30 Day Keto Diet Plan For Beginners is a complete guide to the ketogenic diet. If you’re new to ketogenic eating or plan on beginning it, this is the ultimate resource. It includes all of our tips, tricks and guides to making this diet as effortless as possible while achieving the fastest results possible.
The best keto diet is all about balance. This guide will teach you how to build a set of routines that are sustainable, so that you can get the body of your dreams.
Keto Diet Menu: 30-Day Keto Meal Plan for Beginners
Although we have been taught to be scared of fat, the truth is that fat is a friend and a better friend than we could have ever thought of.
Sure we need fat to ensure we’ve got beautiful skin, hair and nails, but it goes beyond that.
Fat packs a bang as it has twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein per gram.
That’s why you can have coffee and butter for breakfast and rocket through the morning.
You could try eating a few rolls of bread and you wouldn’t make it past that 10 AM hump.
The Ketogenic Diet is designed to pull your body out of the sugar track.
And when you pull out there will be no going back.
You are going to be satiated and feel wonderful focus, additionally, you’re going to feel the type of energy you likely haven’t felt since you were a toddler.
So let’s do the Ketogenic Diet breakdown and answer all those burning questions you have.
And soon after we will get started on your amazing transformative journey to the best you ever.
Ketogenic Diet Outline
How Carbs Affect Your Weight
Question: Name me food that tastes “oooh so good” but is bad for you?
Do donuts come to your mind?
A bag of potato chips?
A greasy slice of pizza?
What about a Snickers bar?
Wherever your food pleasure lies, chances are; that it is steeped in sugary carbs.
According to the USDA, the average American consumes 150-170lb of sugar each year.
Back in the early 1800s, the average American sugar intake was only 4-6lb per year.
Man, how times have changed.
With all being said, how do carbs affect your bodyweight?
The answer to that is… Water weight.
You can thank glycogen for this.
Glycogen is a form of glucose stored in the liver and muscle tissues and the primary dietary source of glucose is carbohydrate.
Medical science shows that every 1 gram of glycogen carries 3 to 4 grams of water.
Research has proven that a high carb intake increases glycogen levels while low-carb intake reduces it.
So, if you take into account that the average man can store up to 7 grams of glycogen per pound of body weight, that’s enough to make a huge impact on the weight scale, particularly if he consumes a copious amount of carbs.
Wait, So Body Fat Is Not A Factor?
Yes, body fat is definitely a factor.
In fact, ever since people started consuming more carbs (sugar), the U.S. obesity rates have risen.
The number of U.S. citizens who are categorized as obese has nearly doubled over the past 30 years.
You see the correlation now between body fat and carbs? If not, there is one more piece of information I would like to share.
In addition to being stored in the liver and muscle tissues, glycogen is stored in fat cells.
This is the same glycogen that holds 3 to 4 grams of water.
By lowering carb intake, you deplete your regular stores of glycogen which shows as weight loss on a scale.
This is the reason an obese person who follows a low-carb diet will always lose more weight versus a slimmer person; they carry more fat cells (each containing water-holding glycogen).
So if an obese individual decided to follow the ketogenic diet, they are bound to drop a substantial amount of weight.
However, it is much greater than the low carb part of the diet that makes weight loss a reality.
Keto Helps You Lose Weight
Numerous studies have touted the weight loss benefits of a low-carb diet.
The keto diet enhances this benefit.
How so? The low carb intake makes your body produce ketones in the liver to be used as energy (called ketosis), a byproduct of burning body fat.
Reducing carbs allows the body to use glycogen buildup within your fat stores as fuel, resulting in weight loss.
This effect is doubled when you burn glycogen by exercise.
Let me say this about weight loss….
When people say they want to lose weight, they typically mean they desire to lose body fat.
However, you could lose weight by losing muscle mass and water weight as well.
Most diets have you losing all three.
In case you didn’t know, losing muscle mass is rarely a good thing.
Unlike high-carb diets, keto burns body fat along with the water weight within it.
When in a state of ketosis, the body begins to utilize fat for fuel.
In addition, the moderate protein intake protects your muscle tissue from being used as fuel (a process called Gluconeogenesis).
How sweet is that?
Health Benefits Of A Keto Diet
Fat is a cleaner fuel for our body to burn and our body burns it more efficiently.
In fact, it is believed the ketones produced when you are in ketosis are super amazing for our brain.
