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The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet. The goal of eating this way is to induce ketosis, which is a metabolic state that enables you to burn fat (converted into ketones) for fuel instead of carbs (glucose).
You get into ketosis by drastically reducing carbohydrates long enough to deplete the body’s glycogen stores.
One of the most common questions when people are looking to start the ketogenic diet, is just how low carb does “low-carb” mean? How many carbs per day for ketosis can you eat?
Ketosis is the goal of eating a ketogenic diet. To encourage your body to enter ketosis, your daily caloric intake with the ideal macronutrient breakdown is:
On the ketogenic diet you should be consuming no more than 5% of your total calories from carbohydrates.
Your caloric intake will depend on many factors, including:
But for most people, that will be less than 50 grams of net carbs per day, and most days you should aim to be closer to 20 to 30 grams. You can see an example calculation below.
Net carbs are simply the total amount of carbohydrates in a food, without fiber and sugar alcohols. So to calculate net carbs on keto, use the formula: Net Carbs = Total Carbs – (Fiber + Sugar Alcohols)
Let’s say you weigh 160 lbs, and need 1400 calories per day to lose weight at a rate of about 1 pound per week.
One gram of carbohydrates and proteins contain about 4 calories, and one gram of fat provides 9 calories. You’d require:
If you’re not sure how many carbs are in the foods you eat, check out the carb counter and play around. It can be eye-opening!
If you are male, have a lot of muscle mass, work hard at the gym, or live an extremely active lifestyle, the number of carbohydrates you can get away with in grams without kicking yourself out of ketosis will be elevated compared to this example.
Our partner, Tim Tebow, shared that of his caloric intake, he eats:
The reality about the ketogenic diet is that you could follow the exact formula above and still not achieve ketosis…
Or you could eat 40g of carbs per day of a certain type of food and remain in ketosis. It just depends on you, your body, your starting point, and when and what foods you’re eating.
If your goal on the ketogenic diet is to achieve ketosis so that your body can burn fat for fuel, you need to test your ketone levels daily, at least at first, so you can see what works with your body and how many carbs you can get away with on keto. Using a blood ketone monitor (the most popular one being Keto Mojo) will provide the most accurate results.
Remember: even a fairly strict keto diet will include some carbohydrates; they’re in just about every vegetable you eat (and you’d be ill-advised to stop eating veggies!). Most nuts and cheese, which are definitely on the keto food list, and enjoyed by keto-ers regularly have some carbs in them.
A “zero-carb” diet is impossible and probably not healthy, either. Aim for the carbs you do consume to be from high-quality foods like nuts and vegetables.
If you’re still stuck with how many carbs to eat on keto, you’re welcome to join us in the KetoLogic Life Community.
Or, take the KETO 30 Challenge for free. We’ll guide you through the process of figuring out exactly how many carbs to eat and provide you with printable and downloadable meal plans, food lists, and grocery lists to make it simple: