- The Outline
- What is the ketogenic diet?
- how keto was reborn as Atkins was reborn as keto
- the Rise of The Keto Gurus
- Calories still matter
- Keto and Low-Carb now have the same problem as Low-Fat
- Bacon: A balanced breakfast?!
- So what do i eat?
- Ketogenic Diet Plan and Detailed Guide for Beginners
- What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
- Ketogenic Diet Benefits
- Common Side Effects of Keto Diet
- Optimal Ketosis and Macros
- Ketogenic Diet Food List
- Supplements You Can Take
- Sample Ketogenic Menu
- How To Start A Ketogenic Diet the Right Way + 3 Costly Mistakes To Avoid
- The Basics Of A Ketogenic Diet
- How To Start A Ketogenic Diet
- 3 Big Mistakes To Avoid on A Ketogenic Diet
- How Long Do I Have To Stay Keto For?
- The basics of a ketogenic diet
- The basics of a low-carb diet
- Keto vs. low-carb: which is best for you?
- Keto is great for:
- Low-carb is great for:
- Summing up…
- Looking for more? Check out these articles:
- Low-carb ‘keto’ diets have some health benefits and some risks
- Keto Macros: A Guide to Understanding Nutrient Ratios
- Calculating Keto Macros
- What Are Macros?
- What Are Keto Macros?
- Types of Fat
- How to Calculate Macros for Keto
- 1. Start with net carbs
- 2. Move on to proteins
- 1. Start by calculating your body fat by using the following formula*** (the example provided is for someone weighing 160 pounds with a 20 % body fat percentage):
- 2. Subtract your body fat percentage from 100 to get your lean muscle mass percentage:
- 3. Then divide this by 100 to get the decimal for your muscle weight:
- 4. Finally, multiply this decimal by total weight to calculate your total lean mass weight:
- 5. To calculate your daily protein allowance, simply multiply your muscle mass by gram of protein. The formula goes like this:
- 3. Finish with fats
- How to Calculate Food Macros
- Tips & Tricks for Meeting Macros
- Take-Home Message
- Keto Calculator
- How to use this free keto calculator?
- Fat-Fueled Eating: Your Guide to the Keto Diet
The latest — or maybe just loudest — diet obsession transfixing the internet says it will help you lose weight, live longer, and improve your memory. Sounds great, you say? Except that these benefits will only bloom once you cut carbohydrates. Familiar story, right? The Atkins diet is back? We’re all gonna start eating eggs and bacon for every meal again until our cholesterol inevitably reaches code-red levels?
No, this new obsession is not Atkins. It’s the ketogenic diet, lovingly called “keto,” popularized by actors, Instagram stars, and the same people who brought you raw water.
If you believe a diet is supposed to be a varied landscape of all the things the world has to offer in moderation, keto may not be the diet for you. Let’s find out if science says it’s worth it.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The history of keto goes much farther than an attempt to stem weight gain during our fat-fearing era. In 1921, it was observed that fasting decreased incidence of seizure in epileptic patients. The same year, reports noted cognitive improvement and reduced seizure activity in epileptics who fasted for two to three days (fasting has been used as far back as 500 B.C. to treat epilepsy).
Around the same time, it was discovered that the metabolic change caused by fasting that controlled seizures also occurred when a patient stopped eating carbohydrates. It was then that an endocrinologist named Dr. Rollin Woodyatt had a scientific breakthrough: he found that the compounds acetone and beta-hydroxybutyric acid were detectable in high levels in fasting patients (to be fair, they can also be present in urine in low levels normally, and things like dehydration can trigger a false positive test). These compounds are classified as ketones, produced via the metabolic state of ketosis, which occurs when an elevated level of ketones are produced as a result of the body using fat for fuel as stored carbohydrate is depleted.
The ketogenic diet keeps coming back into the larger consciousness, to the consternation of medical professionals.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic created a formula that manipulated the ketogenic effect that came with complete fasting by instead limiting a patient’s intake of carbohydrates. This was the genesis of the ketogenic diet. To manage childhood epilepsy, the prescribed diet consisted of one gram of protein per kilogram of body mass — a max of 15 grams of carbs — and the rest of the calories from fat. Et voila: the ketogenic diet was born.
A strict version of the diet is still used to manage drug-resistant epilepsy. But it’s fallen out of favor because the success rate of a large suite of readily available anti-epileptic medications. It’s been observed that children on this diet for epilepsy don’t generally become overweight and tend to lose some weight in the first few months on the diet, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Children on keto tend to have higher cholesterol than other children in their age range and there can be some nasty side effects, including kidney stones. Due to the public’s appetite for miracle weight-loss cures, however, the diet keeps coming back into the larger consciousness, to the consternation of medical professionals.
how keto was reborn as Atkins was reborn as keto
In 1997, a book titled Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution climbed up the bestseller list for five years after it was first published (this edition of Diet Revolution was little more than a cosmetic overhaul of Dr. Robert Atkins’s 1972 book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, which didn’t quite revolutionize diets in the way publishers hoped).
But this time around, America was primed for Atkins’s theory that it wasn’t fat but carbohydrates that caused weight gain. Food manufacturers and consumers had cut fat from their diets but obesity rates continued to rise; something was due to be the new culprit for our weight woes. Dr. Atkins was further vindicated by 2002 article by the science journalist Gary Taubes in The New York Times Magazine. “If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it,” Taubes wrote. “They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along.”
At one point in the early 2000s, approximately 10 percent of the country was on a low-carb diet. That’s insane. What’s more, people actively started avoiding carbs even if they weren’t on a diet. “A year ago, if you asked consumers what they watch, 11 percent would have said carbs,” Michael Polk, the chief operating officer at Unilever-Best Foods, told The Times. “Today if you ask, 40 percent of consumers say they are watching carbs. In our opinion, this has evolved into a major shift in consumer behavior.” Atkins was able to build an industry out of his diet advice: Atkins Nutritionals, which cranked out low-carb meals and snacks, was at one point valued at approximately half a billion dollars.
At one point in the early 2000s, approximately 10 percent of the country was on a low-carb diet.
So why did Atkins fall out of favor? Well, the diet’s delightful side effects could include fatigue, constipation, excessive thirst, bad breath, the dreaded meat sweats, and worst, the look your friends would give you when you said you were on Atkins. There was also the fact that the diet wasn’t really sustainable (kinda like most diets, funnily enough). In 2003, a pair of studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most of the weight one initially lost while following Atkins was water weight; and subjects who followed the diet typically gained back any lost weight in six months.
Atkins Nutritionals filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, a year after the doctor died after falling on an icy New York City sidewalk. Still, Atkins had a long-lasting impact on the dietary landscape in America. “Sugar free” and “low carb” labels never left the snack aisle. People still fell back on the idea that to lose weight, one simply had to cut carbs. But all the while, obesity rates climbed from 30 percent up to 39 percent of the country, priming the stage for another diet “revolution.”
the Rise of The Keto Gurus
Losing weight has become a challenge to be solved through innovation, and the new diet gurus don’t take kindly to the scientific method. It’s in line with Dr. Atkins’s legacy; he was a huge proponent of alternative and unproven medical treatments beyond just his ideas about nutrition. You almost can’t blame him or the other diet gurus for leaning in on the techno-bullshit market; it’s hard to fill up a 300 page diet book on “eat a bit less and find a type of exercise that doesn’t make you hate life.”
Dave Asprey is one such tech guy-turned-low-carb guru. Asprey is now the CEO of Bulletproof 360, which sells butter-larded coffee and myriad supplements to the masses — and which raised $19 million in Series B funding last year. Over the past two decades, Asprey says he’s spent $1 million to “biohack” his body, turning it into a fat-burning machine and even increasing his IQ by 20 points. (Asprey has also said that he blocks waves out of his cells with glasses and takes supplements to help with the “low oxygen high EMF environment” on airplanes, so.)