It is believed they increase mitochondria cells.
You may remember from grade 6 science class that mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, they are the energy factories.
Additionally, blood sugar levels become balanced, there are no nasty spikes in insulin which can lead to a host of health problems.
Balanced blood sugar also means your brain and body are calm and focused.
You are also satiated on the ketogenic diet so there are no urges to pick up those unhealthy processed foods that wreak havoc on your body.
Overall on a ketogenic diet, you have more energy, you are more focused, you drop all excess weight and will feel better than you have ever felt in your life.
Some other interesting benefits include:
1. Keto Helps Lower Risk Of Developing Chronic Diseases By Improving Cholesterol
What does type-2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease have in common? All chronic diseases that the keto diet can help prevent.
One study conducted on an obese individual who followed the ketogenic diet for 24 weeks, resulted in a significant risk reduction in chronic diseases by weight loss, decreased levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and blood glucose, and increased levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
Being that heart disease, diabetes, and stroke are three of the leading causes of death in the world, it is phenomenal to have a diet combat them.
Keto eliminates processed, refined carbs that have been linked to several diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and type-II diabetes.
In fact, the development of type-II diabetes is strongly contributed to continuously eating high glycemic foods (e.g., whole grains, bran, germ) that spikes your blood sugars.
Another chronic disease that correlates with those other three is high blood pressure.
2. Keto Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (HBP) is one of those diseases that gets swept under the rug in terms of how lethal it is for a person’s health.
That’s why it has been dubbed the “the silent killer.”
If left untreated, HBP can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Peripheral artery disease
- Erectile dysfunction
- Kidney damage
- Fluid in the lungs
- Vision loss
- Memory loss
Be aware that these aren’t symptoms of HBP.
HBP is a symptomless disease for most people except in most rare cases known as hypertensive crisis.
If you or your family have a history of high blood pressure, following a low-carb diet, may be a godsend.
Medical researchers tout low-carb diets like keto as an effective method to reduce blood pressure.
If you take high blood pressure medication, please consult with your doctor first before trying this diet out.
One way that people develop high blood pressure is by eating too many refined carbs over a lengthy period of time.
The reason most people consume so many refined carbs is due to how poorly it satisfies their appetite.
3. Keto Prevents Binge Eating
The number one reason most diets fail long-term is that they leave people hungry as heck!
They allow the consumption of low satiety foods such as white potatoes, rice, and bread.
Eating these foods eventually leads people to unfollow their diet and eat every calorie under the sun (aka binge eating).
That’s not the case with the ketogenic diet.
Research illustrates that a high protein, low-carb diet reduces hunger and lowers food intake.
In addition, the amount of dietary fat you’ll consume will leave you very satiated.
Another problem with most other diets is that they’re energy zappers.
That’s not the case when you go “keto.”
4. Keto Boosts Energy Levels By Boosting Brain Power
Who doesn’t need more energy in this hustle and bustle world?
Following a ketogenic diet helps many individuals gain more energy to perform their day to day activities.
The main reason for this is; ketones replace glucose as the brain’s fueling source.
When carbs are eliminated or minimized, ketones provide up to 70% of the brain’s energy needs; this boosts mental focus and alertness throughout the day.
Another interesting fact is that ketones keep people who go through prolonged periods of starvation (e.g., coma patients) alive.
Then again, it makes sense considering that intermittent fasting works well in conjunction with the keto diet.
Intermittent Fasting On The Keto Diet
Intermittent fasting maximizes weight loss benefits of the Keto Diet.
The main reason you are reading this article is that you’re interested in losing weight, that’s understandable.
With that said, using intermittent fasting (IF) along with the keto diet maximizes weight loss.
IF is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.
Like the keto diet, several studies have shown IF to be an effective weight-loss method as well as reducing the onset of chronic diseases such as type-II diabetes.
That’s why it makes sense to use IF in conjunction with the ketogenic diet.
These are the 3 most popular IF methods:
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
- The 16/8 Method: This method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 12 pm to 8 pm, afterward, you “fast” for 16 hours in-between.
- The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, only eat 500-600 calories. You eat normally for the other remaining 5 days.
From these three methods, elements of the 16/8 Method work best with the keto diet.
At the end of this article, you will see a 30-Day Keto Diet Meal Plan with a full collection of recipes.
