How to design a Keto Meal


(Connor Lidell) #1

I’ve been off-and-on Keto for the better part of a decade now. And, recently, I have realized that I can’t play around anymore. I’m getting older and going in and out of keto is emotionally exhausting.

But, one of the hardest parts of Keto for me is designing a meal from the ground up. Especially a meal that can be prepped in advance over the weekend before a long week of work.

So, I’d like to share my “formula” for coming up with a Keto meal that you can use during the induction period of your Keto life. Let’s say I’m referring to the first month or so when you are just starting out.

Most people should have 4-6oz of protein at each meal. You could also follow an average of 30g protein. However, alter this to your specific needs. Perhaps you are doing a lower protein amount. Or, maybe higher. So, begin your meal prepping process with choosing a protein that can fit that criteria for a serving. 4oz chicken, beef, pork, bacon… or get creative… 3 eggs, a scoop of protein powder… lots of options.

Then, you’ll want to enhance your protein with fat and carbs suited to your allotment. If you have chicken, maybe you want to put it on a salad (carbs) with some dressing (fat). Maybe you’ll add some cheese (fat). Keep the carbs under 20g (net or total, to your taste) for the day. I eat two meals a day during my intermittent fasting window, so I have about 10g carbs per meal.

See when designing a meal, usually the protein determines how the carbs and the fat come into play. If you are eating bacon, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for your fat to be olive oil… simply because bacon produces its own fat and can be paired with vegetables to be quite delicious.

Keeping it this simple will really help you through the first few weeks of induction:
Protein (main focus) --> Fat and Carb choices to complement the protein
Keep the carbs beneath 20g a day

Also, if you feel like your brain can only handle crafting one meal for a day, you have a couple of options. One, you can make one meal but make enough of it that it will cover at least two meals’ worth.
Two, make one big meal and make a keto shake for the second meal. Or, heck, make two shakes if you go for three meals a day.

Lastly, I will say… especially in the induction phase when you are eating a LOT of fat, please consider using your available carbs to up the fiber in your diet. As much as you can tolerate, eat very fibrous foods. I’d also recommend trying keto-friendly yogurt. You gotta care for your gut when making a large dietary shift!

I hope these tips help anybody out as they’re just starting. If your first two weeks are just Protein choice + Salad with fat and more fat on the side, then that’s JUST FINE!! Keep it Simple, Silly!


(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #2

Welcome to the forums. This is a very detailed first post. It was flagged by our spam software, however, so I removed the product references.

Please be aware that your protein recommendation seems off. Since most meats are about 1/4 protein, 4-6 oz. of protein equates to a pound to a pound-and-a-half of meat, and you recommend this amount per meal, which seems like a lot of protein for most people. Of course, later in that same paragraph, you refer to “4 oz chicken, beef” etc., which would be roughly 28 g of protein, which is too little for a lot of people on these forums, and too much for others.

The recommendation on this site, following Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, a well-known researcher in the field, is 1.0-1.5 g of protein per kg of lean body mass a day. Taking myself as an example, I weigh about 100 kg, probably 70 g of which is lean mass. Therefore I should be eating a total of 70-105 g of protein a day, which is 280-420 g, or 10-15 oz., of meat.

On the whole, however, your advice is very reminiscent of the mantra of Dr. Benjamin Bikman, another prominent researcher, who says, “Control carbohydrate, prioritise protein, fill in with fat.”

In the experience of people on this community, fibre is a mixed blessing. While we have quite a few members who find they cannot do without dietary fibre, an equal number find that fibre causes them problems, especially if they have IBS or Crohn’s disease. Please don’t be surprised if you receive strong responses from people in either situation.

(Robin) #3

I’ll be a bit more blunt here. A brand new member introducing himself as the expert with all the answers is not a good start. You would be better advised to see what we have to offer and perhaps learn from some of our equally experienced members.

We treat newbies kindly, we answer their questions and make suggestions. We do not believe any of us have THE answer for ALL of us. But we support each other, without “mansplaining”. We are a diverse group which thrives on interactions and respect.

