Ketogenic Meal Plans: Lose Fat, Preserve Muscle

Nick Ludlow
Written By: Nick Ludlow
February 13th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Nutrition
80.1K Reads
Ketogenic Meal Plans: Lose Fat, Preserve Muscle
The ketogenic diet is built around the concept of removing dietary carbohydrates from your eating plan to the point that the brain and body are forced to utilize another fuel source - ketones.

Physicians introduced the ketogenic diet to the Western world in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy. However, this highly effective diet quickly gained popularity within the fitness community as a method to maximize fat loss and preserve muscle mass.

The ketogenic diet is built around the concept of removing dietary carbohydrates from your eating plan to the point that the brain and body are forced to utilize another fuel source – ketones. After your body adjusts to using ketones as its primary source of fuel, and while eating in a caloric deficit, your body would then mobilize stored fat more rapidly than a non-ketogenic diet.

With regards to macronutrient components, the ketogenic diet consists of high-fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrates. Fat, being the most nutrient-dense of the three macronutrients at 9 calories per gram, should comprise a majority of the daily caloric intake.

The consensus on “very low carb” ranges on who you’re talking to, but I’ve found the average to be less than 30 grams of net carbohydrates per day (carbohydrates minus fiber). Some users may eat above that range and prove they’re in ketosis using ketosis strips, but for the sake of simplicity eating less than 30 grams of net carbohydrates on your very low carbohydrate days will ensure you’re using ketones for fuel.

With typical fat loss diets, people decrease their fat intake first which can negatively impact hormonal function over time. Additionally, prolonged intake of very low carbohydrates can negatively impact metabolism and energy due to the natural down regulation of thyroid function. Thus, the most popular forms of the ketogenic diet for a fitness-enthusiast tend to be the cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets.

The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) involves 5 to 6.5 days of eating less than 30 grams of net carbohydrates per day followed by a “carb-up” of 200-500 grams in a 12-36 hour period. After that period you resume eating very low carb and repeat this cycle until you reach your goal. A targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) does not involve a weekly “carb-up” but rather involves the intake of 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates pre/intra/post workout with the remainder of the day consuming less than 30 grams of net carbohydrates.

Employing either CKD or TKD allows the dieter to avoid the downsides of prolonged low-carb or low-fat intake. Let’s examine some advantages and disadvantages of the ketogenic framework.

Advantages of a Ketogenic Diet

Many followers of the ketogenic diet find fat loss to be “effortless” compared to other fat loss diets they’ve tried. This is due to more stable blood sugar levels (fewer and less intense blood sugar spikes), decreased cravings for sugary & nutrient-devoid foods (looking at you marshmallow fluff!), and improved overall hunger control (it’s always easier to have that extra slice of cake than that 3rd bowl of broccoli).

Overall, removing an entire macronutrient – carbohydrates – and the respective caloric load doesn’t appear to impact energy and hunger as noticeably as removing fats. As a result, many ketogenic dieters find it easy to decrease their caloric intake without sacrificing their sanity; a recipe for long-term fat loss success.

Disadvantages of a Ketogenic Diet

The two most notorious side-effects of the keto diet are “keto flu” and “keto breath”. The keto flu occurs during the period when your body is adjusting from using carbohydrates to ketones as the primary fuel source. By nature, your body prefers to be in homeostasis, and having used carbohydrates as the primary fuel source for so long, it’s no surprise that your body will fight back.

The keto flu is typically 3-10 days in length and during this time I recommend drinking plenty of fluids and abstaining from exceptionally strenuous workouts. Your body is undergoing a fair amount of stress adjusting to the dietary change, so hitting it with intense, high-volume resistance training may compound the flu-like feelings. Some dieters report atrocious breath, aptly named “keto breath’, after their bodies adapt to using ketones for energy. To combat this I recommend brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day as well as chewing gum and mouthwash as needed.

Fit Woman

The two most common pitfalls I see amongst ketogenic dieters is lack of fat and dietary fiber. If you’ve come from a background of conventional dieting (low fat, moderate protein, and moderate carbohydrate), decreasing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake can be a psychological challenge.

I urge you to eat ample fat (50+% of your daily caloric intake) to help ease the transition and minimize keto flu-like symptoms. The majority of dieters use grains, fruits, and vegetables to meet their dietary fiber requirements; eliminating grains, fruits, and some vegetables on the ketogenic will most likely impact your digestion and regularity. As a result I recommend eating a variety of low-carb, high-fiber vegetables during the day as well as supplementing with 1-2 tablespoons of psyllium husk per day. Although psyllium husk is from the grain family it has extremely high fiber content and exceptionally low net carbohydrate content.

