The 3-step Process To Determining Your Ideal Carbohydrate Intake
This is a guest post written by staff nutritionist Kelsey Marksteiner, RD. Click here to read her blog or join her newsletter! There’s been a lot of talk about the right amount of carbohydrates to eat lately. Laura Schoenfeld started us off with her article about the possible detriments of eating a low-carbohydrate diet for too long, and Chris Kresser followed this up with his discussion of the common misconceptions people tend to have about low-carb diets. They’ve done the heavy lifting here and provided lots of scientific evidence to back up cases where a higher or lower carbohydrate diet might be beneficial. What I want to get into today is the practical aspect: how do you determine the amount of carbohydrates that’s right for you? To do this, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process that I take with clients so you can start to think about it for yourself. While many people find it easier to work with a professional on this, I think it can also be done on your own. The important thing to remember is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. When most people start a Paleo diet, they typically start a low- (and sometimes very low) carbohydrate diet. They get in the habit of not including starchy tubers and fruits. Some people will thrive on a diet like this, which is fantastic. Others might feel great for a while, but then slowly start to feel more fatigued, have more difficulty during workouts (and even more problems recovering), and overall just don’t feel so great. Guess which clients I’m going to be seeing? I see the clients who don’t thrive on low-carbohydrate diets. They come to me wondering what they’ve done wrong and why they’re feeling sick when all they’ve done is followed the Paleo diet to a T – and that’s why this conversat Continue reading >>
A Keto Diet For Beginners
A keto or ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many proven benefits for weight loss, health and performance, as millions of people have experienced already. 1 Here you’ll learn how to eat a keto diet based on real foods. You’ll find visual guides, recipes, meal plans and a simple 2-week get started program, all you need to succeed on keto. Get even more, custom meal plans, ask the experts and low-carb TV, with a free trial. 1. Introduction: What is ketosis? The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”. 2 This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply. Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar). Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, 3 and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones. On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. When the body produces ketones, it’s said to be in ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can fast forever. A keto diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinite Continue reading >>
How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need?
A perennial question, argument and debate in the field of nutrition has to do with how many carbohydrates people should be eating. While the nutritional mainstream is still more or less advocating a large amount of daily carbohydrate (with fat being blamed for the health problems of the modern world), groups often considered at the ‘fringe’ of nutrition are adamant that carbohydrates are the source of all evil when it comes to health, obesity, etc. They advocate lowering carbohydrates and replacing them with dietary protein, fat or both. This is a topic that I discussed in some detail in Carbohydrates and Fat Controversies Part 1 and Carbohydrate and Fat Controversies Part 2 and I’d recommend readers take a look at those for a slightly different look at the issue than what is discussed here. Arguments over recommended carbohydrate intake have a long history and it doesn’t appear to be close to ending any time soon. Typical mainstream recommendations have carbohydrates contributing 50% or more of total calories while many low-carbohydrate advocates suggest far fewer (ranging from the 40% of the Zone diet to close to zero for ketogenic diets). This article looks at the topic in detail. And while I originally wrote it quite a while back (some of you have probably seen it before), it was nice going over it with fine toothed comb for an update. While the majority of it stands up well over time, I was able to make some slight changes to the values, along with removing some original stuff that wasn’t really relevant. Enjoy. Introduction It’s safe to say that most carbohydrate recommendations that you will see are put in terms of percentages, you should be eating 45% of your calories as carbs, or 65% or whatever number is being used. As I discussed in Diet Percentag Continue reading >>
A Breakdown Of The Fat/protein/carb Ratio For A Ketogenic Diet
When on the ketogenic diet, one of the most important things you’ll have to pay attention to is your macronutrient breakdown. This means you’ll be getting a certain portion of your calories form carbohydrates (a very small portion) at 5%, a larger portion of calories from protein (35%), and the largest number of calories from fats (65%). There are many online sites that can help you figure out how many calories you need on a daily basis, based on your height, weight, measurements, age, gender and level of activity. From there, you can also use online calculators to help you figure out the proper breakdown, in grams, for each macronutrient percentage you’ll be eating. You’ll multiply your total daily calories by each percentage to get the grams of each macronutrient that you’ll need. For example, if you need 1200 calories per day, and your carbohydrates are 5% of that total, then multiply 1200 by 5% to get the number of grams of carbohydrates you’ll be allowed to eat each day. In this case, 5% of 1200 calories is 60 calories. You then divide the calories by the grams per unit of carb, protein or fat. Carbohydrates and proteins both have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 calories per gram. Again, in this example, 60 calories divided by 4 grams per carb leaves you with a total of 15 grams of carbs per day. There are several great phone apps that will do the calculations for you. My personal favorite is Carb Counter. This also makes restaurant eating a breeze. One last note on food and nutrient tracking applications—you can typically also use these to plan your meals ahead of time. Just plug in the proposed foods for the day to see where your calorie and macronutrient values will lie, and make adjustments from there. Then, you build your meals around those n Continue reading >>
Ketones And Carbohydrates: Can They Co-exist?
For reasons I’m still struggling to understand, the idea of “nutritional ketosis” (NK, to be distinguished from starvation ketosis, SK or diabetic ketoacidosis, DKA) is often discussed and debated in much the same way as religion or politics. Perhaps this can be said of all nutrition, which is a shame. Nevertheless, in my continued defiance of such sensitive topics, I’d like to add another layer of complexity and nuance to this discussion. The “rule of thumb” for NK is that caloric intake is determined as follows (this excludes a subset of ketogenic diets known as calorie-restricted KD which, as the name suggests, is specifically restricted in calories): Carbohydrate (total, not “net”): less than 50 gm/day, but ideally closer to 30 gm/day Protein: up to 1 to 1.5 gm/kg, but ideally below about 120 gm/day Fat: to satiety Let me illustrate what this looks like for Joe (left), Jane (middle), and Jeff (right — an example of a calorie restricted KD), three hypothetical people in NK — but each with different caloric requirements. As a general rule, as caloric requirement increases the proportion of calories derived from carbohydrate and protein decreases (and the contribution of dietary fat increases), even while absolute intake of carbohydrate and protein increases. Anyone who has bought a blood ketone meter knows how tough it can be to get “into” ketosis by carbohydrate restriction (since everyone asks, I use the Abbott Precision Xtra meter which uses two different strips: one for glucose and one for beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB). Most practitioners consider the minimum threshold of NK to be a fasting serum level of BHB above 0.5 mM. I’m a bit more stringent in my practice and like to see fasting BHB levels above 1 mM. To give you a sense of one per Continue reading >>
Understanding A High-fat Ketogenic Diet—and Is It Right For You?
While food trends come and go, high-fat diets—lauded for their weight-loss potential and brain-function benefits—have proven to have some staying power. Functional medicine M.D. Sara Gottfried contributes frequently to goop on the topic of weight-loss resistance. She’s spent the past two years rigorously studying the ketogenic diet—high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein. Named for ketones, which Gottfried explains are “the energy source made by the body when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energy demand,” the goal of the diet is to get the body to burn fat instead of sugar. Gottfried recommends the keto diet (as it’s commonly called) to help with a range of brain and focus issues—she finds ketones to be “very efficient fuel for the brain”; she also says it works well for some patients (not all) who want to lose weight but have trouble kicking sugar cravings. We talked to her about who the keto diet is right for (and whom, or when, it isn’t); the nutritional ins and outs of mastering it; and which keto-friendly meals are healthy for practically everyone, regardless of what diet we do (or don’t) practice. A Q&A with Sara Gottfried, M.D. Q What is ketosis? A In most circles, ketosis refers to nutritional ketosis, an optimized state in which you burn fat instead of sugar. Nutritional ketosis has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s and its popularity for mental acuity and weight loss has surged recently. More technically, ketosis refers to a metabolic state in which most of your body’s energy comes from ketones in the blood, as opposed to glycolysis, in which energy supply comes from blood glucose. Ketones are the energy source made by the body (in the liver) when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energ Continue reading >>
How Many Carbs Should You Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
If you’re considering going “keto,” keep in mind you’ll need to consider everything — worked out down to the last gram — regarding how many carbohydrates you can consume. One thing’s for sure: the statement “low carb” isn’t open to interpretation. This isn’t a quick fix “fad” diet; it’s meant to promote real and lasting change for your body — change that’s ultimately going to help you become less dependent on glucose and able to melt through fat for energy instead! You need to actually cause a metabolic shift, and just simply guessing if your carbs are low enough isn’t going to be the most efficient way to do that. While you’re on the ketogenic diet, you absolutely must keep your carbohydrate count within the specified range your body operates in — at all times. If not, you won’t reach a state of ketosis, thus rendering the entire program null and void. With that in mind, it’s important to realize you’re doing this as a more long-term process for lasting results. No matter what your goals or desired outcome, eating a lower carb diet than you are now is certainly going to benefit you in the long run. So, How Many Grams of Carbs Should I Have? If you’re a “normal” person — and by normal, we simply mean “non-athlete” — then you’ll be alright following the standard ketogenic dietary ratios. (And we use the word “standard” here because there isn’t just one version of the ketogenic diet — but more on that in a bit.) You can enjoy fantastic benefits going keto, including effortless fat loss, increased lifespan, improved energy, and sharper mental focus. Everyone responds differently to different amounts of carbohydrates, but there are some general starting points. But to achieve those, you’ll need to make yo Continue reading >>
What's The Maximum Carbs On Ketogenic Diet?