I hope you’ll take the time to become part of our forum as an equal participant, just not the authority. You’ll have time to share when you engage in conversations and I’m sure your insights will benefit the discussion.

Sorry for the mom voice. You ARE welcome to join in.

(Connor Lidell) #4

Sorry for the miscommunication re: Protein amounts. I was using Protein not as a macro but a category of food… I wasn’t clear and that’s my bad. When I say Protein, I was thinking a functional piece of food that serves as the predominant source of the protein macro for the meal.

My intention was to mirror pretty much exactly what you laid out in your response. I need about 125-135g of protein per day. So, I would try to get in 40-50g per meal were I doing three meals a day.

(Connor Lidell) #5

Hi! My intention was not to come off as an expert in anything. I am hoping to provide overwhelmed beginners a way to strip down what is a very complex subject (putting together a meal) and give a simple formula.

When I was first starting out on keto, I allowed analysis paralysis to keep me from advancing forward. But, the truth is that keto can be as simple as 1+2=3. That was my only goal with the post above.

I feel like I’ve somehow pressed the wrong button or something… so I will apologize and won’t make a post like this one again. I am autistic, and it’s very difficult for me to understand tone especially over text on the internet.

On another note, I’m actually not new here at all. I’ve been a member for years… but I can’t seem to find my old account after having been inactive for a year or two. It is nice to meet you, Robin! I’m excited to actually become a participant in the conversation here.

(Joey) #6

@Connor Welcome (back).

Candidly, I got lost a bit in your well-intended introduction to how to start keto (posted on a forum of keto eaters). But it sounds like you’ve had some useful experiences to share.

For those who’ve been at it for a few years, the simpler we keep things the more successful (and enjoyable) this WOE seems to go. :vulcan_salute:

(Connor Lidell) #7

Ah well, I seem to have totally and utterly failed in my mission. Hahah.

(Robin) #8

@SomeGuy said it best… we are already a community of well established keto eaters. (And our good friends, the carnivores.)

I realize your intentions are good. Thanks for the explanation. You are one among many here who have figured out what works for them. I’m glad you’re here.

I have an adult son with Autism, so I get your point about tone being hard to decipher online. Just think of it this way, it’s a conversation, not a presentation.


(Robin) #9

Also… if you want to revive your old account, it may be possible. Was it under the same name? If you are interested in finding it, one of our more tech savvy admins might be able to help. That would NOT be me. Not tech savvy.

I’m just here to scold people and make them feel bad. (Joking, Connor.)
No worries.

(Allie) #10

Not sure that worked… simple is, “select meat, cook, eat”. This is what I was doing before I even knew keto was a thing and it is how I discovered keto as a lifestyle.

No formula needed.


I designed many things in my life but never a meal :smiley: I call it planning - but I do little of it as well, at least nowadays.

My style is simpler - and more complicated at the same time. How could I know how hungry I will be and when hungry, what I will able to swallow? But if it’s just planning or good times when I have no appatite problems, it’s more like…
20-25oz meat (even if I won’t eat it all, it’s better to have a bit more. I usually eat somewhat fatty meat so this amount should be enough for a day - though it matters what else I am eating, of course), some eggs. It’s a nice start and if I want to add something (sour cream, usually ;)), I can.
Zero fiber sounds perfect to me personally but maybe I eat a spring onion, I have my own and they are nice. But it’s not planned, planned is zero plants and I add a tiny something if I fancy it, no harm done but it doesn’t matter nutritionally. (My higher-fiber days mean I lost my way and ate peanuts again… It’s one reason I prefer carnivore where I don’t touch them. I have this weird addiction where I very easily stop eating it for weeks and never miss it but if it’s allowed… I still don’t eat a ton but way more than I should.)
Okay, I had fiber rich keto first but some people skip that phase. I never cared about my fiber consumption as my body is always happy with everything.
Oh yep. It’s easier for healthier, sturdier ones. For sensitive people, even your salad may be poison. Fat/protein ratio may be important too. I don’t think these things are ever really simple. But we may simplify it for our individual case if we know enough.

