Here is everything you'll need to tackle a well executed keto meal prep, including easy keto recipes, strategic nutrition, menu planning tips, and much more.
How to Meal Prep for Weight Loss
Meal prepping has long been a staple of fitness enthusiasts to help them manage their diet and maintain their weight. It gives you complete control over your nutrition, down to every single ingredient used. Meaning you can curate a meal plan that fits your diet and taste buds exactly. It can also save you a lot of time and stress when prepping food for the week in advance. And all this free time means more time with family and to hit the gym. So it's no wonder meal prepping for weight loss is such an effective strategy when it comes to losing weight.
But it is still possible to fall into common traps that could hinder your success. There are two key steps to making any meal prep routine successful:
- Use Portion Control: Measure and weigh your food
- Stay Consistent: Track your daily intake using a macro friendly app
Use Portion Control
Just because you are eating healthier, doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want. Using portion control, by measuring your ingredients, weighing your food, and understanding your calorie and macro needs, is crucial to hit your nutrition goals.
Eyeballing it is one of the most common reasons why people fail at calorie control. For example, even though you are using healthy oils for cooking, not measuring how much you are using could end up hurting your efforts. And with higher fat diets like keto, a small portion of some foods can add up really quickly.
Buy a scale and measuring cups and use them. Measuring is a great start, but for the most accurate intake possible, weighing your food is your best bet.
Consistency is best achieved by tracking your intake, all week long! Don't just be a week day dieter or only focus on your weight loss routine 60% of the time (every day except Friday-Sunday). And just as when you are portioning out your food, be as precise as you can - certain foods cooked and seasoned can have very different nutrition than their raw, unseasoned counterparts. Include any oils, sauces and extra ingredients, and don't forget to track every snack, sip and small bite of food. These things add up!
Making Your Meal Prep Keto
Meal prep and a keto diet are a perfect match. Because keto is pretty restrictive, eating out or not having a plan when it comes to your meals can significantly effect how successful you are on the diet. Prepping your own food and tightly controlling your nutrition can make this lifestyle change way easier. As long as you understand how a keto diet works, what foods are keto, and how many calories you need to eat a day to lose weight.
Going keto alone isn't going to necessarily promote weight loss. Based on the research we've seen and ongoing studies on a ketogenic diet, calorie control still matters. Which means, you could gain weight on a keto diet if you aren't paying attention to portion sizes and overall calorie intake.
Calculate Your Keto Macros
The first step to any successful meal plan for weight loss is to understand exactly how much you should be eating to lose weight. Sounds like a no-brainer, but many people skip this step and go right into recipe building. And when trying to get into ketosis - hitting your carb goal each day is crucial.
Macros are your calories organized into three main groups - carbs, protein, and fat! And counting your daily macros is an easy way to control calories and keep your carb portions in check.
Calculate your calorie or keto macro needs, and then create your dream menu within the parameters you've set.
What to Eat on a Keto Diet
Keto emphasizes higher fat intake and little carb intake. This can make meal planning challenging since a large number of foods are not considered keto - like grains, breads, starchy veggies and fruits. And carbs tend to be the bulk of most people's diets - meaning you have to find a keto alternative or change the way you think about meals in general.
Some of the best staples for any keto diet should include healthy carb substitutes. Many veggies work great for this, like cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, portobello mushroom "buns", spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles (or "zoodles"), and lettuce wraps.
To keep your nutrition in check, the bulk of your keto diet should consistent of nutrient rich low carb veggies, quality proteins and healthy fats to ensure you are getting the right balance and overall good nutrition to keep you going.
Check out our complete list of all keto-frendly foods to get started.
Net Carbs Explained
Choosing more plant based foods that are high in fiber is not only important for digestion and overall nutrition, but can also help you manage your carb intake on a keto meal plan.
When counting your carbs on keto you should be looking at daily net carbs over total carb intake. Fiber is a type of carb that is not easily absorbed by the body (meaning it won't effect blood sugar levels or insulin the same way sugars do) and it can be subtracted when looking at controlled carbohydrate intake. You should take your total carbs each day and subtract the amount of fiber you consumed to get your net carb amount.
Build Your Keto Meal Plan
Once you've got your macros calculated and food list handy, you're ready to get started on your menu. You can use weekly menu templates to plan out your recipes and create ingredient lists that translate into actual shopping lists you can use.
When writing your menu, use recipes and be specific. Calculate exactly how much of which food or ingredient you need and buy that amount. This process will not only make sure you have everything you need but also allows you to make simple substitutions where needed when planning ahead. For example, if a recipe calls for a small amount unique ingredient that requires you to buy a fairly large portion, see if there is an alternative ingredient you can use or perhaps use an ingredient from another recipe to get full use out of all of your food purchases.
Such as one sauce recipe that calls for peanut butter and another that calls for tahini. If you are also planning to snack on peanut butter and use that food quite often, but have no idea what to do with the rest of the tahini, just switch the tahini to peanut butter in that one recipe - they are similar ingredients that can be swapped often!
Tip: When creating your keto menu, choose recipes that fit your cooking skills, and be realistic with how much work you are willing to take on. What short-cuts or time savers can you use to make this practice sustainable for the long run?
Easy Keto Recipes
We've curated a list of our favorite keto recipes that work well for meal prep, and keep good nutrition in mind. Each recipe takes 30 minutes or less to prepare and can be done in bulk to carry you throughout the week. Use these to get started or to find more keto meal inspiration.
