How Many Carbs Per Day Should You Have on a Keto Diet?
Since the 1920s, the keto diet has been used to support general wellness for many people. Its strict approach challenges your body’s reliance on converting sugar for energy and instead targets fat storage already in your body.
Are you interested in trying keto? A great starting point is to determine the number of carbs you’re allowed to consume while following the diet.
It can be hard to imagine going on keto if you’re a big fan of high-carb foods like pasta, potatoes, starchy veggies, and more. But the great news is that there are many ways to replace your favorite high-carb foods with delicious alternatives.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The keto diet focuses on high protein and very low carb intake to encourage the body to enter nutritional ketosis. Ketosis turns molecules into ketones and helps the body use stored fat as its fuel source instead of glucose.
Your body needs three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. All three help support the body’s ability to build cells and supply you with energy.
The keto diet’s various health benefits are the reason for its continued popularity. From supporting healthy blood sugar levels to encouraging weight loss, keto has helped many people reset their wellness, achieve, and maintain their various body and health goals.
What Are the Benefits of Eating a Low-Carb Diet?
Even if you aren’t on keto, any low-carb diet can help support your body’s ability to manage weight levels, support healthy insulin levels, and support healthy energy production.
It Can Encourage Healthy Weight Loss
When done right, keto can support a successful weight loss journey. While other diets encourage you to cut out many delicious foods, keto is flexible enough to include alternatives to your high-carbohydrate favorites. Instead of depriving yourself of yummy meals, you’re simply transforming the way you eat.
Many people mention that keto makes it easier to keep track of calories and may not even require calorie counting with its reliance on high protein intake, making for delicious and filling meals.
Pairing a low-carb diet with fat-burning workouts, you may notice fat loss, especially when you take advantage of protein-rich meals. Remember, healthy weight loss is 0.5 to two pounds per week. Keep your expectations realistic, and you might just be surprised at the results!
It Can Help Shift Your Energy Source
Typically, the body uses glucose from carbohydrates as energy. When your body enters ketosis, it produces ketones, which are then used to provide your body with the energy it needs.
This encourages the body to pull energy from stored fat, helping to support your weight loss goals.
It Can Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Whether high or low, the side effects of imbalanced blood sugar and insulin levels can contribute to many health concerns. Blood sugar imbalances are often seen in people with metabolic-functioning problems, though people can experience blood sugar irregularities without an underlying condition. Either way, it’s important to maintain equilibrium in your blood sugar.
When the blood sugar is out of whack, keto is one way to support healthy levels by diverting the body’s energy source from glucose to ketones. Keto also emphasizes a diet without processed or sugary foods, which can further support your blood glucose levels.
How Many Carbs Per Day Can You Have on Keto?
The short answer? It depends on the version of the keto diet you’re practicing and your individual health goals. Most diets will rely on counting macros or grams of net carbs.
Keto is far from your average low-carb diet. Most keto diets contain virtually no net carbs, so you’ll need to commit to avoiding most carbs every day for it to be at its most effective.
There are nine kinds of keto diets, but the most popular keto diets include the standard ketogenic diet (SKG), the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), and the targeted ketogenic diet (TKG). All three have different percentages of carbs, proteins, and fats.
The SKG diet is low-carb (10 percent) and high-fat (70 percent), and is often paired with moderate protein intake (20 percent). The high-protein version allows for 35 percent protein, 5 percent carbs, and 60 percent fat.
Meanwhile, the CKD diet relies on the SKG method for five days, followed by two days of high-carb intake. The targeted ketogenic diet (TKG) permits limited daily carb intake paired with exercise but requires very close monitoring of carb intake.
The the number of daily calories you plan to consume depends on your total caloric intake and your macro percentage goals. The average person needs 2,000 calories a day, but this could change depending on your activity level and other needs.
The easiest way to manage carbs on keto is to simply avoid them with keto-friendly meal solutions.
What Foods Are High-Carb?
There are high-carb foods all over the dietary spectrum. Some food groups are more high-carb than others. Instead of altogether avoiding certain foods, keep an eye out for the foods in these specific groups:
- Bread: Sliced, buttered, homemade — it doesn’t matter. Bread is the king of carbohydrates. Yes, even whole-grain bread has too many carbohydrates to enjoy on keto.
- Pasta: Macaroni, spaghetti, fettuccine, ziti, linguini — you name it. If it’s a traditional pasta, it probably has carbohydrates. Alternatives such as zoodles or spaghetti squash can fulfill the need for pasta without the carbs.
- Grains: Rice, quinoa, and oats are all high in carbs.
- Vegetables: High-starch vegetables have more carbs than you may think. Corn, carrots, peas, beets, pumpkin squash, and similar vegetables should be low or no intake.
- Fruit: Many people presume fruits are automatically “safe.” However, some fruits have enough carbs to sway your keto diet in the wrong direction. Apples, mangoes, grapes, pineapples, and bananas are high-carb fruits.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, and lentils are deceptively high carb.
- Dairy: Certain milk, yogurt, and cheeses are high in carbohydrates, but it’s important to read the nutritional label in order to determine which ones could negatively influence your diet.
- Potatoes: You’re unlikely to find a low-carb potato, no matter the kind. Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and other varieties will quickly take you over your allowed carb intake.
- Sweetened and Processed Foods: Soda and sugary drinks can be packed with carbohydrates. Many store-bought ice creams and treats will also have a wild amount of carbohydrate.
What Foods Are Low-Carb?
Now that you're familiar with foods that may be deceptively high-carb, what isn’t packed with carbs? Thankfully, plenty of delicious options are classified as low-carb foods, thus making great keto foods.
- Meat: High in protein and adaptable to many meals, meat like pork, chicken, and lamb can be enjoyed by itself or as a snack. Seafood, especially salmon, arctic char, anchovies, and mackerel, are filled with beneficial nutrients like amino acids and magnesium while acting as filling meals.
- Nuts: Chia seeds, flax seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, and other nuts or seeds are a great snack on their own or as a topping on a bigger meal.
- Eggs: Scrambled, hard-boiled, or fried eggs from chickens, quails, or ducks can be enjoyed with keto.
- Vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables like kale, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus can all be enjoyed on a keto diet!
- Fruit: Berries (strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries) are low-carb and can be enjoyed alone or as a delicious topping for keto-friendly treats. Avocado (yes, it is considered a fruit) also counts.
- Olive Oil or Canola Oil: Want to liven up your recipes without accidentally adding carbs? Olive oil and canola oil are both yummy and low in carbohydrates.
- Bone Broth: With so many ways to enjoy and flavor it, bone broth is full of amino acids and protein to help you feel fuller for longer.
- Unsweetened Beverages: While water is a classic option, unsweetened tea and coffee are also low-carb and keto-friendly. Keto-friendly smoothies made without unnatural sweeteners and sugar alcohols can also be a tasty way to get in a filling and nutrient-packed meal.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for alow-carbohydrate diet plan, keto is, without a doubt, the most popular method. By managing your total carbohydrates by counting grams of total carbs, your body’s ketone levels can rise and take over as the primary energy source.
While keto dieters avoid high-carb foods such as rice, bread, and processed foods, certain vegetables and fruits also have high-carb contents and should be replaced with low-carb alternatives.
Whether you’re a beginner or familiar with the keto diet, Dr. Kellyann is here to support your journey through solid advice, meal plans, and best-selling products that make sticking to keto attainable for many people.
Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very-Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets | European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Impact of a Ketogenic Diet on Metabolic Parameters in Patients with Obesity or Overweight and with or without Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials | NIH
Ketosis: Definition, Benefits & Side Effects | Cleveland Clinic