Learning how to master a ketogenic diet, starts with understanding your macros. Here’s your complete keto macro starter guide to help you cut carbs, burn fat, and get results faster.
What Should My Macros Be on Keto?
Learn your macros in just a few minutes, using this keto macro calculator.
Keto Diet Macros Explained
“Macros” or macronutrients in food include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They are where all of your calories come from and can each play a unique role in supporting your health and fitness goals.
The typical macro ratio for keto looks like the following:
- 5% of calories coming from carbs
- 25% of calories coming from protein
- 70% of calories coming from fat
This specific macro range is intended to promote ketosis and trick your body into burning more fat for energy instead of sugars.
Your Keto Macro Goals in 4 Easy Steps
Step 1. Calorie Needs
Your nutrition needs start with your fitness goal: are you looking to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight.
This will determine the number of calories you need each day - weight loss requires a calorie deficit and weight gain requires a calorie surplus.
Then, once you’ve got your daily energy needs, you can build your macro goals accordingly.
Step 2. Carb Needs
Estimating your keto carb needs is arguably the most important step.
Research suggests a carb intake less than 20 to 50 grams per day is sufficient to promote ketosis in most people—but the exact amount you need can vary (1).
Thus, a carb intake of 20 to 25 grams per day is a good starting place. However, if you find you are having trouble sticking to that amount you can start a little higher, at 50 grams.
You can also use your total calorie intake as a gauge.
Carbs provide roughly four calories per gram. So, if you are at a lower calorie range—less than 2,000 calories a day—20 grams would be adequate for reaching 5% of your calories from carbs. If you are at a higher calorie range, you may need slightly more.
Use the following guidelines to estimate your starting carb needs:
- Calorie range <2,000 calories/day: 20 grams of carbs a day or less
- Calorie range 2,000 to 2,500 calories/day: 25 to 30 grams of carbs a day or less
- Calorie range >2,500 to 3,000 calories/day: 30 to 35 grams of carbs a day or less
- Calorie range >3,000 calories/day: 35 to 50 grams of carbs a day or less
Get your low-carb food here!
Net Carbs Explained
Try counting your daily net carbs over total carb intake. You can do this by tracking your fiber intake.
Fiber is a type of carb that is not easily absorbed by the body (meaning it won't affect blood sugar levels the same way sugars do) and thus, can be excluded from your daily intake.
Take your total carbs each day and subtract the amount of fiber you consumed to get your net carb amount.
Step 3. Protein Needs
Protein intake is also important since it plays a role in supporting your lean body mass and other essential bodily functions.
Some argue protein should be kept low on keto because it can be metabolized into glucose (sugar). However, research suggests that higher protein intake may support better appetite control and a lower body fat percentage without messing with ketosis (2,3,4,5,6,7).
Your keto protein needs can be estimated based on your activity level and fitness goal.
Choose one of the following:
Little to no exercise.
Moderate exercise 2 or more days per week.
Hard exercise 3 or more days per week.
Then, based on your goal and activity level, you can use the following recommendations:
- Maintain/sedentary: 0.6g/pound of body weight per day
- Fat loss/mod active: 0.9g/pound of body weight per day
- Gain muscle/very active: 1.1g/pound of body weight per day
For example, a 150-pound moderate active individual looking to lose weight would need 135 grams of protein per day. (150 x 0.9 = 135).
To get this amount in calories, simply multiply by four (protein provides four calories for every gram).
Step 4. Fat Needs
Lastly, your keto fat needs can be calculated based on your remaining calories. Each gram of fat contains roughly nine calories.
Here’s how to do the math:
- Take your carb amount from step #2 and multiply your grams of carb by 4 to get your calories from carbs.
- 20g x 4 = 80 calories from carbs
- Now do the same with your estimated protein needs from above.
- 150g x 4 = 600 calories from carbs
- Now add your carb and protein calories and subtract from your total daily calorie needs.
- 1800 daily calories - (600 calories protein + 80 calories carbs) = 1,120 calories remaining
- Now divide your remaining calories by 9 to get how many grams of fat you need per day.
- 1,120/9 = 124 grams of fat per day
Your Keto Macros Percentage
To calculate your macros a percentage, just divide the calories from each macro into your daily calorie needs and multiply by 100%.
- (80/1800) x 100% = 5% of calories from carbs
- (600/1800) x 100% = 33% of calories from protein
- (1,120/1800) x 100% = 62% of calories from fat
The total amount should equal 100% (5 + 33 + 62 = 100).
How to Count Macros on Keto
Living a keto lifestyle requires strict control over your macronutrients—especially carbohydrates. This can be a challenge if you are new to the concept of counting macros. But have no fear, with a little practice and nutrition know-how, you can master this skill.
Once you know your macros, the next step is to build your food choices and portions to match.
You can do this using the following:
Then it's just a matter of plug and play as you build your ultimate keto meal prep menu.
You can also attack this from the other end by tracking your macros in a keto-friendly nutrition app. All you need to do is log your food choices and try to stay within your daily ranges.
Get everything you need to dial in your keto macros! Download this free guide to keto meal prep - complete with approved food lists and meal planning templates.