I’ll give Asprey this: people have told me that the buttered coffee tastes okay and makes them feel energetic. The coffee is also, of course, keto-approved:
“The Bulletproof Diet uses ketosis as a tool, but tweaks it for even better performance,” goes a blog post on the Bulletproof website. “It is a cyclical ketogenic diet, which means you eat keto for 5 to 6 days a week and then do a weekly protein fast, which lowers inflammation and kickstarts fat-burning. This is much better for your body and spurs weight loss even more.”
But about that weight loss.
Between the butter and the so-called “Brain Octane Oil” that are part of the Bulletproof coffee recipe, any increased energy one feels after consuming it could have something to do with the nearly 500 calories of fat that are in it. As has been pointed out, those calories displace other more nutrient-dense sources of fuel. Asprey also claims that his coffee is better for you because it doesn’t contain mycotoxins, i.e. toxins produced by fungi. Though it’s true that mycotoxins can be dangerous for your health, the possibility of any roasted coffee available on store shelves containing mycotoxins is slim to none. It’s like slapping “this coffee was not made with white rhino horn” on the label.
Calories still matter
Keto devotees sometimes brag about how they eat more on the diet than ever before and still lose weight. On keto, their bodies have turned into fat-burning machines that give the finger to the laws of thermodynamics, or something.
Let’s hold up a sec. Allow me to introduce you to the DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial, published in February 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. DIETFITS, which stands for Dietary Intervention Examining the Factors Interacting with Treatment Success, succeeded in busting a slew of dietary theories. Microbiome is responsible for everything? Nope. Predisposition to success on one diet based on genetics? Nah. Low carb over low fat? Uh-uh.
Over the course of a year, 609 participants were randomly sorted into low-fat or low-carb diet groups. They were given instruction on healthy habits and choices, along with practical advice on how to stick to the diets to which they had been assigned. Additionally, and possibly most importantly, they were instructed to keep their caloric intake limited similarly in both groups.
It’s fairly common that, initially, low-carb dieters see more weight loss. This is because glycogen molecules bind with water, and once you’ve burned through your most readily available source of energy, you’re also down a few pounds of water weight. Over time, that weight loss of the low-carb group evened out with the low-fat one; there was ultimately just a 1.5 lbs difference in weight loss between the two groups — the low-fat group lost an average of 11.7 lbs the low-carb group 13.2 lbs. This is a difference reflective of which group took a shit before or after going for their final weigh-ins.
It’s fairly common that, initially, low-carb dieters see more weight loss. But it doesn’t last.
A few variables were tested in conjunction with weight loss. One was initial insulin secretion, specifically to see if it had any affect on loss in each diet group. It did not. They had also checked a few genetic markers that were suspected to give dieters pre-dispositions to success either on low fat diets or low carb diets based on previous studies. However, genetics were shown to have no effect.
But the most important takeaway from the study is that similar numbers of participants lost and gained similar amounts of weight in both groups. As Examine.com shows in its analysis of the study, charts comparing weight loss (or gain) from each group are almost identical.
In the beginning of the study, all participants were instructed to consume either ≤20 g of fat (if in the low-fat group) or ≤20 g of carbs (if in the low-carb group) for the first two months, after which they could increase either their fat or carb intake to levels they felt they could sustain indefinitely. By the end of the trial, the vast majority had not been able to maintain such low levels. The final dietary recalls reported an average daily fat intake of ≈57 g (low-fat group) and an average daily carb intake of ≈132 g (low-carb group).
Part of what makes a diet work in the long run, of course, is a person’s ability to stick with it, and most diets that cut out an entire food group or macronutrient are not sustainable.
Curiously, this study was funded by the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), a group with the aim of producing “conclusive results in the next decade” in a sometimes confusing nutritional landscape. They claim our nutritional guidelines are “based on inconclusive science,” and though their website doesn’t directly indicate any bias, their research so far focuses on the effects of carbohydrates on obesity. This was the second published study that received funding from the institute. In the first study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, researchers hypothesized that a low-carbohydrate diet increased energy expenditure. Results said otherwise:
The carbohydrate–insulin model predicts that the KD would lead to increased EE, thereby resulting in a metabolic advantage amounting to ~300–600 kcal/d. Our data do not support EE increases of that magnitude. (…) In summary, we found that a carefully controlled isocaloric KD coincided with small increases in EE that waned over time. Despite rapid, substantial, and persistent reductions in daily insulin secretion and RQ after introducing the KD, we observed a slowing of body fat loss.
In layman’s terms: people burned marginally more calories at first, but there wasn’t evidence that the diet increased caloric burn in the long term.
I suppose it’s not a surprise that, per an investigation from Wired, NuSI seems to be having trouble scrounging up financial backing lately.
Keto and Low-Carb now have the same problem as Low-Fat
Remember those insanely awful Snackwell’s cookies and the chips that gave you anal leakage? We were willing to suffer so much for the price of “weight loss.” Snackwell’s. Christ.
We soon learned that low-fat diets only work if a dieter is also controlling their calories. Five thousand calories of broiled dried out chicken breasts, kale, or anal-leakage chips is still 5,000 calories. Low-fat content or not, those calories add up.
Low-carb has become the new low-fat. During the early Atkins era, snacks included cucumbers, beef jerky, and pork rinds. Now there’s a wealth of low-carb snacking options; there are junk-foody low-carb recipes all over Pinterest; a low-carb aisle at the grocery store. There are low-carb replacement foods and ingredients for low-carb replacement foods. It’s Snackwell’s 2.0.
Remember Snackwell’s? Lol.
Want candy but you don’t want to stray from keto? A low-carb peanut butter cup has about the same calories, gram per gram, as a Reese’s. Want to slap all that bacon between something other than lettuce wraps? Some low-carb bread will run you $7.99 per loaf whereas bread that doesn’t taste like sadness with the same number of calories per slice is generally about half the cost. How about chocolate? A chocolate brand that boldly calls itself ‘The Good Chocolate’ is sweetened with a sugar alcohol commonly associated with some nasty gastrointestinal effects when consumed excessively. It’s also $8 for a 2.5-oz bar, and about as calorically dense as a Hershey’s bar. Low-carb flour? Not surprisingly, it costs more than normal old flour, and the more expensive one has more calories.
Bacon: A balanced breakfast?!
Here’s the thing: Low-carb diets absolutely have a track record of working. A 2017 study in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews showed significant weight loss, improvement of health markers related to diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol in participants who followed the diet for 10 weeks. If you have been advised to lose weight by your trusted medical professional and your doctor or dietitian says this is appropriate for you, a low-carb diet can help you lose weight.
But low-carb diets don’t work because of how people seem to think they work — more specifically, through something called the “insulin hypothesis,” which says that removing carbohydrates from your diet stabilizes insulin and blood sugar levels, subsequently increasing your metabolism and reducing your hunger. This hypothesis has failed several studies. A review study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2017 reported it as “carefully controlled inpatient feeding studies whose results failed to support key model predictions.” Sad.
A common belief among keto devotees is that your body not only switches to burning fat on keto but that a low-carb, high-fat diet turns you into a “fat-burning machine.” Now that you’re not eating pizza crust, your body is going to burn through all of its own fat, calories and laws of thermodynamics be damned. But you don’t magically burn off your love handles just because you changed your fuel source. As much as the three macronutrients have different uses in the bodies, when it comes to gaining and losing weight, calories are calories are calories.