With this meal plan, you skip breakfast every 3 days, doing this makes you fast longer which helps to:
- Burn more body fat
- Have more energy as you start your day
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Improve brain function
- Thoroughly cleanse toxins from body cells
Utilizing IF and keto together helps you lose unwanted inches off your waist.
Like a Friday the 13th movie, there are several versions of the keto diet.
Here are the four most popular ones.
Different Types Of Ketogenic Diets
- The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This version is where you can consume carbs around a workout.
- The standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This version focuses on high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbs.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This version involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.
High-protein ketogenic diet: This version is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs. While embarking on this keto diet journey, below are the foods that you need to ignore like a spam phone call.
Foods To Avoid On Keto
- White potatoes
- Bread, pasta, tortillas, and other foods that contain gluten
- Condiments such as ketchup, soy sauce, and barbecue sauce that contain sugar, artificial ingredients, excessive salt, or gluten
- Corn (including popcorn, cornbread, and popped corn chips)
- Foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup or trans (hydrogenated)fats
- Foods that contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, or soy
- Fruit juice (even 100% fresh!)
- Grain-based foods (e.g., wheat, barley, rye, cereal, oatmeal)
- Jams, jellies, pancake syrup
- High sugar dairy products (e.g., ice cream)
- Salty processed snacks (potato chips, popcorn, pretzels, nacho chips, crackers, popcorn)
- Sugary processed snacks (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, candy)
- Sweetened drinks such fruit punch, lemonade and soda
Now that you know what foods to avoid, here are the foods (along with supplements) that you can embrace.
Foods To Eat On Keto
Your diet should consist primarily of fats if you are trying to get into ketosis.
Essentially, in the first two weeks, known as the induction phase, no more than 50 grams of your calories should be coming from carbohydrates.
If you are very active, you can increase that carb intake by 20 to 30 grams.
Your protein consumption should also be limited and a good rule of thumb is to allow yourself 1 gram of protein for every 2 pounds of your weight.
There are many super delicious foods you can eat as you make your way into ketosis.
Meat, Poultry, And Fish
Note: If possible, choose meats and poultry that are organic, grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free.
- Shellfish such as crawfish, shrimp and lobster
- Coldwater fish such as wild salmon and tilapia
- Pork products such as ham, bacon, and sausage (Note: eat in moderation)
Choose fresh, organic vegetables such as:
- Bean sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Broccoli, romaine lettuce
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
Other Food Items
- Condiments for dipping (hummus, guacamole, salsa)
- Dried beans and lentils in limited amounts
- Healthy oils (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, etc.)
- Milk Alternatives: almond, coconut, hemp, rice
- Nut butter and spreads (almond butter and coconut butter)
- Protein Powder
- Pure Wrap coconut wraps
- Raw, unsalted seeds and nuts
- Seeds (chia, flax, hemp)
- Small amounts of fresh and frozen fruit. (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Sweeteners such as stevia extract and erythritol
- Basil leaves
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili powder
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Multivitamin (Note: probably the best supplement since most multivitamin products have about all the essential nutrients and vitamins)
- Protein powder
How Do You Start a Keto Diet?
To start the keto diet, you may have to toss a few things out of your pantry and add certain high-fat food sources to include in your daily meals.
Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about what will work best for you. This is especially important if you have other dietary restrictions, such as being a vegan, vegetarian, or having certain food allergies. Experts can help you find alternatives or substitutes and come up with a meal plan that best suits your needs.
Before you start changing your meals, here are some questions you should consider or ask your doctor:
- Will the keto diet help manage certain health conditions?
- Do you need to lose weight?
- What are some of the side effects?
- Should you take or continue vitamins or supplements during the diet?
- How long should you stay on the keto diet?
- Should you exercise? If so, how much?
What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
Some keto-friendly foods are:
- Full-fat dairy products
- Greek yogurt
- Non-starchy and fibrous vegetables.
- Fatty oils
- Cottage cheese
For the 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day, choose non-starchy veggies like:
- Leafy greens
- Green beans
Foods to avoid or limit include starchy and high-carb foods like:
- Baked goods
- Sugary sweets
- Breakfast cereals
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, and beans
- Fruits high in sugars
- Beer, unless it’s low-carb
In terms of acceptable drinks on the keto diet, you can opt for unsweetened coffee or tea. Cut down on how much alcohol you drink. If you drink alcohol, choose low-carb liquors like tequila or vodka and use soda water as a mixer.
