Perfecting Your Keto Carb Macro
The truth is, cutting carbs is only part of the battle when it comes to seeing results on a ketogenic meal plan. Youll also want to learn how to balance your protein intake and include plenty of healthy fats for a balanced approach.
This undertaking is also why it is becoming popular to solely focus on hitting carb intake with a so-called lazy keto diet.
Want to make stickling to your low-carb diet a little easier? Grab this free step-by-step guide to meal prep for keto, complete with food lists, menu planning tools, and expert advice to keep you track.
What Should I Do After I Use Your Keto Macro Calculator
Once you get an estimate for your keto macros with our keto calculator, we recommend checking out our keto guide, keto recipes, keto food list, and carb tracking guide.
Click on this link to check out our keto recipe catalog . This will give you a good idea of what you can eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert while you are keto dieting. I also suggest checking out our keto food list so you have a better idea of what you should and shouldnt eat.
Once you know what you will be eating on keto, you will probably be wondering how much of you should eat for each meal. Since meal size depends on the individual and his/her goals, we recommend using a calorie tracking app and our carb tracking guide to help you figure out the macronutrient content of your meals. As you track your macros, you will be able to figure out what adjusts you need to make to your diet to reach your goals.
Do I Need To Eat A Minimum Amount Of Carbs
The short answer is no. In fact, you technically dont need to eat any carbs at all.
When carbs are restricted, your body switches to using fat and ketones rather than sugar as its main energy source.15 Aside from your red blood cells and a small portion of your brain and kidneys, which do require glucose, your cells can use fatty acids or ketones as fuel.16 You can learn more about this in our complete guide to ketosis.
Your body is actually capable of making glucose for any cells that need it, even if you dont consume any carbs. This is because your liver can convert amino acids and glycerol into glucose. This process is known as gluconeogenesis.
In their 2005 textbook Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine states:
The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.17
Interestingly, there are nine essential amino acids found in protein and two essential fatty acids, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.
However, there are valuable nutrients in many low-carb foods that contain some carbs, such as vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These foods also provide fiber, flavor and texture, which can enhance your eating experience.
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How Many Carbs Do You Actually Eat On A Keto Diet
A keto diet is generally made up of 70 to 75 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates, says Jill Keene, a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice in White Plains, New York. The exact number of grams of carbohydrates will be different for everyone, but is generally around 20 to 50 g per day. Many people on a keto diet count net carbs, which is total carbs minus fiber. Fiber isnt counted in the carbohydrate total, because its not digested. Either way, this number of carbs is very low and requires careful planning. Eating a little fruit, starchy vegetables, sugary foods, or whole grains can easily kick you out of ketosis.
Does Your Calculator Have A Fiber Intake Option
Our keto calculator will only tell you your suggested carb, fat, and protein intake. The general recommendation for fiber intake is 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. The simplest way to meet your daily fiber needs are by eating more low carb vegetables, having some keto bread with your meals, or taking fiber supplements.
If you find that your fiber needs are difficult to meet with your current net carb limit, then simply eat enough fiber so that you have regular bowel movements one or more times a day.
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Should I Count Net Carbs Or Total Carbs
If you want the best possible chance of maintaining ketosis and reaching your weight loss goals, we recommend counting total carbs. Heres why: Some foods, mainly processed ones, tend to be low in net carbs but can easily exceed your overall carb limit at the end of the day.
Sugar alcohols in some processed keto-friendly foods may also raise blood glucose if consumed in large amounts. Even though sugar alcohols are subtracted from the total carbs on the food label to get net carbs, theyre still carbohydrates.
Another concern with focusing on grams of net carbs is that it may lead you to consume an excessive amount of calories. Of course, calories are not everything on keto, but they still matter if youre looking to lose weight.
Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs: The Keto Vs Sad Debate
When it comes to good carbs and bad carbs, once again keto takes a different approach than most diets.
The Standard American Diet includes processed carbs like white bread, pastries, cookies, and pasta. Many dietitians will recommend more complex carbs like those found in lentils, beans, brown rice, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to combat SAD.
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They tell people to veer away from simple sugars found in white rice, white bread and processed snack foods, as most of the nutrition has been stripped away.
However, most foods considered healthy carbs by USDA dietetics are eliminated on keto, as they spike your insulin levels .
On keto, youll consume whole foods that rank very low on the glycemic index , including green, leafy veggies, healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and MCT oil, and high-quality protein.
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Do I Have To Meet All My Macros On Keto
Not necessarily. Hitting your daily targets is ideal however, it can also be unrealistic on some days. But, you can get as close to your keto macros as possible by experimenting with and crafting keto recipes in the right quantities then eating the same meals repeatedly.
Familiarizing yourself with ketogenic diet foods and amounts that work for you takes trial and error. With regular practice, this should get easier.
Carbohydrates To Avoid On The Ketogenic Diet
There are certain foods that contain extremely high amounts of carbohydrates and will need to be avoided in order to achieve and maintain ketosis.
During your Ketogenic journey, avoid high-carbohydrate foods including: Most fruits, pasta, potatoes, candy bars, pastries, donuts, candy, soda, juice, rice, and bread.
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Beginners Guide To Finding Your Daily Carb Limit On A Keto Diet
The fact is, the amount of carbs you can tolerate and stay in ketosis depends on your particular body, how long youve been living keto, your exercise regime, and more. So, when youre first starting a keto diet, its recommended to stick with 20 grams of net carbs per day or 20 grams of total carbs for therapeutic purposes. While 20 grams of total carbs is the amount that can get pretty much everyone into ketosis provided you eat within your daily macros, 20 grams of net carbs is the starting point for most people trying to achieve weight loss or general health benefits. To learn more about the difference between total carbs and net carbs,
To ensure your body completely acclimates to the keto lifestyle, its recommended that you stick to 20 grams of net carbs per day for a full three months before you set out to explore your own personal carb edge.
Quick Net Carbs Primer
Net carbs are the total carbs minus the fiber . For example, a medium red bell pepper has 7 grams of total carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber. Therefore, the net carbs in a red bell pepper are 4.5. This is the number you would track to monitor your carb intake each day.
How to Determine if Youre in Ketosis
The best way to see if youre in ketosis is to regularly test your blood using a blood-ketone testing meter.
When you first embark on a ketogenic diet and begin testing your ketones, youll see your ketone levels start to rise from Lo to 0.1 mmol/L and higher. Youre in nutritional ketosis at 0.5 mmol/L.
How To Find Your Own Personal Keto Carb Limit
One of the only ways to find out if you can stay in ketosis while eating more carbs than we suggest is by tracking your ketones with a blood ketone meter like the Precision Xtra. You can also use Ketostix, but they are not as accurate.
After establishing ketosis by eating less than 35 grams a day and verifying it with your ketone meter, you can try slowly increasing your carb consumption by 5 grams each day.
This doesnt mean that you can eat sweets and candies. Simple carbs like these can kick you out of ketosis because they tend to increase insulin levels more rapidly than anything else. Instead, increase your carbs by eating complex carbohydrates from plant-based foods like vegetables or low glycemic fruits.
Measure your ketones at the same time each day to see if the increase in carbs decreases your ketone levels. If you are still maintaining ketosis after increasing your carbs, try it again. Your goal is to raise your carbs little by little while maintaining a medium or deep level of ketosis.
Heres a quick overview of what medium and deep ketosis actually mean:
- Light Ketosis: 0.5 mmol/L 0.8 mmol/L
- Medium Ketosis: 0.9 mmol/L 1.4 mmol/L
- Deep Ketosis : 1.5 mmol/L 3.0 mmol/L
The only way to accurately find out if you are in light, medium, or deep ketosis is by using a blood ketone meter like the Precision Xtra.
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Is 25 Carbs Too Much On Keto
That depends on several factors, including a persons individual body and metabolism, the type and size of meals one plans to consume, and the type of foods consumed in ones keto diet. Generally, it is recommended that keto dieters eat no more than 25-50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
That being said, the exact level of carbohydrates an individual can consume and still remain in ketosis can vary depending on the individual. Some people may need to eat fewer than 25 grams of carbohydrates daily to achieve ketosis, while others may be able to consume more.
It is important to note that keto dieters should focus on consuming healthy, high-fat and low-carb foods, rather than eating a lot of processed carbohydrates or sugary snacks. In addition, it may help to consume a moderate amount of protein and work out regularly to help support the overall health and ketone levels of the body.
Ultimately, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine what level of carbs is right for each individual.
How Many Carbs Can I Eat And Stay In Ketosis
If you want to maintain ketosis, sticking to 30-50 grams of carbs per day will prevent an increase in your blood sugar levels, deplete your stored glycogen, and then force your body to burn fat to create ketones.
