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I sent out a survey recently, and I got back a lot of question from you all on how you can avoid cooking on keto. First of all, I'd like to thank you for all of your questions. I'll be answering many of them in my upcoming articles and videos.
This question got me thinking about some of my favorite keto-friendly low-carb meals that require little or no cooking. I want to share those with you because one of the very hardest things about a ketogenic diet is cooking. Many of you, like me, don't have all day to prepare meals and cook. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fit in a couple of hours of cooking each day if you have a full-time job, you're in school, or if you have children (or all of the above).
In this article, I'm going to give you some excellent options for if you want to avoid complex recipes and cooking on a keto diet. This will help you cut back on the amount of time you spend cooking while also staying healthy.
When it comes to weight loss on the keto diet, one of the reasons many people fail is because they try to follow a cookbook with keto recipes. While keto recipes can work for some people, most people just don't have enough time to prepare complicated and time-consuming meals and end up eating bad foods.
Many of these keto-friendly food options are so quick and easy that hopefully, they'll help you avoid going to the drive-thru for a quick (and unhealthy) meal. This is one of the keys to fat-burning. If it's not practical, it's not going to help with weight loss in the long run.
In this article:
- What is the ketogenic diet?
- Why go on a keto diet
- What can you eat on a keto diet?
- Easy keto-friendly foods
What is the ketogenic diet?
Before we jump in and talk about some quick and easy ketogenic meals, I want to talk to you about ketosis and the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, which helps the body run on ketones rather than sugar from sugary foods and carbohydrates. Keep in mind that carbs turn into sugar. So if you're eating carb-heavy and starchy foods like pasta, snack crackers, cereal, bread, and potatoes, you're feeding your body a ton of sugar.
Keto switches the body from using sugar for energy to using ketones. Ketones are a type of acid which is formed when your body starts to burn stored or dietary fat for energy instead of carbs. Ketones are a very efficient type of fuel for the body. The most abundant and beneficial of ketones is beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
When on the average American diet, the body is continuously turning carbs into sugar for energy. However, if you begin a high-fat diet and limit your net carbs, your body automatically starts producing ketones for energy—often referred to as being in ketosis. Once you've reduced your net carb intake and you're in ketosis, your body will, in turn, begin burning a lot of fat.
Contrary to popular beliefs, a high-fat diet does not cause you to gain weight. However, a high carb, low-fat diet will. While on a keto diet, you only need a small number of carbs, which you'll mostly get from vegetables
Along with the keto diet, I also recommend intermittent fasting. You can read more on intermittent fasting here
Why go on a keto diet?
Why is it important that your body goes into ketosis, and how does this help you become healthier? Well, when you cut down on foods with a high carb content, the body naturally becomes much healthier. Too many carbohydrates will make your body store fat, and your blood sugar will skyrocket. This leads to being overweight, having blood sugar problems, and many other issues with your health.
Aside from limiting carbs, there are many health benefits to eating healthy fats and using ketones as your energy source. Your brain and muscles prefer to use keto foods as fuel sources over carbs. You may experience increased mental and physical performance. Chances are, you'll feel more energized and youthful.
What can you eat on a keto diet?
In general, the ketogenic diet is made up of 70% fat, 20% protein, 5% non-starchy vegetable carbs, and 5% of other carbs. This combination will get your body into ketosis and keep it there.
You'll want to eat plenty of healthy fats—between 20 and 50 grams of fat per meal. Some healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, bacon, butter, and full-fat cheese. Keep in mind that you should always choose the full-fat option. Instead of using skim milk dairy products, you want to use things like heavy cream and full-fat cream cheese.
One misconception about keto is that you need a lot of protein. The truth is, the keto diet only calls for a moderate amount of protein. Also, keep in mind that you should only consume organic and grass-fed foods (as opposed to GMOs and grain-fed products). Otherwise, you may end up filling your body with harmful toxins.
You'll want to only consume fruits and vegetables that have few carbs. That means avoiding things like bananas, potatoes, and corn. Instead, stick with low-carb vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, and kale.
