Last updated on September 26th, 2017
Keto-safe targets for fat, protein & carbs
Low Carb Nugget 60
To start or restart a ketogenic diet, you need to think about your macro-nutrient targets. Both carbs and protein need to be strictly limited, but dietary fat will be your friend. What are specific macro-nutrient targets?
“Calories from Fat, Protein, Carbohydrates, Alcohol.” NutriStrategy. 2015. Last accessed: September 23, 2017.
“How Much Protein Do We Need?” Sophie Egan. The New York Times. July 28, 2017.
Low Carb Nugget 60
“Keto targets for fat, protein, and carbs”
This is Episode 60 of the Low Carb Nugget for Saturday, September 23, 2017. I’m Jim Anderson.
Monday I will be restarting my ketogenic diet, with the intention of getting in and staying in ketosis for at least three months. That is, until Christmas.
However, my real goal is to lose weight and body fat. Namely, I want to lose fat around my mid-section — about four inches worth.
I can’t directly control being in ketosis or losing weight. What I can directly control is what I eat, and how much I eat. My main method of control will be to keep a detailed food log. That’s what I am pledging to do from next Monday until Christmas Day — to record everything that I eat. And I’ll keep the records in a way that allows me to analyze and reflect on my macro-nutrient and micro-nutrient intake. That means using a computer program, of course. I’ve done this before. It works, but it does get tiresome. I’m sure I’ll be ready to drop the food log by Christmas.
What will my macro-nutrient goals be? At least, what will they be at the start?
For the first three weeks, I plan to eat something close to the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet. This means very low carb. In Phase One of my Keto Reboot, three weeks, I’ll be shooting for no more than 25 net grams of carbs per day. That’s total carbs minus fiber.
When I did my first Induction Phase, back in 2011, net carbs were all that I focused on. It worked well enough. I lost enough weight to keep going on a low-carb diet, and eventually I dropped over 20% of my starting body weight. But there were stalls, and there have been gain-backs. This brings me to another macro-nutrient that needs limiting: protein.
You need to limit protein on a ketogenic diet because if you consume more protein than your body needs to build and maintain muscles, then, guess what? Your body takes the extra protein and makes glucose out of it. I’m simplifying the process, but that’s the end result. Too much protein means glucose in your blood, which means no ketosis.
How much protein does the average healthy adult need? According to an article in the Ask Well section of the New York Times, which I’ll link to in the show notes, a woman needs just 46 grams a day, and a man needs 56 grams a day. Wow. That’s not a lot. According to my old food logs, I often ate 70 to 100 grams of protein in a day. The Times article says that 100 grams a day is common for American adults, which is about twice what they need. Not only is excessive protein intake a problem for getting in and staying in ketosis, but long-term it could result in kidney damage.
I’m a fairly large man, at 6-2. So I think I need to consume a little more protein than the average man. But I’m not a weight lifter. For Phase One, I’m going to aim for no more than 65 grams of protein per day. [I’ve decided this is too low at my present weight. See LCN 61.]
Now, according to conventional diet lore, a gram of carbohydrate and a gram of protein each contain about four calories. That means, on Phase One, I’d be getting just 100 calories a day from carbs, and 260 from protein. That’s not much energy, a mere 360 calories a day.
I’m going to need a lot of fat. How much fat?
Let’s say I want to consume at least 1,800 calories a day during Phase One. The combined 90 grams of carbs and protein will give me 360 calories, leaving 1,440 calories to come from fat. Luckily, fat is more energy dense than carbs or protein. A gram of fat has 9 calories. Dividing 1,440 by 9 gives a result of 160. Therefore, I need to eat 160 grams of fat per day. That’s almost twice the weight of the carbs and protein combined, which is a good ratio for low-carb, high-fat diet.
To recap, my daily macro-nutrient targets for Phase One of my Keto Reboot, a period of three weeks, will be no more 25 grams of net carbs and 65 grams of protein, and at least 160 grams of fat. After Phase One, I’ll take a look at my progress, and consider revising my targets.
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what do you think about this?
Alberto – Thanks for the link! I’ll be reading more on that site, and the ones it links to. I knew gluconeogenesis was complex, and not just a matter of “protein = sugar.” The article demonstrates the complexity. Still, I note that in one of the additional resources (the second one from KetoGains), it says, “we don’t advocate the consumption of tons of protein … because beyond a certain point -arguably somewhere between .8g and 1.2g per pound of lean mass(lbm)- there’s just no benefit” (http://ketogains.com/2016/05/protein-over-consumption-ketosis/). I had read similar statements before. With my current (very low) level of exercise, I think the 0.8 target is right for me. But if I ramp up the exercise, that will have to change! You could say I’m hedging my bets regarding protein. I want enough, but not more. My current daily target is 82 grams. That’s based on the .8g per KG of body weight (or .36 per pound). See Episode 61.
Thanks for your answer Jim,
I just wanted to say that as some people say, too much protein doesn’t mean your body makes glucose out of it and kick you out of ketosis.