How to calculate Keto macros?
You’ve likely heard “macros” and “calculating/sticking to/going over your keto macros” being mentioned as part of the keto diet.
So, if you’re new to a ketogenic diet, then you’ll be wondering what macros are. (For ways to customize keto for you, check out this video here.)
And if you’ve tried keto already, then you’ll be wondering about the best way to calculate your macros on keto, how to track your macros, and what to do if you go over them.
We’ll be covering everything related to figuring out Keto diet macros in this article.
A Quick Keto Diet 101:
What are macros?
Macros are macronutrients, aka proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
- Proteins – are used by our body to build and repair muscles and they’re also important for growth, tissue repair and the functioning of your immune system.
- Carbohydrates – are usually our main source of fuel, although that changes on the keto diet.
- Fats – are important for energy, growth, protecting your organs and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A,D,E and K.
Many people on a keto diet stick to a specific ratio of macronutrients – consuming few carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and lots of healthy fats.
While eating the right macronutrients can be important for raising your blood ketone levels, many folks looking to lose weight with a ketogenic diet find that just limiting carbs without tracking fats or proteins will often be sufficient and make life a lot simpler.
We’ll cover more about whether you should track macros and how much that matters below.
Macros are simply the 3 macronutrients that make up your diet: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.
How does the Keto Diet work?
Because you’re changing the ratios of the macronutrients you eat, you alter your body’s metabolism – instead of relying mainly on carbs for fuel, it starts using mainly fats. Your body switches into a fat-burning mode called ketosis.
When your body breaks down fat into fuel, one of the byproducts is called a “ketone,” which can be used by various cells in your body to create energy as well.
This starts your body using fat (and ketones) for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
Aaron Day, an Accredited Nutritional Therapist specializing in ketogenic dieting, says becoming fat-adapted is like, “switching from being a sugar burning steam train with all the dirty black soot covering the engine, to a clean burning Tesla that runs on fat and ultimately does less damage to your body.”
That’s why you’ll want to measure your ketone levels to check if you’re in ketosis. There’s more info on that in our guide to keto article.
Is Keto good for you?
It can be really beneficial for many people if they’re eating a healthy ketogenic diet filled with nutrient-dense foods.
Keto dieters usually report benefits like –
- Feeling more energetic
- Finding it easier to focus
- Finding their mood improves
- Having a clearer mind (no more brain fog!)
And scientific studies have found that Keto or similar diets –
- Reduces high blood pressure (1)
- Lowers elevated triglyceride levels (2)
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels (3)
- Improves cholesterol profile (reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol) (4)
- Is highly effective for weight loss (5)
While keto often leads to weight loss, not everyone following a keto diet is doing so to lose weight. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, M.D. says, “A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Also, many people experience an increase in energy when in ketosis. On keto, the brain doesn’t need carbs. It’s fueled 24-7 by ketones, a perfect brain fuel for focus and energy.”
Neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D. says the benefits don’t stop there. “Ketones…increase glutathione, a powerful, brain-protective antioxidant. Ketones facilitate the production of mitochondria, one of the most important actors in the coordinated production that is the human body.”
All of which makes it a diet worth knowing about and using as a tool for optimizing your health!
A ketogenic diet puts you into fat-burning mode and has many scientifically proven health benefits, such as weight-loss, feeling more energetic, and others.
How do you calculate your Keto macros?
An easy way to calculate your macros on a ketogenic diet is to use our Keto Calculator here.
You can also see how some other people check their macros here:
How many carbs should you eat on Keto?
Carb intake is pretty simple on the keto diet: most of you will want to consume less than 25g of net carbohydrates per day to make sure you get into (and stay in) ketosis.
But that’s 25g of net carbs per day, not total carbs. Confused?
On food labels, you’ll see total carbs and fiber: our bodies can’t digest fiber so we don’t need to include it in our daily carb count. Which means… Net carbs = Total Carbs minus Fiber
For most people, eating less than 25 grams of net carbs will help them get into nutritional ketosis. (Remember, Net carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber)
How much protein should you eat on a ketogenic diet?
A rough guide for protein is to consume 0.8 and 1.2g of protein per lb of lean muscle.
Protein is often skipped over on a Keto diet because there’s so much focus on fats and carbs. But protein is highly important:
- Protein keeps you satiated so you don’t get hungry as often.
- Protein builds muscles, which can help you avoid injuries as well as burn calories.
- Protein is also very easy to find on Keto (think chicken, eggs, steak). And if you’re vegetarian and Keto, then try pea protein or hemp protein so you don’t have to go with soy for every meal.
How do you find your lean muscle mass?
Take your total weight in pounds and multiply it by your body fat percentage (as a decimal number, so 35% would be 0.35). This result is your body fat in lbs.
(If you don’t know your body fat percentage, then take a look at the images we’ve provided in this Keto calculator.)
Subtract that result from your total weight, and the answer is your lean body mass.
