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How Many Carbs for Ketosis? A Comprehensive Guide For Beginners

The type of food you eat on keto diet varies depending on who you ask.

The rule of thumb for ketogenic diet is that you should energize your body through calories from fat, less from protein, and very few or none from carbohydrates.

Ketosis is a powerful weight loss technique to get rid of body fat without your life revolving around the gym.

Without glucose from carbohydrates, your body will burn both stored and dietary fats for energy. But this doesn’t mean that you should exclude carbs from your daily meals.

There is a specific daily carbohydrate limit for anyone on ketosis. Continue reading to find out more about the amount of carbs required to reach ketosis and the amount needed to maintain ketosis.

How Many Carbs for Ketosis?

How many carbs for ketosis?

On a ketogenic diet, the amount of calories from carbohydrates shouldn’t be more than 5% of your total daily calorie requirements.

However, your daily caloric intake highly depends on three major factors, including:

  • Your age, gender, current weight, stature, and body fat composition
  • How active you are
  • Your resting metabolic rate
  • Your reason for starting the keto diet

To stay in ketosis, you need to find the perfect ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins. On a ketogenic diet, most people consume get 70-75% of their daily calories, mainly from fat, 20-25% calories from proteins, and 5-10% from net carbs.

That’s the general range because your macronutrient goals will highly depend on your body composition, activity levels, fat loss goals, and your age.

How Many Carbs A Day for Ketosis?

For most people, the number of daily carbohydrates shouldn’t exceed 50 grams. Ideally you should aim between 20 to 30 grams net carbs per day or 40-60grams per daily including dietary fiber. (Source)

But depending on the person, the amount of carbs can be limited to 10 – 20 grams per day.

Here’s a simple calculation to help you understand.

Net carbs is the total amount of carbohydrates in a diet, fewer sugar alcohols and fiber. To calculate net carbs for keto diet use below formula

Net Carbs= Total Carbohydrates – (Sugar Alcohols+ Fiber)

Simple formula:

For example, you weigh 180 lbs, and you need 1400 calories per day to lose weight at a rate of 1 pound per week. You would require:

  • 7-80% calories from fats
  • 20-25% calories from proteins
  • 5-10% calories from carbs

Note: 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories, and a gram of carbohydrates and proteins contains about four calories.

If you’re not sure how to calculate the carbs in food you eat, check out this article we wrote about keto calculator.

How to Calculate Your Carb Intake

How to calculate your carb intake?
How to calculate your carb intake?

On a keto diet, you should obtain your daily calories from 70-80 fat, 20-25% proteins, and 5-10% from carbohydrates.

To better understand your daily carbohydrates requirement on a keto diet, it’s essential to translate these percentages into grams.

For example, if you need 1400 total calories per day, your aim should be to get 10% of 1400 calories from carbohydrates.

= 140                     = 70

Because 1gram of carbs is equivalent to 4 calories, you’ll then divide each of the figures above by 4 to get 35 grams and 17.5 grams net carbs per day, respectively. (*)

How to calculate your fat intake

You might have heard nutritionists, and some diet specialist declares that fat- especially saturated fat is bad for your health.

Luckily science has debunked this myth because of a lack of data to prove the relationship between a high-fat diet and increase risk of heart disease.

Because the keto diet emphasizes more on fat, you’ll need more fat in your daily keto diet meals. Here’s how to calculate the amount of fat you need to eat a day on keto.

           = 1,050 calories

1 gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories. If you divide 1,050 by 9, you get 116.66 grams of fat per day.

How to calculate your protein intake

Protein provides us with essential amino acids to help burn body fat and for muscle gain. (*) Keto diet requires 20-25% of your total daily calories from proteins.

For an extremely active person, more protein is needed. However, it’s important to note that too many proteins can cause gluconeogenesis.

But depending on activity levels, most people will consume 0.6-1.0 g of protein per pound of lean body mass.

In this case, if you weigh 170lbs, but only have 140 pounds of lean body mass, 84-140 grams of protein daily would be suitable.

How many carbs should you target on a ketogenic diet?

How many carbs should you target on a ketogenic diet?

If you’re an active person and regularly engage intense physical activities, the above ratios may not work for you. That’s why you’ll need a targeted ketogenic diet.

Targeted keto advocates for “carbs boost” – eating carbs before and immediately after your workout sessions. The carbs boost ensures that the muscles have sufficient glycogen for energy (*)

  • Stick to your macros throughout the day
  • Consume 15-30 g of fast-acting carbs during workout sessions or within half an hour after your workout ends.

Your body should use the carb boost to repair and restore itself, and you won’t be kicked out of ketosis.

How to Eat For Ketosis

Finding the perfect ratio for ketosis is very important. Keto advocates for low carbohydrates and low glycemic index foods.  Examples of such foods include peppers, leafy greens, cauliflower, eggplants, and many others.

If you have 3 meals a day, each serving should have less than 10 grams of carbs. Additionally, these carbs must be -low on the glycemic index scale. You should avoid foods high in carbs or that affect your GI scale even when they are low on carbs.

Alternatively, there are plenty of low carb alternatives. You can replace wheat flour with almond, coconut, and other nuts flours.

Replace dairy milk with low carb alternatives like almond and coconut milk. Avoid artificial sweeteners or regular sugar and switch to natural sweeteners like erythritol and stevia.

