Our top 8 weight loss meal plans & meal prep tips
How do you plan healthy meals that will help you lose weight? Start with a ketogenic (keto) or low-carb diet — two of the most effective approaches for weight loss, based on science.1
Following a meal plan can help make your weight loss journey easier.
You’ll no longer need to spend time figuring out what to eat, searching for recipes, or making grocery lists.
To get started, just choose any of the meal plans that best fits your lifestyle and preferences. Better yet, use our personalized meal plan generator, which takes meal planning to the next level when it comes to simplicity and customization.
We’ve included our best meal planning tips in the next section. You can also go straight to the meal plans.
How to plan meals for weight loss
When planning your meals, these are our top tips to help you lose weight:
- Build nutritious keto or low-carb meals:
- Start with protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, or tofu.2
- Add vegetables like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, or other low-carb vegetables.
- Include enough fat for flavor and fullness
- Use low-carb veggie substitutes in place of high-carb favorites:
- Try a wrap of lettuce in place of bread for sandwiches and burgers.
- Boil or steam cauliflower until tender, then blend with butter, cream, and salt to make cauliflower mash in place of mashed potatoes. Serve with steak, turkey, or any protein you like.
- Cut zucchini into spirals to make noodles, aka “zoodles” instead of pasta. Sauté them in olive oil and garlic. Then, top with your favorite pasta sauce, or with chicken, salmon, or another favorite protein.
- Shred cauliflower and pan-fry in olive oil to make cauliflower “rice” and serve alongside your protein of choice.
- Cook double portions: Save time planning, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up by making two dinner servings. Refrigerate half to enjoy for lunch the next day. All Diet Doctor meal plans have this option, as it is one of the easiest ways to keep on track and reduce meal prep stress.
- Plan keto meals for the quickest results: Although both keto and low-carb diets can help people lose weight, it is possible — but not proven — that eating keto may be more effective.3 On a ketogenic diet, most people eat 20 or fewer grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day.4 Therefore, when planning keto meals, aim to stay below 7-10 grams of net carbs per meal (depending on whether you eat 2 or 3 meals per day).
*Note: If you’re brand new to keto or low-carb eating, you’ll likely need to boost your intake of fluids and salt the first week — and possibly the second as well — in order to minimize side effects known as the “keto flu.”5 Salting food liberally or drinking bouillon or broth once or twice a day can really help.6
- For more gradual weight loss and more variety, plan low-carb meals: While moderate (20 to 50 grams of net carbs) and liberal (50 to 100 grams of net carbs) low-carb diets may produce slower weight loss results, they offer more flexibility than stricter keto diets. A low-carb breakfast might include some fruit, and a low-carb dinner might have below-ground vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes.
Our 8 best weight loss meal plans
Diet Doctor has more than 150 different keto and low-carb weekly meal plans for weight loss and health improvement.
You can find low-cost meal plans for those on a budget or international-inspired meal plans for those who like a variety of culinary tastes. Egg-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian low-carb meal plans are also available.
We provide the weekly plans and recipes, generate shopping lists, and give you the complete nutritional breakdown. Although our meal plans are a Diet Doctor member benefit, we also offer a free keto meal plan (see number 2 below).Not yet a member? Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial and you’ll have access to all of our meal plans for an entire month. Start FREE trial!
So, what are our most popular, tried-and-true weight loss meal plans? Here is our list of member favorites. First on the list is our new personalized meal planner.
2. Two-week free keto meal plan
Why is a keto diet so effective for losing weight?
First, it usually suppresses appetite and helps you to naturally eat less without feeling hungry or deprived.7 Keto eating also lowers insulin levels, which may be an important factor that allows you to burn fat more easily.8
Our free keto meal plan will help you stay below 20 grams of net carbs a day while you enjoy tasty meals like our keto frittata with fresh spinach recipe that’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
There’s also our popular keto pizza, featuring a simple, crispy mozzarella crust with a zesty tomato sauce and cheese topping. For toppings, we suggest adding pepperoni, but you can customize it with your favorite low-carb meat or veggies.
Another dish in this keto meal plan is a Mexican-themed keto tortilla with ground beef and salsa.
Does this sound like diet food to you? That is one of the reasons why a keto diet works so well. It doesn’t make you feel deprived. By keeping the carbs low, you can eat delicious and satisfying food — while still losing weight.
Ready to get started? Check out our complete, no-obligation two-week keto meal plan.
3. Quick and easy meal plan
Do you find you’re pressed for time between the end of work and when you need to get dinner on the table?
Our quick and easy meal plans feature no-fuss recipes. Each meal has minimal ingredients and takes no more than 30 minutes from start to finish.
