How to Prepare Keto Meals
Everything you ever thought you knew about food and nutrition is wrong. At least, it seems that way. Our ancestors chased the wooly mammoth across the frozen steppes and never once counted calories.
The four food groups? Pass?. Eat your colors? Low fat? High protein? Juice fasting?Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, partially hydrogenated? Food pyramid or food plate? It’s baffling what a person is supposed to eat for good health these days.
If you are following a ketogenic diet for health or weight loss, making tasty keto meals the whole family will enjoy is a challenge. Read on to learn more.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
The human body can get its energy from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Any of these can be broken down into energy to fuel our cells. With the typical diet, these days and its’ over abundance of carbohydrates, the body has to burn glucose first in order to avoid blood toxicity. The human body can only hold 5 grams of glucose in the blood. So if you just ate a meal with a hundred grams of glucose your body enters into a panicked state and has to find something to do with the glucose fast. So it burns the glucose and stores the fat in to avoid a toxic blood glucose state. In a low-carb and ketogenic diet, the body does not enter into this panicked state and does not have too take emergency measures to avoid blood toxicity. As a result, the body uses fat as energy instead. A powerful metabolic shift is a result.
This is done by severely limiting the number of carbs eaten to induce ketosis, the breakdown of fats by the liver. For people just beginning to eat keto meals, the rough goal is that your total calories for the day come from 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbs.
Contrast this with the typically carb-heavy American diet. Most Americans eat far too many calories in a day and most calories come from highly refined, nutrient-poor foods. A ketogenic diet removes highly refined foods, sugars, and most grains entirely.
The diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases but has proven to be an effective tool for diabetes management, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It is also used in the treatment of certain heart diseases, brain damage, polycystic ovarian syndrome and other illnesses.
Keto Meal Basics
Keeping your meals to 5% carbs and feeding a family who doesn’t share your enthusiasm for a keto diet isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Let’s go over some of the commonly used foods people use for keto meals.
Fats and oils
Should come from natural sources like meat and nuts. Supplement with healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, tallow or lard from grass-fed animals, and avocado oil.
Should come from organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat and eggs. Wild-caught and sustainably harvested seafood, too. Fatty cuts are preferred. Just remember to limit protein to 15% where possible. Most meats can be consumed in moderate quantity, just watch out for processed meats as they may have added sugar or fillers.
Lean towards leafy, green, and cruciferous veggies. Fresh or frozen won’t make a difference. Limit tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, radishes, onions, and garlic. Avoid potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, beans, and legumes.
Full-fat dairy products from 100% grass-fed animals are what you want. Cheeses, plain yogurt, full-fat cottage cheese, and cream are generally ok. Avoid dairy milk because lactose (milk sugar) is a carb.
Nuts and Seeds
Use in moderation. Macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds are good choices. Nuts are nutrient and calorie-dense, so they are easy to overeat.
Stay hydrated. Ketosis requires lots of water to maintain. Drink plenty of plain water, sparkling water, seltzer, black coffee and unsweetened teas or unsweetened nut milk. Some wines, low carb beers, and liquors can be consumed in moderation. Sweet fizzy drinks, even diet versions should be avoided.
If you must sweeten your coffee or make a quick keto-friendly dessert, sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, and xylitol can be made a part of your keto diet. Some people like inulin or monk fruit powder.
Enjoy antioxidant-rich dark chocolate (70% or more) and unsweetened cocoa powder. Just be careful of how much sugar your dark chocolate contains.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you shop for groceries and change your pantry to supply a ketogenic diet. As you plan your family meals, you may find yourself cooking carbs anyways to make the non-dieters happy.
Family Friendly Keto Kitchen
When it comes to adopting keto meals, you have three choices:
- make your whole family adopt a ketogenic diet (not recommended for children or carb-loving spouses)
- drive yourself insane and plan, shop, cook and serve one meal for yourself and one for your family
- blend the two and fix keto meals with one carb side dish you can avoid
We all wish it was the first option. In a perfect world, our families would help us clear out the fridge and pantry of all temptation, then happily adopt the carb-free life. Sometimes families aren’t so supportive.
Some people have success with the second option, although researching recipes, shopping and double meal prep and cleanup is a drag. Planning ahead with easy meals for one in the freezer while you prep the family meal is a good solution.
The most likely family scenario is the third option, planning ahead for a healthy, keto-friendly meal for yourself and adding a suitable (easy to resist) carb for the rest of the family.
Typically, a weeknight family dinner might look like this:
- Wild Caught Salmon Baked with Herb Butter
- Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
- Green Salad or Roasted Potatoes
This dinner can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, with one sheet pan. If you have the willpower, you can easily avoid the roasted potatoes. Keto or not, the brussels sprouts in bacon (pancetta) fat are delicious. For even greater ease, pre-cook and have your meal ready from the freezer or fridge in 20 minutes or less.
If your family is carb-oholic and favorite meals consist of kinds of pasta, potatoes, and rice, this transition may take time. Substituting zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash makes a fine visual representation of pasta with sauce and cheese, but can be a hard sell. The same goes for cauliflower crust pizza.
Over time, these replacements make a big difference in the number of carbs consumed. And if everyone is healthier and happier, so much the better!
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.