How Many Carbs Can You Have On Keto
How Many Carbs Can You Have on Keto?
Posted 2 years ago
Tony ONeill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN
One of the core principles of the Ketogenic diet is keeping carbohydrate intake extremely low less than 50 grams per day.
The purpose of keeping carbs low is so that your body has to switch to using fat as the primary energy source instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Fat is a very energy-dense molecule, and some of that energy is converted into ketones. Ketones can be used by most of the cells in your body for energy instead of glucose. When your body switches to using fat and ketones as the primary energy source, youre in a state ofnutritional ketosis.
But that doesnt mean you have to completely remove all carbs from your diet. After all, Keto isn’t meant to be a zero carb diet.
In this Keto Beginners Series, were going to talk about the types of carbohydrate foods that fit best into the low carb, high fat Ketogenic diet.
Do Calories Matter On A Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet first gained fame through its effectiveness for weight loss. The high-fat, low-carb diet promotes nutritional ketosisâa normal metabolic state marked by moderate levels of ketones in the blood. The idea with carb restriction in terms of weight loss is that it prompts the release of body fat to be burned or converted to ketones for energy .
For decades, much of dieting focused on counting caloric intake. But not keto.Letâs explore why you should be paying more attention to the types of food consumed instead of that little number on the back of a nutrition label.
Are All Calories Created Equal?
Keto and Weight Loss
It almost sounds counterintuitive at first can a high-fat diet promote weight loss?A review of 13 randomized controlled trials found that people on the ketogenic diet lost significantly more weight than people on low-fat diets. They also kept the weight off for 12 months or more.9 While the diets in these studies contained no more than 50 grams of carbohydrate , low-carb diets with more generous amounts of carbohydrate showed similar results in a review of 17 randomized controlled trials.10 More recently, type 2 diabetics lost 12% of their body weight after one year in diet-induced ketosis.11
Not seeing results from the keto diet?
Should You Count Calories on Keto?
Weight Loss Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Should I Count Total Or Net Carbs
The answer to this question depends on where you are in your keto journey. Counting net carbs runs the risk of higher total carb intake and especially higher sugar intake. This can be harmful to ketosis.
If your goal is to keep carbs below 30 grams but you are tracking net carbs, that could mean 30 grams of sugar and 50+ grams of total carbohydrates. While more experienced ketogenic dieters may be able to tolerate this, others cannot. Especially beginners, which is why I do not advise new ketogenic dieters to count net carbs. Instead, beginners should count total carbs and aim to keep them under 30 grams or even 20 grams.
Counting net carbs can also lead to a stall in weight loss progress. To optimize fat loss, you want to prevent increases in blood sugar. Counting net carbs may lead to some accidental blood sugar spikes that can get in the way of the results you are looking for.
If you have been following keto for a while, your body is better at using carbohydrates and you are typically more resilient to being kicked out of ketosis. In this case, you may be able to make the transition to tracking net carbs instead of total carbs. Before you do this, take time to test your tolerance to ensure that you are not kicking yourself out of ketosis by taking this approach.
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How To Make Meal Tracking Easier With Myfitnesspal
After a couple of days using MyFitnessPal, youll notice that it is a pretty tedious task to plug in every single ingredient that you eat. If you are like me and have a couple of staple keto recipes that you always go back to, then you can make the macro tracking process easier by using previously entered recipes or importing your favorites.
How Nutritional Ketosis Works
When you eat a diet that contains ample amounts of carbohydrates, your body predominantly relies on sugar for energy. The process of converting the carbohydrates you consume into cellular energy is known as glycolysis.
But what happens when you remove carbohydrates from the equation? Well, your body is smart and its main goal is to survive, so it can use other nutrients as fuel.
When you cut carbs, your body switches its predominant energy metabolism to fats, breaking them down through a process called lipolysis. As fats from the diet are broken down, fatty acids are sent to the liver and oxidized for energy as a result of this, ketone bodies are produced.
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In a Standard American Diet , you might eat between 100-150 carbs per day and still be considered low-carb. Unfortunately, this wont transition your body into a fat-burning state of ketosis. On the keto diet, your carb count will be far lower, often between 25-50 grams of carbs per day.
Below, youll learn how many carbs on keto most people consume, why your macro goals may vary, and how to calculate your carb, protein, and fat intake. Youll also learn some healthy sources of carbs to consider for your keto diet.