What Snacks Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
Keto-friendly snacks are a good balance of healthy fats and moderate protein with low carb content. You can make some at home or use store-bought versions.
This includes snacks such as:
- Brazil nuts
- Coconut yogurt
- Canned tuna
- Meat jerky
- Pork rinds
- Seaweed snacks
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Jicama (low-carb root vegetable).
These snacks can help you manage your hunger between meals and stick to staying in ketosis in the long term.
Are There Risks From a Keto Diet?
While research shows that the keto diet helps some people lose weight or manage health conditions, the restrictive diet isn’t a good idea for everyone. It may be harmful if you follow the diet incorrectly or without proper supervision.
The keto diet also affects each person differently. While some people can transition easily to the dietary changes, others may find that their body takes longer to adjust to the sudden changes.
It’s important to get your cholesterol checked regularly. The keto diet may decrease cholesterol for some people, but it may increase cholesterol for others.
The low-carb part of the diet may have long-term consequences for some people. For many, cutting out carbs so suddenly and drastically can lead to what many popularly call the “keto flu.” You may get flu-like symptoms as your body navigates switching from burning glucose to fat for energy.
Symptoms of keto flu include:
- Stomach aches or pains.
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle soreness
- Feeling cranky
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Poor focus and concentration
- Brain fog
Usually the symptoms of keto flu kick in a day or two after you cut carbs from your daily diet. They may last up to a week or less, but in severe cases, they could last up to a month. If the symptoms are severe or persist, see your doctor or stop the diet.
To lessen the chances of getting the keto flu, start the diet slowly, stay hydrated, do only light exercises, and get plenty of rest as your body gets used to your new meal plan.
Another pitfall that experts warn about is that there are too many types of keto diet and it’s easy to do it incorrectly. You may end up eating too many saturated fats instead of healthy fats that can put you at risk for high levels of bad cholesterol and heart disease. You may also not reach ketosis if you don’t follow the diet properly.
Tips Before You Start
- You can prepare your weekday lunches and dinners on Sunday.
- An easy way to do this is to cook proteins together in one plan and then divide them up for the separate recipes.
- So for example, if you have Chicken Caesar and a Chicken Curry scheduled in one week, you can cook the chicken in one pan and then use half of it for the salad and mix in the other half with your curry sauce.
- Of course, you can cook things separately but this speeds things up and saves you time.
- If your recipe calls for raw vegetables like lettuce, remember to package them separately from the main dish you will reheat come mealtime.
- You will prepare breakfasts every day but they are all very easy and most of them take no longer than 5 minutes to prepare.
- You can prepare smoothies the night before if you want.
- Remember you will use certain things like butter and oil every week so buy those in bulk.
- If you can’t find a certain vegetable you are welcome to sub with another vegetable that is low in sugars.
- Ensure there are at least 12 hours between your last and first meal, longer if you can hold it.
- This puts your body into a fasting state and helps you burn fat faster.
- Remember to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
- An easy way to do this is to fill up a 50 oz bottle of water so you can track your progress throughout the day.
- Try to incorporate a little exercise in your weeks, it can be as simple as going for walks or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Remember a little movement goes a long way!
30-Day Keto Diet Menu And Recipes
Here’s your 30-Day Keto Diet meal plan filled with delicious low-carb recipes to get you into ketosis!
Simply follow the recipes each day (mix and match if you find ones you prefer over others) and add some snacks to each day.
We’ve listed the calorie information for each meal and day, so just add as many snacks or extra servings to reach your daily caloric intake.
My Biggest Challenges
Eating only 20 grams of carbs a day is hard.
The keto diet plan is a high-fat and low-carb (HFLC) diet. I would actually describe it as extremely low-carb-you’re allowed to eat just 20 grams in a day. Some people on keto follow a net-carb plan (you can subtract the grams of fiber from a food’s total carbs) and you’re allowed to eat more carbs in a day. For my 30-day diet and for the sake of simplicity, I stuck with total carbs.
As a rule, I aimed for 20 grams each day-2 at breakfast, 5 at lunch, 3 for snacks and 10 for dinner. I found that if I aimed for 20, I’d land under 30. That was successful enough for me.
