Are you hesitant to start the keto diet because you’re afraid it will put a major dent in your bank account? You shouldn’t be! If you shop smartly, the keto diet can be even cheaper than a higher-carb diet.

What is the cost of the keto diet, you ask?

This article will break down the cost of the keto diet vs the cost of a “normal” diet. (By “normal”, we mean a diet that contains a modest amount of carbohydrates.) If you think the cost of going keto is too much to handle, you’re in for a surprise.

What Is the Cost of the Keto Diet?

To get into ketosis, you need to greatly limit carbohydrate consumption. For most people, this means their daily keto diet will have no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates (mainly from veggies). Intuitively, starchy foods are not part of the keto diet.

Hence, you no longer need to worry about buying things like grains, bread, cereal, yogurt, ice cream, pizza, chips, and other high-carb foods. Instead, the keto diet is primarily comprised of meat, seafood, eggs, healthy fat sources, veggies, some fruit, and dairy. (Pretty simple shopping trip, eh?)

Now, let’s hypothetically say you’re 170 lbs and want to start the keto diet to lose fat; you calculate that you need to consume about 2,000 calories per day. Your macronutrient on keto will look like this:

  1. Set carbohydrate intake at 5% of total daily calorie intake.

Example: 2,000 x .05 = 100 calories from carbs (4 calories per gram of carb) → 25 grams of carbs

  1. Set protein intake at 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Example: 170 lbs x 1.5  = 255 grams of protein per day (4 calories per gram of protein) → 1,020 calories from protein per day

  1. Fat intake comes from the remaining calorie balance after accounting for carb and protein intake.

Example: 2,000 – (1,020 + 100) = 880 calories/9 calories per gram of fat = 98 grams of fat per day.

Pretty straightforward, right? For losing fat on the keto diet, this 170 lb individual will eat about 2,000 calories per day, comprised of 25 grams of carbs, 255 grams of protein, and around 100 grams of fat.

Cost of Keto Diet Meal Plan

Let’s break down a sample meal plan for this 170 lb person and determine the cost:

Daily Meal Macronutrient Intakes

Meal 1—50g protein/5g carbohydrate/20g fat

Meal 2—50g protein/5g carbohydrate/25g fat

Meal 3—60g protein/5g carbohydrate/25g fat

Meal 4—55g protein/5g carbohydrate/5g fat

Evening Snack—40g protein/5g carbohydrate/5g fat

Keto Meal Plan for Fat Loss

Meal 1—Egg omelet (made with 5 whole eggs, 3 egg whites, ¼ cup cottage cheese), 4 oz grilled asparagus

Meal 2—8 oz pan-fried salmon, 5 oz steamed cauliflower

Meal 3—9 oz grilled chicken breast, 5 oz steamed broccoli, 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Meal 4—Lettuce wrap burger (8 oz 90/10 ground turkey, ½ oz cheddar cheese, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 6 oz Boston bibb lettuce)

Evening Snack—2 scoops whey or casein protein powder, ½ tbsp natural peanut butter

Daily Cost of Keto Diet Meal Plan

To calculate the average daily cost of the keto diet meal plan above, the following prices were used (which are typical costs of these foods in the United States as of late 2018):

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: $1.99/lb
  • Fresh Salmon: $5.99/lb
  • 90/10 Ground Turkey: $2.29/lb
  • Eggs: $0.99/dozen
  • Cottage Cheese: $1.49/lb
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: $3.99/16 oz bottle
  • Natural Peanut Butter: $1.99/16 oz jar
  • Cheddar Cheese: $1.49/16 oz
  • Asparagus: $1.99/lb
  • Cauliflower: $1.79/lb
  • Broccoli: $1.99/lb
  • Boston Bibb Lettuce: $1.49/lb
  • Protein Powder: $1/serving (roughly 20-25g of protein depending on brand)

Using these prices, the daily cost of the keto diet comes out to about $10.50 USD. Therefore, the weekly cost of the keto diet for these macros would be around $75 USD (plus a little more for miscellaneous items like condiments and coffee).

