What are macros? How many carbs can I eat in a day? Am I eating too much protein? Is butter a carb? These are all questions I had when I was first starting out eating a ketogenic diet. If you are struggling to figure the whole keto thing out I hope this will help you.
Protein is a goal, carbs are a limit and fat is a lever for satiation.
Macros: macro-nutrients. Macros can be broken down into three categories: Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates. When you start eating a keto diet you should look at macros like a pie. Each macro is a piece of the pie. You need all three pieces to make a pie. You are going to want the whole pie! Remember that macros can and will change. You should adjust your macros every 10 lbs of weight loss or so.
The most important thing is to remember to listen to your body.
Don’t be afraid to change things up. I am constantly tweaking my macros for my body and how I feel. I personally feel better when my carbs are as low as 10 g a day or 2-3%, Fat 75-80% and protein 10-15%. Every body is different with different needs.
“Protein is a goal”
Protein should take up about 20-25% of your diet. By eating protein your body will burn the fat in your body and not your hard earned muscles. Protein intake can vary from person to person. You should try to consume at least .8 percent of your lean body mass in protein a day in order to maintain muscle mass.
Fatty cuts of beef, chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, cheese, eggs and whey protein powder or bars are all excellent sources of protein. I love to cook a big london broil roast or tri tip and make different meals from it all week long. Chicken Thighs are excellent because they are easy to cook. It is very hard to overcook chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are also fattier so it helps keep you fuller longer
“Carbs are a limit”
Reducing your glucose or carbohydrate intake is not easy coming off the standard American diet. Your body does not need an excess of carbs in order to operate. Your brain will be running off of keytones and I feel great when I am using keytones instead of glucose. I stay under 10 g of carbohydrates a day but most other people keep their carb intake under 20g. I have met people who maintain ketosis and keep their carbs under 30 g or even 50 g. Every body is different, listen to your body.
Leafy greens, avocados, strawberries, mushrooms, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower are all great sources or carbohydrates. You might find that your tastes change after switching to a keto diet, mine did. I have noticed that since reducing my carbohydrates brocolli tastes like candy to me.
“fat is a lever for satiation”
Fat should take up about 70-80% of your diet. Don’t be afraid to consume fat! The excess carbohydrates converted into fat is how you got fat. Remember the whole point of a keto diet is to re train your body to burn fats instead of glucose. Your body needs fat to feel satiated and to convert into keytones. Once you are fat adapted you will have an endless energy source to burn found in the fat stores on your body.
Coconut oil, butter, bacon grease, MCT oil, fatty cuts of meat, olive oil, lard and tallow are all excellent sources of fat for your diet. Cheese and dairy can also be great sources of fat. I personally do not consume dairy for my autoimmune health but a lot of people find success in keto consuming dairy. Put fat on your vegetables. Pour some heavy whipping cream or coconut milk into your coffee. Your body will thank you.
There are many different macro calculators on the internet that are free to use. I have used all three of the calculators listed below at some point. Be sure to set the activity level to sedentary unless you are running marathons daily or working as a construction worker for hours everyday.
This is the first macro calculator I used. I was directed to it by the people on the keto reddit page. This calculator is great. I readjusted my macros every 10 lbs or so and it put me at a very low deficit. It was about 1100 calories. I switched to an average between keto gains and keto connect after raising my calories back up gradually.
I have found that this macro calculator gives you a few more calories to play around with. I have recommended this one to my friends who are starting keto out for the first time. Keto Connect is an amazing resource anyhow so be sure to check them out.
Do you work out? Super into crossfit? Number junkie? This is the calculator for you then.
An Easy Keto Macro Calculator from Perfect Keto.
Keto Macro counting apps
Now that you know your macros, you might want an app to help your track everything.
My favorite app for tracking macros. I paid for the full version (9.99) and it was totally worth it. You can scan in foods and easily adjust the macros.
I personally do not use this app but a lot of people do. It was just too complicated for me when I was just starting keto. Give it a shot you might like it.