Someone trying to follow the keto diet to a letter may not even go into the much-desired state of ketosis. Sure, you can buy those little piss strips that react to ketones in your urine to reassure you that you’re “in ketosis,” but you’re probably wasting your money. Ketones are present in low levels in your urine even if you’re not on a ketogenic diet. Measuring ketones via blood is far more accurate (if not overly invasive for a diet), but to measure them for weight loss in the first place is borderline useless, especially in urine.
One of the most extraordinary claims in Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution was the metabolic advantage hypothesis, which theorizes that the inefficiencies in the fat-burning process caused an energy advantage (in layman’s terms, it was hypothesized that using fat for fuel causes you to burn more calories). Unfortunately, a 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that calorie per calorie, you’ll lose the same amount of weight on both a ketogenic diet and a reduced calorie, controlled carb (but not ketogenic) diet. Amazing what you can get people to believe when you sell some books.
Studies also contradict the claim that the ketogenic diet will help your Crossfit performance, or whatever. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reports that a low-carb diet inhibited cardiovascular performance. Want to check that half marathon off your bucket list? Science says eat your carbs. Multiple studies have shown similar results. The best news I can tell you about keto is that a 2017 Journal of Human Kinetics study said that it can help maintain a lower body weight, which can help athletic performance. But the study also said that “some aspects regarding the effects of long-term LCHF diets in athletes are still unexplored and in need of investigation, including (…)Strength, power, psychological status, and perceptual-motor performance after weight loss.” So, take that with a grain of low-carb salt.
So what do i eat?
You could pick any of the countless diet books on the market, follow their plan to the last calorie, and lose weight. This is because — as study after study has shown — calories and dietary adherence matter more than anything for weight loss. You can gain or lose weight on any combination of foods. People have lost weight on twinkies, McDonalds, juice, plants, and obscene amounts of meat.
It’s important to remember weight loss alone doesn’t necessarily cause all health markers to improve, and a diet causing weight loss does not mean it’s appropriate and healthy for everyone. Some foods are better than others at making weight loss and maintenance easier for different people, so balancing a diet is a fairly personalized thing. If your doctor gives you the green light and keto works for you, do it. If low fat works for you, do it. If plant-based, paleo, Mediterranean, or one of the zillion other diets help you improve your health and your relationship with food? Do it. There’s no one right way to eat for everyone, just as there is no miracle diet plan for weight loss.
And please, talk to your doctor and a registered dietitian when considering a new diet plan. And maybe just have a piece of bread and don’t worry about it.
Listen to an interview with Yvette on The Outline World Dispatch.
Yvette d’Entremont is a contributing writer at The Outline. Kyle Griggs is an American animator, illustrator and director based in LA and Sydney. She makes GIFs, prints, short films and installations.
Ketogenic Diet Plan and Detailed Guide for Beginners
Carlo A/Getty Images
Turning to butter and bacon to lose weight and boost health might not scream “winning plan” to everyone. But it makes perfect sense to those on the ketogenic diet (or “keto diet”), the latest “it” regimen that backs high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate eating.
Of course, behind every popular diet there’s controversy. Among the criticisms of the keto diet, skeptics say the plan is too restrictive, lacks nutritional balance, and hasn’t been studied for long-term effects (the keto diet ranked 39th out of 40 for Best Diets Overall 2017 by a U.S. News report).
On the flip side, others—including some medical experts—believe a well-formulated keto diet is sustainable and meets essential nutrient needs; they also point to increasing research linking the diet to potential health benefits.
While it may be new to you, the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920’s, when the Mayo Clinic reported its effectiveness for helping epilepsy (that is still the case). Since then, there’s strong evidence that the keto diet helps with weight loss as well as type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, professor in the department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and co-author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
On a ketogenic diet, you’re generally eating a diet that’s high in fat (roughly 70 percent of your total calories come from fat), moderate in protein (about 20 percent of your calories), and low in carbohydrate (about 5 percent of calories). By limiting carbohydrates (to usually less than 45 grams for the average person), your body lacks the glucose (from carbs) that it normally uses for energy, so it eventually switches over to burning fat as its primary fuel source instead; through a metabolic process called ketosis, the liver converts the fat into fragments of fatty acids called ketones, which power the brain and other organs and tissues.
Everyone has to find their nutritional sweet spot for producing enough ketones and staying in ketosis, but “the core principle of the diet is to keep carbohydrate intake low enough, so your body continues producing ketones at elevated levels,” says Volek. “Your body adapts to this alternative fuel and becomes very efficient at breaking down and burning fat.”
Different Types of Ketogenic Diets
- Standard: This version—the type we’re discussing in this article—is consistently low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat, and the one that has been the most widely studied and shown to be beneficial for therapeutic uses, such as diabetes.
- Cyclical: Also referred to as “carb-cycling,” this diet involves injecting short periods of high-carb consumption (called “carb refeeds”) into a regular keto diet to replenish glycogen stores for muscle growth. This version isn’t well-studied and is aimed more at serious athletes and bodybuilders.
- Targeted: On a targeted keto diet, you consume carbohydrates around your workouts to improve athletic performance without knocking yourself out of ketosis for too long. This version is also geared toward hardcore exercisers.
Who Should Not Be on the Keto Diet?
Blanket statement: It’s always best to check with your doctor before starting on this regimen. With that said, “the keto diet isn’t recommended for those with liver or kidney disease, or someone with a medical condition, such as a gastrointestinal issue, who can’t metabolize high amounts of dietary fat,” says Sarah Jadin, a Los-Angeles based registered dietitian and founder of Keto Consulting, LLC. If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, the keto diet may be a no-go. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with certain rare genetic disorders shouldn’t try this diet.
“If you’re using the keto diet for medical nutrition therapy, you definitely need medical oversight to be successful,” says Jadin. “Though anyone considering the keto diet would benefit from partnering with a medical professional, such as a dietitian, who is well-versed in this diet.”
Ketogenic Diet Benefits
Positive science on ketosis coupled with personal successes passed by word-of-mouth have driven more people to explore the ketogenic diet, says Volek. More recently, the keto diet hints at having a promising therapeutic role in cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Research is still early in many areas, but Volek suspects there will more definitive answers on the wider scope of the diet’s benefits within the next decade.
Benefit #1: Weight Loss
You may experience rapid weight loss in the first week due to fluid loss, but then after a few weeks, you’ll likely notice more pounds peeling away. Many reasons for this weight loss are being investigated, but the journal Obesity Reviews, reveals that ketosis suppresses your appetite, which squashes the desire to eat.
Benefit #2: Control Blood Sugar
Most carbs you consume are broken down into sugar that enters the bloodstream. When you rein in carbohydrates on the keto diet, you have lower levels of blood glucose (high blood glucose can lead to diabetes). A study in the journal Nutrition reveals that a ketogenic diet improves blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics more significantly than a low-calorie diet and can also decrease the dosage of your diabetes meds.
Benefit #3: Improve Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
A review of multiple studies in the journal Nutrients found that ketogenic diets are connected to significant reductions in total cholesterol, increases in “good” HDL cholesterol levels, dips in triglycerides levels and decreases in “bad” LDL cholesterol; there are questions as to whether diets high in saturated fat negate these benefits. The same paper reports that a ketogenic may slightly reduce blood pressure, but science is still very scant on this point.
Benefit #4: Lower Inflammation
With inflammation driving most chronic diseases, the keto diet is anti-inflammatory and may help ease some inflammation-related pain conditions, according to researchers at Trinity College. One mechanism at play: The keto diet eliminates sugar and processed foods that can lead to oxidative stress in the body, a cause of chronic inflammation.
Benefit #5: Longer Life
This may be more of a maybe, but recent studies on mice fed a ketogenic diet lived longer, according to Cell Metabolism. “Not only did these mice live longer, they had expanded health in terms of physical and cognitive functioning,” says Volek. “Meaning, they lived happy, healthy lives.” Obviously, human studies need to be performed.