Eat plenty of fat to boost your ketosis. Fatty cuts of meat, sour cream, olive oil, nuts, and butter contain fatty acids that your liver will easily convert into ketones.

In the long run, your body will use stored fat to make ketones for energy requirements hence boosting weight loss.

How Many Days until Reaching Ketosis?

How many days to reach ketosis?

In most people, it takes 2-4 days to reach ketosis. However, for some, it may take up to a week or longer. (*)

Factors that affect how long it takes to reach ketosis include:

  • Your age
  • Your metabolism
  • Exercise
  • Your daily protein and fat intake
  • Typical daily carb intake

For example, those who consume a high carbohydrate diet before starting a ketogenic diet may find it harder to enter ketosis than those who consume low carb foods.

This is because your body will need to deplete stored glycogen before it can enter ketosis. (*)

Reaching ketosis takes three phases. As long as you restrict your daily carbs below 50 grams, boost your fat intake to 80% of your daily calorie requirements and proteins to 20-25% of daily calories, you’ll be guaranteed to reach ketosis.

Below are the three phases to enter ketosis.

a) Glycogen Depletion

In the first 1-3 days on a ketogenic diet, your body will switch to muscle and liver glycogen to raise blood sugar levels. Glycogen will be converted to glucose to provide your body with required energy.

b) Fat Oxidation

After all stored glycogen is used up, your body is forced to use stored fat for energy production. Some of the fats are used for energy while others converted into ketones.

Your body produces ketones as a source of energy for body cells that cannot run on fatty acids. If you keep your fat intake high enough, your body will instead use dietary fat for ketone production other than using stored fats.

c)    Ketone Utilization

The third phase is ketone utilization, where your body has fully adjusted to ketosis. While it may take 2-3 days, for some it makes take up to 2-4 weeks or longer.

Some of the adverse effects of ketosis include keto flu also known as carb flu, which is a collection of symptoms similar to the common flu.

How to speed up getting into ketosis?

How to speed up getting into ketosis?

Patience isn’t something everyone wants to hear, especially when it comes to weight loss. We all want to shed off those extra pounds as quickly as possible without having to wait for weeks.

1. Exercising

Exercising is one of the best ways to speed up weight loss in ketosis.

An intense workout can deplete glycogen stored within hours. (*). With moderate activities, it can take up to 48 hours to completely drain glycogen stored.

2. Supplements to Speed up Ketosis

Besides exercising, some supplements can fast track your way into ketosis without breaking a sweat. They include:

Exogenous Ketones

These are dietary supplements designed to boost ketosis. They are laboratory ketones available in powder and pill form. Studies have shown that these supplements make you enter ketosis within hours. (*) You can also use them to correct keto dietary mistakes and shorten keto flu.

MTC Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are the type of fats that don’t require bile salts or enzymes for digestion. They are absorbed directly in the digestive tract and transported to the liver where they’re used for ketone production.(*)

3. Try intermittent fasting

Fasting doesn’t involve going without food for weeks. There are two ways you can fast, with the most common one being time-restricted fasting.

Time-restricted fasting can either involve eating during an 8-hour window (first meal at 1200pm and no eating after 8:00 pm) or eating during a 4-hour window (first meal at 400pm and no eating after 800pm). You can also try intermittent fasting which involves fast for a day or several days

How to Test For Ketosis At Home.

Knowing when you’re in ketosis is important as it will help you determine whether you’re on the right track or if you need to make adjustments to your carbs, proteins, and fat intake ratios.

Keto Flu

Keto flu is one of the first signs that your body is transitioning into ketosis. You may feel achy, tired, and nauseous in the first few days. Keto flu can take up to a week or two before the body full adjusts into new metabolism.

Urine test strips

They are cheap and easy to use. However, these strips may not be reliable after the first few weeks of ketosis. This is because, in the first few weeks, your body will excrete large amounts of ketones.

As your body adjusts to low carb diet, it’ll excrete fewer ketones, which may be impossible for urine test strips to detect.

Thirst

Ketosis may make you feel thirstier than usual, which occurs as a result of water loss. Additionally, high ketone levels in the body can also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. It’s essential to drink plenty of water and keto-friendly sodas to avoid dehydration.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is one of the simplest ways to test for ketosis. Ketones produced by the liver leave the body through urine as well as through the breath.

Unusual lousy breath following a low carb diet program is a sign that your body has entered ketosis. Mask the smell by chewing sugar-free gums or brushing your teeth a couple of times per day.

Carb foods to eat on a keto diet.

When it comes to carbs on the keto diet, you’ll want to keep the portions small. Avoid starchy vegetables, high carb grains, and high sugar fruits. You should focus on foods such as:

  • Low sugar berries including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
  • Eat leafy veggies including arugula, kale, asparagus, and lettuce
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, and Brussels.

Final thoughts

To enter the ketosis state, you shouldn’t exceed 50 grams of carbs per day. However if you participate in intensive training and workouts, you can raise your carb intake during workouts and immediately after exercise.

Not only knowing how many carbs you need for ketosis, but you also need to keep tabs on your protein and fat intake. Too much of proteins are bad for ketosis.  To enter ketosis as fast as possible, try exercising or supplements such as exogenous ketones and MCT oil.