Wait, what’s keto? The whole goal of a ketogenic diet is to train your body to burn stored energy in the form of fat and ketones, by using a metabolic pathway called ketosis, says Mark Sisson, keto expert, founder of Primal Kitchen, and author of The Keto Reset Diet. Ketosis is your body’s way of using stored fat for fuel instead of sugar.
That may not sound like a big deal, but keto evangelists says it’s better than any diet you’ve ever tried. Not only do you get to eat as much steak, eggs, and whipped cream as you want (All together? Why not!), but followers swear it will also help you shed mega pounds. And that’s backed by science, too: Eating a ketogenic diet significantly suppresses hunger hormones, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Ready to start? Cut the carbs. Like, all of them. Sisson recommends aiming to get just 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, preferably in the form of green veggies, not candy; 10 to 15 percent of calories from protein, including high-fat meats and fish; and the rest, a whopping 75 to 85 percent of calories, from fat.
This is going to be a major change, people, but it doesn’t have to be a hard one. When you break it down to the basics, keto meals are some of the simplest and easiest to throw together, Sisson says. Start with this list of keto recipes designed by experts specifically for people new to the diet or looking for simple, easy meals.
“This pizza to me is farmer’s market meets comfort food,” says Sisson. “People ask me all the time if they have to give up their favorite meals with keto, and I tell them they get to reimagine them.” With crispy, cauliflower crust, savory basil pesto sauce, fresh peppers, and creamy mozzarella, this indulgent keto dish will satisfy all your pizza cravings with no deprivation. Plus it’s packed with nutrients and fiber. Get the recipe at PrimalKitchen.com.
Smoothies are the ultimate in convenience, and this one, courtesy of Sisson, doesn’t compromise on nutrition or send you into sugar shock. The base is healthy fats with coconut milk and almond butter, but you’re also getting fiber from chia seeds, raspberries, and avocado. (Don’t worry, the avocado flavor disappears when added to the other ingredients, he says.) Get the recipe at PrimalKitchen.com.
For nights when you’re feeling ~fancy~ but still want to keep things simple in the kitchen, try this keto recipe from Sisson. All you do is marinate the chops in a keto-friendly salad dressing and grill. If you want to up your game and your nutrients, add on the balsamic braised cabbage (included in the same recipe). Get the recipe at PrimalKitchen.com.
Three words: No. Cooking. Necessary. Take your favorite antipasto ingredients—Sisson personally loves salami, mozzarella balls, prosciutto, and jarred artichoke hearts—marinate in a sugar-free Italian vinaigrette, and layer on skewers. It’s as fun to eat as it is delicious and it hits all the keto high points of fat and protein. Get the recipe at PrimalKitchen.com.
Remember eating frosting off the spoon when you were a kid? Well, you can relive that experience—minus the tummyache—with this keto-approved treat from Lauren O’Connor, R.D., a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian, yoga teacher, and founder of Nutri Savvy Health. “I love this as a ‘fat bomb’ that feels like a treat,” she says. Or make it a meal and use it to top your favorite keto pancakes. Get the recipe at NutriSavvyHealth.com.
It doesn’t get any easier than “just add water!” O’Connor swears by this chocolate protein powder derived from grass-fed bone broth. Add water, heat, stir, and enjoy a carb-free version of your favorite winter beverage. Don’t worry about it being beef bone broth, it doesn’t taste like soup, she adds. Get the recipe at NutriSavvyHealth.com.
Get your pasta fix without the carbs by making your own zucchini noodles, or “zoodles.” For a burst of fresh flavor top them with this tasty sauce courtesy of Melissa Eboli, a nutritional chef and wellness counselor. The nuts provide healthy fats and fiber while the leafy greens pack in vitamin C and iron. Get the recipe at ViaMelissa.com.
