Keto Meal Inspirations

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Last Updated: Oct 09, 2020

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I’m on a keto diet and people often ask me what I eat while at home, when eating out, and while traveling. While I don’t follow a strict keto meal plan, I decided to write down and take pictures of everything I ate over the course of a 30-day period.

Plus, I kept a food journal while traveling for three weeks across Austria and Ireland. The result is over 50 days of keto breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas that you can replicate at home or while traveling.

Before we jump into the actual meals, let me give you some context and background about my journey on the ketogenic diet and how we eat as a family.

My Keto Journey

My wife and I started eating paleo in 2015, and I’ve always gravitated towards a low-carb diet. Early in 2019, I fully transitioned to what I call a ketogenic paleo diet, paired with intermittent fasting.

It’s been a successful ride so far. I feel great, I sleep well, and my exercise performance is better than I expected.

I will say, however, that I’ve been incredibly lucky throughout this journey because my wife decided to stay home with the kids and cook for us three times a day.

As a result, I never have to worry much about meal planning or meal prepping. Additionally, since I work from home, I get to enjoy her home-cooked meals on most days of the week.

My goal with this article is not to give you a theoretical keto meal plan with pretty pictures that nobody has ever tried. Instead, consider it a record of all the food that I’ve been eating (good and bad) without getting kicked out of ketosis.

I believe that following a keto meal plan that someone has tried already is much easier than trying to follow a random 14-day meal plan that someone designed on paper.

If you work in an office and have nobody at home who cooks, your situation is certainly much trickier. If you fall into that category, you might not be able to replicate all of the meals I’m highlighting below.

However, stick with me and I’ll give you some tips on how you can make eating healthy a habit by leveraging keto meal delivery services or keto meal replacement drinks.

Keto Breakfast Ideas

As I’m sure you’ve heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Let me tell you, that’s bulls***!

Just think about how humans evolved over 2.6 million years. Our Paleolithic ancestors ate whenever they found food. They didn’t just go to the fridge in the morning and devour a bowl of sugar-laden breakfast cereal with milk.

Instead, they might not have eaten until they got lucky and killed an animal sometime during the day. If they weren’t lucky, they might have gone without food for days.

I’ve been intermittently fasting, following a 16/8 protocol, for almost a year. As a result, I typically don’t eat breakfast. When I do, I eat either leftovers, eggs with vegetables or a keto shake.

Some people have told me that breakfast on a keto diet plan is stressful because they don’t know what to make. Take it easy and:

  • Don’t eat at all — super simple, or
  • Eat whatever you would eat for lunch or dinner

Below are some inspirations and keto breakfast ideas that you can use for meal planning — based on what I ate in a month (including keto cheat meals).

Keto Breakfast Ideas For at Home

Most of these ketogenic breakfast ideas stem from my vacation in Austria, where I was visiting family. While I normally don’t east breakfast, my mom enjoys cooking and I didn’t want to take away from that joy.

Keto Breakfast Ideas While Traveling

I usually don’t eat breakfast, which makes omitting it super easy while I’m traveling. When I do eat breakfast, I try to get some smoked salmon, avocado, eggs and bacon.

Most hotels don’t offer wild-caught salmon, organic avocados, uncured bacon or pastured eggs. But that’s a compromise you’ll have to make. The (probably) better solution is to use a keto meal replacement shake.

Additionally, I always carry travel-sized portions of ghee*, olive oil*, MCT oil and salt*. In a pinch, I just squeeze ghee or MCT oil into my morning coffee for delicious high-fat ketogenic breakfast replacement.

Keto Lunch Ideas

I usually eat lunch at home. When I’m traveling, I bring keto meal replacement drinks (usually Ample K* or Ketōnd*), snacks and travel-sized packs of real salt and olive oil. Check out this article to learn more about how I prepare for trips and what I bring.

If I eat out, I try to stick with simple meals including protein and veggies. If the restaurant doesn’t have extra virgin olive oil, I soak the food in the oil I brought.

But even if you don’t have any oil to ramp up your fat intake, don’t worry! Eating a lot of protein won’t kick you out of ketosis, as many claim. You can learn more about that (and other keto myths) in this article.