For example – you weigh 150 lbs with a body fat percentage of 20%. Your body fat in lbs is equal to 150 lbs x .20 = 30 lbs of body fat. Subtract 30 lbs from your total weight of 150 lbs and your lean body mass equals 120 lbs.
And your protein allowance on Keto?
Just multiply your lean body mass by 0.8 to get your daily protein allowance in grams. If you’re looking to build more muscle or you’re very active, then use 1 or 1.2 instead as your protein ratio.
For example, your 120 lbs of lean body mass multiplied by 0.8 = 96 grams of protein per day.
Certified Keto Coach Lori Ballen says you may need to tweak protein intake based on individual circumstances, such as activity level. “Listen to your body and find what works for you. Just remember that eating Keto does not mean all the meat you eat!”
Protein is highly important on a ketogenic diet. Eat between 0.8 and 1.2g of protein per lb of lean muscle that you have.
How much fat should you eat on Keto?
Fat will make up the rest of your daily calorie allowance, once you’ve calculated proteins and carbohydrates. And the best way to calculate calorie allowance is with an online Keto calculator.
If you’re looking to lose, maintain, or gain weight – you’ll have a different daily calorie goal depending on which if these three is your aim.
Proteins and carbs are approx. 4 calories per gram. Fat is 9 calories per gram.
Multiply your protein and carb macros by 4. Then subtract that number from your daily calorie goal. Take that result and divide it by 9. The answer is your daily fat allowance in grams!
Calculate how many calories you need to eat using an online calculator. Figure out how many calories you’ll eat in protein and carbs per day (which you calculated above). Then subtract that number from total calories per day to figure out how many calories of fat you should eat. Once you have your fat in calories, divide it by 9 to get your daily fat allowance in grams.
Do you need to track calories on Keto, too?
You only need to worry about hitting your macros – if you stick to your macros, you’ll stick to your daily calorie allowance.
Certified Whole-Food Nutritionist Vivica Menegaz, says, “When eating a ketogenic diet appetite is naturally suppressed, so the general rule is to eat until satisfied but not full. That is considered a general rule and should be good enough to control the amount of food you are eating.”
If you multiply your protein and carb macros by 4 (as they’re 4 calories per gram) and your fat macro by 9 (as aft is 9 calories per gram), then add those three numbers together, you should recognize the number you get…it’s your daily calorie goal!
So by sticking to your Keto diet macros, you’ll also stick to your daily calorie goal: meaning there’s no need to track macros AND calories.
And note – If you’re losing weight, you’ll need to re-calculate your macros periodically.
Don’t worry about tracking calories. Stick to your macros and you’ll be good to go!
How do you track your macros on a ketogenic diet?
There are a couple of ways you can keep track of your macros –
- Free apps like My Fitness Pal and Senza are a popular way of tracking your daily macros on Keto.
- Or, if you plan your Keto meals for the week ahead of time, you can tailor your plan so that you stay within your macro limit each day. (Check the macronutrient profiles of the foods you’ll be including in your diet and create your meals based on that.)
It’s not critical to be really strict when tracking your macros, but if you want to track your macros on Keto, then you can use various free apps, or by planning your meals ahead of time.
What do you do if you go over your macros?
You’re spending so much time and effort tracking and trying hard to stick to Keto. But what happens when you slip up? What if you eat too much carbs or too much protein one day or even for a week?
Did that ruin all your hard work?
Firstly, you won’t be the only one who’s done this – a quick search on reddit will show you people who’ve gone over their protein macro or their fat macro or exceeded their carb macro while staying under their total calories. Plus many more variations.
The best thing to do?
Remember why you’re doing Keto. If it’s to lose weight, then strict macro counting might not even be necessary! A lot of people find they lose weight even if they don’t achieve high ketone levels.
Figure out how/why you went over your macros so you can avoid doing so in the future. And the next day, just stick to your keto macros as usual.
There’s no guilt, just a steady progression forward to a healthier and stronger you.
Don’t stress about going over your macros. It happens to all of us 🙂
Do you have to track macros on Keto?
We’ve covered a lot about calculating and tracking your carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake on a Keto diet in this article.
But is it really necessary?
Some folks don’t track their macros at all while others track it religiously. So, what is the correct or best way to follow a keto diet?
Personally, I’ve found that some people find the act of tracking helps them stay on track. It can tell you if you’re on the right track and if you’ve slipped up and why.
But for others, tracking macros is an added annoyance that makes sticking to Keto even harder.
So, if you can, track your Keto macro but if you find that tracking is too tiresome for you, then skip that step and just keep your carb count low. Skip the dairy products and all the nuts – just cutting those out will usually help people stay within their macro count.
It’s not necessary to count your macros on Keto, but it can be really helpful for troubleshooting and to give yourself a sense of progress. But if counting macros is keeping you from sticking to Keto, then don’t do it. It’s better to eat well, then to track well.