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Weight loss is often a goal for many people. If you’ve been struggling to meet your goals, it may be time to try something drastically different. The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is similar to the Atkins diet and other low-carb eating plans. It involves significant reductions in carbohydrate intake, along with moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of good quality fats. The goal of the keto diet is to put the body into a state of ketosis, which occurs when the body burns fat for energy. If you would like to try the keto diet, one of the concepts you’ll need to know about is keto macros.
Keto Macros: An Overview
The food you eat is comprised of macronutrients and micronutrients. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, like folic acid, potassium, and vitamin C. Your body needs these micronutrients, but only in small amounts. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Compared to micronutrients, your body needs a lot of these macronutrients to function properly.
It can be tricky to determine how many grams of each macronutrient you should be eating on the keto diet simply because there are different versions of the keto diet. The versions most highly backed by scientific research are the standard ketogenic diet and the high-protein ketogenic diet. The standard diet involves eating 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. The high-protein keto diet involves eating 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. The other, more complicated versions of keto are typically only used by bodybuilders and professional athletes. Most dieters following keto utilize either the high-protein or standard version.
If you want to get your macro ratio correct but are struggling with meal planning, check out our Free 7 Day Keto Meal Plan.
Keto Macros: Calculating and Tracking Your Macros
The keto macros are expressed as percentages of your overall diet because everyone’s caloric needs are a little different. They depend on your current weight and height, activity level, and goals (such as weight loss or weight maintenance). Because of this, you’ll have to do a few calculations to determine exactly how many grams of each macronutrient you should eat each day. Fortunately, you can easily find keto macro calculators online—just plug in your weight, activity level, and similar information.
Remember that you will need to track your keto macros closely each day in order to ensure you stay on target. Perhaps the easiest way to keep track of your intake is to use a dieting app. There are a number of tracking apps designed specifically for keto dieters, some of which are free. Examples of these apps include Carb Manager: Keto Diet App, Ketogenic Diet, and 8fit. Remember to plug in your numbers after every meal and snack. It’s also a good idea to check on your daily totals before you choose a meal or snack.
You can even use these free keto macro calculators:
On the keto diet, the recommended amount of carbohydrates is 5%. However, some people go up to 10%, which can sometimes still be low enough to go into ketosis. When you’re figuring out your daily total of carbohydrates, remember that carbs have four calories per gram. To figure out how many grams of carbs to aim for each day, follow this formula:
Calories per day X percentage of calories from carbs / 4 (calories per gram) = number of grams.
As an example, let’s say you’re eating 1,600 calories per day and you’d like to eat 10% of your calories from carbs. You’ll multiply 1,600 by 0.1, divided by four. The result is 40 grams of carbs per day. If you’d like to eat 1,600 calories daily, with 5% of your total from carbs, you would multiply 1,600 by 0.05, divided by four to get 20 grams of carbs per day.
Note that you’ll actually eat more total carbs than your daily allotment. This is because fiber doesn’t count toward your total carbohydrates, as the body doesn’t digest it. It’s similar to gross and net income. Your gross income is your pre-tax income. Your net income is your take-home pay after taxes are deducted. Net carbs are similar. To figure out the net carbohydrate content of a food, first check the total carbohydrate count. Then, subtract the grams of fiber. For instance, one cup of cooked cauliflower has five grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. It has three net carbs.
For best results, avoid high-carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, and any item you would find in a bakery or candy shop. Instead, choose non-starchy vegetables like kale, spinach, and zucchini. You can eat lots of these vegetables because they are high in fiber and low in net carbs. Avocados are also an excellent choice, with just four grams of net carbs per whole avocado. You can try our keto avocado fry recipe or cheese chips with guacamole if you are looking to add more avocado to your diet.
Of all the keto macros, you’ll eat the highest amount of fats. Fats will comprise between 60% and 75% of your daily diet. First, let’s calculate the number of grams you’ll eat each day. You can figure that out with this formula:
Calories per day X percentage of calories from fat / 9 (calories per gram) = number of grams.
For example, let’s say you’re eating 1,600 calories per day and you’re aiming for 70% fat. You’d multiply 1,600 by 0.7 and divide that by 9 to get 124.4 grams of fat per day. If you’re aiming for 60% fat on a 1,600 per day diet, you would eat 106.6 grams of fat daily. Feel free to round your results up or down.
Note that it’s important to eat high-quality fats, especially monounsaturated fats. Most of your fat intake should be unsaturated fat, rather than saturated fat and trans fat. In addition, remember that if you’re eating a lot of meat products like bacon, sausage, and steak, you’ll also be increasing your protein intake. The key to keto is to eat low to moderate amounts of protein. Here’s a look at some good sources of this keto macro:
- Avocado (Per whole avocado: 4 grams of protein, 30 grams of fat, four grams of net carbs)
- Olive oil (Per 1 tbsp.: 13.5 grams of fat)
- Almond butter (Per 1 tbsp.: 98 calories, 3 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of net carbs)
Other good choices include whole eggs; fatty fish; full-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt; and olives.
Depending on which version of the keto diet you’re following, you’ll aim to have protein comprise 20% to 35% of your daily caloric total. Protein contains four calories per gram. Here’s how to calculate your daily amount:
Calories per day X percentage of calories from protein / 4 (calories per gram) = number of grams.
For example, if you’re eating 1,600 calories daily and you’re aiming for 20% protein, you’ll eat 80 grams of protein per day. Since you’ll need to eat more fat than protein, the best way to get your protein is to choose high-fat sources of it. Examples include fatty fish, eggs, and unsweetened, whole-fat Greek yogurt.
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John Shufeldt, MD, JD, MBA, FACEP is an emergency physician by avocation and entrepreneur at heart. He is an author, speaker, serial student, airline transport pilot and multidisciplinary entrepreneur, who has founded and operated several multi-million-dollar businesses.
Throughout all of his endeavors, John has maintained a relentless drive to help people rescript their future and reach their full potential.
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Over the years, John has come to realize that successful businesses don’t just happen. They succeed as a result of strong leadership, learning from failures and a well-executed business plan. An efficient organization is built on lean practices, proactive teams, a positive work environment and a solid foundation for continued growth.