Mix and match your favorite meals and to keep your calories in check and net carbs below your daily needs.
Keto Breakfast Ideas
Whether you are running out the door or taking your time each morning, breakfast doesn't have to take a lot out of your day. There are tons of grab and go options and easy recipes you can create using common staples like eggs, bacon, chicken sausage, etc. And you can add your favorite keto friendly fruits and veggies to bump up the nutrition content. Make these perfect keto breakfast pairings in advance or to order.
- 2 scrambled eggs + 1 cup spinach + 1 chicken sausage = 350 calories, 1.5g net carbs
- 1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese + 1/2 cup tomato + 1 strip Bacon (no added sugar) = 150 calories, 5g net carbs
- 3 egg omelet + 1/2 cup mushrooms + 1 oz. jack cheese = 300 calories, 2.5g net carbs
- Keto Shake with 1 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/2 cup raspberries + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 tbsp cacao = 180 calories, 7g net carbs
- Eggs baked in avocado, 1 avocado + 2 eggs = 465 calories, 3.5g net carbs
- Greek yogurt + 1 tsp olive oil + 1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes + 6 kalamta olives + 1 Tbsp flax seeds = 400 calories, 8g net carbs
Keto Lunch Ideas
The easy recipes can be made in batch cooking and portioned out for the week or in smaller quantities to give you a bit more variety. Make sure to use appropriate meal prep containers to reheat as desired. And feel free to change up the proteins and veggies from one day to the next or add in any keto foods you choose.
- Salad with 2 cups kale + 1/4 cup radish + 1/2 cup tomato + 1 1/2 ounce blue cheese + 4 oz steak + 2 tsp oil + 2 tsp vinegar = 425 calories, 3.5g net carbs
- Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese + 1/2 avocado (drizzled with 1 tsp oil + 1 tsp lime juice) = 370 calories, 6g net carbs
- Low carb pulled pork + 1 oz shredded cheddar cheese + 1 cup roasted broccoli (with 1 tsp oil) = 380 calories, 8g net carbs
- Low carb pumpkin soup + 4oz turkey burger w/ 1 Tbsp mayonnaise, lettuce "bun" and sliced tomato = 410 calories, 5.5g net carbs
- Low Carb Shrimp Ceviche + 1/2 avocado = 340 calories, 7g net carbs
Keto Dinner Ideas
The recipes can be partially prepped in advance and then cooked in 30 minutes or less. You can also cook them beforehand and reheat these options in the oven to maintain the best flavor and textures.
Tip: Use a la carte with these recipes to save a ton of time!
- Coconut Cashew Fried Chicken + 1 cup roasted zucchini (with 1 tsp oil) = 470 calories, 11g net carbs
- Bison burger + keto cauliflower mash = 345 calories, 5g net carbs
- Keto BBQ Chicken Pizza = 275 calories, 10g net carbs
- Keto Burger = 388 calories, 4g net carbs
- Keto Surf and Turf = 336 calories, 9g net carbs
These calorie controlled snacks will take little to no prep time and keep your net carbs low between meals. Feel free to pair with any keto fruit or veggie for a little extra nutrition.
- Keto Tuna Salad + 1/2 cup cucumber and radish slices = 220 calories, 7g net carbs
- 2 hard boiled eggs = 140 calories, 1g net carbs
- 1 ounce almonds = 160 calories, 2.6g net carbs
- 2 Tbsp almond butter + celery = 195 calories, 5.5g net carbs
- 10 kalamata olives + 1 oz. cheese = 160 calories, 1g net carbs
- 1 cup sliced cucumbers and radishes +4 Tbsp tzatziki dip = 90 calories, 5g net carbs
Yes, you can still have something "sweet" tasting and indulge on a keto diet. Here are our favorite healthy dessert options with little to no carbs.
- Keto Chocolate Pudding = 190 calories, 1g net carbs
- Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding = 100 calories, 2g net carbs
Meal Prep Tips
Once you've got your menu and recipes set for the week, you'll create your keto shopping list and a plan to get prepping. When deciding how to approach cooking your menu, consider the following:
- What meals do you want to cook in advance? Consider starting with just breakfast or lunch until you get the swing of things. You can also prep ingredients for a recipe in advance, and then cook the full meal to order in less time when ready.
- What day works best for cooking and prepping all of your foods for the week? Many people will cook a week's worth of food on Sunday or Monday. You can also double your dinner recipe and take leftovers for lunch (yes, this still counts as meal prep!). Or you can pick two days to prep and only cook for a few days worth of food at a time.
- What recipes can you freeze or get more use out of? If you're cooking a large keto lasagna or casserole, can you portion it out and freeze for another week? You can also wash, chop and freeze leftover veggies for future recipes. Same with some sauces!
- How can you add more variety to prevent getting bored? If cooking a sheet pan of chicken or veggies, consider using different seasoning on some portions. And use a variety of keto toppings - like cheese, nuts, sauces, etc. that can make similar dishes taste very different.
- Do you have the right meal prep containers and enough containers to hold all of your food? Make sure you have clean and adequate containers ready to go before you start your cooking.
Meal Prep Delivery
Still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of prepping out your meals in advance and keeping your nutrition on point? Why not skip the meal prep routine all together and opt for a keto meal delivery option that will keep you on track, save you a ton of time and cost you less than what most people spend on food each week (the average person spends $690 a month or $173 each week).
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