All this new information! It can seem overwhelming at first. But hang in there. It makes more sense as you go along and learn more. And if you have questions, be sure to ask!
If you’ve decided to cut the carbs and are ready for the next step, let’s look at the other two macros, protein and fat. A ketogenic diet is very low carb, high healthy fat, and moderate/adequate protein–typically 5% carbs, 75% healthy fat, and 20% protein. Note the percentages add to up 100%, as all our food fits into these three macros.
Carbs: 20 or less is typical for keto–is an upper limit. Try to stay at or under that number. We don’t really need carbs to survive, although this is another common misconception. If someone tries to tell me that I must have carbohydrates, I just smile and say politely, “Well, not really, but thanks for your concern.”
Then there’s the question of total carbs or net carbs. Net carbs are total carbs less fiber less sugar alcohols. For vegetables, I do count net carbs. e.g. one cup of broccoli is 6 total carbs – 2 fiber = 4 net carbs. And be sure to add butter to your broccoli. Or alfredo sauce 😉
Don’t worry about getting the fat & protein macros perfect when you’re just starting. Get the carbs down first and then work on getting into the ballpark for protein and fat.
Fat: The fat macro is a suggested target. It’s usually about one to two times the protein. If you’ve eaten til you’re full and you still have fat macros left, don’t eat. In fact, that’s the general guideline–if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Don’t worry. That’s going to happen! In the carb-filled world, we’re hungry all the time; but in keto-land, we don’t get hungry as often.
Some people need to gradually work up to the level of fat recommended. It didn’t bother my stomach at all, but it may be easier to start at a teaspoon and work up to the tablespoon.
Protein: The protein macro number is one to try to hit as closely as you can. Most women need 50-75 protein grams per day. Men will usually need 100-125 protein grams. Too little protein and we won’t feel good and we’ll lose muscle mass. Too much and we can spike a blood sugar/insulin response which then inhibits weight loss. So try to use all your protein macros for the day while not going over. If you’re up or down a little from day to day, that’s okay. We can’t eat-by-the-numbers exactly every day. And the guideline to eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not hungry holds.
Create an account with an online tracking program and download the app on your phone. I use MyFitnessPal on both my computer and phone. The free version works fine for me. Some people really like myfatsecret or atkins. These trackers are where you enter everything you eat and they automatically keep track of your macros for you. Under the goal section of the app you choose, enter your carb, fat, & protein macros from the calculator above. If you’d like to see what I eat, my user name is kyndacanada.
Begin entering your food intake. Look up the carb count of food before you eat it so that you aren’t surprised later to find you’re way over your target. You will find multiple entries for the same food so you’ll need to decide which entry best matches what you’re eating. The entries with green checkmarks are the most reliable.