You may have heard the term thrown around before. But what exactly are keto macros? Read on on to find out what they are and why they’re essential for mastering the ketogenic lifestyle.
Keto Macros 101
What are the secrets behind the keto diet? How can you obtain the claimed health benefits of the keto diet? Where do you begin?
The first thing to understand about the keto diet is its macronutrient principles. Failure to do so will result in much frustration when you attempt to tackle the diet alone. You cannot develop one keto meal, let alone an entire keto program, without learning the fundamental tenets of the diet.
The primary purpose of the keto diet is to change your body’s energy source from glucose to ketones. Glucose is what your body gravitates towards when searching for a fuel source and this energy provider comes from carbs within the diet.
However, when the body is starved of glucose, it will search for a different molecule to provide its energy needs. It is imperative that this alternative source be ketones and this can only be done by following a specific macronutrient range within the diet to stimulate the production of ketones.
Let’s review everything you need to know about macronutrients within the keto diet.
The Production of Ketones
How can the macronutrient intake of your diet affect keto production inside the body? The first thing to remember is that the body will not resort to ketones unless glucose is unavailable. This means that carbs must be severely restricted from your diet. Your diet must contain little to no carbs. This can be a significant barrier for many people to overcome since a traditional diet can range anywhere from 45 to 65 percent carbs.
Despite the difficulty of making this transition, it is the first step to enable ketone production. The muscles and brain must be starved of glucose so it knows to find another energy provider.
This study focused on individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and it was discovered that a low-carb diet significantly increased the amount of ketones seen in the urine. Ketone production is impossible without cutting off carbs from dietary consumption.
The next key step to stimulate the production of ketones is a substantial increase in the amount of healthy fats you consume. The exact amount of daily fat consumption needed to reach ketosis will vary for each individual person, but fat needs to be the primary macronutrient consumed to provide ample ketone production.
When following these two basic principles, you will be on the fast track to ramping up keto production inside your body.
Keto Diet Macronutrient Range
The most important concept any keto dieter needs to understand is the percentage of the overall diet for each individual macronutrient.
Fat, carbohydrate, and protein content must be diligently tracked in everything you consume to ensure the production of ketones. The ideal keto macronutrient range is approximately 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs.
The exact macronutrient range can be altered to suit individual needs. Regardless of individual preference, fat intake must remain at a bare minimum of 60 percent of the overall diet. Carbs must not eclipse 10 percent of the overall diet.
How to Calculate Macronutrient Content of Food
In order to ensure that you are the following the basic keto diet principles, it is imperative to know how to calculate the macronutrient distribution of your food. This skill can be the difference of steady keto production or a body still relying on glucose for energy.
You must know how to read nutrition labels. It will save much time and energy when attempting to track the amount of each macronutrient within every meal. Nutrition labels provide the exact number of grams per serving of each macronutrient of the item you plan on incorporating into a meal. For example, if a food item contains 5g of fat per serving and the entire product is 5 servings, then you will consume 25g of fat for that item.
The most important factor you want to keep an eye on is your carb intake. If you allow carb intake to creep above a certain amount, then it will prevent your body from maintaining a state of ketosis. Results will vary by individual, but most will need to keep their carb intake between 20-50 grams per day.
Another study directed at individuals with Type 2 Diabetes indicated that those who kept carb intake within the recommended range were able to maintain optimal ketone levels in the blood and reduce the number of prescriptions needed for treatment.
It is crucial to know how to read nutrition labels and calculate the exact number of grams of each macronutrient for anything you eat. In case you ever come across a food with no nutrition label, research that food item or utilize programs such as MyFitnessPal to provide this information. The term you will be looking for to base your calculations is net carbs.
When determining the keto macro range for you, carbs are the first one you want to tackle. It can be a tricky process, but you need to learn your specific limit of carbs you can consume before your body is thrown out of ketosis. If you cannot stay in ketosis, then it will make the keto diet difficult to follow in the long-term.
To identify the number of grams of carbs in a food item, you want to subtract total carbs from fiber for net carbs. Only the net carbs will play a role in the levels of glucose circulating through your blood. When you know the number of net carbs of every item that you consume, you can begin the process of pinpointing the threshold of carbs that will throw you out of ketosis.