The above amount is for a day for me but my first meal is usually the vast majority of this, actually. I need much protein for my first meal, 100-120g sounds nice but if my meal is tiny, it can be significantly lower. But 30g would make me so hungry, no matter what! But this is individual, you wrote about that.

And really SIMPLE means… I make as much roast as fits into my oven and eat it when hungry :smiley: (Maybe I boil 50 eggs too). That lasts for almost a week…? Because I only have a mini oven but a bigger one and meat is dense…
I never could do that longer term, sadly. But I can do this on some days as a base. Most if I use other egg dishes but that’s a tiny complication - though something that is worth it very much.

But of course, meat and veg is simple too. A salad is complicated for me and never liked it, grabbing some raw veg was my way after I started to eat meat :slight_smile:
Yep, vegetarian keto wasn’t that simple. I couldn’t just eat 20 eggs as protein.

It can be complex, it actually is for me (and your formula doesn’t help when my appetite is low and I need to find the very few items I am willing to eat. I usually use pancakes then, it’s my jolly joker or was until recently) BUT eating is what we have been doing since we were kids, it’s not THAT hard when the rules are established! Maybe in some extremely restrictive diet where the items aren’t even really nutritious… But keto or carnivore? Simple enough.
And then comes the individual complication. I NEED many-course meals, I can’t do it without them, there is very few dishes I am able to eat 1600 kcal of at once. And that’s my preferred size of meal.

Protein source, fat and vegs, it’s a very very known simple formula already I think…

And I like to ignore the last 2 as it’s me and you give me protein sources only and I already overeat fat… But at least it makes things a bit easier :smiley:
By the way, multiple meals… That was a huge complication for me. To figure out HOW to cut my daily food into two… It didn’t help that it was impossible for me, I got too tiny meals.
So even this simple looking thing can be complex. I still am on the fence about TMAD/OMAD, I just can’t do it right.

Sorry I had too many thoughts again.

(Ethan) #12

These are great points. I’ve also heard people mentioning using “target lean mass” instead of “current” before. What are your thoughts there? When the difference between target and current is small, it wouldn’t be much, but when the difference is huge, I suppose that could be an issue.

For example, I weigh 93 kg, and about 68 kg of that is lean right now. My target weight is 80 kg, with about 62 kg of that being lean. With “current” values, my target protein consumption should be 68-102g, and with “target” values, my protein consumption should be 62-93g. I actually have no clue what I eat, though, since I eat carnivore to fullness and fast 3 days a week.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #13

Phinney and Volek use the concept of “reference weight” as a guide to protein intake, and the tables they publish are derived from the old Metropolitan Life Insurance Company tables of height and weight that used to adorn every doctor’s office. The tables were compiled long before the current dietary guidelines, so they are based on people with a certain body composition, and thus, lean mass is sort of built into the calculations.

The point of eating protein is to provide enough amino acids for the body to make repairs, build new muscles, and so forth. The body also needs nitrogen for other purposes, such as regulating blood pressure. The only source of nitrogen of which the body can make use is amino acids; otherwise, we could meet our protein needs simply from breathing, since the earth’s atmosphere is mostly nitrogen.

If one is not trying to build muscle, it might work to eat only enough protein to support a lower lean mass, but I tend to feel that protein intake should be based on current lean mass. Now, a person with a lot of fat to carry around is going to have a bit more muscle than would be needed for a better body composition, but I’m not sure the difference is really worth worrying about.

Another factor is that people’s nitrogen needs are quite divergent, and the protein intake recommendations are based on an average. So some people will need less protein than the average, while others will more. This is why, to my mind, there is a debate about whether protein or fat is more satiating. I suspect that the people who find that they are hungry till they eat more protein are the people who need more. If Raubenheimer and Simpson are correct, then we have an instinct for how much protein we need, so until that need is satisfied, we are going to want more food, regardless of whether or not we are eating enough fat to meet our energy needs.

Remember that a lot of these issues got confused back in the days, over a century ago, when all we could measure was how much heat was released when our food was burned in a bomb calorimeter. Our picture of what nutrients do in the body has changed a great deal over the years since then, and yet we still talk about caloric intake as though it’s relevant. We need to be thinking in terms of providing our body with (a) enough structural material (amino acids), and (b) enough energy (fatty acids or glucose).


You want to lose muscles? Wow. I would want all I can have! (I really shouldn’t be so lazy on my workouts.) But if you don’t use them more, you lose a little indeed when you lose weight as you won’t need as much…
Interesting question, I always thought we should consider our current lean mass but it’s a range anyway so it shouldn’t be super fixed anyway…
Your target and current are very close to each other so either range seems to work if you ask me. As long as you are able to eat so very little protein. I hardly can go below 120g and my lean mass is maybe… Lean is without ANY fat? Below 50kg then. I actually use my target “ideal” weight for my current lean mass (not like I know how much is that but as I have little muscles, I can make an educated guess).
Considering I don’t even track now and that I won’t stop eating protein just because I go over 2, 3 or 4 g/kg for LBM, it doesn’t matter much… I used to track a lot and I can safely say my average is below the 3.3g/kg limit and my body says high protein is great so I just eat however I feel like and my protein is okay. I try to eat as little protein as I comfortably can without overeating fat like crazy as wastefulness isn’t good but I don’t have much control over my macros. My protein is high, period.

Unless you have problems with eating enough or have some condition or sensitivity or whatever and you mess with some specific fat/protein ratio your body wants, you probably eat a right amount of protein on carnivore, I would think… But what do I know? I get a nice amount of protein on each and every diet I am able to do. And I know few people overeat protein. If that is your worry.
Though if you fast, you need more on your normal days… But it should be easy on carnivore… Most of us probably eat enough protein there.

(Ethan) #15

My target is based on the fact that I can’t build muscle mass like I used to, since I can’t lift heavy weights. Thus, I adjusted my targets to have a higher body fat percentage. So while I need to lose about 30 pounds to reach my target weight, reaching my target body fat percentage would mean 11 of those 30 pounds would be “lean mass”.


Hi Connor.

Glad to welcome you to this website pantheon of metabolic and nutritional ideas.

You will find, that different things work for different people on here…but you need to ask yourself, at least I did, what is the common denominator for successful reversal of (T2), and other metabolic diseases? A bit of perusal and you’ll find out. It helped me and many others.

But, I hear you.
And things will be simpler as you progress, and meal prep and cooking will become second nature to you.

I can vouch for that.

Good luck.


The first week I started Keto and was blind as a bat wandering aimlessly on a somewhat uninformed internet, I stumbled upon this forum. It was day 3. I was helped immensely by posts specifically geared to speak to and target only those new to this diet, not those already in the know. This post was made under “Newbies” and “Getting Started” so I don’t believe Connor ever intended to come off as a know-it-all over the veterans here. Any mistakes he made in his logic could just be kindly corrected in replies as they have been.

I would like to sheepishly point out that I would have found this post very helpful when I was on day 3. A lot that I learned that first week wasn’t entirely accurate either, not even about the %s, but it got me rolling and kept me engaged. I fine-tuned my knowledge by reading all the replies and more than just a single post, and combining it all. I am a very quick study, and I probably could have started a thread with inspiring instructions for newbies after just my first week, and I sort of did that on another medium. If anyone needed to correct anything I said, it was fine with me and I welcomed it. I was trying to keep my energy going and help those who had only one day under their belt, because I was closer to their first week of experiences than those who have been doing this diet for a long time. But I sense that it may not have made the veterans here very happy had I tried to inspire on this forum, even though I can learn something well and turn around and teach it as if I had been applying it for years. My intentions would have been to help others brand new to overcome that which might make them give up.

I just wanted to say this because the replies in this thread at first read in a way that might scare off others like me from ever trying to contribute or inspire before we are officially experts ourselves, if we don’t know the precise correct way to word it that you all approve of. It would be kinder to simply correct the misinformation with “In my experience…” or “What a lot of us have learned …” type approach while being thankful for his wanting to pitch in and help others. Thankfully you all did eventually express that.


Good points.