Common Side Effects of Keto Diet
You can have a completely smooth transition into ketosis, or…not. While your body is adapting to using ketones as your new fuel source, you may experience a range of uncomfortable short-term symptoms. These symptoms are referred to as “the keto flu.” Low-sodium levels are often to blame for symptoms keto flu, since the kidneys secrete more sodium when you’re in ketosis, says Volek. A few side effects:
Headache and Dizziness
Most people on the keto diet need to bump up their daily salt intake by an extra gram or two to avoid side effects like headaches, dizziness and even fainting, says Volek. To eliminate the symptoms caused by salt depletion, Volek suggests drinking broth made with a bouillon cube (which has slightly less than 1 gram of sodium), once or twice a day.
When you eat a high-fat diet, you slow down your gastric emptying and your motility, which can set you up for constipation, says Jadin. Making sure you’re getting that extra bit of sodium, eating enough fiber-filled non-starchy vegetables and drinking plenty of fluids (since you urinate more on the keto diet) can move things along.
When you’re lacking sodium, your kidney may wind up secreting potassium and you can end up with a mineral imbalance that leads to problems with your heart beat, explains Volek.
Optimal Ketosis and Macros
Achieving optimal ketosis hinges on finding the right balance of macronutrients (or “macros” in keto-speak); these are the elements in your diet that account for the majority of your calories, a.k.a. energy—namely, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. By the way, it’s often “net grams” of carbohydrates that are counted toward your daily intake; “net” deducts the amount of fiber in a food from its carbohydrate total.
To know you’re spot-on dietwise (since the macros mix that launch you into ketosis varies between individuals), you can measure ketones in your blood (with a finger prick kit) or more commonly, through your urine (cheaper, but not as accurate).
Subjectively, the way you feel can also serve as a guide to whether you’re in ketosis. Most people on ketosis are more mentally sharp and energized, and feel less hungry.
The amount you should eat is determined by many factors, such as your weight, gender, and activity levels. Online keto calculators can do the math for you.
Ketogenic Diet Food List
“The cleaner, the better when it comes to the keto diet,” says Jadin. Focus on “whole” and “unprocessed.” Also, strive for a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats for balance. Note: Tipping the scale toward too much protein is a common pitfall many people make on the keto diet. Mind your protein intake, since too much can kick you out of ketosis, says Jadin.
Foods to Eat
Consider this just a general snapshot of what’s allowed and what isn’t (and there are differences in opinion).
- Meat: beef, chicken (skin-on is okay), turkey, lamb, pork (including bacon), sausage
- Fatty fish and shellfish: salmon, trout, mackerel, shrimp, scallops
- Eggs: ideal when cooked in fat
- Berries: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries (in limited quantities)
- Non-starchy vegetables: leafy greens, like spinach and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber
- Nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseeds, coconut, peanuts (a legume exception)
- Nut and seed butters (with no added sugar): sun butter, almond butter, peanut butter
- Full-fat dairy (in limited quantities): heavy whipping dairy, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheese
- Fats and oils: butter, coconut oil, olive oil, hemp oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, mayonnaise
- Sugar substitutes: personal preference whether to include
- Dark chocolate (limited quantities)
Foods to Avoid
- Grains (white and whole): cereal, pasta, rice, bread (except keto-friendly homemade or packaged low-carb bread/wrap products)
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn
- Legumes: lentils, peas, beans, quinoa, chickpeas
- Fruit: most types, because of natural sugar (bananas are especially high in sugar)
- Traditional desserts: cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy
- Milk and most low-fat dairy, including flavored yogurts
- Added sugar, including agave and honey: especially in condiments, salad dressings, and prepackaged sauces and soups
What to Drink
- Water or carbonated water
- Calorie-free beverages (limit artificial sweeteners)
- Unsweetened nut milk: almond, cashew
- Alcohol (one or two drinks max): wine (dry, not sweet), vodka
Supplements You Can Take
Take a multivitamin. “Because you are removing grains, the majority of fruit, some vegetables, and a significant amount of dairy from your menu, a multivitamin is good insurance against any micronutrient deficiencies,” says Jadin. Depending on what your individual overall diet looks like, Jadin says you might also need to add a calcium, vitamin D, and potassium supplement.
Some supplement their keto diets with MCT oil (MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides). Jadin’s opinion: It may help boost ketosis, but it’s not necessary and some people can’t tolerate the supplement.
Sample Ketogenic Menu
Adjust these meal ideas to meet your individual needs on the keto diet.
- Breakfast: spinach omelet with bacon
- Lunch: leafy green salad topped with salmon and oil-based dressing
- Dinner: lettuce-wrapped burger with spicy mayo
- Breakfast: flaxseed porridge with blueberries and cinnamon
- Lunch: egg salad stuffed avocado
- Dinner: baked turkey meatballs parmesan with zucchini noodles
- Breakfast: egg, cheddar, pepper “breakfast mini muffins”
- Lunch: grilled cheese on keto bread (homemade or keto-friendly store-bought bread) with salad
- Dinner: Tofu stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables
- Breakfast: keto smoothie (with an avocado base, and then a combo of greens, nuts, seeds, berries, and a little heavy cream)
- Lunch: tuna salad with celery stalks
- Dinner: sausage- and veggie-topped pizza on cauliflower pizza crust
- Breakfast: eggs scrambled with cheddar and tomatoes
- Lunch: chicken salad lettuce wrap
- Dinner: steak cooked in butter with asparagus
- Breakfast: vanilla chia pudding
- Lunch: crust-less bacon, mushroom, swiss quiche
- Dinner: lamb chops with Brussels sprouts
- Breakfast: fried eggs with bacon and avocado slices
- Lunch: roast chicken with roasted broccoli and cauliflower
- Dinner: taco salad with ground beef, guac, and sour cream (no shell)
How To Start A Ketogenic Diet the Right Way + 3 Costly Mistakes To Avoid
As you may have heard, the ketogenic diet (keto for short) has been exploding in popularity over the past few years. According to Google Trends, interest in the ketogenic diet has more than doubled in the last year alone.
But before you give keto a try, keep in mind that it’s way better to start a ketogenic diet the right way and avoid the mistakes others make. That way you can enjoy the benefits of the diet faster and with better results.
Keto diets were first used about 100 years ago to help epileptic children. Now, people use the keto diet to aid in things such as weight loss, mental focus and energy, and to support digestive health.
However, while the benefits of a ketogenic diet are substantial, in this article I’ll show you exactly how to start a ketogenic diet and how to use it in order to reap its full benefits.
The Basics Of A Ketogenic Diet
As explained in this article, a ketogenic diet focuses on putting your body into a metabolic state called “ketosis.” What this generally means is that your body uses fat – rather than sugar – to generate energy for your body.
In order for your body to switch into this state, the typical advice is to eat a diet low in carbohydrates, high in fats, and moderate in proteins. (Hence why bone broth is very keto-friendly.)
How To Start A Ketogenic Diet
A keto diet is pretty simple in theory (low carbs, high fat, moderate protein). But that doesn’t necessarily tell you exactly what to eat, what to avoid, or how much to eat.
So What Exactly Can You Eat on A Ketogenic Diet?
- Healthy fats, e.g., coconut oil, butter or ghee, lard, tallow, bacon fat, olive oil
- Meats, including organ meats
- Fish and Seafood
- Non-starchy vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables)
- Some berries
So a typical day’s meal might look like this:
- Breakfast – eggs with bacon
- Lunch – cup of bone broth with chicken salad
- Dinner – steak with sauteed veggies followed by a keto dessert
Here are some other meal ideas from proponents of a ketogenic diet….
