By Rachael Link, RD, MS
While getting into ketosis can have many perks, the thought of measuring ketones, keto macros and keto ratios might be intimidating for many, especially if you’re a keto diet beginner. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any diet or lifestyle program.
Fortunately, once you break down the scientific jargon and technical terms, calculating your keto diet macros is actually much easier than it seems.
So what should your macros be on keto? And why does it matter how much fat you eat or how many grams of carbs you’re consuming?
Let’s take a closer look at ideal keto macro percentages, plus how to calculate macros based on the specific keto diet you’re following.
What Are Keto Macros?
First things first when it comes to understanding keto macronutrients, let’s define what we’re talking about. The term “macronutrients” refers to the three main types of nutrients in your diet that provide you with calories: protein, fats and carbs.
Keeping track of your macronutrient intake is vital to ensuring success on the ketogenic diet. In fact, even a few extra grams of carbohydrates here and there can stall progress and leave you feeling drained, irritable and frustrated.
Why do macros matter so much on keto? Because the diet works by restricting carb intake, forcing your body to start using fat for fuel instead of glucose.
In order to switch into ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body transitions from a “sugar-burner” to a “fat-burner,” it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough fat and limiting consumption of other macronutrients, such as carbs and protein.
That’s because both carbs and protein can be converted into glucose when stores are low, which can keep you from entering ketosis.
Determining your ideal keto percentages or using a keto food calculator can help set you up for success. It can also help you select foods that fit within your daily allotment to reach and maintain ketosis faster.
How to Calculate Your Keto Macros
Although it’s clear that tracking your macros is an important aspect of keto nutrition, you may be wondering: How do I calculate macros for keto?
There are plenty of free keto calculator options out there, which can make it incredibly easy to determine just how many grams of each macronutrient that you require. Ideally, the best keto calculator websites should take your age, weight, activity level and gender into consideration to give you personalized recommendations of how much of each macronutrient you should be consuming.
Instead of using an online calculator, you can also opt to determine your daily needs on your own. Following a few simple steps can assist with long-term success and help maximize your results.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Set Your Keto Macro Goals
Setting goals for exactly how much protein, fat and carbohydrates you’re aiming for each day is the first step when it comes to calculating ideal keto macros.
How many carbs should you have on keto? What about fat?
Although the amounts can vary based on a variety of different factors, a traditional keto diet requires sticking to about 30-50 grams of net carbs per day with 70-80 percent of calories from fat and 15-20 percent of calories from protein.
A more modified approach will allow for a bit more carbs and a bit less fat. Find a ketogenic diet ratio that works for you and use it to calculate your personalized needs for fat and protein.
2. Calculate Daily Calorie Needs
Determining how many calories you need each day is a key piece of information for calculating your keto macros.
You can figure out about how many calories you require daily using the following equation (or try a trustworthy online calculator, such as the one provided by the National Institutes of Health):
- Male: 66.5 + 13.8 x (Weight in kg) + 5 x (Height in cm); 6.8 x age
- Female: 655.1 + 9.6 x (Weight in kg) + 1.9 x (Height in cm); 4.7 x age
Next, multiply your total by one of the following, depending on your level of physical activity:
- Sedentary (little to no physical activity): 1.2
- Lightly Active (light exercise 1-3 days per week): 1.375
- Moderately Active (moderate exercise 5-7 days per week): 1.55
- Very Active (intense exercise everyday, or twice per day): 1.725
- Extra Active (hard exercise at least twice per day, training for a marathon, triathlon, etc): 1.9
This should give you an idea of approximately how many calories you need to maintain your weight. If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by staying below your baseline.
As a general rule of thumb, consuming 500 calories below your daily needs results in about one pound of weight loss per week. If weight loss is a goal of yours, consider utilizing an exogenous ketone keto supplement such as Keto Fire that features ingredients to help support a healthy metabolism and healthy weight management, while also boosting your energy level.
3. Determine Fat Needs
Once you know how many calories you should be aiming for each day, you can start calculating your keto macros. Since fat makes up the biggest chunk of your diet, it’s the easiest macronutrient to get started with.
If you’re aiming for healthy fats to comprise about 70 percent of total daily calories, then you should multiply your total calorie needs by 0.70, which will determine the amount of calories which should come from fat. Then, simply divide that number by 9 (which is the number of calories in each gram of fat) to find how many grams of fat you need per day.
As an example, if you are aiming for 2,000 calories per day, with 70 percent from fat, that means that you should be eating about 1,400 calories per day of fat, which translates to about 156 grams.
This might seem like a lot of fat, and it is (that’s the point!), but you can meet your needs more easily by including health-focused performance fats like olive and coconut oil, grass-fed butter and MCT oil in your diet.
4. Calculate Protein Needs
Protein is an important part of any diet, and getting the right amount is especially key when it comes to keto. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, it can slow down your ability to build and maintain muscle mass, contribute to low energy and add to other issues.
Balancing protein intake is important, however. If protein makes up too much of your keto macros percentage, it can keep you from reaching ketosis. One convenient way to get the protein you need without consuming added sugar or too much carbs is to utilize Keto Protein powder (or Keto Plant Protein).
To determine how much protein you need, you’ll follow a similar set of steps as you did for fat.
For instance, if you’re shooting for 2,000 calories per day and protein makes up about 15 percent of your daily keto ratio, you should multiply 2,000 by 0.15, which equates to 300 calories per day from protein. Next, divide 300 by 4 (which is the number of calories in each gram of protein) to determine how many grams of protein you need, which comes out to about 75 grams per day.
5. Start Tracking Your Intake
After you’ve calculated your keto diet macro percentages, it’s time to start keeping track of your intake to stick within your daily allotted macronutrients for keto.
There are plenty of free tools out there that make it almost effortless to track the calories, carbs, proteins and fats that you’re consuming throughout the day. Alternatively, try using a food journal to stay on track with your goals and progress.
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.