Keto Lunch Ideas While at Home

Keto Lunch Ideas While Traveling

Below are some meal shots I took while eating at restaurants while traveling. I usually stick with simple meals consisting of a protein and non-starchy vegetables on the side. Additionally, I always ask for extra virgin olive oil on the side — that way, I can dramatically increase the fat calories of the meals I eat.

Keto Dinner Ideas

Growing up in Austria, we often didn’t have a warm meal for dinner. Instead, we ate what Austrians (and some Germans) call a “Jause.” It’s basically a plate of cold cuts with cheese and fresh veggies from the garden.

I’ve hung on to that tradition, and you’ll see that many of my dinner plates reflect that.

Keto Dinner Ideas For at Home

Keto Dinner Ideas While Traveling

Keto Cheat Meals (While Traveling)

I rarely cheat, because I have little desire to eat food that I know will harm my body. While I don’t make any exceptions to that rule while traveling for business, I’ve learned to be a little more chill when we go on a family vacation.

That’s especially true when we travel to Austria and my 85-year-old grandmother bakes for us. You bet I’ll have that cake. So, here are a couple of pictures of food I had over the course of three weeks while we visited Ireland and Austria.

After our trip to Europe (and as soon as I walked into the door of our home), I measured my blood glucose and ketone levels. Everything was perfect; my blood sugar was below 85 mg/dL, even though I ate a few hours before, and my ketone levels were above 1.5 mmol/L.

Is there a chance that the crap food I ate temporarily kicked me out of ketosis? Sure. However, my metabolism is flexible and fat-adapted enough to bounce right back.

Top 6 Keto Meal Planning and Prepping Tips

Here are the top six tips and tricks I’ve learned for planning and preparing easy keto meals:

  1. Learn how to cook simple recipes
  2. Cook meals in bulk
  3. Acknowledge that food is — first and foremost — fuel for your body
  4. Leverage meal delivery services, if necessary
  5. Use meal replacement drinks, if necessary
  6. Discover apps, such as eMeals
  7. Don’t stress about food

Unless we’re eating leftovers, my wife is the one who cooks. That means I usually don’t have to worry about what to eat for lunch. She’s learned to cook the paleo and keto ways from a few different cookbooks that I highly recommend, including:

My wife also often makes meals in bulk — for example in a slow cooker or crock-pot*. That way, we can have the same meat with different sides a few days in a row.

Food Is Fuel For Your Body

One of the things that I’ve learned makes planning meals and eating them so much easier is to see food for what it is — fuel for your body.

In one of the meal photos in this article, you can see that I mixed canned tuna, canned sardines and guacamole. To a chef, that probably looks awful. But guess what? It’s high-quality fuel, it tasted relatively decent, and it took me less than five minutes to prepare.

Meal Delivery Services

If we have to empty the fridge before an extended trip, we sometimes use meal delivery services to have keto or paleo meals delivered.

If I’m in a rush and don’t have time for a meal, I grab one of my favorite keto meal replacement drinks (Ample K* or Ketōnd*) and use it instead of a meal.

Meal Planning Apps

Last but not least, get inspirations from apps, such as eMeals*. They offer a ton of recipes and ingredient lists. We’ve used eMeals for a while and really like their keto recipes.

If you started on a ketogenic diet, it was likely because of the health benefits (or because you wanted to lose weight). Either way, stress doesn’t help with achieving either goal.

In fact, stress can significantly impair your efforts to get on a better path towards health and to lose a few pounds. My wife used to stress out about what too cook, because most of the ingredients we used to cook with were suddenly off limits.

Start Simple and Don’t Stress

My recommendation is to start simple: pick a protein, put some veggies on the side, and add healthy fats. When we started with the paleo diet a few years ago, we had red meat with grilled zucchini for the first week.

After a while, we discovered other easy-to-make recipes and started experimenting with them.

These days, I don’t even think about what to have for dinner. I open the fridge and pantry and grab what’s available. Since we don’t have any non-paleo or high-carb food at home, it doesn’t matter what I pick. I know it’ll be compatible with my ketogenic paleo diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I hear. If your question hasn’t been answered below, leave a comment and I’ll add it so that everyone can benefit from the answer.