Justin's answer here is pretty good. I would add that I've seen the standard recommendation as less than 40g of carbs per day. Ketosis is achievable on more carbs, as Justin points out, but is dependent on your activity level. The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you can consume while staying in Ketosis, or staying in Ketosis most of the time. To effectively get into Ketosis, you need to reduce both carbohydrate and protein intake, less your body simply use your dietary protein to create glycogen through gluconeogenesis. In other words, you can drop your carbs to 0-20 grams, but if you're consuming too much protein, you still won't get into ketosis. How much protein is too much is going to depend on how much you weigh, how messed up your metabolism is, and how active you are. Maybe try for less than 80g protein a day, and see how that works out. I would suggest eating only fatty sources of protein, e.g., eggs, 80 or 85% grass fed beef, wild caught salmon and sardines, and full fat cheese. I would also suggest that you stick to leafy and cruciferous vegetables (spinach, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are some of my favorites) which tend to be high in fiber and low in net carbohydrates. This is a good list of vegetables to eat (The Best Low Carb Vegetables for Keto) but I wouldn't eat anything below "water chestnuts" on that list if you're trying to get into and maintain ketosis. Avoid all grains, beans and starch, including potatoes/sweet potatoes. If you've never entered Ketosis, be prepared for some discomfort as your body adapts from burning glucose to producing and burning ketones. If you've been in Ketosis before, transitioning in and out is less painful. Continue reading >>
How To Find Your Ketogenic Diet Carb Limit
There is no legitimate carb limit for keto. The keto gods won’t banish you to burn in sugar hell forever if you eat an extra blueberry. The truth is that every person has a different carb limit that they should stick to so that they can trigger ketone production. This “carb limit” also changes depending on the day. Whether your body achieves ketosis or not — the main reason why you are limiting carbs in the first place — depends on many factors. Some people may be able to get into ketosis with a slightly higher carb intake while others need to restrict their carbs below 35 grams per day. So, what does this mean for you? How can you find your very own keto carb limit? Finding Your Keto Carb Limit Although everyone may need to restrict their carbs to slightly different amounts to get into and stay in ketosis, there is a carb limit that almost anyone can use to achieve results. This keto carb limit is 35 grams of total carbs and 25 grams of net carbs. (Net carbs are found by subtracting the grams of the fiber from the total grams of carbs.) If net carbs are further limited to less than 20 grams, then most people will get into ketosis even more quickly. Keeping your carbs consumption at this level and rarely going above it is a reliable way to stay in ketosis (as long as you eat the right amount of protein — more on that later). To figure out how to track your carbs and stay below the carb limit, here’s a guide you can use to keep it as simple as possible. And here is a brief list of what you should and shouldn’t eat to achieve ketosis: Do Not Eat Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc. Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc. Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, etc. Tubers – potato, yams, etc. Do Eat Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc. Lea Continue reading >>
How Many Carbs Per Day On A Low-carb Ketogenic Diet?
