Keto Meal Delivery Services:
— Green Chef — View latest deals
— Sunbasket — View latest deals
— Factor — View latest deals
We’re bombarded with messages all the time to eat healthy in order to control our weight and avoid disease. There are a variety of ways one can “eat healthy,” and one that’s gained followers in recent years is the ketogenic diet.
“The classic keto diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet designed to produce ketosis through mimicking the metabolic changes of starvation,” says Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Dam. Mad. About Breast Cancer, a nutritional consulting firm aimed at helping breast cancer patients and survivors. “Keto diets force the body to use fat as its primary source of energy.”
The diet was originally developed in the 1920s as a therapy for epilepsy.
What Is Keto?
The keto diet can be restrictive and requires that you carefully measure out the various macronutrients — fat, protein and carbohydrates — to keep your body in ketosis and gain the benefits of the diet.
“This original classic keto diet is 90% fat, 6% protein and 4% carbohydrate,” Leman says, adding that it is still used to treat epileptics who haven’t found relief from other treatments.
“Since the 1960s, different variations of ketogenic diets have also become widely known as weight-loss methods,” she says.
For some Americans, it’s become their go-to way to control their weight. This might be a good option for some people, Leman says, because “the emphasis on ‘whole foods’ — such as fish and seafood, low-carb vegetables, nuts, seeds and berries — as the foundation of a keto diet is certainly healthier than the calorie-dense, nutrient-poor, refined, processed foods that form the foundation of the standard American diet.”
In fact, Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist and author of “Get Off Your Acid,” says that “anything is a good alternative to the standard American diet. The SAD … is an extremely acidic diet that’s pumped up with inflammatory foods, fats and sugars. It’s literally wreaking havoc on peoples’ health.”
The ketogenic diet — when done correctly — can be a great alternative, he says.
[SEE: What Are Low-Carb, High-Fat Diets? Are They Healthy?]
When advising clients on the ketogenic diet, Gioffre recommends seeking a ratio of 50% to 70% healthy fats.
“This is where people make the biggest mistake,” he says.
Healthy fats come from things like avocados, raw nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil. Instead, some people see that fat is considered a good thing on the keto diet and select dairy products, eggs, cheese, butter and bacon.
In addition to a substantial proportion of calories from fat, a keto diet should incorporate about 20% whole, organic vegetables, Gioffre says. The diet should include 10% to 15% of calories from protein and just 5% of calories from fruit and starches.
Gioffre recommends opting for plant-based proteins when possible and, if you’re choosing animal proteins, select fatty fish like salmon. But be sure it’s wild-caught.
“Wild-caught seafood is better because farmed seafood is fed a corn and soy diet, and that creates inflammatory fats,” Gioffre explains.
Wild seafood has eaten a more varied diet and is, thus, higher in good omega-3 fatty acids.
Similarly, if you’re eating land-based animal proteins, Gioffre recommends selecting grass-fed, organic and pastured meat products. He steers people away from chicken because it is “the most inflammatory of all meats,” he says.
Getting the Right Balance Is Tricky
Maintaining the right ratio of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) is an important part of the ketogenic diet, and Gioffre says you should shoot for a maximum of 50 grams of net carbohydrates per day. To calculate the net carbs, simply subtract the grams of dietary fiber from the total carbs.
Getting enough fiber is important, and it’s something that the keto diet doesn’t provide enough of, Gioffre says. You need fiber to help move waste through the digestive system. If you don’t get enough, it can cause digestive problems and elevate the risk for several types of cancer. Fiber also confers heart-health benefits.
Gioffre also notes that research has shown that people who vary their diet are healthier. That means not sticking to the keto diet 24/7.
“The body loves variety and dietary variation,” he notes. “If you have less than 50 grams of net carbs for four or five days, increase it to 150 grams, that will prevent your body from going into a starvation mode where it stores fat.”
Giving your body a rest a couple days a week can actually make the ketogenic diet much more effective as a means of weight loss.
However, despite its upsides, the diet has some drawbacks.
“The exclusion of whole grains, beans, legumes and a broader variety of vegetables and fruits eliminates a wide variety of beneficial nutrients, all of which are included in other healthy eating plans like Mediterranean and vegan/vegetarian diets,” Leman says.
Many dietitians will tell you any diet that excludes whole groups of foods isn’t the healthiest long-term solution.
“Research on long-term effects of the keto diet is underway, but as of now, data is lacking,” Leman adds.
[See: 10 Lessons From Extreme Dieting.]
Compare the Most Popular Keto Meal Delivery Services:
|Meal plan options||Average cost per meal||Shipping costs||Average prep time|
|Green Chef||Weekly subscription, with two-, four-, or six-person plans available||$12.99||$9.99 per box||30 minutes|
|Sunbasket||Weekly subscription, with two- or four-person plans available||$9.99 to $11.49||$9.99 per order||30-35 minutes|
|Factor||Weekly subscription||$11.00 to $15.00||$9.99 per order||Ready-made meals, just heat and eat|
Companies That Deliver Keto Meals
In the meantime, if you’re interested in trying the keto diet, you might consider looking into a meal delivery service to help you keep up with the strict nutrient ratios.
“Keto meal delivery services are growing in popularity,” Leman says. “For people who don’t cook or don’t have the time or patience to plan and prepare keto meals, a meal delivery service is certainly worth considering. Although cost is also a factor, the value of having a keto-approved, prepared meal home-delivered could outweigh the monetary concerns.”
Several companies offer keto-specific meal plans. Below is a breakdown of some of the top keto meal delivery options, both ready-to-assemble programs that require some prep and cooking and some pre-made meals that simply need to be reheated.
— Gluten-free, non-GMO, “keto- and paleo-friendly” meals are low in carbs and high in fat and protein.