How do you count calories while on a low-carb diet?

I don’t, and you shouldn’t either. It’s a waste of time. If you eat healthy and stop eating when you feel full, there’s no need for calorie counting.

What are net carbs?

If you take the total amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food and subtract the fiber and non-caloric sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit extract, etc.) you get the net carbs.

Net carbs are those carbohydrates that your body can use for energy and that raise your blood sugar levels. The goal of a keto lifestyle is to keep your net carbs — not necessarily the total carbs — to a minimum.

Why don’t you show zucchini noodles in your photos?

We eat zucchini noodles occasionally, but I’d rather eat grilled or steamed zucchini. There’s nothing wrong with making them into noodles, but it’s extra work for little benefit.

Cream cheese is keto. Why aren’t you eating it?

I try to keep my dairy intake to a minimum because it’s an inflammatory food. You can learn more about that here.

When I do eat cheese, I try to stick with sheep, camel or goat cheese because they have the less-inflammatory casein beta A2. Plus, I don’t eat bread or crackers, so what would I smear the cream cheese on?

Note that there are some keto bread options. However, as I grew up in Austria, let’s just say that calling them “bread” seems like an overstatement…

Where do you buy groceries?

We usually buy groceries at Whole Foods and Costco. When we do, we look for organic fruits, organic low-carb vegetables, grass-fed meat and pastured eggs.

It might surprise you, but you can also find a lot of organic, paleo and keto products at Costco. For example, the organic guacamole I eat with almost every meal is from Costco, and so are many of the snacks.

What type of diet plan should I follow if I want to lose weight?

Arguably the most effective method for fat loss (or to better manage your weight) is to combine a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting. Coincidentally, it’s also one of the healthiest lifestyles you can have… and is the type of diet I embrace.

Should I supplement with vitamins and minerals?

That depends on numerous factors, many of which I’ve covered in detail in this article. In general, your goal should be to get all micronutrients from the food you eat and only use supplements to bridge gaps you can’t easily address through your diet.

If my body consistently uses fat for energy, is there a risk of developing ketoacidosis?

No, there is not. Nutritional ketosis and ketoacidosis are two entirely different things. You can learn more about that in my keto guide. But rest assured, it’s perfectly healthy to use fat for energy.

What’s a good source or organ meat?

Fresh liver, heart, brain or kidneys are excellent sources of organ meat. However, not everyone can stomach the taste. If you fall into that category, I recommend liverwurst or pâté.

What do you drink?

As far as beverages are concerned, I typically drink water and black coffee throughout the day. Occasionally, I enjoy a sparking tonic (KeVita) for lunch or dinner. In the evening, I usually have a glass of red wine.

When we’re eating out, I might have a tequila with lime juice (my version of a skinny Margarita).

What do you have for snacks?

I don’t snack frequently because I usually eat a lot for lunch and dinner. When I do, I have mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), meat bars*, nut butter, cauliflower bites or a piece of fruit.Michael's Snacks - Ample K, Wild Zora Meat Bars, Super Fat Nut Butter

Do you eat food containing wheat or other allergens?

With the exception of an occasional pizza, I don’t eat grains because they wreak havoc on the body. As far as allergens are concerned, I consume eggs and nuts.

How much should I eat on keto?

There is no “perfect keto” diet. You should eat as much as you need to eat to feel satisfied. I don’t believe in counting calories or calculating the macronutrient content of every meal. That’s simply too much work, and it offers no benefits.

You’ll notice that when you consume a high-fat diet (instead of carbs), your food cravings will go away and you won’t overeat as easily.

Can you eat as much as you want on keto?

Generally speaking, you can eat as much healthy food as you want on keto. Just stop eating when you feel satisfied.

If something is labeled as low carb, does that mean you can eat it on keto?

Many processed foods that are labeled as “low-carb” contain unhealthy and inflammatory ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners. My recommendation is to limit the amount of processed food you eat, regardless of whether it’s labeled as low-carb or not.