The Truth About Net Carbs Vs Total Carbs
Watching your carb intake may be second nature to many of you by now, but if youre new to eating keto youll probably start to hear words like carb count, macros, and net carbs thrown around a lot. Today, were going to go over net carbs vs. total carbs, and which you might want to focus on counting on your keto diet. If you havent read our post on keto and fiber, we recommend you read it now!
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Planning Your Keto Macros
For example, lets say your daily keto macros are 140 grams protein, 130 grams fat, and 25 grams net carbs. You could plan your day out as follows:
- Breakfast 40 grams protein/30 grams fat/5 grams net carb
- Lunch 40 grams protein/30 grams fat/10 grams net carb
- Midday Snack 25 grams protein/20 grams fat/5 grams net carb
- Dinner 35 grams protein/50 grams fat/5 grams net carb
From there you can determine the foods and amounts to eat at each meal/snack to fit the macros. So, your keto breakfast might look like this:
- 6 whole eggs 36 grams protein, 30 grams fat, 3 grams net carb
- 100 grams spinach 4 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 1.5 grams net carb
As you can see, this is just about exactly equal with the keto macros that were planned for breakfast.
Ample Keto Meal Replacement
Here is an example of how to read the Ample K meal replacement drink label to see how many net carbs it has. In this case the result is 3 g net carbs.
Please Note: you must also read the ingredients list of various keto meal replacement shakes to see what sweetener has been used. In this case it is Monk Fruit and Stevia extract, which dont count towards net carbs.
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This Keto Carbohydrate Food Chart Shows You What 20g Of Net Carbs Looks Like
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy
Youve started the high-fat, low-carb keto diet and youre excited to see results . You know youre allowed roughly 20g of net carbs a day, give or take depending on your body. But what does that amount of carbs look like on your plate? Is it one sweet potato a cup of blueberries two bunches of spinach? Sometimes it helps to see things visually. Heres a handy carbohydrate food chart to help guide you. But first, a quick primer on the keto diet, macronutrients, and total carbs versus net carbs.
How Long Do You Need To Stay On The Keto Diet To Lose Weight
Anecdotally, many people report losing weight quickly on a keto diet, says Keatley. Research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology found that obese dieters lost an average of 44 lb over four months when following a very low calorie keto diet. That said, Keatley suggests to clients that they spend no more than 12 weeks in ketosis because of the uncertainties of following it long-term and the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.
When people go off a keto diet and begin to incorporate more carbs into their day, they tend to regain some weight during this adjustment period, he says. They also stand to regain all the weight they lost, and potentially more, if they return to their pre-keto ways of eating after feeling deprived on the plan.
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What The Keto Calculator Does For You
Quite simply, the keto calculator is the ultimate all-in-one tool for helping you quickly determine how much you should eat every day.
This is much easier than having to make these calculations by hand or use guesswork to determine how much you should be eating.
Moreover, one of the best perks of the keto diet is its simplicity naturally, our keto calculator is designed with simplicity in mind to help you get off on the right track with as little effort as possible.
Why Is Counting Carbs On Keto So Important
When you keep net carbs low enoughtypically under 50 grams of net carbs per dayyour body enters ketosis: a metabolic state where you shift from burning carbs for energy to burning fat for fuel.
Getting into ketosis, and staying there, is the whole goal of keto. When youre in ketosis, you feel lasting energy, a cognitive boost and fewer cravings, to name just a few benefits. Keto can even help you stay at a healthy weight.
The problem is that eating too many carbs can prevent you from reaching ketosis and staying there. Thats why learning how to figure out net carbs is so important.
Go over your carb limit, and youll fall out of ketosis and lose out on all the benefits. If youre not seeing results on keto, our number one recommendation is to look at your macronutrient breakdown . This is true whether you follow clean keto or a dirty keto diet.
Regardless of your diet, a high amount of carbs can also contribute to the following side effects:
- Spikes in your blood sugar
- Disruptive changes to your hormones
- Shifts in your gut bacteria
- Health conditions like obesity, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome
The trick is figuring out what your ideal carb intake looks like.
The reality is, carbs are fine in moderation. But if youre on a strict keto diet, you have to pay attention to every single gram and how your body responds to different foods.
Net carbs are important, but theyre not the whole picture on keto. Keep reading to find out why.
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How To Track Your Net Carbs With Carb Manager
Tap the white plus sign at the top right on your daily log, and you will be brought to the Find Foods window:
Their search function works a lot like the MyFitnessPal app, allowing you to find foods and recipes from one search bar. To find your favorite ruled.me recipe, for example, type in Ruled.me followed by the recipe you are looking for.
