How many carbs on keto?
How many carbs on keto is dependent on the individual. Your carbs must be low enough to reach a state of ketosis, but this can vary due to how active you are to how long you’ve been on a ketogenic diet. Most people starting a ketogenic diet begin with 30g of net carbs per day or less.
With the ketogenic diet being a low carbohydrate diet, why didn’t we talk about this first?
First off, while the ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates, it is specifically a low carbohydrate and high fat (relatively speaking) diet. Secondly, calorie and protein requirements are commonly misunderstood even though they are more important in establishing how much vs. how few to consume.
With that being said, how many carbs are allowed on a ketogenic diet?
In the beginning
Carbohydrate intake, or lack thereof, is arguably the most significant aspect of a ketogenic diet since carbohydrates have the greatest effect on ketosis.
As a general rule, we recommend that you consume only between 15 – 30 net carbs… and for my personal clients, I typically recommend you do 30 TOTAL carbs per day.
More on how to exactly calculate net carbs down below.
At least in the beginning.
Once ketosis has been established, depending on your activity level, there may be an increased ceiling of carb intake while still remaining in ketosis.
Personally, I have experimented with upwards of 150 net carbs on a day of high activity and still tested positive for blood ketones the following morning.
Mind you, I also lift weights 5-6x per week and am fairly active during the day.
Results may vary from individual to individual, so the only way to check how many carbs best for you to consume is by self-testing. Of course, you are also more than welcome to “set it and forget it,” which I do 99% of the time.
Variables that play a role in how many carbs you can tolerate and still remain in ketosis include:
- How long you’ve been in ketosis (keto-adapted vs. not)
- The amount of lean mass (muscle) you have
- Your activity/exercise levels
- The current state of health (i.e. insulin-resistant vs. insulin sensitive)
- Possibly timing of carbohydrate intake (i.e. pre-workout)
How do you calculate net carbs on the keto diet?
Net carbs are the total amount of carbs minus any fiber and/or sugar alcohols.
The reason fiber and sugar alcohols aren’t counted toward your total carb intake is that they are indigestible, which as a result, doesn’t significantly impact your blood sugar or trigger an insulin response.
The typical keto-friendly foods you’ll find fiber in are your veggies and nuts, but also many of the low carb “diet” options and baked goods you typically come across in the store.
A general rule of thumb is if it says, “only X net carbs” then it has a good chunk of fiber in it.
Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods and has two main components: insoluble fiber (principally cellulose and lignin) and soluble fiber such as galacto-oligosaccharides and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are fermented by the gut microbiota into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
For myself, I usually track total carbs to keep things simple. This means on most days I typically get between 15 – 30g of total carbs including fiber and sugar alcohols.
Why? This keeps me from overdoing “keto-friendly” treats and makes tracking less confusing.
Wait, so how many carbs can I have on a ketogenic diet?
To sum it up, we recommend you stick to between 15 – 30g net carbs at the beginning (total carbohydrate intake minus any fiber or sugar alcohols).
If you want to keep it simple, take it a step further, or not seeing results… then we would suggest counting total carbs.
Also, most if not all of your carbohydrates should be coming from green leafy veggies with only trace amounts of carbohydrates that tag along with foods such as nuts and cheeses since they have the least effect on insulin.
While 30g of carbohydrates is a general recommendation that gets most people into ketosis, this too may vary from person to person. Certain individuals may need to drop their carbs further while others can tolerate more and still induce ketosis.