Keto Diet Meal Plans

The meal and supplementation plans outlined below provide at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (for a 180lb male), 50-60+% of the daily caloric intake from fat, 30 or less grams of net carbohydrates (carbohydrates minus fiber), 1000 milligrams of calcium, 350 milligrams of magnesium, 15 milligrams of zinc, and 18 milligrams of iron.

3000 Calorie Meal Plan (Day A)

3,000 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day A
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – Nutrition for the Day – 2,995 calories, 239g protein, 29g net carbs, 232g fat, 206% daily value of calcium, 178% daily value of iron

07:00 - Wake Up

   
07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil.

188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat

08:30

5 large eggs, 1 cup of steamed spinach, 2 Italian sausage links.

813 calories, 71g protein, 9g net carbs, 71g fat

13:00

20 medium asparagus spears (5.25 to 7 inches in length), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 8 ounces of cooked skirt steak.

766 calories, 68g protein, 52g fat, 5g net carbs

16:00

2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop Dymatize ISO-100 whey protein, 2 ounces of walnuts.

530 calories, 35g protein, 4g net carbs, 43g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)  

20:00

8 ounce boneless pork chop, 2 cups of steamed broccoli, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 ounce of grated parmesan cheese.

698 calories, 64g protein, 7g net carbs, 50g fat

23:00 – Bed

1 serving of ZMA  

Keto Diet Food Choices

3000 Calorie Meal Plan (Day B)

3,000 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day B
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – Nutrition for the Day – 2,998 calories, 220g protein, 19g net carbs, 223g fat, 133% daily value of calcium, 103% daily value of iron

07:00 – Wake Up

   
07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil.

188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat

08:30

6 slices of pan-fried pork bacon, 8 ounces of ground beef (raw measure - 80% lean/20% fat), 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.

858 calories, 61g protein, 4g net carbs, 64g fat

13:00

1 cup of chopped dark meat turkey, 1 cup of avocado cut in to cubes, 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce, 1.5 cups of chopped celery.

539 calories, 45g protein, 6g net carbs, 32g fat

16:00

9 ounces of baked chicken wings, 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

600 calories, 56g protein, 0g net carbs, 53g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)  

20:00

8 ounces of cooked wild Atlantic salmon, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of steamed cauliflower, 1.5 ounces of raw almonds.

813 calories, 58g protein, 7g net carbs, 59g fat

23:00 – Bed

1 serving of ZMA  

Bacon and Steak

2500 Calorie Meal Plan (Day A)

2,500 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day A
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – 2,495 calories, 183g protein, 28g net carbs, 160g fat, 125% daily value of calcium, 100% daily value of iron
07:00 – Wake Up    

07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil. 188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat
08:30

4 ounce ribeye steak (raw weight), 3 large eggs, 3 slices of pan-fried pork bacon, 1 cup of steamed spinach.

691 calories, 63g protein, 4g net carbs, 43g fat

13:00

4 pork sausage links, 1 cup of sliced avocado, and 1 medium tomato.

581 calories, 23g protein, 5g net carbs, 48g fat

16:00

2 ounces of feta cheese, 1 low-carb tortilla wrap, 0.5 cup of diced cooked chicken breast, 1 cup of chopped celery.

398 calories, 36g protein, 9g net carbs, 17g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)

 

20:00

8 ounces of wild Atlantic salmon, 1 ounce of grated parmesan cheese, 3 cups of steamed cauliflower, 1.25 tablespoons of butter. 637 calories, 61g protein, 6g net carbs, 37g fat

23:00 – Bed

1 serving of ZMA

 

2500 Calorie Meal Plan (Day B)

2,500 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day B
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – 2,492 calories, 193g protein, 27g net carbs, 169g fat, 100% daily value of calcium, 100% daily value of iron
2000 Calorie Plans

07:00 – Wake Up

   
07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil.

188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat

08:30

2 cups of steamed kale, 6 ounces of cooked ground lamb.

553 calories, 46g protein, 8g net carbs, 35g fat

13:00

1.25 cups of chopped chicken thigh meat, 1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 cups of sliced mushrooms. 

577 calories, 49g protein, 3g net carbs, 40g fat

16:00

5 ounces of pan-broiled ground beef (80% lean / 20% fat), 2 cups of chopped celery, 2 ounces of Swiss cheese.

586 calories, 50g protein, 6g net carbs, 39g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)  

20:00

6 ounces of baked trout, 2.25 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of sliced zucchini.

588 calories, 48g protein, 6g net carbs, 40g fat

23:00 – Bed

1 serving of ZMA  

2000 Calorie Meal Plan (Day A)

2,000 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day A
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – 1,997 calories, 168g protein, 30g net carbs, 125g fat, 128% daily value of calcium, 100% daily value of iron

07:00 – Wake Up

   
07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil.

188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat

8:30

 2 cups of steamed broccoli, 4 large eggs, 1.5 ounces of Gouda cheese.

499 calories, 41g protein, 9g net carbs, 32g fat

13:00

6 ounces of ground turkey, 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 cup of sliced green peppers, 1 cup of sprouted alfalfa seeds. 

462 calories, 32g protein, 2g net carbs, 34g fat

16:00

2 tablespoons of almond butter, 1 scoop Dymatize ISO-100 whey protein, and 1 cup of raw cubed pumpkin.

358 calories, 45g protein, 10g net carbs, 16g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)  

20:00

6 ounces of grilled sirloin steak, 1 cup of steamed spinach, 1.25 ounces of Swiss cheese.

490 calories, 50g protein, 5g net carbs, 28g fat

23:00 – Bed

1 serving of ZMA  

2000 Calorie Meal Plan (Day B)

2,000 Calorie Meal Plan
Keto Diet - Day B
Time Meal Nutrition
Nutrition for the Day – 1,993 calories, 170g protein, 27g net carbs, 128g fat, 107% daily value of calcium, 100% daily value of iron

07:00 – Wake Up

   
07:30

2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil.

188 calories, 0g protein, 4g net carbs, 15g fat

08:30

4 ounces of cooked bison, 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, 1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce, 2 ounces of muenster cheese.

446 calories, 44g protein, 6g net carbs, 27g fat

13:00

1 can of tuna, 2.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 cup of mushroom slices.

435 calories, 42g protein, 0g net carbs, 38g fat

16:00

1 cup of diced cooked chicken breast, 1 low-carb tortilla wrap, 1 cup of steamed spinach, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese.

506 calories, 60g protein, 9g net carbs, 26g fat

17:30 – Pre Workout Stack

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30 – Workout of Choice

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (optional)  

20:00

4 ounces of veal (raw-measure), 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of cubed & steamed eggplant, 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce.

418 calories, 24g protein, 8g net carbs, 31g fat

23:00 - Bed

1 serving of ZMA  

Author’s Notes

Nutrition information obtained from USDA Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 26.

The timings, food pairings, and supplementation schedules are not set in stone. I encourage you to adjust meal frequency and macronutrient composition based on your lifestyle, goals, and activity. This is merely a framework to save you time and increase your chances of success.

I highly encourage resistance training as a way to both improve your general health and physique. Muscle and Strength offers an expansive workout and exercise database here.

You can purchase all supplements mentioned in this article at the Muscle and Strength Web Store.

9 Comments
Mary
Posted on: Sat, 01/09/2021 - 00:33

Briefly, I see a mistake: Atlantic salmon is not wild. Pls change it to "wild Pacific salmon" so people do not get confused. I also wonder about taking psyllium with anything... Especially something as expensive as HWC or CLO as things mixed w a high amt of psyllium are not absorbed.THANKS!

Jamal
Posted on: Tue, 07/24/2018 - 04:51

Sorry if i'm being daft here, but all of these menus offer more g's of protein than of fats. Is this not detrimental to the keto diet?

Celina
Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2018 - 11:46

1 cup of diced cooked chicken breast, 1 low-carb tortilla wrap, 1 cup of steamed spinach, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese. This good now, too. I will make that when i have the ingredients. I used to make it before.

Celina
Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2018 - 11:26

What do I like about this blog? Is that You basically gave me my meal plan for the day. I have started the Keto diet today, and thanks to your blog i will do wonders starting from the menu offering that is mentioning about the following: 5 eggs, spinach ,sausages. Thank you so much. I am starting here.

carlos ramirez
Posted on: Tue, 02/24/2015 - 20:37

Hi i workout early morning, How can be taken the pre-workout stack? can i take in empy stomach?

Dustin
Posted on: Tue, 02/24/2015 - 16:37

You mention the carb up/re-feed can be 12-36 hours. That is a pretty big window. Do you have a recommendation on how long the carb-up period should be?

Ryan
Posted on: Tue, 02/24/2015 - 19:20

I'd imagine that sort of depends on if you want to eat a pizza by yourself, or if you'd rather have waffles for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, spaghetti for dinner, and a bowl of oatmeal the next morning.

Johnny
Posted on: Fri, 02/13/2015 - 13:46

Isnt too much protein for ketogenic diet? Every guys that are in ketos recommend 75 - 80 % of calories from fat and 15 - 20 % from protein and 0-5% carbs

Nick Ludlow
Posted on: Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:08

Hi Johnny,

Great question. I encourage you to experiment with a 1:1 ratio of protein to fat and adjust from there. If you find yourself struggling with energy levels I encourage you to add calories via fat intake. Hope this helps!

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