Although my initial plan was to include this post in All You Need to Know About Carbs on Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet, I decided it deserves to be discussed separately. How Many Carbs per Day to Stay in Ketosis? As described in my post How Does the Ketogenic Diet Work? Weight Loss and 3 Main Effects of Ketosis, weight loss on a ketogenic diet is achieved by limiting the daily intake of net carbs and getting your body in a metabolic state known as ketosis. While in ketosis, your body effectively uses fat for fuel. In general, the daily intake of net carbs required to enter ketosis could vary from 20 to 100 grams per day (and very rarely over 100 grams per day). Most people, who have experienced ketosis, claim to have reached that state at about 20-50 grams of net carbs per day. I'd suggest you start at 20-30 grams and see how you can adjust it for your needs. There are two ways to find your ideal net carbs intake: Low to high method Start from a low level of net carbs to ensure you quickly enter ketosis (~ 20 grams of net carbs per day). When you detect ketosis after about 2-3 days, start adding net carbs (about 5 grams each week) until you detect a very low-level or no ketones (using Ketostix or blood ketone meter). This is usually the most reliable and quickest way to discover your net carbs limit. It could be a bit hard the first couple of days, as you have to give up almost all carbs from one day to another but it will be worth it. This method is highly recommended. High to low method Assuming you're not in ketosis, start from a relatively high level of net carbs (~ 50 grams) and keep reducing (about 5 grams each week) until you detect presence of ketones. This is a less difficult approach but not recommended, as you may spend a long time out of ketosis before you find yo Continue reading >>
How Many Grams Of Carbs Keep The Average Person Out Of Ketosis?
I realize that this is highly variable, but what number of grams have you guys found to be the threshold? I suppose if you are right at the threshold, you'll be passing in and out of it, so maybe we'd want a 10g buffer or something? Personally, I'd like to stay outside of it, but only just, and am wondering what the general rule of thumb is these days. I do strength-increasing workouts and walk around a lot, but I avoid what most consider to be "exercise." 1 Worst Carb After Age 50 If you're over 50 and you eat this carb, you will never lose belly fat. HealthPlus50 I was at 3 servings of fruit a day for a while (roughly 75g of carbs) but feel like I might be able to go a little lower. I think the 3 cups (pre-cooked) of steamed spinach would add a largely negligible amount. The 50g of natto per day has something like 5-7g. No other beans or legumes to speak of. Continue reading >>
Keto Shopping List (with The Carb Count For Every Food)
If you plan to start a ketogenic diet, then you might be feeling some confusion over which foods to eat. With this in mind, this article provides a keto shopping list featuring the best foods. You can see the carbohydrate content and net carbs clearly listed for each food. This knowledge will allow you to plan for precisely how many carbs you consume. As a general guide, the upper limit to stay in ketosis is approximately 50g carbohydrate per day (1). Keto Shopping List Below you will find some tables showing the best ketogenic foods along with the number of carbs they contain. These tables spread over ten different categories, which include: Dairy Fruit Meat Nuts Oils and Fats Poultry Seafood Seeds Vegetables Everything else (such as sauces, snacks, and condiments) About the Carb Count For all keto foods, the carb count is per 100g. ‘Total carbs’ refers to the overall amount of carbohydrate in the food. In contrast, ‘net carbs’ means the amount of non-fiber carbohydrate in the food—the carbs that are digestible. Some foods can be high in carbohydrate but very low in net carbs (such as cacao), while others can be the opposite. Sources Nutrition data and the USDA Food Database are the sources for all nutrition values. Dairy Keto Foods Almost every dairy food is an excellent choice for a keto diet, but be careful to buy real dairy. By this, I mean that a yogurt full of added sugar and chocolate rings is not going to be beneficial for health. Also, while full-fat milk is a perfectly healthy food, there is approximately 5g lactose (milk sugars) per 100ml. With this in mind, don’t go overboard with drinking milk if you are trying to do a ketogenic diet. For instance, a big glass of milk would be almost half of your daily carb limit. Food Total Carbs Net Carbs But Continue reading >>
How Low Carb Is Lchf?