Stephen Phinney has a MD from Stanford University, a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from MIT, and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He’s been researching ketogenic diets for decades and is the co-author of Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. His example meal plan is:
- Breakfast – black coffee and sausages
- Lunch – salad with greens, tuna, olives, blue cheese dressing
- Snack – nuts, broth, cheese with celery sticks
- Dinner – tomato bisque, steak, green beans, mushrooms.
- Dessert – maple walnut ice cream made with sucralose/xylitol
Dominic D’Agostino, who is an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida and studies neurological disease prevention, eats eggs, sardines, oysters, and broccoli for breakfast.
Those are just a few examples, and the possibilities are endless. For more ideas, here’s a free 7-day ketogenic diet meal plan.
Potential Hazard: “Carb Flu” and How To Get Over It
When you first start a ketogenic diet, you might feel tired, moody, and even slightly nauseous – this is sometimes referred to as “carb flu” and is pretty common.
These symptoms typically arise because your body is adjusting to using ketones after having been so dependent on carbohydrates for most of your life.
While carb flu typically lasts less than a week or two, you can do a few things to get over it faster and to minimize how bad you feel:
- Drink more water
- Take some MCT oil or exogenous ketones
- Take in a bit more healthy fats and protein
- Consider adding a bit of clean carbs like sweet potatoes or fruit into your diet to ease that transition
After the initial transition period (often referred to as the fat-adaptation or keto-adaptation period), many people find they gain mental and physical energy. They don’t have energy crashes in the afternoons and they often sleep a bit less but wake up feeling refreshed. They also tend to eat less because they don’t feel hungry or have cravings.
When you’re first getting started, it can be helpful to use a blood or breath ketone meter. What these meters do is measure the amount of ketones (the energy source your body is switching to) in your blood or your breath. Knowing those amounts and seeing how they increase or decrease depending on what you’re eating daily can often be a motivating and helpful indicator of the transition occurring in your body.
3 Big Mistakes To Avoid on A Ketogenic Diet
Now that you’re thriving on a ketogenic diet, there are still a few issues to watch out for in order to get the most out of your diet.
#1 Not getting enough salts (sodium, potassium, and magnesium)
While we typically get plenty of sodium on a regular diet (because most processed foods contain high amounts of added sodium), most people find that when they go keto and cut out processed foods, they are actually low on sodium.
You might not think of low sodium as a problem, but it usually results in fatigue and cravings, so make sure you get sufficient amounts.
Potassium (like sodium) is often excreted more when you’re on a ketogenic diet, so it’s also important to make sure you replenish your potassium, especially if you’re active. You can add more potassium into your diet by eating spinach and avocados.
Finally, magnesium is a mineral that many of us are deficient in to begin with. Many people point to soil depletion as the potential reason for our widespread deficiency. Since magnesium is so important for sleep and mood, as well as our muscles and general well-being, it’s also good to make sure you are getting enough.
One good way to add more of these minerals to your ketogenic diet is to drink some bone broth – it contains sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
#2 Not eating enough greens
One of the keys of a ketogenic diet is to eat fewer carbohydrates. Many people interpret this to also mean avoiding all vegetables.
Please don’t do that.
It’s true that some vegetables like onions or mushrooms contain a fair amount of carbs, and you might want to generally limit them.
However, to ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals, it’s important to keep eating a lot vegetables. There are many ways to get more veggies into your diet. Salads, sautes, and green smoothies are all easy and quick to make.
#3 Not exercising
Exercise is one of the components of a fit lifestyle that many of us skip when we’re trying a new diet. It can be mentally hard to stick to keto during the first few weeks and that makes going to the gym seem awful.
However, it’s good to try to do some exercise if you can manage it. It’ll often help you get keto-adapted faster and help you lose fat (rather than muscle).
Walking is one of the simplest options, but you can also do body weight exercises like pushups, situps, and squats at home.
How Long Do I Have To Stay Keto For?
There’s really no set rule for how long you have to stay on a ketogenic diet.
Many keto proponents think of it as a tool for aiding weight loss or mental clarity. Many will do a ketogenic diet for several weeks and then you can be in a Paleo diet for a few months and then back to a ketogenic diet.
However, if you’re using a ketogenic diet for therapeutic purposes, then you may need to stay on it for longer – that’s something to discuss with a health practitioner.
Personalizing Your Ketogenic Diet
One of the best things about a keto diet is that many people in the community love figuring things out. There’s a lot of self-experimentation and sharing of data and ideas.
Some people do better on a slightly higher fat ketogenic diet while others can eat slightly more carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting is also an area that many people on a ketogenic diet experiment with.
This is an exciting growing field that’s helping a lot of people, so if you’re ready to give it a try, keep an open mind and have fun improving your body and mind.
Louise Hendon is the co-founder of The Keto Summit and author of the Essential Keto Cookbook. She’s passionate about helping people live a life they love.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the difference between a ketogenic diet and a high-fat, low-carb diet. How are they different? Is one better than the other? Which one should you do?
Great questions. Keto and low-carb are indeed different, and as with most everything in nutrition, one isn’t better than the other. Which one you should choose (if you want to go low-carb at all) depends on your goals.
Let’s take a look at the differences between keto and low-carb, the health benefits and limitations of each, and when you might want to try one over the other.
The basics of a ketogenic diet
A ketogenic diet is about as low-carb as you can go. Most people split it up by macronutrient ratio – the percentage of carbs, protein, and fat they eat in a day. As a general rule, a keto diet typically has:
- 5-10% carbs
- 15-25% protein
- 65-80% fat
Our Ample K (keto) meal has 74% calories from fat and just 3g of net carbs for this reason.
You’ll notice the carbs are very low. For most people, keto means eating under 50 grams of carbs a day. That’s because you have to stop feeding your body carbs to coax it into ketosis – a fat-burning metabolic state where you use fat for your main energy source.
Let’s recap the basics of a keto diet:
- Get 5-10% of your calories from carbs (typically under 50g net carbs per day)
- 15-25% protein (moderate protein, although you may want to increase your protein intake if you’re an athlete)
- 65-80% from fat (or just eat fat until you’re satisfied)
- For most people, these macros will get you into ketosis – a state when you’re burning fat for fuel.
It can logistically be very difficult to maintain a keto diet in a modern routine. Having a backup meal on hand like Ample K is a great way to stick to it. Now let’s take a look at low-carb diets.
The basics of a low-carb diet
There’s no strict definition of a low-carb, high-fat diet. Basically, low-carb is keto, but with slightly higher carb intake – maybe 75-150g of carbs a day.
Low-carb diets usually aren’t low enough in carbs to keep you in full ketosis. You’ll probably dip into a mild state of ketosis between meals and come out of it entirely after you eat carbs. You likely won’t get into full-on ketosis often on a low-carb diet, except maybe during certain times (when you’re sleeping, after a tough workout, or during a fast, for example). Keto diets often don’t have as much protein as low-carb diets do.
Paleo, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets like the Atkins diet are all examples of low-carb.
That’s not a bad thing, though. You may feel better eating some carbs. Or maybe you just don’t like the strictness keto requires – having to watch your carb intake day in and day out. That’s when low-carb becomes a sweet spot.
Keto vs. low-carb: which is best for you?
It depends on your goals, lifestyle, preferences, and unique biology. Some people may do better with keto. Others may do better with low-carb. It’s worth mentioning that both diets emphasize healthy fats, lots of veggies (especially high-fat veggies like avocado), and keeping total carbs relatively low.
Both are low-carbohydrate diets, meaning they can both help with high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. But depending on your goals, either keto or low-carb may be better for you:
Keto is great for:
Weight loss. First things first: just because you’re burning fat for fuel doesn’t mean you’re burning body fat for fuel – that’s a common misconception. In keto, you’ll burn the fat you eat first, and stored body fat after that. So it’s possible to overeat and gain weight on keto, as it is with every other diet. However, it’s a lot harder to overeat on keto, for two reasons.