Avoid cooking on keto with these easy keto-friendly foods
1. Pre-boiled eggs
Eggs are keto-friendly and easy to have with or as a meal. I personally cook my own boiled eggs, but you can also buy pre-cooked boiled eggs. This makes it really easy to have as a quick meal. Add a little salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. You can also add some butter, mayonnaise, or sour cream to get a boost of fat
2. Simple salads
You don't need complicated keto recipes to make a simple salad. In just a few minutes, you can whip together a salad for an easy meal. With my salads, I throw just a couple things on it and add some olive oil and vinegar. I don't spend a lot of time making a salad.
Vinegar and olive oil are the best way to go, but there are other keto-friendly options. Just stay away from dressings with sugar, unhealthy artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils If there is a sweetener, make sure it's stevia or another sweetener that won't throw you out of ketosis.
You can add other fresh veggies like tomatoes, avocado, spinach, and kale to add a bit more diversity. Salads are also great for having with a meal to help keep you full—especially if you're working on weight loss and you need to curb cravings.
3. Spinach and tuna sautee
This is a very quick and easy addition to your meal plan. Just sautee spinach with some canned tuna. You can do canned wild-caught tuna or even some sardines. Grating some parmesan cheese is a nice addition if you want to add a little more flavor. You can use garlic or garlic powder as well as balsamic vinegar to spice up your sautee even more.
I recently found out that sardines do have omega-3. I sent some sardines off to the lab, and when I got the report back, it showed that they were high in omega-3 fatty acids. So this is an excellent way to get some protein and healthy fats. Plus, they are convenient because you can bring a can of sardines anywhere and have a low-carb keto diet-friendly meal ready to go.
5. Nuts and nut butter
Nuts and nut butter are great additions to any meal. I go through a lot of pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Just stay away from peanut butter. Not only are peanuts not keto-friendly, but they can also contain harmful pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate.
6. Sugar snap peas
Another thing you can do is have sugar snap peas. I'll eat the whole bag—I love these. Snap peas are keto-friendly and relatively low-carb as far as legumes go. They are tasty, nutritious, and really high in vitamin C. If you have snap peas with a meal, you can also cook them with some olive oil and garlic for extra flavor.
7. Celery + hummus or nut butter
I eat a lot of celery with hummus or nut butter. On its own, celery doesn't have too much flavor, and it has a lot of crunch, which makes it a perfect low-carb keto-friendly alternative to crackers. The great thing about this is that it's versatile. You can have celery with hummus on its own as a quick lunch, or you can have it with a meal. Celery and nut butter is also great for after meals.
8. Cheese and summer sausage
I'm from Wisconsin—I do a lot of cheese. I'm always having cheese with meals and as a meal. Cheese is a great low-carb and fatty option to have on the keto diet. It's best to go for the high-fat cheese, not the low-fat cheese. Remember that full-fat options are always better on a keto diet.
9. Protein shakes
Protein shakes are fast and easy to throw together. Even if you don't have time to pause for a lunch break, you can have a keto protein shake as you work. Meal replacement shakes with MCT oil and protein are really great for fast keto meal. You can even sneak some veggies in there like spinach and avocado for extra nutrients.
10. Mushrooms and cheese
Mushrooms with cheese are a quick low-carb keto meal. I like to take mushrooms and grate some fresh cheese and melt the cheese on top. You can add some chives and bacon for extra flavor and protein.
11. Keto fat bombs
On the weekends, I have a little more time to cook. So what I do is I make a large batch of keto fat bombs. I often make a week's worth. Then, I keep them in my freezer to have as a dessert throughout the week. They usually last me until I have time to make them again the next weekend.
The truth is, you don't have to spend a lot of time cooking while you're on a ketogenic diet. If you're always trying to plan keto meals based on a cookbook when you're short on time, you're more likely to give up on your keto diet plan. Always start off by keeping it simple.
Give these keto diet meal options a try and see if they help you save time.