What can you eat on keto?

Besides the meal ideas in this article, I highly recommend you check out my ketogenic diet guide for more information about what to eat and drink while on a low-carb ketogenic diet.

What is ketosis, and how long does it take to get into ketosis?

When you’re in nutritional ketosis, your body uses fat — in the form of ketone bodies — for energy, instead of glucose. How quickly you can get into ketosis depends on your current dietary lifestyle and your metabolism.

When I switched from a low-carb paleo diet to a ketogenic paleo diet, it took me only a day. If you start from a high-carb or Western diet, it might take you a few days or more to get into ketosis.

How few carbs should I target on keto, and should I count net or total carbs?

As a rule of thumb, a low-carb ketogenic diet allows you to eat up to about 25 grams of net carbs per day. An easy way to calculate your macros is by using a macro calculator, such as the one Perfect Keto* offers.

What is the 28 day keto challenge?

As the name implies, it challenges you to try out and stick with the keto lifestyle for 28 consecutive days. However, I seriously question the benefit of any time-restricted challenge. Whatever diet you choose, your goal should be stick with it until you die. If you don’t, you’ll bounce right back to where you started.

Can the keto diet help prevent or manage heart disease?

Absolutely. To learn more about the health benefits of the keto diet, check out this article.

Other known or suspected benefits of a high-fat diet include reduced risk of chronic diseases, and reduced risk and severity of Alzheimer’s disease. Keto has also been used as a treatment for some people suffering from seizures.

What is a dirty keto diet?

There’s no such thing as a perfect keto diet, but there is such a thing as a downright bad one. “Dirty keto” is a way to describe a diet that adheres to the macronutrient breakdown of the ketogenic diet with little or no attention given to the quality of the food being consumed.

In other words, there are healthy fats and then there are fast-food cheeseburgers.

Believe it or not, it’s still possible to achieve weight loss on a dirty keto diet if you consume a calorie deficit (i.e., if you burn more than you eat).

However, your goal while on keto (or any other diet) should be to build healthy habits that you can sustain over a lifetime. Those habits must include learning how to identify nutrient-dense foods full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

What are keto lunch recipes you can take to work?

If your workplace has a kitchen to reheat food, you can take any of the recipes from above to work. If you don’t have access to a kitchen at work, consider getting an insulated lunch box* or leverage meals in powder form.

Why should you batch cook your keto lunches?

Cooking in batches is one of the best tips my wife would give you, because it saves you a lot of time in the kitchen. We usually batch-cook our protein (meat or poultry) and freeze what we don’t eat right away.

That way, we always have a meal available when we don’t have time to cook. As side dishes, we often have fresh (raw) veggies, such as avocado, tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers.

What can you snack on keto?

My favorite keto snacks are nut butters or low-carb nuts, such as macadamia or almonds. Check out my keto products page and scroll down to snacks for more snack ideas.

Is hummus keto friendly?

Regular hummus is relatively keto friendly because it has relatively low amounts of carbohydrates. However, hummus is made from chickpeas (which belong to the legumes family) and they are known for containing high amounts of antinutrients.

Are pickles keto?

While pickles consist mostly of carbs, they have so few calories that you can enjoy them on keto without having to worry about getting kicked out of ketosis.

Is pineapple keto friendly?

Pineapple has a lot of sugar and I wouldn’t overindulge on it. That said, I don’t recommend to completely avoid certain types of fruit — even the ones with a lot of sugar. Just consume them in moderation.

Can you be vegan and low carb?

You can definitely follow a low-carb, plant-based diet. But it’s more difficult than a regular keto diet. Just make sure you stay away from vegetable oils, and that you don’t overindulge in starchy plants (such as potatoes or grains).

The challenge you’ll have on a vegan diet is to get your protein. Vegans often rely on grains for their protein. Unfortunately, those seeds of grass have a lot of carbs, which you can’t have on a vegan keto diet.

What fast food lunch can you eat while keto?

You shouldn’t be eating any fast food at all. If you don’t have a choice, stick with a plain salad without dressing, and bring your own extra-virgin olive oil. Ke