How low carb is LCHF? Eating a low carb high fat diet has been very popular in Sweden since about 2008. But how low carb, and how high fat? There are no generally agreed exact levels. This is a debate that flares up repeatedly. Some people think that only ultra-strict low-carbers should be allowed to use the term LCHF (people eating below 10 – 20 grams or carbs per day, for example). Others, who eat a more liberal form of LCHF – with a bit more carbohydrates – feel that strict LCHF is too extreme, and that they should use another term. To me the answer is clear: No one has the exclusive right to decide what the concept LCHF means to others, exactly how many carbohydrates can be included. One has to accept that others choose to eat LCHF in their own way. Some people need to eat very few carbs for a maximum effect. This includes many people with big weight issues, diabetes (mainly type 2) and food/sugar addiction, for example. One example is Tommy Runesson, pictured above, who lost more than half his body weight when starting on a strict LCHF diet many years ago, and still sticks to a strict variant. Others – less carb intolerant people – do great on a more liberal LCHF. A third group of healthy, lean, active people may not even need to eat low carb at all, as long as they mainly eat unprocessed slow carbs. My definition Here’s my view on different levels of LCHF: Strict LCHF <20 gram carbs per day Moderate LCHF 20-50 grams per day Liberal LCHF 50-100 grams per day The above numbers discount the fibre – you can deduct them from your carb counts. But don’t be fooled by the label “net carbs” on processed products. That’s usually just a way to trick you and I’d go so far as to suggest not eating anything with the words “net carbs” printed on it. I Continue reading >>
5 Most Common Low-carb Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them)
A few months ago, I read a book called The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living. The authors are two of the world's leading researchers on low-carb diets. Dr. Jeff S. Volek is a Registered Dietitian and Dr. Stephen D. Phinney is a medical doctor. These guys have performed many studies and have treated thousands of patients with a low-carb diet. According to them, there are many stumbling blocks that people tend to run into, which can lead to adverse effects and suboptimal results. To get into full-blown ketosis and reap all the metabolic benefits of low-carb, merely cutting back on the carbs isn't enough. If you haven't gotten the results you expected on a low-carb diet, then perhaps you were doing one of these 5 common mistakes. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a "low carb diet." Some would call anything under 100-150 grams per day low-carb, which is definitely a lot less than the standard Western diet. A lot of people could get awesome results within this carbohydrate range, as long as they ate real, unprocessed foods. But if you want to get into ketosis, with plenty of ketoness flooding your bloodstream to supply your brain with an efficient source of energy, then this level of intake may be excessive. It could take some self experimentation to figure out your optimal range as this depends on a lot of things, but most people will need to go under 50 grams per day to get into full-blown ketosis. This doesn't leave you with many carb options except vegetables and small amounts of berries. If you want to get into ketosis and reap the full metabolic benefits of low-carb, going under 50 grams of carbs per day may be required. Protein is a very important macronutrient, which most people aren't getting enough of. It can improve satiety and incr Continue reading >>
How To Get Into Ketosis Faster On A Low Carb Diet
This post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links. We may earn money from purchases made through links mentioned in this post, but all opinions are our own. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliates sites. Want to be a fat-burning machine without having to count calories? Here’s a few ideas on how to get into ketosis faster on a low carb diet. Do you want to look leaner for bikini season? Yoga pants starting to feel a little tighter? One way to burn fat fast is to go on a ketogenic diet. The physiological process of burning stored fat instead of sugar, can be achieved within a short amount of time after following a strict keto diet. It is possible to get there in a day. In fact, some people show you how to get into ketosis, this fat burning state, in 24 hours. Do you need to fast? Becoming keto adapted where the body burns fat rather than sugar isn’t as hard as you might think. And, you don’t have to starve yourself to get there quickly. The great news for those who want to know how to get into ketosis faster is, well … you don’t have to fast. Fasting has been used for thousands of years by virtually every religion and traditional society. There are some people who think that a complete fast (not just intermittent fasting) is a way to get into ketosis faster. But the great thing about following a ketogenic diet is that you can eat until your heart—er, stomach—is content. You just have to eat enough of the right foods. And, of course, eat very little of the wrong foods. Is getting into ketosis safe without a doctor? Before reviewing how to get into ketosis quickly, let’s take a look at a quick background: T Continue reading >>