The key to hitting my number was to plan, plan, plan. I worked out all three meals, down to the condiments, plus snacks on the weekends. If I knew what I was having and what I was “allowed” to have while staying under my carb goal, I found managing the infrequent cravings and hunger pangs easier. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning for a keto diet.
The food is repetitive.
I ate a lot of bacon, cheese, eggs and meat (steak and chicken mostly). For a person whose eating philosophy is typically more plant-based and whole-food-focused, eating processed pork products every morning took a lot of personal persuasion. It also took a complete mental shift, because eating multiple pieces of bacon every day for weeks on end goes against everything I’ve been taught for personal health. (Learn more about a vegetarian keto diet.)
This can be a very low-calorie diet.
Keeping your carb count near 20 reduces your calorie consumption too. Carb-heavy foods are some of the most calorie-dense foods we eat, mainly because we eat a lot of them. If you cut carbs, you dramatically reduce your possible calorie intake. (See the 30 best low-carb foods.)
Some days, I struggled to get over 1,200 calories. For my goal of 1,800 calories, I fell short almost every day. That’s enough of a calorie deficit to produce weight loss, even without the low-carb count.
I came down with “keto flu.”
The “keto flu” is a term you’ll see on keto blogs and forums. For me, it was a very real event, but not everyone will experience it.
As your body breaks through the carb cycle and enters ketosis (where you rely on ketones, instead of carbs, for energy), you may experience fatigue, mental fogginess, even irritability. My “keto flu” only lasted a day, and once I passed it, I never experienced the symptoms again. I even ate a cookie one day during the diet to celebrate my birthday. I certainly came out of ketosis when I ate that treat, but I didn’t experience any repercussions for it. (Learn more about sneaky side effects of the keto diet including some of those flu-like symptoms).
My Biggest Successes on the Keto Diet Plan
I beat my weight-loss goal.
While I set out to drop a quick 10 pounds, I quickly surpassed it. I was down 10 pounds within three weeks and hit 15 pounds two days before the wedding.
It’s important to keep in mind that when you are on a low-carb diet of any type, you will lose several pounds in the first few days. That’s because your body is dropping water weight. When I returned to typical eating over the wedding weekend, I gained 4 pounds. I didn’t overeat that weekend. I had just returned to eating carbs, so the water weight returned.
I had more energy (but not every day).
Even better, I had so much energy and I didn’t experience the typical mid-afternoon energy slumps. Gym time was a bit of a challenge. Without carbs, your body has to burn fat for energy, and some days, that will leave you feeling drained of energy during a workout. That’s OK. Stick with it, and try again tomorrow.
I learned to be very creative in the kitchen.
It’s almost impossible to eat at a restaurant and keep your keto status. (After the third time you ask the server to hold the onions from your chicken fajitas, you’ll just want to never go into a restaurant again.) Luckily, I consider myself an adventurous cook, frequently cooked at home before the diet, and am willing to try new recipes.
Of course, with a keto plan, your ingredient list is dramatically shortened. I scoured blogs, Instagram, Pinterest and other sources for reliable recipes, and then I put my own thinking cap on and came up with several dishes I really enjoyed.
Write the recipes down, use a meal-tracking app like MyFitnessPal to record the ingredients, and you can figure out if a recipe can work for you. It takes a bit more work than an average meal plan, but it’s worth it.
I broke my sugar addiction.
You can’t eat sugar on the keto diet, and most of the no-carb sugar substitutes don’t work for me. So when you’re left with no recourse, you just have to quit sugar.
That doesn’t mean the cravings went away. In the first few days, the cravings for a peanut butter cup or a soda or even just a banana were strong. (Here’s when having an accountability buddy really helps.) When you go back to typical eating, you might find (as I did) that many foods you ate regularly are now just too sweet to finish.
Lifelong Takeaways from My 30 Days on the Keto Diet Plan
I won’t be staying on a keto diet meal plan for the long term—I really can’t eat that much bacon anymore—but I do expect I’ll return to it several times a year. If nothing else, the strict diet works well for me as a reset after a long splurge (hello, holidays!), and my month-long experiment helped me break my dependency on some of my biggest food crutches (sugar, pasta, crackers).
The keto diet is not for everyone. Certainly, if you have blood sugar issues or a history of heart disease, you should not try this diet without a doctor’s supervision. However, if you’re in good health and are looking for a weight-loss jump-start, the keto diet might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. I just hope you really like bacon.