How many carbs should I eat per day if I am on a keto diet?
This is a very frequent question we are going to respond here. This post also includes information regarding keto diet food list, fundamental information on keto diet, and the most frequent mistakes people make when starting a ketogenic diet.
How many carbohydrates should I consume per day on a ketogenic diet? It depends on several aspects, like how you respond to a keto diet. The perfect amount of carb on a keto diet depends on each person. Some people achieve ketosis and stay there by consuming just 60 grams of total carb per day, while others need to stay around 20-30 grams of carb per day.
Also, it depends on your lifestyle. Your experience with keto diets, the amount of exercise you do on a daily basis, and your keto goals are other variables we need to consider for that matter.
The number of carbohydrates to consume daily on a ketogenic diet varies depending on individual factors like age, sex, body composition, activity level, and specific health goals. However, as a general guideline:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): Typically, this diet contains about 70-75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5-10% carbohydrates. In terms of grams, this often translates to around 20-50 grams of net carbs per day.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual needs can vary significantly. It’s important to:
- Consult with a Healthcare Professional: Before starting a keto diet, it’s advisable to talk with a doctor or dietitian, especially if you have any health conditions or are taking medications.
- Listen to Your Body: Some people might need to adjust their carb intake depending on how they feel and perform during the day.
- Nutrient Quality: Focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates like vegetables, nuts, and seeds, rather than simply counting carbs.
- Adaptation Period: When starting a ketogenic diet, there is an adaptation period where your body shifts from using carbohydrates to fats as its main energy source. During this time, you might experience symptoms like fatigue, headache, or brain fog, commonly referred to as the “keto flu.”
- Regular Monitoring: Some people find it helpful to monitor their state of ketosis with methods like urine strips, breath analyzers, or blood ketone meters to ensure they stay within their desired range of carbohydrate intake.
- Long-Term Considerations: Consider the long-term sustainability of a ketogenic diet and any potential nutritional deficiencies that may arise. Regular check-ups and possible adjustments to the diet are important for long-term adherence and health.
It’s crucial to personalize your approach and make adjustments as needed to find what works best for you.
Remember: The keto program recommends a diet that is low on carbs, moderate on protein and high in fat. The idea is to fine-tune nutritional intake in order to send the body into the metabolic state known as ketosis.
How Low Carb is Keto?
Again, the answer depends on you as an individuals and your goals. As a rule of thumb, the fewer the carbs, the greater the impact on weight loss and reduction of hunger and cravings.
Keto low carb is considered less than 20 grams of carb per day, while moderate low carb is between 20 and 50 g per day, and liberal low carb is between 50 and 100 g per day.
- In terms of overall caloric intake, carbohydrates typically make up about 5-10% of daily calories on a standard ketogenic diet. The majority of calories come from fats (about 70-75%), with a moderate intake of protein (around 20%).
These restrictions are stringent because the primary goal of the ketogenic diet is to enter a state of ketosis, where the body switches from using carbohydrates as its primary source of energy to burning fats. This typically requires a significant reduction in carbohydrate consumption.
Remember: The most effective keto diet, and probably the healthiest, is the one that is based on real food.
Which Carbs Can You Consume On Keto?
One of the basic principles of the ketogenic diet is keeping carbohydrate intake at a very low levels. This way, your body will start using fat as a source of energy instead of relying on the glucose carbohydrates provide.
In principle, most ketogenic diets recommend to stay 5 – 10% of total calories coming from carbs, which is about 15-30 grams of net carbohydrates per day.
On a ketogenic diet, your carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, but you can still consume certain types of carbs, primarily those from low-carb, high-fiber foods. Here are some carb-containing foods generally considered keto-friendly:
- Vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- Zucchini, cucumber, bell peppers
- Asparagus, green beans, eggplant
- Avocado (technically a fruit, but low in net carbs)
- Nuts and Seeds: Many nuts and seeds are low in net carbs and high in fiber and healthy fats. Examples include:
- Almonds, pecans, walnuts
- Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds
- Macadamia nuts (particularly low in carbs)
- Low-Carb Fruits: Most fruits are high in carbs, but some are low enough in net carbs to fit into a keto diet in small quantities:
- Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) in moderation
- Tomatoes (technically a fruit)
- Dairy Products: Some dairy products are low in carbs and can be included:
- Cheese (especially hard cheeses)
- Heavy cream, sour cream
- Greek yogurt (in limited amounts)
- Sweeteners: Natural low-carb sweeteners can be used in moderation:
- Stevia, erythritol, monk fruit sweetener
- Shirataki noodles (made from konjac root, very low in carbs)
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder (with high cocoa content and low sugar)
It’s important to note that even keto-friendly carbs should be consumed within the overall daily carb limit to maintain ketosis. Portion control and keeping track of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) is crucial on a keto diet. Additionally, focusing on whole, minimally processed foods is beneficial for overall health.
