How a Keto Calculator Helps You
A keto macro calculator helps you discover your unique needs, so you can:
- Reach your weight loss or weight gain goals
- Easily enter and stay in ketosis
- Accurately track your macros throughout the day
- Stop guessing what and how much you should be eating
- Enjoy optimal health.
All you have to do is enter a few key details:
How To Use The Keto Macro Calculator
Wonder how the keto calculator finds your daily macros? Here’s exactly how it works and why it’s accurate:
Step #1: Choose Between the Standard Ketogenic Diet Calculator and the Specialized Macronutrient Calculator
First, you have the option to pick the Standard Ketogenic Diet calculator or the Specialized Macronutrients calculator.
The first one is simpler and assumes you want to consume the standard percentage of carbs, fats, and protein in a normal ketogenic diet.
The second one lets you write down specific carb and protein targets if you happen to need a different macro ratio.
When To Use The Standard Ketogenic Diet Calculator
Use the standard keto calculator if:
- You’re new to the ketogenic diet
- Your goal is simply to lose, gain, or maintain your weight
- You don’t know the macro ratio you need to stay in ketosis
This option takes the guesswork off your hands and assumes a standard keto macro ratio. It’s the best option for almost all keto-ers.
When To Use The Specialized Macronutrient Calculator
Choose the specialized calculator only when:
- You know exactly how many grams of carbs and protein you should aim for
- You’re an athlete and have specific macro needs
- You’re doing a high-protein keto diet
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding and have discussed your macro needs with your doctor
- You have to adjust your macro ratio due to the keto rash
- Your doctor has recommended different macros
The specialized macronutrient calculator is better for keto-ers with precise needs due to special circumstances like pregnancy, extremely active lifestyles, or medical conditions.
You’ll also need to measure your body fat percentage to complete your macro profile using this option.
Let’s take a closer look at how the specialized calculator can help you if you’re doing a variation of the standard keto diet:
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD):
A CKD involves a long low-carb period followed by a short higher-carb period. It works by following a ketogenic diet for 5-6 days and then eating high-carb for just 1-2 days.
This modality helps endurance athletes, body builders, or people with highly active lifestyles recover glycogen stores quickly so they can sustain their performance, without having to eat carbs constantly [*].
You can use the standard keto calculator to find your macros for the low carb days and then use the specialized calculator to input a higher target of carbs for the high carb days.
CKD usually requires about 50 grams of carbohydrates per day on keto days and about 450-600 grams of carbohydrates during the high-carb days.
- The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet:
This version is just like the standard ketogenic diet, but with additional amounts of protein.
You can use the specialized calculator to input a higher target of protein.
For instance, you can try to modify the standard ratio (70% of fat and 25% of protein) by 10%, so you eat 60% of fat and 35% of protein instead. The carbs remain the same (5%).
Once you’ve picked the keto calculator that’s right for your needs, you have to add basic details:
Step #2: Enter Your Details: Gender, Age, Height, and Weight
The keto calculator uses your gender, age, height, and weight to find something called your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy you spend per unit of time while resting.
Basically, how much energy you burn while doing absolutely nothing.
This calculator uses the Mifflin-St.Jeor Formula to find your BMR, which is among the most accurate formulas. One study found it shows a strong correlation between the predicted BMRs and the actual BMRs[*].
This is why your details affect your BMR:
- Gender: Body composition is different between men and women.
- Age: Your RMR decreases with age as your muscle mass declines, especially after age 30.
- Height & weight: Needed to know your unique body composition.
Next, the keto calculator determines your energy consumption when you’re not resting:
Step #3: Enter Your Activity Level
Your physical activity level (PAL) measures how much energy you spend daily when you’re active.
The calculator combines your BMR and your activity level to find your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is the number of calories your body burns in 24 hours.
Your TDEE tells the calculator how many calories you need to eat daily to cover your expenditure.
Step #4: Calorie Intake Goal
Here you can tell the calculator if you want to maintain, lose, or gain weight by picking a calorie deficit or surplus.
For example, if you choose a 10% calorie deficit, your total daily calories will be 10% lower than you actually need. This will help you lose a moderate amount of weight.
If you put a 10% calorie surplus, your daily calories will be 10% higher than you need, which helps you gain weight.