— Choose three or four meals per week.
— Family-friendly options serve four or six.
— Easy to assemble and cook recipes.
— Calorie counts vary by recipe but range from about 600 to 800 calories per serving.
Green Chef’s keto-friendly plan offers “easy keto recipes every week that teach you how to cook for a healthier lifestyle while delivering elaborate flavors,” its website says. These meals are also gluten-free. These all contain no grains, excess sugar, fruits, tubers, peanuts or soy ingredients. Subscribers can choose up to four meals weekly. Green Chef’s keto meals in a box include organic and non-GMO ingredients that do not contain any pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones or steroids.
The company also promises “quick and easy recipes,” with step-by-step instructions, tips and photos. Most meals can be ready in about 30 minutes and involve basic cooking skills and utensils.
Green Chef was acquired by HelloFresh in 2018 and is a division of that company, which is the largest meal kit delivery company in the U.S.
Green Chef’s pricing is based on the plan you choose and how many people will be eating each dinner. The two-person plan includes three dinners for two people or six servings per box, or four dinners for two people — a total of eight servings per box.
With a family plan, each box contains two dinners for a family of four (eight servings per box), or for a family of six, three meals (18 servings per box) or four meals (24 servings per box). The keto plan costs roughly $12.99 per meal, but that price does not include shipping, handling or sales tax.
Green Chef often offers deals and promotions for new subscribers, such as free shipping on the first box. The company delivers to most of the continental U.S., but doesn’t ship to Alaska or Hawaii.
Sample meal: Pork chops with tzatziki, served with roasted garlicky tomatoes and chard salad with feta cheese.
— Cook time: 35 minutes.
— Serves: 2.
— Calories per serving: 790.
— Net carbs per serving: 12 grams.
— Total carbohydrates: 16 grams (4 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar).
— Total fat: 63 grams.
— Protein: 46 grams.
— Cholesterol: 130 milligrams.
— Sodium: 780 milligrams.
— Organic produce and “clean ingredients,” such as wild-caught seafood.
— Family option serves four.
— Quick recipes designed for busy people.
— Everything is delivered in recyclable or compostable packaging.
— Calorie counts vary by recipe but are generally about 550 or fewer calories per serving.
Sunbasket offers a “keto-friendly meal plan,” which features meals that close in at about 550 or fewer calories per serving. These meals contain 15 grams of net carbs or fewer per serving and have at least 20 grams of protein per serving. It also offers “feel-good fats” that are “sourced from avocados, nuts, seeds, and high-quality proteins.” It sources wild-caught seafood that is recommended as Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program. It also touts organic produce and a collection of signature sauces.
Sunbasket also offers a variety of other diet-based meal plans, including paleo, vegetarian and gluten-free.
Customers can order meal kits for two or four people and from two to five meals per week. Meal kits start at $11.49 per serving. Sunbasket’s “fresh and ready” options, prepared meals that the company says “can be ready in minutes,” start at $9.99 per serving. Sunbasket ships to most of the U.S. but excludes Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota and parts of New Mexico.
Some cooking skills and equipment are required to assemble Sunbasket meals. New subscribers may want to take advantage of deals and promotions to get started.
Sample meal: Pork piccata with lemon-caper pan sauce and sauteed zucchini.
— Menu: Carb-conscious, dairy-free, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, lean and clean, Mediterranean, paleo, soy-free
— Cooking time: 20 minutes.
— Serves: 2.
— Calories per serving: 380.
— Ready-made meals, just heat and eat.
— Choose your own meals or have a nutritionist do the planning for you.
— Subscribers can schedule a free, 20-minute nutritional consultation with one of Factor’s nutritionists.
— Bulk ordering is available as a one-time purchase or ongoing partnership.
— Calorie counts vary by recipe but range from about 350 to 900 calories per serving, with an average of 600 calories per meal.
Factor offers fully prepared meals, delivered fresh to all 48 contiguous U.S. states. Its meals conform to ketogenic rules — with high-quality fats (avocado, healthy oils, nuts and seeds, etc.) constituting at least 60% of the calorie content, protein contributing 20% and 10% or less of calories coming from carbs. Each meal contains less than 20 grams of net carbs. The company says its meals are “designed by dietitians,” with the website stating, “Our registered dietitians work hand-in-hand with our kitchen to ensure every meal is packed with premium, science-backed nutritional quality.”
Factor offers six-, eight-, 10-, 12-, 14- and 18-meals per week plans that range in price from $10.99 to $12.99 per meal. Subscribers can choose their meals or let the Factor team do the choosing for them.
All meals are free of GMOs, hormones, antibiotics and refined sugars. Dairy-free options are available, as well.
Sample meal: Keto poblano bowl.
— Calories: 670.
— Fat: 54 grams.
— Carbohydrates: 15 grams (3 grams dietary fiber, 7 grams total sugars).
— Protein: 34 grams.
— Sodium: 890 milligrams.
— Cholesterol: 165 milligrams.
What’s the Best Keto Option?
Bottom line, Leman says that she wishes people understood that the keto diet “isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of diet.”
“There are different variations and interpretations of the diet,” she adds. “People trying keto on their own, without guidance from a qualified dietitian, may be missing the mark for nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and may be loading up on foods that may not support their health long term.”
Whether you opt for a meal delivery service or do it yourself, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of all the nutrients you need, so consider talking to a nutritionist at the outset.
As with any new diet, talk with your health care provider or a registered dietitian to be sure you’re covering all your nutritional bases.
More from U.S. News
8 Tasty Keto Diet-Friendly Snacks
The Best Diet for Your Personality
Guide to Boosting Your Metabolism
Best Keto Meal Delivery Services originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 01/25/23: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.