Diet Doctor has both keto and low-carb quick and easy meal plans.
Here are some of the delicious but fast dishes featured in our keto quick and easy meal plan:
Start the day with a breakfast of scrambled eggs in a mug. Crack two eggs into a microwave-proof cup or dish and add a bit of whipping cream plus salt and pepper. Microwave on high for three minutes for fluffy scrambled eggs. Could a nutritious breakfast be more quick and easy?
Lunch is ready in a flash with the no-cook quick and easy keto tuna zoodle salad. The zucchini ribbons are mixed with sliced tomatoes, tuna, and mayo. Top with hard-boiled eggs if you want more protein.
What’s for dinner? How about our keto chicken with herb butter recipe? Butter-fried chicken breasts served on a bed of fresh greens and garnished with a pat of herbed butter. So delectable, and yet so simple, this dish is sure to become a dinnertime staple.
Included in this two-week meal plan there are even more hidden gems, like our keto salmon with pesto and spinach, keto beef with gravy and cabbage mash, and keto Chinese pork with Brussels sprouts.
Check out the full keto quick and easy meal plan, which will keep you below 20 grams of net carbs per day.
If you want fast and easy meals but don’t need them to be strictly keto, our low-carb quick and easy meal plan has you covered. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:
You can never go wrong with a breakfast of eggs. If you’re short on time, just boil up a few and serve them with steamed asparagus and a dollop of mayonnaise. So simple, but surprisingly satisfying.
Tired of eggs? Try our fast and simple low-carb coconut pancakes. They’re light and fluffy, dairy- and nut-free, and take little time to make. Top them with butter and raspberries or blueberries that have been heated in the microwave. Delish.
You’ll also enjoy our spicy chorizo sausage with creamed green cabbage or zoodles with creamy salmon sauce for lunch or dinner.
Both offer a healthy protein source that’s paired with a filling, velvety vegetable. Who knew simple vegetables like cabbage and zucchini could become gourmet when cooked with cream and the right seasoning?
Other tasty dishes in the quick and easy low-carb meal plan include low-carb turkey stir-fry with wasabi mayo and pork shoulder with roasted fennel and a zesty Romesco sauce.
Check out the complete low-carb quick and easy meal plan, which will keep you below 35 grams of net carbs per day.
4. Budget-friendly meal plan
Good news: A low-carb or keto lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive.
A few ways to save money include buying in bulk, purchasing more affordable cuts of meat (or meats on sale), choosing in-season produce, going for frozen vegetables, and using canned fish.
Less carbs consumed, less money spent. Here’s a sampling of recipes from our keto budget-friendly meal plan.
One easy way to save money is to eat less food. And on a keto diet, that is easier to do simply because you are often not as hungry. Start your day with coffee with cream and have your first meal at lunch.
Cabbage is a great budget-friendly vegetable. A head of cabbage is relatively inexpensive but can last over many meals and is filling. Try a lunch of keto fried cabbage with crispy bacon.
When you want to stretch your money further, you can’t go wrong with ground beef. You’ll love this delicious, cost-effective dinner, featuring keto Brussels sprouts with hamburger gratin.
Another inexpensive, one-pan meal is our tasty keto Reuben skillet, starring sauerkraut, corned beef, and Swiss cheese.
Two other satisfying but surprisingly affordable meals are the keto pork and green pepper stir-fry and the spicy Cajun crab meat casserole, which uses canned crab meat.
Take a look through our full keto budget-friendly meal plan, which will help you stay below 20 grams of net carbs per day.
It works!Again, not everyone needs to eat strict keto to achieve weight loss results.
Here’s a sampling of recipes from our low-carb budget-friendly meal plan:
Eggs are one of the best bargains around. Start your day with fluffy scrambled eggs. Or try skillet eggs and greens.
Less expensive cuts of meat can sometimes be a bit tough. But they become tender and delicious when slowly cooked with liquids, as with our old-fashioned beef stew.
Yes, dinner can be affordable and filling. Try these stuffed peppers with ground beef and cheese, flavored with chili and other spices.
Like cabbage, cauliflower is a cost-effective vegetable that’s incredibly versatile. Try it with this luxurious Keto cauliflower chicken alfredo.
Canned fish, clams, or mussels are budget-friendly cupboard staples. You can whip up a fast seafood soup or casserole, such as this creamy mussel chowder.
Follow our complete low-carb budget-friendly meal plan, which allows you to stay below 30 grams of net carbs per day.
5. Intermittent fasting meal plan
It works!Have you heard about the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss?9
One of the most popular versions of intermittent fasting is time-restricted eating, which involves eating only within a specific window of time, such as eight hours.