Here’s how the calorie bar works:
- To maintain weight: Keep the bar at 0%.
- To lose weight: Move the bar between 0 and -50 (calorie deficit). Stay within 10-20% for moderate weight loss.
- To gain weight: Move the bar between 0 and +50 (calorie surplus). Stay within 10-20% for moderate weight gain.
If you chose the keto calculator at the beginning, the journey ends here and it will give your macro targets. If you’re using the specialized calculator, you have a few more details to fill in:
Step #5: Advanced Fields (In the Specialized Calculator Only): Body fat %, Protein Ratio, and Total Carb Intake
Body Fat %
Your body fat percentage is used to determine your lean body mass and contributes to a more accurate estimation of your TDEE.
This helps the keto calculator figure out how many calories from protein you need per day to lose weight without reducing your muscle mass.
If you don’t know your body fat percentage, you can measure it at home, the gym, or in a health facility. These are the two most accurate methods:
- Skinfold Calipers: Skin calipers are affordable and easy to get on Amazon. Your local gym most likely has them too. A skinfold caliper works by pinching one area of your skin that folds easily (like your belly and back), in three to ten different areas of your body to measure your subcutaneous fat. That measurement is then used in a formula to calculate your body fat percentage. If you’ve never done this before, let a physician or coach do it first and teach you how to read the measurements accurately so you can do it at home next times.
- DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry): If you can afford it, a DEXA scan will give you the most accurate results. A DEXA is an X-ray treatment that measures body composition and can detect bone mineral density, lean body mass, and fat mass with great accuracy. However, they can only be done on a health facility and a comprehensive session can cost up to $160.
Other methods at home like online calculators and bioelectrical scales can be wildly inaccurate, so avoid these.
There are other techniques done in health facilities like air-displacement plethysmography and hydrostatic weighing, but these are pricey as well and not as thorough as a DEXA scan.
It’s recommended you measure your body fat percentage every six to eight weeks.
Now that you know your body fat %, you can measure your lean body mass (LBM) and then pick your protein intake accordingly.
Your LBM is simply the remaining percentage that isn’t body fat.
Here’s an example:
If you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg) and your body fat percentage is 20%, then your lean body mass is 80%, which in pounds would be:
- Body fat %= 20%*150 lb= 30 lb (13kg)
- Lean body mass=150 lb-30 lb= 120 lb (54.4kg)
To maintain your muscle mass while losing weight, input 0.60 -0.80 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.3 to 1.7 grams per kg LBM).
In this example, you would input 72-96 grams of protein (0.60*120 lb or 0.80*120 lb).
To gain muscle mass, the protein ratio should be between 0.8 to 1.2 grams per lb of LBM (1.7 to 2.3 grams per kg LBM).
In this example, you would input 96-144 grams (0.80*120 lb or 1.2*120 lb)
Total Carb Intake
Here you simply input the number of carbs you want to eat. It’s recommended you leave it in the standard range of 20-50g of net carbs.
Finally, the keto calculator takes all this input and creates the perfect macro targets for your goals.
Your Keto Macros Explained
Let’s recall that for the classical ketogenic diet, your food intake will be:
- 70-80% of calories from fats
- 20-25% of calories from protein
- 5-10% of calories from net carbs (Net carbs are the grams of carbohydrates in a food minus the grams of fiber in it)
With this distribution, a person eating 2,500 calories per day will eat:
- 208 grams of fat
- 125 grams of protein
- 30 grams of carbs
However, since your personal calorie intake can be lower or higher than this, the specific grams of each macronutrient will look different for you.
For most people, a range of 20-50 grams of carbohydrate intake per day is ideal for the keto diet. Some people can go as high as 80 grams per day to stay in ketosis, but the majority should stay in the 20-50g range for best results. Each person’s metabolism is different.
If you used the standard keto calculator, then your target carbs should be in this optimal range.
Carbs are the easiest nutrients to overeat, so it’s important you read labels to avoid hidden sugars and eat only low-glycemic foods that let you stay in the target range, for example:
- Leafy greens (lettuce, collard greens, spinach)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
High-glycemic foods like sweet fruits (banana, dates, watermelon), starchy veggies (potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes), and refined grains like bread, pasta, and cookies are off-limits.
