictive diet—you can't be shy about asking the chef exactly how a meal is prepared—and that just wasn't worth it while on this very specific eating plan. The big bonus (and a surprising one) was the affordability. Each meal is priced at about $30 per couple, and given that we live in New York City, it's easy to spend a hell of a lot more than that during a typical date night. (Related: HelloFresh Is Making Meal Prep So Much Easier With Their New Dinner 2 Lunch Option)
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
If there's one thing that's for sure right now, it's that the ketogenic diet is insanely popular. People searching for how-to info, detailed meal plans, and high-fat recipes such as keto-friendly smoothie recipes, vegetarian keto recipes, even meals that'll work in the Instant Pot has been steadily increasing throughout 2018. (Related: Is the Keto Diet a Good Idea for Vegetarians?)
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
Check the nutrition labels on all your products to see if they’re high in carbs. There are hidden carbs in the unlikeliest of places (like ketchup and canned soups). Try to avoid buying products with dozens of incomprehensible ingredients. Less is usually healthier.Always check the serving sizes against the carb counts. Manufacturers can sometimes recommend inconceivably small serving sizes to seemingly reduce calorie and carb numbers.
If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas.