Carbohydrates (5-10% of the daily energy requirement)
To achieve ketosis it is necessary to eat less than 50 grams of total carbohydrates or between 20-30 grams of net carbohydrates per day. This may not seem like much but I can assure you this allows for plenty of healthy green vegetables: in most cases you subtract present fiber from the total amount of carbohydrates. The number can be adjusted in cases of certain medical conditions that require a higher or lower amount of carbohydrates.
Protein (15-30% of the daily energy requirement)
The amount of protein in grams is determined by body composition (height, weight and body fat percentage) and your activity level. Physically active people need more protein than people who are sedentary. Both exercise and daily occupation play a role in determining the correct activity level.
Protein is important for both preservation and building of muscle mass but eating too much protein should be avoided. Large amounts of protein may or may not cause you to get kicked out of ketosis: the body will convert excessive protein into glycogen, but since this conversion is demand driven as opposed to supply driven it is not possible to tell the individual threshold without testing. To simply avoid this grey area, especially for those starting out on keto, I will always emphasize a keto diet is NOT based on high protein, but moderate.
Fat (60-75% of the daily energy requirement)
Fat makes up the remainder of your daily energy requirement, it provides a steady energy source without the insulin peaks caused by carbohydrates. This is the reason you will not experience cravings, mood swings or energy dips while in ketosis.
Keep in mind that the fat macro is also a goal as it is already a deficit on your TDEE. Going even lower may result in damage to the metabolism, stalling, gaining, thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, loss of lean muscle mass and micronutrient deficiencies. If you have trouble reaching your fat macro do always make sure to keep it at a minimum of 65% of daily caloric intake but be aware this may still result in any of the issues mentioned above.
A word on keto flu
The restriction of carbohydrates may cause you to feel unwell in the first few days: headaches, feeling weak, tiredness, muscle cramps, dizziness etc. These symptoms are collectively known as ‘keto flu’. The restriction of carbohydrates makes it necessary to drink more water. This increase in water causes you to urinate more and flushes out the important electrolytes magnesium, sodium and potassium. This process is experienced as keto flu.
Increasing the intake of electrolytes makes sure these symptoms will swiftly disappear. The easiest way is by adding a teaspoon of LoSalt to your water a few times per day, using Himalaya or Celtic salt on food and by taking a good brand magnesium supplement. Other methods are drinking bone broth, pickle juice or a homemade electrolyte drink. Spinach, fatty fish, avocado and nuts (but in moderation) are also good sources.
Balancing electrolytes is usually an ongoing issue and you will have to experiment to see what is needed on a day to day basis. Because of the likelihood of keto flu at the start of a keto diet it is advised to ease up on strenuous exercise: your body needs the energy to focus on the shift in metabolism. You can restart your usual exercise regime once you are in proper ketosis and energy levels are back to normal.
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