Here's A One-Day Keto Meal Plan (With Vegan Options!) For Optimal Benefits
The ketogenic diet has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Keto is definitely having its zeitgeist-y moment. Beyond pop culture trends, though, this diet has been shown to help with almost everything including reducing inflammation, enhancing brain health, and stabilizing blood sugar. In my functional medicine clinic, I have seen the ketogenic diet do wonders for many people through its focus on a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb ratio of macronutrients.
Typically, this diet is very meat- and dairy-heavy in order to get in enough fat and keep carbs low. This, however, doesn't take into account the sensitivities many people have to meat and dairy, and the conventional keto diet can often lead many people to limit vegetables, which are full of vital nutrients and fiber, for optimal health. In my clinical practice, I've found a high-vegetable version of the keto diet to work the best. I've also found that it's much easier than you think to do a keto diet if you're vegan or vegetarian.
You may be wondering what you can actually eat in a day. Here's what a day on the keto diet might look like, regardless of what your dietary preferences or needs are:
The best keto breakfast options.
When I am not intermittent fasting, I love to take time in the morning to sit down for breakfast before I leave for my day with patients. These are three of my go-to recipes:
Vegan-Keto: Chia Pudding Bowls
Made with coconut or almond milk, chia seeds, and whatever fruit you like, these can be made ahead for a completely plant-based breakfast.
With avocados being such a delicious source of healthy fats, I try to incorporate them into as many meals as possible. All you have to do is cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, crack an egg, and bake.
Pescatarian-Keto: Lox and Egg Scramble
For those who enjoy wild-caught fish, a scramble made with eggs, smoked salmon, and dark leafy greens is the perfect fuel to start your day.
Omnivore-Keto: Meat Lovers Omelet
This is an easy breakfast as it can be modified to whatever meat and veggies you have on hand. My favorite combo right now is nitrate-free bacon and ground sausage or leftover free-range chicken with some spinach and mushrooms and fried in ghee.
The best keto lunch options.
Like many of us, one of the last things I want during a busy workweek is a lunch that takes a lot of effort to prepare. I like to pack lunches that I prepped before work that just need to be reheated to avoid the last-minute temptation to order out.
Vegan-Keto: Roasted Veggies + Olive Basil Pesto
I can roast a whole tray of veggies that will last for the week and prepare a jar of pesto made with fat-loaded olives and pine nuts. You can add some fermented organic, non-GMO soy like tempeh or natto.
Make a frittata ahead of time and load it up with olives and veggies, then top it with some nut cheese. All that's left to do is cut a slice—or two!—and pop in the microwave.
Pescatarian-Keto: Tuna Salad
I love tuna salad because I can dress it up with whatever ingredients I have on hand and it can be made very quickly. I typically mix a can of wild-caught tuna with avocado-oil mayonnaise and some sunflower or pumpkin seeds and place it over a bed of dark leafy greens.
Omnivore-Keto: Burger Salad
Burger salads are a great option for lunch as you can make grass-fed beef patties ahead of time and reheat in the microwave. All you have to do is add some dark leafy greens and whatever other toppings you are feeling for the day. I always make sure to add some avocado, though, for extra healthy fats.
The best keto snack options.
If you haven't guessed by now, my motto around food is no fuss and delicious. For a snack in between patients, a homemade batch of grain-free granola, made with a variety of mixed nuts, seeds, and dried unsweetened coconut flakes for even more healthy fats, is my go-to. Mixed and roasted with some cinnamon and coconut oil, it's enough to make me feel like I'm getting real indulgence in every bite. Some of my other favorite quick keto snacks include:
- Single-serve packets of nut butter
- Canned wild-caught tuna or salmon
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Unsweetened coconut or almond milk yogurt
- Homemade fat bombs
- Grass-fed jerky
The best keto dinner options.
Dinner is one of my favorite meals of the day. I love to end my day with my family over a nutritious meal. These are all staples in my house:
Vegan-Keto: Veggie Lettuce Wraps
For nights when my kids are running around to various activities, it is important to have a go-to quick dinner. I like to roast up a few low-carb vegetables, place in lettuce wraps, and top with some guac.
Vegetarian-Keto: Cauliflower Fried Rice Bowls
For another quick dinner, I love to fry up some cauliflower rice in a skillet (Trader Joe's has pre-made ones, or you can rice a head of cauliflower in a food processor) with some coconut aminos and red pepper and then top with a fried egg.
Pescatarian-Keto: Ginger-Coconut Salmon
Wild-caught salmon is one of my favorite pescatarian choices. I like to grill a salmon fillet seasoned with ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper, and then top with a coconut milk and coconut-aminos-based sauce for an extra boost of healthy fats.
Omnivore-Keto: Beef Stew
In the winter months, I love a bowl of warm soup. Add some grass-fed beef chunks to a crockpot with some bone broth, kale, mushrooms, carrots, and seasonings, and come home to an already-made meal. Soups are also a great way to sneak in extra healthy fats, since you can add as much avocado or coconut oil you want to the broth.
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He has holds a level 2 Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) certification. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the New York Times bestseller Intuitive Fasting.