This is sometimes referred to as 16:8 intermittent fasting because you eat two meals within an eight-hour period (say, noon to 8:00 pm) and don’t eat again until lunch the next day.
Are you concerned about skipping breakfast? As long as you eat nutritious meals with plenty of protein at lunch and dinner, it’s fine to go without breakfast. In fact, not eating in the morning might be beneficial for weight loss.10
Here’s a sample menu from our keto 16:8 intermittent fasting meal plan. If you cook a double portion at dinner, you can reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day. You’ll only need to cook once every 24 hours. An added plus? All of these dishes reheat well.
Our hearty keto meat pie replaces a flour pastry crust with one made of almond and coconut flours. The meaty filling and cheesy topping round out this savory dish. It’s sure to become a staple.
Casseroles are quick to whip up for lunch or dinner. Our keto pesto chicken casserole with feta cheese and olives has a Mediterranean vibe and gets rave reviews.
How can you go wrong with a keto cheeseburger or a keto fathead pizza? Our recipes have all the flavor of the originals without the wheat-flour buns or crust. We promise you won’t miss them.
A keto Caesar salad is always a great recipe to have on speed dial for a simple, healthy meal. Want to mix it up? Try the keto shish kebab with garlic cream and roasted vegetables.
Try our complete keto intermittent fasting 16:8 meal plan, which provides less than 17 grams of net carbs per day.
6. Vegetarian meal plan
It works!Are you a vegetarian who’s uncertain you’ll get enough protein and variety if you cut back on carbs? There’s no need for concern. Keto vegetarian eating is entirely possible.
Your main protein sources will be eggs, low-carb dairy products like cheese, and soy. You’ll also get some protein from nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
Our vegetarian meal plan provides everything you need to help you stay well-nourished and satisfied while losing weight.
Even if you don’t eat meat, you can still find plenty of ways to stick to keto. Here’s a sampling of the recipes found in our keto vegetarian meal plan:
For breakfast, why not start the day with keto pancakes with berries and whip cream? The surprise ingredient in these flavorful flapjacks is cottage cheese.
If you want a fast, simple breakfast choice, try a creamy dairy-free latte.
If you haven’t yet discovered the wonders of halloumi, a versatile, flavorful Mediterranean cheese, you’re in for a taste sensation with our fried keto halloumi cheese with mushrooms. This cheese even tastes great when grilled on the barbecue.
Another Mediterranean-themed offering is our keto grilled veggie plate. It features a side of cubed cheese, which is an easy way to boost protein at any vegetarian meal.
Eggs are a protein superstar. In this keto mushroom omelet, they provide the foundation for delicious toppings.
Beautiful and tasty, our Keto and dairy-free vegetable pie can be the centerpiece at any vegetarian brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Check out our full keto vegetarian meal plan, which will keep you below 20 grams of net carbs per day.
Maybe you’re a vegetarian, but aren’t following a strict keto diet? Here’s a sampling of recipes from our low-carb vegetarian meal plan:
There are so many ways to jazz up scrambled eggs, and our veggie keto scramble is just one example. Mushrooms, bell peppers, green onions, and cheese take regular ol’ scrambled eggs to a whole new level.
Salad always makes a great no-cook lunch. This warm goat cheese salad with balsamico butter is fast, easy to make, and still has a gourmet flare.
For dinner, you’ll enjoy our sensational protein-packed halloumi and spinach curry.
Other gems in this vegetarian meal plan include creamy low-carb cauliflower mushroom risotto, a low-carb vegan Buddha bowl, and low-carb vegan kebabs with garlic sauce.
Check out our complete low-carb vegetarian meal plan, which will keep you below 33 grams of net carbs per day.
7. Dairy-free meal plan
Keto and low-carb recipes often include cheese or cream.
If you need to avoid dairy because of allergies or lactose intolerance, or you simply prefer not to eat it, our delicious dairy-free meal plans will keep you on track while losing weight.
Some of the recipes contain butter, which has only trace amounts of lactose. If you want to avoid butter, feel free to substitute coconut oil, coconut cream, olive oil, or another type of oil you prefer.
Yes, you can eat keto while avoiding dairy. This lineup of recipes from our keto dairy-free meal plan is all the proof you need:
The protein found in eggs will keep you satisfied for hours. And what could be simpler than fried eggs?
Here are two dairy-free pork dishes that show how using different spices and cooking methods can give the same protein two totally separate tastes. Try our crispy Chinese pork with cabbage and keto pulled pork with roasted tomato salad.
The winning classic combination of olives, roasted tomatoes, garlic, and crispy chicken will make keto chicken Provencale one of your go-to favorites.
Hosting a dinner? Try this keto chili salmon with tomato and asparagus or our spicy keto pork kale soup. These two dishes are sure to impress.