Protein should be kept to adequate proportions. Eating too much protein is undesirable because our bodies have a metabolic process named gluconeogenesis which converts excess protein into glycogen and keeps you in glucose burning-mode (i.e. not in ketosis). The word gluconeogenesis has three parts to it,
- Gluco – coming from the greek root glukos – meaning “sweet wine.”
- Neo – “new”
- Genesis – “creation.”
To prevent gluconeogenesis, avoid eating more than 1.5 to 2g of protein per kg of lean body mass (0.68 – 1g of protein per lb. of lean body mass).
Your protein intake goal will only be higher if you want to build muscle, lift heavy weights almost every day, or follow a high-protein keto diet.
Fatty protein sources are preferred, like:
- Fatty cuts of beef
- Chicken and duck
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel)
The remaining 70-80% of your calories come from fats. Since fat is the main source of nutrition on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to source high-quality, healthy fats.
Part of your dietary fat will come from fatty proteins like the ones mentioned above, and the rest will come from other fat sources such as:
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil and powder
- Dairy (sour cream, butter, ghee, cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream)
- Nuts and seeds (macadamia, chia seeds, flaxseed)
- Nuts and seed butters (almond butter, sunflower butter, peanut butter)
Your calorie target is measured based on:
- Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)
- Your calorie intake goal (to lose, gain, or maintain weight)
For instance, if you need 2000 calories to cover your basic energy expenditure, but you want to lose weight, then your target calories can be 1800 (a deficit of 200 calories per day).
Tracking Your Macros
The best way to hit your keto macros is to measure your daily food intake. You can easily do this through an online app where you log everything you ate during the day.
My Fitness Pal is a clear favorite in the fitness space because it has a massive nutrient database.
You don’t have to measure your macros every day of your life, but it’s important you do it for the first few months until you’re able to accurately hit your macros without needing to measure every meal.
How To Know If You’re In Ketosis
Eating according to the macros the keto calculator gives you will help you enter and stay in ketosis, so you can use fat as energy and accelerate your natural weight loss (if that’s your goal).
However, you might come out of ketosis without realizing it if you exceed your carb intake.
To make sure you’re in ketosis, you’ll have to test the ketone levels in your blood. There are urine and breath tests to detect ketones too, but they’re not nearly as accurate as blood tests.
Blood tests are the most reliable way to test ketone levels because ketones can’t get diluted in your blood (like they can in urine) and blood carries the main ketone your body produces: BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate). BHB is the only ketone that gets turned into ATP, the energy molecule.
The most accurate tool to measure BHB levels in your blood is the Precision Xtra meter. You’ll have to draw blood from your finger every time you want to measure your ketones, so keep that in mind.
The blood level of BHB is measured in millimolar concentration, or “mmol”. Studies have shown the most optimal ranges of BHB levels for benefits of ketosis are between 1.5-3.0 mmol, however this may vary per person.
Taking exogenous ketones can also help you stay in ketosis for longer and boost your BHB levels.
Foods and Meals to Hit Your Keto Macros
As Benjamin Franklin once said “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
The best way to set yourself up for success is to source healthy keto-friendly foods that nourish your body and help put you in ketosis. This means you’ll have to give your grocery list and pantry a makeover.
The best keto-friendly foods are:
- Meats: fatty cuts of grass-fed beef, veal, game meat, chicken, turkey, poultry, pork, lamb, goat, , fish(salmon, sardines, catfish,tilapia, tuna, trout), and seafood (shrimp, mollusks, lobster, etc).
- Oils: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, walnut oil.
- Whole Eggs: preferably organic, free-range.
- Dairy: full-fat cheeses, sour cream, full-fat (unsweetened) yogurt, grass-fed butter, ghee, milk, and heavy cream.
- Nuts and seeds: macadamia, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nut butters.
- Low-carb vegetables and fruits: spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and other leafy greens. Small quantities of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and avocados.
Wondering how to use these foods to make actual meals?
Get started with these recipes:
Lunch & Dinner
Use The Keto Diet For Optimal Health
The ketogenic diet is so much more than a weight loss approach. It’s a profound lifestyle change that can give you the tools to upgrade your health in many significant ways, including:
Now that you know how to eat to succeed on your ketogenic diet, you’ll be able to crush your health goals, while also optimizing many areas of your physical and mental health by default.