Hi, everyone! Welcome back to this week’s episode of Easy Keto with Tasha! Today, we’re going to be talking all about keto macros.
Why macros? Over the years, I’ve noticed that this is where people struggle the most when starting keto. Even people who have been doing keto long-term still have difficulties!
Because there are so many questions circulating around macros, this will be a two-part topic. This week, we’ll focus on what macros are and why they matter for keto. Next week, we’ll focus on tracking macros and everything that comes along with it.
What Are Macros?
Macro is short for macronutrients. These are the nutrients in your diet that make up a significant portion of your intake. Macronutrients produce a substantial amount of your body’s energy; macros are not only relevant to keto.
On the other hand, micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals. Our bodies require a small number of micronutrients compared to macronutrients.
Macronutrients consist of protein, carbs, and fat. These macros are where your calories come from.
- Carbs have 4 calories per gram
- Protein has 4 calories per gram
- Fat has 9 calories per gram
The body processes each of these macros differently. They also influence metabolism differently and provide different uses for your body.
Keto Macros Demystified
When it comes to your keto macros, they are vital in supporting ketosis. The goal of ketosis is to shift where we source our energy from and how our body metabolizes it; we do this by changing our fuel source.
Fueling with a high-carb diet with influence your metabolism to be a sugar-burner. Fueling your body with a low-carb, keto diet forces a metabolism shift; this allows your metabolism to become a fat-burner.
Breaking Down Keto Macros
Carbs are one of our macros. By restricting carbs, you can induce ketosis. This is why there is a hyper-awareness over keto macros, as opposed to calorie-counting. Instead of looking only at the overall calorie intake, you break it down into the three sections of macros. This helps people keep an eye on their carb intake to ensure ketosis is maintained.
Ratios for Keto Macros
Typically, carbs are restricted to 50 grams or less to maintain ketosis. The rest of your body’s energy will then come from protein and fat. Carbs will make up a small portion of your calorie intake.
Protein intake should stay relatively consistent between a low-carb and high-carb diet. This keto macro will provide a medium amount of energy.
Finally, fat will make up the rest of your caloric needs. Fat will make up a large portion of where your calories come from.
Remember, it is the restricted carbs that ultimately drive ketosis, NOT the high fat. There’s also no real perfect ratio (such as the popular 75/20/5). The actual ratios for keto macros vary per person.
- Fat: 50-80%
- Protein: 20-50%
- Carbs: 5-15%
Utilize Your Fat
Protein needs are mostly fixed. Eating a sufficient amount of protein is key to preserving lean body mass, keeping you full, and ensuring your metabolism is revved up. Carbs must also stay restricted to support ketosis.
This leaves fat. This is the keto macro that you can manipulate to meet calorie deficit goals. Decreasing fat intake will create a calorie deficit when your other keto macros are accurate.
While the fat macro pertains to dietary fat, it is also important to remember that your body will be burning stored body fat as well, once you are in ketosis!
Do Perfect Macros Exist?
Thinking about your diet in terms of macros can be misleading. The keto macros and percentiles are not one-size-fits-all. Not only do they frequently overcomplicate your diet, but they also fail to provide the best results. This is something that many nutritionists and coaches can agree on.
When people only focus on meeting the “perfect” keto macro ratio, they can get completely off track. I’ve seen people excited to hit the 75/20/5 ratio; at the same time, they fail to realize that they’ve only consumed 200 calories. Just as frequently, I’ve seen people consume upwards of 4000 calories and not blink an eye because their macros met that perfect ratio.
The keto macro ratio is not what determines how much you should be eating. This is determined by your energy expenditure and body composition.
Moving Beyond Percentages and Ratios
There are two things you can do for your keto diet.
- Restrict your carbohydrates and eat intuitively. Once again, carb restriction is what determines ketosis! If you want to go back to basics, or if you’re just starting out on keto, check out The Easiest Way to Start Keto. It’s an episode dedicated entirely to carb restriction.
- Calculate your macros in grams. You will be able to track your macros, but first, you need to calculate them. This means looking at your keto macros beyond a simple ratio or a pie chart.
Calculate Your Macros
Before you can track, you have to calculate the values you’ll be tracking. To calculate your macros, you’ll need to do the following:
- Determine your energy needs
- Set a carb limit that supports ketosis
- Create a protein goal that ensures adequate intake while supporting lean body mass
- Fill the rest of your energy need with fat from your plate or fat from your body
For most people, the carb limit will be under 50 grams of total carbs. This translates to a limit of 20-30 grams of net carbs if you are discounting fiber.
Your lean body mass determines your protein needs. The adequate protein range is between 0.6-1 gram per pound of lean body mass; this value will be more if you are extremely athletic, active, or focused on body recomposition.
Finally, the amount of fat you eat is determined by whether or not you wish to eat at a calorie deficit. If you’re not interested in losing weight, you can take your energy needs based on your energy expenditure; from there, the energy from the carbs and protein is subtracted to provide the fat needs.
If weight loss is your goal, then you’ll want to eat at a deficit. Set a calorie deficit; then, subtract your carbs, protein, and extra calories that you want to burn from your energy. Your fat macro is the amount left-over.
To figure out the amount of fat in grams, just divide it by 9!
Keto Macros Calculator
Don't want to calculate your keto macros yourself? You can always use a macro calculator! There are plenty available for free online.
To find a quality calculator, look for one that provides your results in grams NOT percentages! This provides you with values that are tailored to your body composition. Plus, it’s way easier to use when looking at a nutrition label!
Macro Calculator for Women
Before you start your hunt for a macro calculator, I have one available! This keto macro calculator was designed specifically for women as a supplement for my book, Keto: A Woman’s Guide & Cookbook.
You can access this free calculator here, at Keto Calculator: Macros for Women. It provides detailed information about your energy expenditure, body composition, and keto macro goals that are actually useful and relevant to your body!
1:36 - What Are Macros?
4:08 - Keto Macros Demystified
5:13 - Breaking Down Keto Macros
7:51 - Utilize Your Fat
9:42 - Do Perfect Macros Exist?
11:15 - Moving Beyond Percentages and Ratios
13:17 - Calculate Your Macros
17:49 - Keto Macros Calculator
18:59 - Macro Calculator for Women
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Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published author dedicated to helping people thrive and succeed using low carb and keto dietary patterns.