What are Net Carbs?
Net carbs, also known as digestible carbs or impact carbs, are those absorbed by the body. During digestion, most carbs are broken down into individual sugar units. However, there are carbs that are not absorbed, or are only partially absorbed. Among those we have fibers and sugar alcohols. Because of this, fiber and sugar alcohols are substracted from total carbs when calculating net carbs. This concept is particularly important in low-carbohydrate diets like the keto diet. To calculate net carbs, you subtract the grams of fiber and sometimes sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates in a food item. Here’s a simple formula:
Remember: Net carbohydrates = Total carbohydrates – fiber – sugar alcohol
The idea behind this calculation is that fiber and certain sugar alcohols do not significantly affect blood sugar levels as they are not fully absorbed by the body. Therefore, by focusing on net carbs, individuals can get a better sense of the carbs that actually impact their blood sugar and insulin response. If you’re a very active person who exercises 4 to 5 times a week, you can consume more carbohydrates without any repercussions. But if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight, we encourage you to keep carb intake as low as possible.
How Many Calories in Total?
To encourage your body to enter ketosis, the ideal caloric intake can be broken down into:
- 70-75% fat
- 20-25% protein
- 5% carbs
One gram of fat provides 9 calories, while one gram of carbs and proteins provide 4 calories each. If you need about 1400 calories per day to lose weight at a rate of about one pound per week, the you need 108 grams of fats, 22 grams of net carbs, and 81 grams of proteins.
What’s the Composition of What Someone Ate Yesterday?
As an example, let’s see what percentage of carbs, fats and proteins a random person not following any diet is eating. Some of the results may surprise you:[table id=1 /]
Keto Diet Food List
Here you have a list of foods for your keto diet you can easily find at the supermarket. Keto grocery shopping has never been easier:
Produce: Avocados, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, turnip, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, collard, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, raspberries, blackberries.
Seafood, fish, and meat: Chicken, lamb, pork, beef, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, fatty fish and white fish, crab, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and squid.
Deli: corned beef, ham, pancetta, pastrami, prosciutto, roast beef, speck, turkey, salame, chorizo, pepperoni, sliced cheese, prepared salads (chicken, tuna, egg).
Most Frequent Low-Carb Mistakes
Eating too many carbs: If you want to get into ketosis and reap the full metabolic benefits of low-carb diets, going under 50 grams of carbs per day may be necessary.
Eating too few carbs: To maintain a healthy diet while going low-carb, ensure you’re getting a healthy amount of all the macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs). Low-carb does not mean no-carb.
Eating too much protein: Excessive protein consumption on a low-carb diet can prevent you from getting into ketosis.
Overeating “allowed” foods: Overdoing it on meat and cheese has its own health risks and may lead to weight gain, as these foods contain a lot of calories.
Being afraid of eating fat: A very-low-carb diet must be high in fat. Otherwise, you won’t get enough energy or nutrition to sustain yourself.
Skipping vegetables: As a rule, half your plate (or more) should be filled with vegetables.
Not replenishing sodium: Low-carb diets lower insulin levels, making your kidneys excrete excess sodium. This can lead to a mild sodium deficiency.
Avoiding fat: Try having half an avocado with your eggs at breakfast and dress your salads with olive oil-based dressings.
Forgetting fiber: Adequate fiber helps prevent gastrointestinal disturbances, such as constipation and bloating, you might experience when you first start cutting out high-carbohydrate, high-fiber foods.
Not exercising: When you first start eating low-carb, the loss of weight (and water weight) might make you feel as though exercise is unnecessary. To achieve the results you want, and maintain them long term, you’ll need to get active rather than staying sedentary.
Quitting too soon: On a low-carb diet, it can take a few days to overcome unpleasant symptoms and several weeks for full adaptation. It is important to be patient and not abandon your diet too soon.
In summary, the keto diet is considered one of the best programs for losing weight, apart from other beneficial effects it provides. However, there are plenty of things to take care of when embarking into a keto diet. As you see, there are potential issues like lack of clarity of what to eat or not, how many carbs are in a specific food, how to adapt the diet to our specific lifestyle, and so on. A specialized diet like this is not 100% free of side effects either.
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You might also like these related keto resource articles:
Keto Diet Basics: Your Guide To Starting a Ketogenic Lifestyle
Keto Diet Recipes
Keto for Weight Loss: Effective Strategies and Tips
Keto and Fitness: A Comprehensive Guide to Optimizing Your Workout on a Low-Carb Diet
The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.