Use up any leftover chicken by whipping up this simple veggie-packed chicken salad. You can eat it straight out of the bowl or put it on a grain-free coconut wrap. Note: This recipe contains beans, which are rich in carbs. If you’re doing strict keto, omit the beans and use regular mustard instead of honey mustard. Get the recipe at ViaMelissa.com.
Need a fast snack? It only takes a few minutes to mix a batch of fresh guacamole and slice up some bell peppers for dipping. “This is my go-to keto snack as the peppers and avocado are low-carb foods that also are good sources of fiber, which makes them very filling,” says Philip Schinis, founder of Strongr Fastr. Get the recipe at StrongrFastr.com.
All-you-can-eat cheese may be one of the best parts of the keto diet and you can get your fromage fix with this dinner recipe from Schinis. It has only five ingredients and takes just 10 minutes of prep but it still has a huge payoff in taste. Plus, all the fat from the chicken skin and the cheese make it a very filling meal for only 450 calories. Get the recipe at StrongrFastr.com.
See what happened when one woman tried the keto diet:
What’s one of the first things people on a no-carb diet say they miss? Warm, fluffy pancakes. Indulge your craving and stay on your diet with this quick keto recipe from Patricia Daly, nutritional therapist specialising in ketogenic diets, co-author of The Ketogenic Kitchen. “I particularly like the lemon twist, which makes the pancakes light and refreshing while increasing the nutrient density of your diet, which is such an important but often neglected factor on a ketogenic diet,” she says. Get the recipe at PatriciaDaly.com.
Before you panic and skip this recipe, know that not all liver is the gross concoction you remember from your childhood and it’s worth making an effort to try it again as it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods we have, Daly says. “This is an easy way to get acquainted with liver, especially for people who are afraid of eating it,” she says. “The sweetness of the apples and onions neutralizes the liver-y taste without adding too many carbs.” Get the recipe at PatriciaDaly.com.
This portable trail mix is the perfect keto snack, whether you’re heading out on a hike or looking for a little after-dinner sweet snack that won’t spike your blood sugar, says Sheri Kasper, R.D.N, L.D.N., co-founder of FRESH Communications. “It’s high in heart-healthy fats, thanks to macadamia nuts and loaded with dense nutrition from the chlorella,” she says. “And, the sweet, salty, savory combinations is amazing.” Get the recipe at FreshCommunications.com.
Traditional pasta salad is definitely a keto no-no but this variation, filled with fresh vegetables and healthy fats, may be even tastier than the original. Plus, this dish is a real people-pleaser and kid-friendly, says Michelle Hoover, N.T.P. of UnboundWellness.com. After all, who doesn’t love bacon? Get the recipe at UnboundWellness.com.
Enjoy all of the traditional flavors of an egg roll but without the carb-heavy wrapper. This recipe, courtesy of Hoover, features keto-friendly vegetables like cabbage and onion. The only downside? You can’t hold it all in one hand like a regular egg roll but it’s well worth the messy fingers. Get the recipe at UnboundWellness.com.
Tired of eggs for breakfast? Missing oatmeal? This delicious “porridge,” from Nicole Villeneuve, recipe and nutrition director at PlateJoy.com, will fix all your breakfast cravings. The secret is the high-fat, creamy ricotta cheese as the base which will fill you up and still feels like warm porridge. Best part: It takes five minutes or less to prepare. Get the recipe at PlateJoy.com.
One of the hard parts for people just starting out on keto is finding meals that are simple to make and portable enough to take to work. Your problems are solved with this make-ahead lunch, from Villeneuve. “The egg salad keeps well in the fridge,” she says, “just add spinach at work and you have a lunch that everyone else will envy.” Get the recipe at PlateJoy.com.
It turns out that everyone’s favorite game-day dip is also keto friendly, without any adjustments. This high-fat, sugar-free dish is full of flavor from the vitamin-packed artichokes and spinach with the gooey flavor you crave. For a quick snack or to use on top of chicken for a main dish, use this recipe, courtesy of Catherine Metzgar, Ph.D., R.D., registered dietitian for Virta Health. Get the recipe at Virta Health.
