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Keto 2.0: A Low-Carb Meal Plan to Achieve Metabolic Flexibility

Leverage the fat-burning benefits of a plant-forward keto plan to help improve your blood sugar and metabolic health. Our 7-day plan is fiber-rich and filling, thanks to healthy fats, plant-based protein, seafood and loads of veg.

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If your health goals include reducing inflammation, improving insulin resistance and losing weight, then a plant-forward keto plan may be what you’re looking for. The original plant-based keto diet, known as Ketotarian, was created by functional medicine expert Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and Intuitive Fasting. Cole found that marrying high-fat aspects of the keto diet with the antioxidants and fiber of a plant-based diet yielded the best of both: less inflammation and better overall health.

Inflammation lies at the root of many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. A plant-centered keto approach to fighting inflammation focuses on non-starchy vegetables, small amounts of low-sugar fruits, nuts and seeds, fermented foods and optional animal foods, such as eggs, seafood and ghee. Total daily carbs should be between 50 and 75 grams (though recommendations vary).

But fighting inflammation isn’t the only benefit of this style of eating. It also helps keep your blood sugar in check and, ultimately, may help you achieve metabolic flexibility. Simply put, this is when your body is able to use whatever fuel it has available: It can use carbs when they’re around, or burn fat for energy when they’re not. You might not think this is a goal worth striving for, but if you’ve ever had a hangry moment, we beg to differ.

“When our body is in a state of balance, we should be going from comfortably full after we eat, to hungry, and back to full again,” explains Cole. “Unfortunately, most people are at a state of imbalance where they are going from uncomfortably full, to hungry, cranky, dizzy, or shaky, and then back to full and uncomfortable again once they eat. The latter is not based on our nutritional needs but rather a blood sugar imbalance.”

Cole has seen improvements to his patients’ blood sugar, thyroid issues and autoimmune diseases when they follow this style of eating in conjunction with time-restricted eating, whereby meals are eaten within a window of time (see “Fasting for Better Blood Sugar” below for more details).

Another benefit of metabolic flexibility? You can start to trust your own hunger signals. “When you start feeling hunger cues, it won’t be because of a blood sugar or hormone imbalance, but because your body actually needs more nutrients and energy,” explains Cole.

We’ve put these principles together in this plan that uses veg sources of protein like tofu, seeds and nuts, as well as omega-3-rich seafood for a delicious menu that helps to support a healthy blood sugar level.

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Fat: The Key to Better Blood Sugar?

Fat is essential to health. It’s a source of energy and helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Plus, it’s needed for healthy cell membranes, the myelin sheaths surrounding nerves and for making hormones. Eating a higher-fat, lower-carb diet is also one of the keys to metabolic flexibility — it trains your body to use fat for fuel in the absence of carbs. But, not all fats are created equal. Here is your cheat sheet to which fats are anti-inflammatory to promote health and which are pro-inflammatory that promote chronic health conditions.

Anti-Inflammatory Fats

  • Fruit oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
  • Fatty fruits such as olives and avocado
  • MCT oil
  • Raw nuts (macadamia, walnuts, pecans) and nut butters
  • Seeds (chia, hemp, pepitas, freshly ground flax) and seed butters
  • Omega-3 fats: salmon, anchovies, sardines
  • Some omega-6 fats (gamma-linoleic fatty acids): evening primrose oil, borage oil

Neutral Fats

  • Saturated fats from grass-fed animals and coconut oil
  • Ghee (clarified butter)

Pro-Inflammatory Fats

  • Trans fats including hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
  • Most omega-6 fats: industrial seed oils like grapeseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower, oil, safflower oil, peanut oil
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Fasting for Better Blood Sugar

Fasting is often paired with lower carb–eating plans as it can help your body reach a state of ketosis, when your body switches to using fat as its main source of fuel. Time-restricted eating is a type of fasting where you narrow the window of time when you consume food (for example, between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm). “Fasting also allows your body to decrease inflammation, which, in turn, also helps you become more metabolically flexible,” explains Cole. Read more on fasting here.

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The Recipes

Key lime pie shake with limes and avocados
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Key Lime Pie Shake

Lightly sweetened with monk fruit, this smoothie aids digestion and provides an antioxidant boost. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin waffles with cinnamon pecans
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Pecans

Wake up to these pumpkin-spiced waffles, made with a blend of almond and coconut flours for a lower-carb start to your day. Get the recipe.

Sesame almond tofu cups
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Sesame Almond–Smothered Tofu Cups

An addictive sesame-almond sauce adds zip to crispy fried tofu and a medley of crunchy veggies, served up in lettuce leaves for an easy handheld dinner or lunch. Get the recipe.

Grits-gone-keto with shrimp
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Grits-Gone-Keto with Shrimp & Garlicky Greens

In this keto take on a Southern classic, we used cauliflower in place of grits. Get the recipe.

Caesar-ish kale salad
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Caesar-ish Kale Salad with Pepitas & Hemp Seeds

Raw cashews form the base for this silky dressing with big Caesar flavor. Get the recipe.

Apple crumble muffins
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Apple Crumble Muffins

The ultimate grab-and-go breakfast, these lightly spiced muffins are made with almond flour to keep them lower in carbs. Get the recipe.

