HOW TO COUNT MACROS ON THE KETO DIET?
If you want to follow the (vegetarian) keto diet, you will need to start counting your macros at some point, to help you reach your goals.
WHAT ARE MACROS?
Macronutrients or in short macros are the three energy-providing components in our food.
They are not to be confused with micronutrients which are the ones that provide essential vitamins and minerals.
While carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per one gram, fat is the most energy providing macronutrient, with 7g calories per one gram.
HOW TO CALCULATE MACROS?
Depending on your goals you can calculate your macros, individual.
In general, it is believed that we reach and remain in ketosis by eating 20g – 50g of carbs a day. This will vary for each individual, as we are all different and our bodies use energy differently.
So for the ketogenic diet, we would calculate our net carbs to be 20g-25g. Fat and protein will be calculated depending on your weight, height, age, and goal. There are many calculators online, which let you choose between different options like weight loss, building muscles, maintenance, low carb, keto, high fat/ low carbs, high carb, and so on.
General proportion of macros to reach ketosis:
High Fat: 60%-70% of total calories should come from fat.
Moderate Protein: 25%-30% of total calories should come from protein.
Low Carbohydrate: 5%10% or less of total calories come from carbohydrates.
There is a little wiggle room regarding the percentage of how much you should get of each macro on the keto diet. Important is that you keep your carbs as low as possible.
Keto is a high-fat diet because fat hardly ever gets turned into glucose by the body. With no glucose present, our body runs on ketones, burning fat for fuel. Fat also provides lots of energy and keeps us full and satisfied.
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 70% of fats means you should consume 155g of fats. This is calculated by multiplying 70% by 2,000 = 1,400. Then divide 1,400 by 9 because there are 9 calories per gram of fat.
It is advised to eat a moderate amount of protein when following the keto diet, as too much protein can be turned into glucose by our body. Once we have glucose in our system, our body prefers to use it over ketones for energy and then fat we ate gets stored.
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 25% of protein means you should consume 125g of protein. This is calculated by multiplying 25% by 2,000 = 500. Then divide 500 by 4 because there are 4 calories per gram of protein.
Eating a (vegetarian) keto diet will require you to eat as low in carbs as possible, to archive, and to remain in a state of ketosis. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose (sugar) by our body, by continuous absence of glucose, we will reach nutritional ketosis. We will no longer run on glucose, instead we will run on ketones.
How to calculate: If your total calorie allowance is 2,000, 5% of carbs means you should only consume 25g per day. This is calculated by multiplying 5% by 2,000 = 100. Then divide 100 by 4, because there are 4 calories per gram of carbs.
For omnivores, it is very easy to cut carbs, as they can eat all sorts of almost carb-free meat and seafood. Us vegetarians have to plan a wee bit more to not overstep our daily carb intake, as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds quickly add up in carbohydrates.
But this should not discourage you! Afterall eating a high plant diet is beneficial in fighting diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and promoting weight control.
I eat two meals a day and sometimes a snack, so I find it really easy to eat up to 20-25g of carbs a day. If I eat over 30g of carbs a day I tend to get more migraine headaches, so that is definitely motivating me to keep it low. I do random blood ketone checks to see if I’m still in ketosis, this helps me to determine if I’m in my carb limit.
WHAT ARE NET CARBS?
Net carbs are the amount of carbohydrates that the body processes and uses for energy. Fiber and sugar alcohol don’t have a significant metabolic effect” and therefore, don’t lead to a spike of insulin. We do not count them as net carbs.
Tracking net carbs instead of total carbs allows for a much higher intake of nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods like vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Most nutritional labels state the total carb count and in order to calculate the net carb count you have to subtract the sugar alcohols and fiber. In the UK and many European countries the fiber is already taken off the total carb count.
USA: total carbs-fiber-sugar alcohols=net carbs
UK: total carbs-sugar alcohols=net carbs
Be careful with some sugar alcohols such as maltitol and fiber syrup aka Isomaltooligosaccharide or in short IMO, they can still spike blood sugar and kick you out of ketosis. It all depends on your body and how you react to carbohydrates and sugar alcohol.
HOW TO TRACK MACROS
To track your macros you need to determine the right amount of carb, protein, and fat count to archive your goals. Then you have to determine the carb, protein, and fat count of all the foods that you eat over the day. Try to stay within the calculated amount of macros to reach your goals.
The nutritional information on all food products will guide you on how many carbs, protein, and fat is in a product.
A food scale comes in really handy to accurately track the food and stay within your macros. Eventually, you will get a feel for the amount of macronutrients in your food and you won’t have to weigh every single food anymore.
To make counting macros easier, you can use an app like carb manager. You can log your foods every day to see how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you’ve consumed.
Those apps have a large database of almost every food product, to make tracking easy. Some apps have an option to scan the barcode of a food product, so you can check the macros of all the products that you have at home or at the supermarket. It’s a good practice to choose your favorite meals, baked goods and snacks, find a keto-friendly version of it, and then log the recipe in your app.
If you don’t want to use an app, I would recommend that you learn the carb count of all the foods, meals, and treats that you like to eat. Write everything down so you can check every now and then.
You could also not track at all and just eyeball the amount of carbs you consume per day. This way you don’t feel the pressure of tracking and logging every single food you eat. Many people have success with the “lazy keto” method. Just be warned that not tracking properly can lead to you eating way too many carbohydrates in combination with too much fat which then leads to weight gain.
Everyone will have to find the best and most comfortable way to count and keep track of their macros to achieve the best results on the keto diet.