The exact number of grams of carbs will be tailored to your body’s reactions to a low-carb diet and its ability to enter ketosis. Some individuals cannot exceed 20g of net carbs per day, but others are able to consume upwards of 40g or 50g of net carbs. If you are having a difficult time pinpointing your exact threshold of carbs, then 30g of net carbs is an ideal number to stick with. You can adjust the macronutrient range for the remainder of your diet based around this number.
Although protein is not needed in significant portions within a keto diet, it is important to consume enough for bodily functions that require it. While on the keto diet, the exact amount of protein you consume will vary based on your individual preference and your body weight.
Do you want to gain muscle, lose muscle, or remain at the same level of muscle mass you currently possess? Whichever option you would like to do will determine how much protein you consume daily. The macronutrient content of protein on the keto diet can sway anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of your total diet.
For the average individual with no specific goal in mind, the ideal amount of daily protein is 0.36g per pound of body weight. This will help you maintain your current muscle mass but will not initiate any further growth.
If you are an athlete and wish to increase your peak performance, then you will need to up your protein intake accordingly. One study found that protein intake should be upwards of 0.55g to 0.77g per pound to increase athletic performance. Keto dieters who need to be at their best during the competition will want to consider consuming an amount of protein on the higher end of spectrum.
Once you determine your specific health goals and ideal muscle mass, you can move on to the last portion of keto macronutrient distribution.
Let’s place fats underneath the microscope since not all fats in the diet are the same. The overwhelming majority of your food consumption on the keto diet will come from fat and it is important to identify the right fats to include in your diet.
As featured in this study, fats play a vital role in our health and do a tremendous job of limiting body fat.
Fats that you want to include in your diet are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated. These healthy fats can be rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and medium chain triglycerides.
They all play vital roles within the human body and can provide protection against heart disease, brain conditions, and more. You can obtain these fats in your daily diet by consuming foods like avocados, nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil.
The fat you want to avoid at all costs is trans fat. These dangerous fats provide no health benefits and can be a danger to your health if consumed on a regular basis. Processed and fried foods are loaded with trans fats and should not be a part of your keto meal plan.
To determine the amount of fat you need on your specific keto meal plan, you need to first combine the amount of daily carbs and protein you established earlier. You also need to decide if you want to gain weight, remain the same weight, or lose weight. Most individuals on the keto diet wish to lose weight and this will require less fat consumption than those who want to gain weight.
If it is easier for you to utilize calories to determine the total amount of food you will consume, then you can convert your gram allowances to calories. It is important to know that there are more calories per gram in fat than carbs or proteins. Carbs and proteins give you four calories per gram, while fat gives you nine calories per gram.
Since you already know the amount of carbs and protein you wish to consume, you can fluctuate the amount of healthy fats you include in your diet. Remember that the amount of fat you decide upon should be within the range of 60 to 75 percent of your overall daily grams or calories.
The most important macronutrient on the keto diet is fat and making the right selection of fats will allow you to stimulate ketone production in a more efficient manner.
Putting it all Together
By now you should have the knowledge and tools to thoroughly analyze the macronutrient content of the food you eat to determine what is best to add to your keto shopping list. If you do not know how to measure the number of calories or grams for each macronutrient, then you will be lost when trying to increase ketone production.
Equally as important as knowing how to calculate grams and calories is knowing what numbers within keto macronutrient range work best for you as the individual. Each person’s body is different and it may take you a slightly different macronutrient range to initiate ketosis.
You may need to consume less carbs and more fat than the standard keto diet or your body may adapt with a higher carb intake. If you are a competitive athlete such as a bodybuilder or wrestler, then you might need to sacrifice some fat for extra protein.
Even though there is a specific range of carbs, fats, and proteins you must consume, failure to understand your own body will make the keto process even more challenging for you.
How to Stay in Ketosis?
If you ever need a little extra guidance on how to keep your body in ketosis, then follow these recommendations for your keto meal plan.
Always make the right selection of fats for your meals and snacks. Fats make up 60 percent or more of your diet and the wrong selection of fats will derail your progress.
Avoid processed foods whenever possible as they often contain hidden ingredients which can hinder ketone production.
Limit your meals at restaurants to a minimum and make homemade more frequently. This will allow you to take complete control of what food goes into your belly.
Now that you have all the keto macronutrient guidelines, it’s time to create your perfect keto meal plan!