- The first is that ketones (also called ketone bodies), the little bundles of fuel your cells use when you’re in ketosis, are strong hunger suppressors . Eating keto can make you feel full on fewer calories, meaning you’ll gradually burn through body fat without being hungry all the time.
- The other benefit of keto is a faster metabolism – a well-controlled study found that keto dieters burned about 300 more calories a day than non-keto dieters .
In other words, keto can help you burn more calories while feeling full on less food. That’s a solid recipe for sustainable fat loss and decreased body weight. If you’re struggling with weight gain, keto may help you reach your goal weight faster.
Stable energy and blood sugar. Does your energy crash a couple hours after you eat? Our first recommendation would be to cut out sugar. If you’re watching your sugar and you still feel like you yo-yo between feeling energized and exhausted/hungry, you may be especially sensitive to blood sugar/insulin spikes. Keto can help. While carbohydrate intake affects your blood sugar levels and insulin levels, fat intake does not. Cutting carbs can help you keep your blood sugar balanced, giving you steady energy levels throughout the day.
Decreasing inflammation. A few small studies have found that keto lowers inflammation, possibly thanks to a ketone metabolite called beta-hydroxybutyrate . Keto seems especially good for liver inflammation .
Endurance athletes. Keto isn’t always great for CrossFitters or powerlifters, but several recent studies show that it works pretty well for endurance athletes, and may even give them a slight performance edge over carb-burners .
Low-carb is great for:
Non-endurance athletes. While some folks do fine working out a ton on keto, a lot of people find they need more carbs to prevent bonking (hitting a wall mid-workout). If you’re lifting, sprinting, or doing any other kind of intense workout a few times a week and you feel like your performance is slipping, you may want to add some quality carbs to your diet. You also may want to increase your protein intake.
Stable energy and blood sugar. Like keto, low-carb will go a long way toward balancing your blood sugar, especially if you eat complex carbs instead of simple ones. Plenty of people find they get stable energy with low-carb, and that they don’t need to go full keto.
Being more relaxed with your diet. Maybe you just like carbs now and then, and you don’t want to cut sweet potatoes or butternut squash out of your diet. Keto requires you to diligently avoid carbs (if you slip up and eat carbs you’ll have to transition back into full ketosis, which takes several days). That strict lifestyle just doesn’t jibe with everyone. Low-carb gives you the space to be a little more relaxed with what you eat, which can work out better for you in the long term.
Nutrition is a personal thing. It depends on biology, lifestyle, age, sex, and all kinds of other factors. Some people just never feel right on keto. Some people feel awful eating carbs. Some people thrive on high-carb, low-fat diets.
Use the guidelines above, but always pay attention to how you feel, and use that as the main way to decide what nutrition is best for you. Best of all, always keep a backup meal handy. Thanks for reading!
Looking for more? Check out these articles:
- Should You Eat Carbs?
- What is Keto and Why are People Doing It?
- How Does Ketosis Actually Work?
- Troubleshooting Keto: Why You’re Not Losing Weight on a Ketogenic Diet
Low-carb ‘keto’ diets have some health benefits and some risks
(Reuters Health) – While extremely low-carbohydrate diets may aid short term weight loss, they have mixed effects on health markers that can contribute to heart disease risk, according to new recommendations from the National Lipid Association.
Based on a review of existing research, the scientific statement emphasizes some advantages of a ketogenic, or very low-carb, diet including appetite suppression, lower lipid levels and lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
But a keto diet is also associated with spikes in the “bad” cholesterol that can build up in blood vessels and lead to clots, known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).
Over six months, people may lose more weight with popular low-carb diets like the Atkins, ketogenic, South Beach, and Zone diets, according to the recommendations published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.
But after a year, weight loss with these diets is similar to what people can achieve with diets that allow more carbohydrates, according to the recommendations. Extremely low-carb diets can also be harder to stick with over time, and may severely restrict nutrient-dense foods that offer cardiovascular benefits, the recommendations stress.
There doesn’t appear to be a meaningful difference between low-carb and other types of diets for other markers of cardiometabolic health like blood pressure.
“While some patients prefer a low-carbohydrate eating pattern, which may be reasonable for short periods of time, long-term compliance is challenging, and long-term benefits and risks are not fully understood, especially with ketogenic diets,” said Carol Kirkpatrick, lead author of the recommendations and a researcher at Idaho State University in Pocatello.
With ketogenic diets, people typically eat very few carbs and consume a lot of fat, putting the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This can make the body more efficient at burning fat for energy and trigger reductions in blood sugar, previous research has found.
Some people on ketogenic diets have lost two to three times more weight than individuals with different eating habits, but much of this is based on short-term results.
“Weight loss with any dietary strategy is difficult and there are many factors that impact a person’s ability to lose weight and maintain that weight loss,” Kirkpatrick said by email. “Behavioral strategies, social support, and adequate physical activity have proven helpful for enhancing weight loss and helping with weight loss maintenance, no matter what type of weight loss diet is employed by a person needing to lose body fat.”
People who might benefit from following an extremely low-carb diet for two to six months include individuals with diabetes and individuals with high levels of triglycerides in their blood, according to the recommendations.
Patients with a history of dangerously high cholesterol levels should avoid keto and extremely low-carb diets, the recommendations also note.
More research over longer periods of time is still needed to determine whether keto or low-carb diets might be harmful or helpful to people trying to lose weight and improve their overall health, said Andrew Mente, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Since there are no long-term trials of low-carb diets and health outcomes, this review is only able to report on intermediate risk markers rather than actual clinical outcome events like heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular death, new diabetes events, and total mortality,” Mente said by email.
While diets aren’t one size fits all, most people should aim for a wide variety of healthy foods, said Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist and nutritionist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Ideally, adopt a diet full of plants and whole foods that provides overall cardio-protective qualities: rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes; eliminate processed foods and trans fats; limit refined grains, saturated fats, red meat and added sugars,” Seidelmann, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Adults that are interested in pursuing a very low or low carbohydrate diet for weight loss should consult with their clinician in order to weigh the risks and benefits of various diets and to share in the decision making process.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2nK56GL Journal of Clinical Lipidology, online September 13, 2019.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Keto Macros: A Guide to Understanding Nutrient Ratios
Keto macros are the most important aspect of the ketogenic diet. They include the three nutrients that your body needs in large amounts– fat, protein, and carbs. Get them wrong and your chances of reaching ketosis are close to zero!
In this guide, we explain what macros are and how you can calculate your keto macros. We also offer practical bits of advice that can make meeting your keto macros a whole lot easier.
Calculating Keto Macros
The easiest way to calculate your keto macros is with a keto calculator. We’ve developed a precise keto calculator based on the standard ketogenic diet that will calculate you your keto macros in less than a minute. However, if you’d like to learn more about keto macros, including your daily allotment, keep reading.
What Are Macros?
Macros (short for “macronutrients”) are nutrients that your body needs in large amounts in order to sustain wide range of metabolic processes. Medical and nutrition experts classify the following five nutrients as macros :
However, what most people refer to when talking about macros is carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These three are also of great importance on a ketogenic diet. They are energy-providing nutrients whose total energy yield is defined in calories.
A balance in macros is also of huge importance for overall health. Studies show that eating too much or little of a single macro increases one’s risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes . The worst offender of the three is carbs, but the one carrying the greatest stigma is fat (we’ll talk more about that later).
Besides macronutrients, your body also needs micronutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that you need to eat in smaller amounts, and they mostly include vitamins and minerals. It’s easy to get adequate amounts of both micro and macronutrients from a well-planned ketogenic diet.
