Need a sample diabetic meal plan for starting a low carb ketogenic diet? Try this 3 day plan created by a registered dietician.
This post was written by Mary Paley, RDN, LD, CDE of Fearless Keto. She's a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the MGH Institute of Health Professtions. Her current focus in on the benefits of ketogenic diets for both obesity and diabetes management.
For many diabetics, the term ketogenic diet conjures up a daunting image of a “steak on a plate” and extreme deprivation. However, the Keto Diet is actually one the most inclusive and LEAST restrictive eating styles I have encountered in my 30+ years as a nutritionist.
The Keto Diet includes a much greater variety of foods than a conventional diabetic meal plan. Medical organizations have historically recommended a low-fat/high-fiber diet for both non-diabetics and diabetics. However, most people still struggle to get started - this is where this meal plan comes in!
My article, 8 Reasons Why the Keto Diet is Ideal for Managing Type 2 Diabetes, summarizes the benefits of the Keto Diet for Type 2 diabetics. Now it’s time to put all of that knowledge into practice. This is why I have compiled a 3 day meal plan for Type 2 diabetics starting on Keto. I’ll start by explaining why I chose each of these particular Low Carb Yum recipes.
General Criteria for Creating a Keto Diabetic Meal Plan:
Many of these recipes can be prepared in advance and stored away (frozen, refrigerated) for future use.
Ease of Preparation
Not including cooking/baking time, all of the recipes take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
Most all of these recipes lend themselves to “tweaking” for either personal taste purposes or for adding additional nutrients. For example, you can add protein powder or collagen to the instant hot chocolate, pancakes, muffins, mug brownies, and biscuit recipes, as well as nuts/seeds to many of these recipes.
In addition to a low-carbohydrate content, which is key to managing diabetes and improving overall health, each recipe closely approximates the recommended macronutrient (“macro”) profile of the ketogenic diet: 5-10% of total calories from carbohydrates, 70-80% from fat, and 15-20% from protein.
The calorie content of each of the meal plan days is on the low-end of what I typically recommend for my diabetic patients, but each day allows some latitude for either a larger portion at meals or additional snacks. Low Carb Yum is filled with recipes for high-fat/low-carb snacks that would be perfect to add for boosting calorie content.
This is a given for anyone starting on a ketogenic diet, so it’s a great thing that all of the recipes on Low Carb Yum fall under this category.
The high fat content of the ketogenic diet also has its own built-in hunger suppressing effect, and much to the surprise of those who start on Keto, one of the first things they experience is a sharp drop in their food cravings.
In addition to healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, many of the recipes feature nuts, seeds, and avocado, which are not only great sources of healthy fat and fiber, but are also packed with vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds that offer many health benefits for both weight and blood sugar management.
Adequate Protein Content
One of the many benefits of eating protein is its great satiety factor, helping you fill up faster and keeping you full for longer. Including protein at meals also helps blunt the blood sugar spike that often occurs after eating. This makes it especially important for diabetics. Side note: these spikes all but disappear on the ketogenic diet.
Highlight Fish and Seafood
Whenever possible, I purposefully seek out recipes that include fish and seafood. Although they both contain the very healthy omega-3 fatty acids, the concentration of omega-3 is greatest in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
The health benefits of omega-3’s extend far beyond their heart-healthy reputation. New research reveals that women who consume a diet rich in omega-3 fats have a healthier mix of gut bacteria. These bacteria have been found to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. For these and several other reasons, I strongly recommend aiming for at least three servings of fish/seafood per week.
Spotlight Whole Fat Dairy
Foods containing whole fat dairy can make meeting your quota of fat (without going over on your carb intake) much easier. For this reason, I chose several recipes that feature some form of whole fat dairy.
The saturated fat in dairy should not be a concern. There is a growing consensus among medical professionals that milk fat is no longer on the confirmed list of unhealthy fats. A recent study even showed that whole fat dairy consumption is actually linked to a reduced risk of major cardiovascular disease. So that should alleviate the primary concern for most Type 2 diabetics.
Feature Low-Carb Vegetables in the Main and/or Side Dish
Prioritizing vegetable intake should be the primary objective for any eating style regardless of your health goals. In line with this “Nutrition Prescription”, a well-formulated Keto Diet is one that incorporates 3-5+ servings of nutrient-dense, higher fiber, low-carbohydrate vegetables.
Unsweetened dark chocolate is a nutritional powerhouse to be enjoyed at any opportunity. It can be consumed in the form of Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate at the start of your day. Or, enjoy it as a rich and delicious ending to your day with a Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake. One of the many health benefits of this superfood is that it improves blood sugar, which is especially important for Type 2 diabetics.
3 Day Sample Diabetic Meal Plan for Starting Keto
Day 1 Totals: 1259 calories, 49.9g total carbs, 24.9g fiber, 25g net carbs, 56.7g protein, 99.4g fat (7.94% carbs, 18.01% protein, 71.06% fat)
- Oat Fiber Buttermilk Pancakes
- Chicken Sausage - Nitrate Free + Hormone Free
- Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap (served on cabbage leaf)
- Sheet Pan Low Carb Fajitas with Shrimp (meal serving two people)
- Almond Flour Low Carb Tortillas Egg Free Keto Wraps (two tortillas)
- ½ cup sliced avocado
Day 2 Totals: 1385 calories, 46.5g total carbs, 32.1g fiber, 14.4g net carbs, 59.6g protein, 113g fat (4.16% carbs, 17.21% protein, 73.43% fat)
Day 3 Totals: 1369 calories, 35.7g total carbs, 19.5g fiber, 16.2g net carbs, 70.4g protein, 100.3g fat (4.73% carbs, 20.57% protein, 65.94% fat)
For more, take a look at the definitive guide on the ketogenic diet and diabetes at Diabetes Strong.
About the Author
Mary Paley, RDN, LD, CDE, is a Registered Dietitian. She has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Her current focus is on the benefits of ketogenic diets for both obesity and diabetes management.
Mary has worked in a number of institutional settings for 30+ years. During that time, she has interacted with tens of thousands of people with various health disorders. The vast majority within the triad of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Although she was obliged to give her patients recommendations from the Standard American Diet, she intuitively knew that many of the diet tips were invalid or obsolete. She prefaced her advice with views based on her own observations and valuable feedback from her patients and clients.
Recent research has finally helped to vindicate her unconventional viewpoints on nutrition that supported more low-carb foods with healthy fats. Mary currently shares her knowledge and inspirational views on Fearless Keto.