Fortunately, you wont have to do any extra math to track net carbs . After you log each item, your net carb count will automatically update themselves, giving you a clear picture of your macros for the day.
How To Calculate Net Carbs
If you look at a food label, it will show the total carbohydrates in grams along with the total sugars and sometimes the sugar alcohol count directly beneath it.
You have to subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates. That provides you with your net carbs.
For example, if you eat broccoli, youll find that 1 cup has 6 grams of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of fiber.
Instead of eating the cup of broccoli and attributing all 6 grams to your total carb intake, you subtract the 2.4 grams of fiber.
That leaves you with 3.6 net carbs. Now youre able to consume more carbohydrates.
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The Takeaway Is There One Keto Carb Limit
In general, restricting your carb consumption to less than 35 grams of total carbs and 25 grams of net carbs is what we recommend for the best results. This carb limit is ideal for almost everyone on the ketogenic diet.
It is also important to know that everyone has a unique carb limit that depends on many factors. Some of the factors that you have the most control over are:
- How keto adapted you are
- How much you exercise and what types of exercise you do
- Your stress levels
- How much protein you eat
Each one of these factors can either increase or decrease your carb limit, thus impairing or improving your ability to get into ketosis. This is why finding your own personal carb limit for keto is much more nuanced and complex than you think. However, with some experimentation, you can find out how many carbs you need to eat to stay in ketosis.
Intermittent Fasting & Keto
Some people on a keto diet choose to also practice intermittent fasting to speed up weight loss or when trying to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating. When eating a keto diet, many people feel hungry less often. And since we advise eating only when you are hungry, this means that you might naturally begin to eat fewer meals a day or you may deliberately plan fewer meals to match your reduced appetite. For some people, this could mean eating two meals a day . For others, this could mean eating once a day, which is often referred to as OMAD, meaning one meal a day.
Want to learn more about the potential benefits of intermittent fasting or need information on how to get started? Read our full guide to intermittent fasting >
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How To Calculate Net Carbs For Keto
Wondering how to count carbs and stay in ketosis? Use this manual net carb calculator:
Grams of total carbs fiber sugar alcohols = Net carbs
Heres one important element to factor into your net carb formula: Not all sugar alcohols are truly carb-free.
Some sugar alcohols can actually kick you out of ketosis because they have a high glycemic load. However, certain manufacturers selling low-carb or sugar-free foods will subtract those sugar alcohols from the total carb count. This makes products appear lower-carb than they actually are. Yikes.
On the other side of things, manufacturers will sometimes list sugar alcohols that dont affect your blood sugar as if they were normal carbs, making net carb counts seem higher than they actually are.
So, how are you supposed to calculate net carbs for keto? Know your sugar alcohols.
Can The Keto Diet Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Though this isnt the first tool Id use to help someone control their insulin carb counting, evenly distributing carbs throughout the day, may be easier to commit to its not off the table, especially with stronger emerging research, says Keene.
Its true: Some preliminary research suggests keto may be a good approach for some people with type 2 diabetes. For example, one small February 2017 study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research randomized overweight adults with type 2 diabetes into two groups: one that consumed a keto diet, and a control group that ate a low-fat diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. After 32 weeks, the keto group saw their A1C fall more compared with the control group, and half lowered their A1C to less than 6.5 percent . The keto group also lost 28 lb compared with about 7 lb for the control group.
But long-term studies are needed, and keto can pose health risks to people with diabetes, especially if youre following it without supervision from a medical professional. Importantly, anyone who is on medication to lower blood sugar or who is using insulin should be aware that drastically cutting carbs, as you must do on keto, can lead to dangerously low blood sugar, research shows. Unaddressed, this condition, called hypoglycemia, may lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and blurred vision, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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Will The Keto Diet Give Me Kidney Stones
The development of kidney stones is certainly a concern if youre switching to a diet in which youre eating more protein. Consuming high levels of red meat and not drinking a lot of water may make stones more likely, says Whitmire. She adds that on a keto diet, you need to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes . If not, this can increase your risk of side effects like stones, she says. Past research gives a small glimpse into how likely stones may be. A study published in the Journal of Child Neurology on children using the keto diet to control epilepsy found that about 1 in 15 developed kidney stones, though supplements of oral potassium citrate reduced this risk. Talk to your doctor if you have risk factors, like a family or personal history of stones, about any precautions you should take when on the keto diet.