What Are Keto Macros?
“Keto macros” is a term referring to the macronutrient ratio of a ketogenic diet. This ratio looks something like this:
- 60-75% of calories from fat
- 15-30% of calories from protein
- 5-10% of calories from carbs
This macronutrient ratio is different from what the medical community recommends and from what most people are used to. In fact, The Institute of Medicine recommends that active people get 45-65% of their energy from carbs, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat .
So, what’s the deal here? Well, the goal of a keto diet is different from that of standard health diets. On a keto diet, your goal is to radically change the way your body uses nutrients for energy production by placing the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. The standard diet, on the other hand, is meant to optimize the way your body already makes and uses food for energy.
There are many reasons why you’d want to induce ketosis, but the most sought-after is to force your body to burn fat, instead of glucose, for fuel. When your body does this, you lose excess body fat, become more energized, and experience greater mental clarity.
Dr. Russell M. Wilder at the Mayo Clinic originally developed these standard keto macros as a treatment for childhood epilepsy . Decades later, this ratio is now used to achieve a variety of objectives: from weight loss and boosting energy to treating diabetes and neurological diseases.
Below is a breakdown of each macro so you can better understand their function on the keto diet:
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source. The reason for this is that they are easy to break down and turn into energy. However, unlike proteins and fat, carbs are still not an essential nutrient.
Carbs are simply a cheap and convenient sources of energy. In the absence of carbs, your body is perfectly adapted to surviving on protein and fats. Not only that, but your body may just benefit from occasional carb restriction.
The biggest problem with carbs is that they’re easy to overconsume. The typical Western diet is laden with all of the wrong carbs, and this is believed to be behind the global rise in metabolic diseases and obesity.
Another problem with carbs is that some can cause low-grade inflammation , a condition linked to things like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The keto diet minimizes carb intake to a level that will help your body burn fat and also maintain good health.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that the body needs to build and repair tissue. Proteins are large molecules consisting of amino acids. There are around 20 amino acids in nature, 9 of which are essential for human health. You can get essential amino acids from both plant and animal foods.
On a keto diet, you have to adjust your protein intake in accordance with your activity levels: the more active you are, the more protein you’ll need. However, going overboard on protein can, and will, kick you out of ketosis because your body is able to turn a portion of the protein you eat into glucose.
On a positive note, one great thing about protein is that it keeps you feeling full for a long time because it takes longer to digest. Protein also boosts weight loss because your body actually burns calories to digest it. Finally, protein builds muscle tissue, which further increases your energy expenditure.
Fat is a central keto macro but also the reason behind much of today’s nutrition controversy. Medical experts have been warning the public about the dangers of high-fat diets for decades. The fact of the matter is that fat is an essential nutrient that your body cannot do without. Eliminating it from your diet does more harm than good, and researchers have been saying this for at least two decades now after reevaluating the role of fat in health and disease .
What we now know about fat is that it:
- Provides energy
- Helps your body use fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
- Maintains body temperature
- Maintains healthy skin and hair
- Promotes cell health
- Accumulates toxins to protect internal organs
- Supports hormone production
Fat is central to the ketogenic diet, helping the body make ketones to fuel your body and brain by replacing glucose. If you lower your calorie intake, your body will also start to use stored fat for energy.
Types of Fat
There are many different types of fat, some good and some bad.
Bad fats are trans fats found in excess in highly processed and fried food. Some margarines are also high in trans fats. Good fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in plant oils. Saturated fats are also good, but some may not agree with this. Keto experts vouch for it as do many researchers and medical experts today .
Fats also contain essential and non-essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acids) and linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids). Your body can make other fatty acids from omega fats, but it cannot make omega fats on its own so you need to get them from food.
You can get essential fatty acids from a wide range of food sources. The best sources by far are fish, other seafood, nuts, plant oils, and seeds. Eating a variety of these foods is a foolproof way to meet your daily needs for omega fatty acids.
How to Calculate Macros for Keto
Keto macros are roughly the same for your most people. However, for maximum efficiency, you want keto macros to match your physique, needs, and goals. The easiest way to do that is by using a keto calculator.
However, there are other ways to calculate and keep track of your keto macros:
1. Start with net carbs
Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber. Calculating them is important on a keto diet because your body makes glucose only from net carbs. Fiber has no effect on your blood glucose levels whatsoever, so feel free to load up on it.
Take a look at nutrition labels on food packaging or online for fresh produce. MyFitnessPall and SELFNutritionData have great nutrition databases for this purpose. When you find the total carbs, subtract the fiber and what you get is net carbs.
Your daily intake of net carbs should not exceed 30 grams. This is the upper limit you can reach before being kicked out of ketosis. However, eating around 20 grams a day is optimal for most people. Athletes may need to eat more to have enough energy during workouts.
2. Move on to proteins
Your protein allowance on a keto diet will depend on whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, and your body fat percentage*. As a rule of thumb, you need around 1.5 to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of muscle mass to maintain or gain muscle**. That’s 0.7 to 1 grams of protein per pound of muscle mass. You will need less if you are not trying to gain muscle. Below is a formula to help you determine your daily protein allowance.
160 pounds x 0.20 (20 %) = 32 pounds of body fat
2. Subtract your body fat percentage from 100 to get your lean muscle mass percentage:
100 – 20 percent (of body fat) = 80% of muscle mass.
3. Then divide this by 100 to get the decimal for your muscle weight:
80 / 100 = 0.80
4. Finally, multiply this decimal by total weight to calculate your total lean mass weight:
160 (pounds) x 0.80 = 128 of lean mass
128 pounds (of muscle mass) x 0.7-1 grams (protein per pound of muscle mass) = 89-128 grams of protein
- To determine your body fat percentage, you can use the visual representation provided in our keto calculator. Other options include a body fat scale or a skinfold caliper.
- An easier way to calculate your daily protein needs is simply relying on the recomended 0.8g per kg of total body weight (0.36g per pound of body weight). However, this formula works best for the average (nonathlete) person.
- Your body percentage estimate can help you determine how much weight you want to lose.
3. Finish with fats
After you’ve determined your daily carb and protein allowance, you’ll have to calculate how much fat you should eat. This will depend on whether you want to lose or maintain weight. To maintain weight, you need to eat more fat than to lose weight.
The easiest way to calculate your daily fat allowance is, of course, by using a keto calculator. The calculator will provide you with your daily allowance of fat in grams. If you want to know how many calories you are taking in, consider the following facts:
- Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
- Fat contains 9 calories per gram.
This means that if, say, a keto (macros) calculator shows you need to eat 200 grams of fat that 1,800 of your daily calories should come from fat:
200 grams (of fat) x 9 calories (per gram) = 1,800 calories from fat
On average, women need to eat around 2,000 and men around 2,500 calories per day. But these numbers vary greatly depending on your age, weight, and physical activity levels along with your goals (if you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass).
A surplus of 500 calories will either help you maintain muscle mass or total weight, while a deficiency will help you lose body fat. However, we need to mention that many keto experts doubt the necessity of counting calories on a keto diet. The reason being that fat is highly satiating, so going overboard is difficult. Another reason is that the ketogenic diet in itself suppresses appetite but also has a strong thermic effect.
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How to Calculate Food Macros
You know that some foods are high in fat and low in carbs, while others are the exact opposite (think avocado vs. white rice). But that doesn’t really help you on a practical level. You want to know how many keto macros you’re taking in with your meals.
Calculating keto macros in food items as well as whole meals is pretty easy. However, we need to warn you that it can be time-consuming when you first start doing this. Nevertheless, calculating macros is an important step in getting your ratio just right. You can do this by using nutrition facts from reliable websites.
