Today I want to talk about carbohydrates, specifically the amount of carbs you need to be eating in order to get into ketosis.
It’s actually a fairly straight forward answer, but I want to get into the logic behind it so you have an understanding of why you should eat the amount of carbs you should be eating on a keto diet!
How Many Carbs Should You Eat A Day To Be In Ketosis?
You probably already know that a ketogenic diet is a way of eating that is high in fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbs….
… but just how LOW in carbs do you need to go?
The answer you probably don’t want to hear is “it’s different for everyone”, but that’s totally true. And to make things a little worse, everyone performs better in life with different amount of carbs. For example, some people don’t do as well on super low carb diets like a keto diet. They can still be keto, but they will eat more carbs than your average ketoer because they feel better this way.
The optimal amount of carbs you need is proportional to how much food you need to eat to maintain your body weight (if that’s your goal). If you are looking to lose fat, then you will likely benefit from eating a calorie deficit along with your keto style of eating for maximum results. You can also add fasting into the equation, but that’s another article all together!
Below, I’ll show you how to figure out how many carbs you need.
How To Calculate How Many Carbs You Need Daily
Before I show you how many carbs you should be eating daily to be in ketosis, there’s something you need to know first…
…and that is that your body does NOT need any dietary carbohydrates to function fully and properly. Your body 100% needs dietary protein and fats, but if you never ate a carb again for the rest of your life, you can survive. In fact, some people have adopted this diet and are thriving. They are the zero carb eaters, and basically eat all parts of animals only (basically, meats, eggs, liver, etc have no carbs – and if so, it’s like maybe half a carb).
Okay, but most people, including myself, eat a wide range of keto foods that include a lot of vegetables (which contain carbs!). On a keto diet, your carbs should only come from veggies. You can have a “cheat day” here and there and get carbs from a fruit or berries perhaps, but overall, your carbs will come from vegetables.
The GENERAL consensus of how many carbs you should be eating per day is 20g or LESS. Some people say 20-30g of carbs. In any case, it’s around there. Having said that, people can eat 50g or more and stay in ketosis. Again, it depends on the person. Generally speaking, the more overall calories you need to maintain your body weight, the more carbs you can have (very general assumption).
This is because your ratio of macro nutrients is as follows:
- Fats 75%
- Protein 20%
- Carbs 5%
You can adjust this a little here and there, but generally, this is what you should shoot for. If you are a beginner on a keto diet, I definitely would aim for this ratio…. after you get keto adapted, you can mix it up a little more to see how flexible your body is.
Generally, if you stay under 20g of carbs (that come from veggies only), you should get yourself into ketosis no matter who you are (of course you need to hit your other macronutrient ratios correctly).
Also note that you can go days with eating ZERO carbs or very few carbs. Your body still needs carbs to function. But your body can make carbs (glucose) from protein for example if it needs it. So by eating no carbs, you won’t die. But again, some people work better if they eat carbs, or more carbs.
To figure out what your macronutrient ratio should be, you can use an app like myfitnesspal to track your food. And you can use this keto diet calculator that will help you figure out how much of each food you should be eating in grams! Once you have this, you can input it into myfitnesspal and begin tracking your daily food intake.
How To Get Into Ketosis Fast?
Ketosis is a state your body is in when you are burning fat for energy. Technically, you can be burning fat while not even eating a keto style diet. But this doesn’t count as “ketosis”. Being in nutritional ketosis requires you to be burning a certain amount of fat. Now, this figure was just made up by a man called Dr. Stephen Phinney and he says to be considered in ketosis, you need blood ketone levels to be in a range of 0.5 mM/dL to 3.0 mM/dL (millimolars per deciliter).
That’s a lot of jargon. But essentially, when you burn fat, you create ketone bodies in your blood. We can measure these ketone bodies to determine if you are in ketosis. A ketone meter is the most accurate tool. When you measure, if your blood ketone levels are in between 0.5 to 3.0 mM/dL, you are in nutritional ketosis.
Note: just being in ketosis doesn’t mean you are keto adapted. Keto adapted means your body has fully made the change to using fat for fuel instead of using carbohydrates as its main fuel source. This process takes time. If you’re very healthy and don’t have any issues like insulin resistance, you can make the switch quickly. In perhaps 2 weeks. The general consensus is 2-6 weeks to get keto adapted. It can take months for others.
The fast way to get into ketosis?
Well, if you are currently a sugar burner (you’r primary fuel source is from carbohydrates), it means you have a lot of temporary stored energy in your body. This gas tank is probably filled to the brim. So first you need to use up all this temporary energy before you can tap into burning the actual fat in your body (and begin creating ketone bodies to start ketosis).
The fastest way to do this is to fast! A fast is when you don’t eat for a period of time. It’s not the same as starving. But for a period of time, perhaps a full day or so if you want to supercharge yourself into ketosis, then you don’t eat. Or you can not eat for perhaps 16-18 hours of a day. Either way, you are spending an extended amount of time with NO FOOD in your body. You still need energy, so your body will use the temporary stored energy first…. and then eventually tap into your actual fat cells to get energy (which means weight loss and ketosis).
How To Lose Weight Fast On Ketosis?
The best way to lose weight on a keto diet is to keep carbohydrates as low as you can. Most people will tell you to keep it at 20g or lower. I definitely agree with that. You can throw in some zero carb days here and there too if you like.
Remember, your body doesn’t need carbs from your diet like it needs protein and fats. Your body can create all the glucose it needs if you eat the proper amount of protein and fats.
Your body prefers to use carbs for energy before fat or protein. By keeping carbs really low, it will be forced to start using temporary stored energy (glycogen) and your fat from your body for energy. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
And it’s important to keep carbs low enough so you can actually get into ketosis. If your carbs are too high, you will be re-filling” your temporary stored energy gas tank, and never get a chance to tap into your fat storage to actually lose weight.
To get into ketosis, eat 20g of carbs or less. The more you deprive yourself of dietary carbohydrates (while eating a proper mix of protein and fats), the faster you should get into ketosis.
I would say after you’ve been doing this for a few weeks or after you’ve become keto adapted, or when you’ve reached your ideal physique, you can tinker around a bit to find a ratio that fits you best while keeping it within a keto diet of course.
Keto Diet Resources You May Find Useful
The keto diet has been popular for a few years already but is finally now truly exploding in popularity because the truth is coming out about how you actually lose fat and what you actually need to eat for overall optimal health.
If you’re new to keto and need guidance, or you want to start this diet and need resources like cookbooks and keto health info to get you started, I’ll share with you some of my favorite ones below:
Keto Camp is a keto diet guide for beginners that’s well rounded with keto information on general health, using a keto diet specifically to lose weight, and it comes with cookbook and workout resources to burn more fat. If you’re looking for something to get you started, this is a great one.
Keto Diet Cookbook is a really good keto cookbook especially for beginners and people who aren’t great at cooking. The recipes are simple and easy to make, and are specific for weight loss and overall general health. The bonus material will give you a strong foundation of keto knowledge as well. If you’re looking for a great cookbook and want to deepen your understanding of keto, this is a great choice.