Salmon friend cauli-rice
(Photo: Olimpia Davies)

Salmon Fried Cauli-Rice

Veg-loaded cauli-rice stands in for grains in this salmon bowl. Get the recipe.

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Meal Plan

BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER Nutrients
MONDAY 1 serving Apple Crumble Muffins (save leftovers) 1 serving Sesame Almond–Smothered Tofu Cups (save leftovers) 1 serving Salmon Fried Cauli-Rice (save leftovers) Calories: 1,274, Fat: 48 g, Sat. Fat: 18 g, Carbs: 59 g, Fiber: 19 g, Sugars: 24 g, Protein: 83 g, Sodium: 1,270 mg, Cholesterol: 356 mg
TUESDAY 1 serving Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Pecans (save leftovers) 1 serving Salmon Fried Cauli-Rice (leftovers) 1 serving Grits-Gone-Keto with Shrimp & Garlicky Greens (save leftovers) Calories: 1,409, Fat: 98 g, Sat. Fat: 36 g, Carbs: 52 g, Fiber: 18 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 93 g, Sodium: 1,451 mg, Cholesterol: 585 mg
WEDNESDAY 1 serving Apple Crumble Muffins (leftovers) 1 serving Grits-Gone-Keto with Shrimp & Garlicky Greens (leftovers) 1 serving Sesame Almond–Smothered Tofu Cups (leftovers) Calories: 1,087, Fat: 75 g, Sat. Fat: 21 g, Carbs: 51 g, Fiber: 18 g, Sugars: 18 g, Protein: 64 g, Sodium: 1,236 mg, Cholesterol: 393 mg
THURSDAY 1 serving Apple Crumble Muffins (leftovers) 1 serving Caesar-ish Kale Salad (save leftovers) 1 serving Salmon Fried Cauli-Rice (leftovers) Calories: 1,297, Fat: 84 g, Sat. Fat: 19 g, Carbs: 72 g, Fiber: 20 g, Sugars: 23 g, Protein: 83 g, Sodium: 1,168 mg, Cholesterol: 356 mg
FRIDAY 1 Key Lime Pie Shake 1 serving Salmon Fried Cauli-Rice (leftovers) 1 serving Caesar-ish Kale Salad (leftovers) Calories: 1,094, Fat: 66 g, Sat. Fat: 10 g, Carbs: 73 g, Fiber: 20 g, Sugars: 18 g, Protein: 77 g, Sodium: 1,026 mg, Cholesterol: 170 mg
SATURDAY 1 serving Apple Crumble Muffins (leftovers) 1 serving Sesame Almond–Smothered Tofu Cups (leftovers) 1 serving Grits-Gone-Keto with Shrimp & Garlicky Greens (leftovers) Calories: 1,097, Fat: 75 g, Sat. Fat: 21 g, Carbs: 51 g, Fiber: 18 g, Sugars: 18 g, Protein: 64 g, Sodium: 1,236 mg, Cholesterol: 393 mg
SUNDAY 1 serving Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Pecans (leftovers) 1 serving Grits-Gone Keto with Shrimp & Garlicky Greens (leftovers) 1 serving Sesame Almond–Smothered Tofu Cups (leftovers) Calories: 1,318, Fat: 100 g, Sat. Fat: 35 g, Carbs: 54 g, Fiber: 20 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 66 g, Sodium: 1,479 mg, Cholesterol: 415 mg
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Shopping List

Proteins & Dairy

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 jar marine collagen (TRY: Vital Proteins Marine Collagen)
  • 1 1⁄2 lb skinless wild-caught salmon
  • 14 oz sprouted organic extra-firm tofu
  • 1 lb frozen shrimp

Veggies & Fruits

  • 1 small can pumpkin purée
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • 5 key limes
  • 1 avocado
  • 12 oz riced cauliflower
  • 10 oz shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 6 oz grape tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can water chestnuts
  • 5 oz Japanese eggplant
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 8 oz baby greens (kale, chard, spinach)

Nuts, Seeds & Oils

  • 1 bottle extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar coconut oil
  • 1 bottle toasted sesame oil
  • 1 bag almond flour
  • 1 bag ground flaxseed
  • 1 jar ghee
  • 2 oz raw pecans
  • 1 bag hemp seeds
  • 1 oz raw cashews
  • 1 oz pepitas
  • 1 jar raw almond butter

Pantry Staples & Extras

  • 1 carton unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 bottle pure vanilla extract
  • 1 bag coconut flour
  • 1 bag granulated monk fruit (TRY: Now Foods Organic Monk Fruit 1 to 1 Sugar Replacement)
  • 1 container baking powder
  • 1 bottle coconut aminos
  • 1 bottle rice vinegar
  • 1 bottle nutritional yeast (TRY: Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast)
  • 1 container white miso paste
  • 1 bottle Dijon mustard
  • 1 bottle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 bottle ground cinnamon
  • 1 bottle sea salt
  • 1 bottle ground ginger
  • 1 bottle ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle Cajun seasoning

In addition to this meal plan, you’ll want to make sure to join us on October 18 for the Anti-Inflammatory Keto Reset with Chef Seamus Mullen. Over four weeks, you’ll learn how to lower inflammation and achieve metabolic flexibility, all from a chef who’s experienced the power of an anti-inflammatory reset himself. New recipes, a new keto meal plan, cooking and nutrition lessons – this program will cover it all! Sign up today right here.