Take for example Myfitnesspal.com. The website offers nutrition facts for a wide range of food items. Simply enter a food item in the search bar and the website will give you precise nutrition facts per serving, including total fat, total carbs, dietary fiber, protein, and calories.
Besides Myfitnesspal.com, you can use our food list of keto-approved foods and visit our Foods & Nutrition Blogs to learn more about keto foods. Once you have a list of keto foods ready, use nutrition facts websites to calculate your keto macros.
1 medium avocado (250 calories)
- Fat: 23 grams
- Net carbs: 5 grams (15 grams total carbs – 10 grams fiber),
- Protein: 0 grams
Served with one poached egg (74 calories)
- Fat: 5 grams
- Net carbs: 0 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
Topped with a teaspoon of olive oil (40 calories)
- Fat: 5 grams
- Net carbs: 0 grams
- Protein: 0 grams
From this 364-calorie meal, you get a total of 33 grams of fat, 5 grams of net carbs, and 6 grams of protein. Make similar lists for all your meals and keep them close when you plan your meals.
Tips & Tricks for Meeting Macros
Stick to whole foods
Highly processed foods contain hidden ingredients that can sabotage your dieting efforts. In other words, you never know what you are taking in when munching on packaged foods labeled “low-carb” or “keto”. The keto diet is all about clean eating as this supports good health, and most importantly – helps you stay within your keto macros.
Plan your meals
Planning meals is non-negotiable on a keto diet. You simply can’t make food choices on spur of the moment because then you won’t be able to track your keto macros. Planning meals is time-consuming at first. But once you have your list ready, most of your planning is already done.
Join a keto community
The keto diet can be confusing for newcomers. To make the transition easier, consider joining online keto communities to learn about other’s experiences. Facebook and Reddit have great keto communities where dieters also discuss how they meet their keto macros – give it a try and see if you can learn from others’ experiences.
Find a ready-made meal plan
An even easier way to meet your keto macros is to use existing meal plans. Many keto websites offer weekly, monthly, and even half-year meal plans. This takes away much of the hassle that you initial go through when trying to plan meals and meet keto macros. Make sure you only use meal plans from reputable sources with good ratings.
Keto macros are the essence of a ketogenic diet. You want to balance them out perfectly to reach your goals and feel good along the way. This can be a bit tricky as it involves plenty of planning and mathematics.
But once you have your macros set and your meal plan in place, keto dieting will become your second nature. Use our keto calculator, read our informative blog posts, and consider our guidance and tips given here when trying to meet your macros.
And also, don’t worry if you don’t get your keto macros perfect the first time. As long as you are eating less than 30 grams of carbs per day and lots of fat, chances are your diet will work like a charm.
Make sure you also measure your ketones levels with your favorite device, be it a breathalyzer, a blood ketone meter or our ketone strips.
After all, the keto diet is a lifestyle you’re supposed to enjoy. Make meeting your macros an exciting challenge and your keto meals as delicious and decadent as they should be.
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How to use this free keto calculator?
You can use this keto macro calculator to plan your diet and achieve your ideal weight. The process of finding your personalized keto macros ratio is divided into four steps.
Step 1: provide information about yourself.
Your diet should be adjusted to your body’s needs. A teenager who plays in his school football team will have a different nutritional intake than his mother who has a 9-to-5 sedentary job. Our keto calculator takes into consideration the following factors:
- Your sex – women typically have a lower calorie intake than men;
- Your height and weight – if you’re petite, you’ll need fewer calories than a tall, well-built sportsman;
- Your age – younger people need more energy from food;
- Your activity level – intuitively, the more physically active you are, the more energy you need.
Step 2: calculate the calorie intake required for sustaining your current weight.
Our keto macronutrients calculator is based on the Mifflin – St Jeor equation. It allows you to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the amount of energy needed for your body to support its vital functions. This value is calculated according to two formulas – one for men and one for women:
BMR(men) = (10 * weight / 1kg + 6.25 * height / 1cm – 5 * age / 1 year + 5) kcal / day
BMR(women) = (10 * weight / 1kg + 6.25 * height / 1cm – 5 * age / 1 year – 161) kcal / day
After you calculate your BMR, you need to multiply it by a factor corresponding to your physical activity level:
In case of doubt, pick the lower number from the list above; most people tend to overestimate their exercise level or forget about the cheat days that happen from time to time.
Step 3: pick your target weight and an optimal keto diet plan.
Once you know what is the recommended calorie intake for maintaining your current weight, you can modify it to achieve the results you want. As a first step, decide on your target weight – it can be lower or higher than your current one. Then, choose how fast you want to lose or gain weight.
A typical diet plan allows you to lose 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lbs) per week. Faster weight loss might be dangerous for your health, while a slower pace requires a lot of patience. Naturally, you don’t have to be losing weight on the ketogenic diet; a lot of people decide to start this diet because of other health benefits (you can find them in the section health benefits of the keto diet).
It is typically assumed that each pound of body fat stores approximately 3500 kcal of energy. It means that if you want to lose one pound a week, you need to cut 500 calories per day from your daily calorie expenditure.
As a rule of thumb, you should never go below 1200 calories a day if you’re a woman, and 1800 a day if you’re a man. Also, make sure to check your BMI to ensure you won’t be underweight once you’re done with your keto diet!
Step 4: check out the keto macros ratio chart.
Was that a lot of work? We hope you had a blast filling out our free keto calculator! Now, you can enjoy the results, displayed as a helpful keto macronutrient chart.
The chart presents you with your recommended calorie intake, splits into fats, carbs, and protein, on a weekly basis. You can use it as a guideline when you’re planning your keto-friendly menu for the week!
Even though the chart shows your recommended calories per day, we saved you the hassle of recalculating it into grams. Therefore, you can also use this free keto diet calculator to check how many grams of fats, carbs, and proteins you need.
Fat-Fueled Eating: Your Guide to the Keto Diet
How Does It Work?
When you’re on the ketogenic diet, you are in a state similar to fasting – your body is using fat for fuel. Normally your body gets energy from readily available carbohydrates, but on a keto diet, your carb intake is slashed. “When carbs are available, the body will naturally turn to them for energy instead of using dietary fat or stored body fat,” explains Pam Nisevich Bede, RD, MS, a dietitian with Abbott.
However, without regular replenishing of carbohydrates, the body begins to break down fat for energy, resulting in the formation of ketones. Ketones can eventually be used by the body for energy.
The move from carb to fat fueling is marked by an adaptation phase. This phase can come with some lethargy and other symptoms as your body adjusts (we discuss this more later) but you’ll start to notice weight loss as well as more steady energy and less hunger. “This can be a hard shift for someone who’s been fueling with bagels and pasta their entire life, but after three to five weeks, the body adapts,” Bede explains.
Related: Sign up for keto quick-start guides and more
What You’ll Be Eating
The key to keto is knowing what’s in your food. “On a standard diet, most people consume approximately 50-55 percent carbohydrates, 20-25 percent protein and 20-25 percent fat,” says Bede. “With a keto diet, the breakdown is approximately 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbohydrates.” For example, a woman who weighs 150 pounds and is moderately active is recommended to eat 25 grams of carbs (think one medium sized apple!), 86 grams of protein (a little over three 3 oz chicken breasts) and 189 grams of fat (hello, avocados and nuts!) per day on the keto diet.
Interested in a keto meal plan? Check out a full day of recipes here.
A typical keto diet will consist of foods high in protein and healthy fats, including red meat and poultry, fatty fish, non-starchy vegetables, dark, leafy greens, avocado, coconut oil, keto-style coffee, bone broths and of course plenty of water. When you’re in a pinch, you can grab a ZonePerfect Keto shake in flavors like White Chocolate Coconut or Butter Coffee. to meet your targets to stay fueled and satiated on the go