The Keto Meal Template For a Perfect Keto Meal
What does the perfect Keto meal look like?
While this might seem like an impossible question to answer, it’s actually very easy!
The web is full of tons of complicated keto recipes using unfamiliar ingredients. But I’m a fan of simple. Super easy Keto is the way to go. And you can have all the variety in your perfect meal that you want.
All you have to do to plan the perfect Keto meal is follow my keto diet meal template.
Basic Ketogenic Meal Template (BKMT):
- A palm-sized portion of protein
- A handful of non-starchy vegetables
- At least a couple of spoonfuls of fat
That’s it! It’s really that easy. And if you follow this template for all your meals, you can totally stay Keto and never worry about tracking your macros.
For more detail, keep reading!
Palm-sized portion of protein
Protein is important. It is essential for life. Getting the right amount for your body is important for success on a Keto diet. You need enough to feel satiated and to maintain muscle mass, but Keto is not a high protein diet.
Like Goldie Locks, you want not too much and not too little protein. Luckily, your body can help you determine what is the right amount for you.
Take a look at the palm of your hand. A piece of meat that has about the same surface area and is also about the same thickness as your hand is probably going to be perfect for you.
A larger person is going to need more and this is reflected in the larger size of their hand. Similarly, a smaller person will have a smaller hand and need a smaller portion of meat.
If you were to weigh your protein with a kitchen scale, most people are going to fall somewhere around 4 to 6 ounces before cooking.
Any meat, fish or eggs will work!
Some people practice Keto while eating a vegetarian or vegan diet. I am not as familiar with that way of eating, and I personally believe that animal protein is important for health.
For vegetarians, if you eat eggs and cheese, you’ll get a good amount of your protein from those sources.
Handful of non-starchy vegetables
You want to make sure you are eating non-starchy vegetables, so focus on vegetables that grow above ground. Avoid vegetables that grow below ground, grains and legumes.
For a list of Keto-friendly foods, check out my article What Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
By keeping your portion of keto friendly vegetables to one handful at each meal, you’ll easily keep your carb intake under 25 net grams.
Keeping carbs low is the key to getting into and staying in ketosis, so a little personal judgment will go a long way here. When first starting on Keto, everyone should keep their carbs under 25 net grams, regardless of their size.
Since hand size varies, exercise a little personal judgment when eye-balling your vegetable portion size. If you know your hands are tiny, your veggie serving will look bigger compared to your hand than someone with large hands.
If you were to measure your vegetable serving, a ½ – ¾ cup portion will work for most cooked vegetables.
There is a little variance you want to keep in mind with vegetables.
Not all vegetables are created equal when it comes to carbs, so the same size handful of one vegetable may have more carbs than other veggies.
The following veggies are Keto-friendly and nutritious but on the higher side for carbs. Either keep your portions on them smaller or only eat them occasionally.
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
Raw salad greens is one veggie that you can eat all you want!
Mixed spring greens have only 2 net carbs per 3 cup serving. Plus, they contain good amounts of magnesium and potassium, which are important electrolytes to consume on Keto. And you can easily top your spring salad greens with high quality fat like my favorite Keto Caesar Salad Dressing recipe!
At least a couple of spoonfuls of fat
Fat is very important, especially at the beginning of your Keto journey!
When you are first transitioning into ketosis, you are teaching your body that you want it to burn fat as its primary fuel source. To do that, you lower your carbs so that it doesn’t have those to burn any more. And you also increase your dietary fat, so that your body has plenty of its new fuel source and knows that it is safe to start burning fat.
After you’ve been Keto for a while and your body is fully transitioned and efficient at using ketones (about six weeks for most people), if weight loss is your goal, you’ll be ready to lower your fat intake a bit. Eat only enough to feel satisfied, and then your body will burn your stored body fat for fuel!
At the beginning, though, eat plenty of fat! When using the BKMT, make sure to include at least a couple of spoonfuls of fat with each meal.
Some people struggle with adding fat because it goes against the Conventional Wisdom of low-fat eating that we’ve been taught for decades.
I personally believe that the low-fat diet is one of the worst things to happen to our collective health.
On Keto, eat good, natural, healthy fats and your body will thank you! If you need ideas for fats you can include, make sure to read my Fat Booster post.
“A couple of spoonfuls” doesn’t have to be literal. Some fats, like olive oil, can be measured in spoonfuls. Others, like avocado or cheese, need to be pictured in an amount similar to a spoonful.
If you need a visual, a portion of fat about the size of your thumb is a good measure similar to a spoonful.
Also, if you choose fattier cuts of meat, such as pork ribs or ribeye steak, count the fat that is in the meat as one of your spoonfuls.
The ketogenic meal template works for all cuisines!
You can make lots of meals with plenty of variety using the Basic Ketogenic Meal Template.
Here are some examples of keto meals using the template.
As you can see, these keto meals can be as fancy or a simple as you need.
Want to keep it really simple, consider these super easy keto meals:
- A bowl of mixed salad greens topped with a couple of hard boiled eggs, cheese and olive oil.
- Chicken with guacamole and broccoli with lots of butter.
- Shrimp with alfredo sauce (recipe here, or you can find a low carb brand at the store) and asparagus with parmesan cheese.
- Hamburger patty with cheese, bacon and lettuce wrap.
To dress up these simple meals, you can add herbs and spices.
Taco seasoning, curry powder, lemon pepper, cajun seasoning and Italian seasoning are great pantry staples to keep around. Add them to your fats to create a sauce or sprinkle them on your meats and veggies, along with butter or olive oil.
Don’t forget the salt!
Salt doesn’t just give flavor to your food. It also provides vital sodium, which is the most important electrolyte to make sure you get plenty of while on Keto.
For more ideas on how to apply the BKMT, read my article on Eating Out While on Keto.
What about snacks?
If weight loss is your goal, it’s best to not snack. And as you progress, your appetite will decrease.
If you follow your hunger, you will most likely find that you don’t need to snack after the initial transition into ketosis. But until that happens, if you need to snack, make it mostly protein and fat. I made a list of great, real food snack ideas here.
No macro tracking? No problem!
I usually suggest that you keep track of everything you eat and watch your macros when you first start on Keto. Learning portion sizes and approximately how many carbs, protein and fat are in your favorite foods is powerful information.
However, it’s not necessary to track to be in ketosis.
If you are using the Basic Ketogenic Meal Template and not snacking, there is no need to track.
Stick to real, whole foods and keep your portion sizes in line: a palm-sized portion of protein, a handful of non-starchy vegetables, and at least a couple of spoonfuls of fat.
Simple real foods have less carbs. Processed foods are where it gets tricky.
If you choose to incorporate processed foods, I highly suggest that you track your food using an app like Carb Manager or MyFitnessPal. Processed foods contain sneaky carbs and can derail your efforts.
If you truly use the BKMT for all your meals, though, you’ll be on track, no tracking required!
Disclaimer: While I have been keto for over a decade and have guided thousands of people through starting a keto diet, I am neither a licensed nutritionist nor medical professional. I never prescribe diets. I only share my personal experiences and those of my clients for informational purposes only. Nutrition details are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical nutritional data. You should consult your medical professional before making any major changes in the way you eat.