Remember that this is just a ballpark figure it works for nearly everyone. However, its also good to keep in mind that your carb intake may be unique depending on your age, activity level, goal, and daily calorie consumption. Also, your carbohydrate tolerance may look different from another persons.
This is why its essential to test your ketone levels to know whether your carb limit per day is sufficient to trigger ketosis.
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How Many Carbs For Ketosis
Regardless of how many variables impact ketosis, it is important to start somewhere, and carbs are the most important metric to start with on the ketogenic diet.
For most people, keeping total carbs below 35g and net carbs below 25g will get them into a deep ketosis after about a week.
Note: Some sweeteners are considered keto-friendly and do not raise blood sugar levels. These can be subtracted from the total carbs as well. For more, read our Guide to Low Carb Sweeteners >
To eat such a small amount of carbs, you must be vigilant about your food choices. You may find that many of your favorite foods will put you over the carbohydrate limit for the day with just one serving. Even healthier foods like fruits and vegetables are packed with sugar and carbs, but dont get discouraged there is plenty of delicious food you can eat on the ketogenic diet.
Check out this list for some more ideas of what you should and should not eat on the ketogenic diet:
Do Not Eat
- Sweeteners stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners >
- Other fats coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, etc.
To see more specific advice on what to eat,
You must not forget, however, that getting into ketosis isnt all about the carbs you eat. Protein plays an important part on your path toward ketosis as well.
Individual Carb Limit: Why Is It Different For Everyone
The keto carb limit is 20-50 grams per day. To be more specific and scientific, the carb limit is 35 grams of total carbs and 25 grams of net carbs. Total carbs include fiber, starch, and sugar alcohols. Net carbs consist only of carbohydrates absorbed by your body, calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs.
Net Carbs = Total Carbs Fiber
For ketosis to kick in, you need to limit your net carb intake to 20 grams per day. However, you can also go into ketosis at 35 grams of net carbs per day. How do you find your carb limit? Find out in the following section.
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Supporting Your Fitness Needs
In addition to using your daily calorie goal, how active you are and the level of intensity you train at can impact your ability to utilize carbs efficiently.
Burning fat for fuel yields an increase in ketones – an efficient energy source that can replace sugars for nearly all of your daily needs. However, ketone bodies likely dont support high-intensity training and explosive movements the same way glucose does.
Thus, if you are working out at higher intensities, regularly, you may be able to increase your carb intake a bit around your workouts without messing with your keto diet.
Bottom line: The more active you are, the more carbs you can utilize efficiently.
Advanced Fields : Body Fat % Protein Ratio And Total Carb Intake
Body Fat %
Your body fat percentage is used to determine your lean body mass and contributes to a more accurate estimation of your TDEE.
This helps the keto calculator figure out how many calories from protein you need per day to lose weight without reducing your muscle mass.
If you dont know your body fat percentage, you can measure it at home, the gym, or in a health facility. These are the two most accurate methods:
- Skinfold Calipers: Skin calipers are affordable and easy to get . Your local gym most likely has them too. A skinfold caliper works by pinching one area of your skin that folds easily , in three to ten different areas of your body to measure your subcutaneous fat. That measurement is then used in a formula to calculate your body fat percentage. If youve never done this before, let a physician or coach do it first and teach you how to read the measurements accurately so you can do it at home next times.
- DEXA : If you can afford it, a DEXA scan will give you the most accurate results. A DEXA is an X-ray treatment that measures body composition and can detect bone mineral density, lean body mass, and fat mass with great accuracy. However, they can only be done on a health facility and a comprehensive session can cost up to $160.
Other methods at home like online calculators and bioelectrical scales can be wildly inaccurate, so avoid these.
Its recommended you measure your body fat percentage every six to eight weeks.
Heres an example:
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Targeted Ketogenic Diet And Carb Intake
If you engage in regular, intense physical activity, note that the above ratios might not cater to your performance needs. Thats where targeted ketogenic diets come into play.
In targeted keto and during training times only you might want to integrate a carb boost before and immediately following your training sessions. This will ensure your muscles have enough glycogen to perform their necessary tasks, both during competition and within in-season training.
When adopting this targeted principle, youll follow the above macro guidelines throughout the day. However, after you leave the gym , youll consume 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates. These should be consumed within a half hour after training ends.
Theoretically, your body uses these carbs immediately to repair and restore itself. Therefore, your ketogenic state wont be adversely affected.