That’s pretty darn cheap in this day and age. Heck, most people on a “normal” diet spend $75 on food in half as much time!

Don’t believe that?

The next section will break it down for you.

Cost of “Normal” Diet Meal Plan

Now, let’s break down a sample meal plan for this 170 lb person if they were eating a “normal” higher-carb diet (with the same amount of calories as the above example) and determine the cost:

Daily Meal Macronutrient Intakes

Meal 1—30g protein/60g carbohydrate/15g fat

Meal 2—25g protein/60g carbohydrate/15g fat

Meal 3—20g protein/40g carbohydrate/10g fat

Meal 4—25g protein/55g carbohydrate/15g fat

Evening Snack—10g protein/40g carbohydrate/20g fat

“Normal” Diet Meal Plan for Fat Loss

Meal 1—4 whole eggs, 1 large bowl of cereal with skim milk

Meal 2—Turkey & swiss sandwich with a side of grapes

Meal 3—4 oz lean steak, 1 cup (cooked) white rice, 5 oz steamed broccoli

Meal 4—Large plate of chicken fettuccine alfredo (including 4 oz sweet peas)

Evening Snack—1/2 pint of Ben N’ Jerry’s Ice Cream

The food choices in this diet are a mix of what most would consider being “clean” and “junk” foods. In reality, this “normal” diet is still quite a bit healthier than what many people eat on a daily basis.

Daily Cost of “Normal” Diet Meal Plan

To calculate the average daily cost of the keto diet meal plan above, the following prices were used (which are typical costs of these foods in the United States as of late 2018):

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: $1.99/lb
  • Deli Turkey: $5.99/lb
  • Lean Steak: $5.99/lb
  • Eggs: $0.99/dozen
  • Grapes: $2.99/lb
  • White Rice: $1.99/lb
  • Multigrain Bread: $3.99/loaf (16 slices)
  • Swiss Cheese: $1.49/8 oz
  • Cold Cereal: $3.99/12 oz
  • Skim Milk: $2.49/64 oz
  • Fettuccine Noodles: $1.99/lb
  • Alfredo Sauce: $2.99/16 oz jar
  • Broccoli: $1.99/lb
  • Sweet Peas: $1.99/lb
  • Ben N’ Jerry’s Ice Cream: $4.99/pint

Using these prices, the daily cost of a “normal” diet comes out to about $15.00 USD. Therefore, the weekly cost of a “normal” diet for these macros would be around $105 USD (plus a little more for miscellaneous items like condiments and beverages). That’s over $400 per month!

Keep in mind that the cost of the “normal” diet would only increase if we made it healthier since wholesome foods tend to be more expensive than processed and pre-packaged foods.

Best Food Choices for Cutting Cost on the Keto Diet

If $75 is still pushing your food budget limit per week, here are some of the most cost-efficient food choices for the keto diet:

  • Fatty meats and poultry (chicken thighs, 85/15 ground beef, etc.)
  • Canned tuna
  • Whole eggs
  • Low-carb dairy foods (heavy cream, cheese, butter, cottage cheese, etc.)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Loose leaf lettuce
  • Frozen vegetables

Realistically, you should be able to manage to keep the cost of the keto diet to under $10 USD per day (unless your macros are a bit higher). If you’re a smaller individual and your macros are on the lower side, you could feasibly spend as little $5 USD per day on the keto diet.

On a final note, remember that your health is ultimately the foundation of your life. You might think $5-$10 per day for food is expensive, but imagine how much money you spend on other stuff that isn’t nearly as important. If you don’t eat right, you risk facing debilitating health conditions and won’t have much life to look forward to anyway.

All in all: Make your food budget a priority. Your body will thank you for it!

 

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Elliot received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and has been a freelance writer specializing in nutritional and health sciences for the past 5 years. He is thoroughly passionate about exercise, nutrition, and dietary supplementation, especially how they play a role in human health, longevity, and performance. In his free time you can most likely find him lifting weights at the gym or out hiking through the mountains of Colorado. He will also host the upcoming BioKeto podcast. You can connect with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elliot.reimers) and Instagram (@eazy_ell)

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