KETO MACROS 101: THE SECRET TO RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
The keto diet is all about eating good fat, drastically reducing your carb (carbohydrate) intake and eating a moderate amount of protein; all for the purpose of getting your body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose. But there’s more to just eating more fat, reducing your carb intake and moderately limiting your protein intake.
A well-structured keto diet takes into consideration the consumption of the right amount of each nutrient based on your individual goal which could be to lose, maintain or gain weight or simply to just utilize the diet for the purpose of treating a medical condition. Taking into account the right amount of each nutrient in a keto diet is where keto macros come into the picture.
What Are Macros?
Macros, which is short for macronutrients, are the three nutrients that your body needs in large amounts. They include fat, protein and carbohydrates. These nutrients serve as your map to achieving keto success. These nutrients are very vital in a ketogenic diet. They are energy-providing nutrients whose total energy yield is described as calories.
Generally, a balance in macros is very important for optimal wellness. Studies have shown that eating too much or too little of one of the macronutrients increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Besides macronutrients, the body also requires micronutrients which are basically nutrients that are required in smaller amounts such as vitamins and minerals. A well-structured keto diet will provide you with an adequate amount of both macro and micronutrients.
What Are Keto Macros?
Keto macros are the most important aspect of the keto diet. Keto macros refer to the ratio of macronutrients in a ketogenic diet. Getting this ratio wrong reduces your chance of attaining ketosis which is vital for weight loss. This ratio is as follows:
➢ 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates
➢ 15-30% of calories from protein
➢ 60-75% of calories from fat
Generally, the recommended macronutrient ratio (for a standard healthy diet) from The Institute of Medicine is as follows:
➢ 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates
➢ 10-35% of calories from protein
➢ 20-35% of calories from fat
These are two different ratios. It is therefore important you know that the goal of a keto diet is quite different from that of a standard healthy diet. The keto diet seeks to compel the body to change the way it uses nutrients for energy production by subjecting the body to a metabolic state called ketosis. The standard healthy diet, on the other hand, simply optimizes the usual way the body makes and uses food for energy.
There are many reasons why you’d want to place your body in ketosis, but the most sought after is to force the body to make use of fat for fuel instead of glucose. When this is achieved, the body loses excess fat, becomes more energized and the mental focus of the brain is better improved.
These standard keto macros ratio were originally developed to treat children with epilepsy. These ratios have now been adopted to achieve a number of objectives including weight loss. Let’s take a quick consideration of each macronutrient so as to foster your understanding of the role they play in a keto diet.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel based on the fact that they are easy to break down and convert into energy. They are, however, not as essential as fat and protein because, in the absence of carbohydrates, your body will operate just fine by relying on protein and fat. It’s also important you know that your body benefits a whole lot from an occasional restriction on carbohydrate intake.
The greatest challenge with carbohydrates today is that they are quite easy to overconsume. The keto diet, therefore, minimizes your carb intake to help your body burn more fat and also maintain good health.
Protein is yet another essential macronutrient needed for body-building and tissue repair. A keto diet requires you to adjust your protein intake with respect to how active you are. If you’re more physically active, your body will require more protein. It’s important you know that going beyond a moderate protein intake can defeat the aim of the keto diet as your body gets kicked out of ketosis. This happens because your body has the ability to convert a portion of the protein consumed into glucose.
Protein, however, takes longer to digest and as such, it keeps you feeling full for a long period of time. Protein also enhances weight loss because your body burns more calories to digest it.
Fat is a major keto macro and it is an essential nutrient that your body cannot do without. Eliminating fat from your diet does more harm than good because fat provides energy, helps your body utilize fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) and maintains your body temperature. Fat also maintains healthy skin and hair and promotes cell health.
Fat is very vital to the ketogenic diet as it helps the body produce ketone bodies which fuel your body and brain. By lowering your calorie intake, your body automatically starts to make use of stored fat for energy.
You should know that we have different types of fat. We have good fat and bad fat. Bad fats are trans-fat majorly found in highly processed and fried food. Good fats, on the other hand, are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats commonly found in plant oils.
How to Calculate Macros
For maximum efficiency, ensure you calculate your keto macros to match your physique, needs and goals. This is easier done by using a keto calculator. There are other ways you can calculate and keep track of your keto macros.
You can calculate your keto macros by first calculating your net carbs. Your net carb is calculated as total carbs minus fiber. Calculating your net carbs on a keto diet is vital because your body produces glucose only from net carbs and not fiber; fiber has no effect whatsoever.
When you purchase a food product, you can calculate the net carbs by taking a look at the nutrition label to obtain the total carbs. You then find out the amount of fiber for that food product and subtract it from the total carbs. You can get these data from nutrition databases online. Your daily net carb intake should not exceed 30 grams as this is the maximum you can attain before your body gets kicked out of ketosis. The optimal net carb for most people is 20 grams. Athletes, however, may need to load up more carbs for more energy during workouts.
Your level of protein intake on a keto diet depends on your body fat percentage (this is different from body mass index). It also depends on whether you want to build muscle or lose weight.
Your level of fat intake also depends on whether you want to lose or maintain weight. You should know that you need to eat more fat to maintain weight than to lose weight.
Now, there’s a simple equation that will help you figure out your carb, protein and fat intake. But first, you need to know their calories to gram relationship.
● Carbs have four calories per gram.
● Protein has four calories per gram.
● Fat has nine calories per gram.
Now, let’s assume you plan on eating a 1,600-calorie-a-day keto diet and you’re aiming for a standard keto diet of 10% carbs, 20% protein and 70% fat. This simple equation below will highlight how many grams of each nutrient you should be aiming for.
➢ Carbs: Calories per day × Percentage of calories from carbs ÷ Number of calories per gram in carbs [(1,600×.10)÷4] = 40 grams of protein per day
➢ Protein: Calories per day × Percentage of calories from protein ÷ Number of calories per gram in protein [(1,600×.20)÷4] = 80 grams of protein per day
➢ Fat: Calories per day × Percentage of calories from fat ÷ Number of calories per gram in fat [(1,600×.90)÷4] = 125 grams of fat per day
For your protein intake, the general rule is to eat about half of your ideal body weight. So if your ideal body weight is about 150 pounds, you should eat about 75 grams of protein per day. This is quite close to the grams of protein per day calculated above.
For fats, experts advise that you eat enough fat to feel satiated between meals which for some could be less than the 125 grams per day calculated above.
Once you have an idea of your macros, ensure you track them daily so that you keep your body in a ketogenic state. You can manually track your daily macros intake or make use of an app, such as Cronometer or MyFitnessPal. Don’t forget that calculating your macros involves knowing the number of calories, fat, protein and net carbs for all your diets.
Asides counting your keto macros, it’s also important you pay attention to the quality of food you’re eating. Ensure you include fruits (keto-friendly), vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains in your diet. They are all beneficial in promoting weight loss.