Normally risotto means cups of rice but Metzgar’s recipe makes it keto by using riced cauliflower instead. Add in flavorful mushrooms and rich cheeses and you’ll never miss the carbs. “I love this recipe because it is a low-carb twist on a classic—that means it’s easy to take to picnics or make for your family’s dinner,” she says. Get the recipe at Virta Health.
When it comes to easy dinners, nothing beats a slow cooker (or Instant Pot) and this beef dish has everything you need for a complete keto dinner in one pot, courtesy of Josh Axe, D.C., certified nutritionist and founder of Ancient Nutrition. “This dish has antioxidant herbs like rosemary, oregano, parsley and thyme and apple cider vinegar to help with digestion,” he says. “Grass-fed beef is a healthy source of both protein and fat in this recipe.” Get the recipe at DrAxe.com.
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Canned salmon is an affordable way to enjoy the high-fat, nutrient-rich fish in this dish from Kelly Leveque, a health consultant and author of Body Love. Add in a flavorful mayo, an egg and a breading of ground flax and you have a delicious keto meal in under 15 minutes. Get the recipe at PrimalKitchen.com.
When you think about it, most pizza toppings are already keto-friendly, including all cheeses and meats. What takes pizza off the diet list is the carb-heavy crust. So in this easy recipe from Mandie Brice, a nutrition and healthy living expert, you simply swap out the white flour dough for… bacon! Get the recipe at MandieM.com.
“When we go keto, things like oatmeal are off the table but with a grain-free porridge like this, packed with healthy fats from hemp hearts, we can still indulge in a warm bowl of porridge without the carbs,” says Leanne Vogel of Healthful Pursuit and author of The Keto Diet. “Each serving has over 70 grams of fat and only two grams of net carbs, so it’ll keep just about any keto-er full until dinnertime.” Get the recipe at Manitobaharvest.com.
Chocolate. Bacon. Bliss. This sweet savory combination, courtesy of Vogel, uses hemp hearts, dark chocolate, and bacon. “With the balance of natural electrolytes and just one gram of net carbs per serving, this treat trumps just about any other keto snack out there,” she says. Get the recipe at Manitobaharvest.com.
This twist on the classic Middle Eastern dish swaps out the traditional grains for more keto-friendly fare. Luckily, it still has all the spices that give it the characteristic flavor you know and love. Plus, Vogel says, bumping up the fat content makes it a filling meal. Get the recipe at HealthfulPursuit.com.
Ditch the carb-heavy taco shell or tortilla and you’ll realize that a lot of taco fillings, like lettuce, beef, cheese, and sour cream, are already keto friendly, says Haley Hughes, a registered dietitian. “If you’re craving Mexican this is a super-easy recipe that is keto friendly and delicious,” she says, adding that it’s easy to prep these salads ahead of time for when you need a meal fast. Get the recipe at HaleyFitRd.com.
Looking for a bomb of healthy fats? This salmon recipe, courtesy of Hughes, uses coconut and curry for a fresh, unique flavor. Add the caramelized Brussels sprouts and you have a complete, super-filling and nutritious meal. Get the recipe at HaleyFitRd.com.
Chicken can get so boring. Spice yours up with this take on the restaurant favorite, by Tania Kowalski, Precision Nutrition-certified wellness coach. And with only four ingredients—chicken, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and seasoning—it’s easier to make than it sounds. “It’s filling, a great source of protein, and is crispy without being deep fried,” she says. Get the recipe at Health-Fanatic.com.
“I love chia recipes when going low carb since they are such a great source of energy and omega-3 fats, which so many are deficient in,” Kowalski says. Chia seeds are also rich in iron, fiber, and calcium. Berries are one of the lowest-carb fruits and add a dose of fiber and antioxidants. Get the recipe at Health-Fanatic.com.