How Many Carbs Should You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet

If you’re considering going “keto,” keep in mind you’ll need to consider everything — worked out down to the last gram — regarding how many carbohydrates you can consume.

One thing’s for sure: the statement “low carb” isn’t open to interpretation. This isn’t a quick fix “fad” diet; it’s meant to promote real and lasting change for your body — change that’s ultimately going to help you become less dependent on glucose and able to melt through fat for energy instead!

You need to actually cause a metabolic shift, and just simply guessing if your carbs are low enough isn’t going to be the most efficient way to do that.

While you’re on the ketogenic diet, you absolutely must keep your carbohydrate count within the specified range your body operates in — at all times. If not, you won’t reach a state of ketosis, thus rendering the entire program null and void.

With that in mind, it’s important to realize you’re doing this as a more long-term process for lasting results. No matter what your goals or desired outcome, eating a lower carb diet than you are now is certainly going to benefit you in the long run.

So, How Many Grams of Carbs Should I Have?

If you’re a “normal” person — and by normal, we simply mean “non-athlete” — then you’ll be alright following the standard ketogenic dietary ratios. (And we use the word “standard” here because there isn’t just one version of the ketogenic diet — but more on that in a bit.)

You can enjoy fantastic benefits going keto, including effortless fat loss, increased lifespan, improved energy, and sharper mental focus. Everyone responds differently to different amounts of carbohydrates, but there are some general starting points.

But to achieve those, you’ll need to make your macronutrient ratios are:

what is the ketogenic diet

Admittedly, these percentages alone aren’t the best guide, since you can’t accurately measure them out real life without context. Of course it would be easier if we could just say, “you’ll be consuming on average of between 15-30 grams of net carbs per day.”

However, that’s far too vague and doesn’t at all take into account individual body composition. And it’s always better to be specific.

So first, you’ll need to find out what your total daily calorie intake. A great resource for doing that is our Keto Macro Calculator.

Use the daily calorie total calculator on this site. Answer the questions honestly to get your figures, then continue to the nutrient ratio calculator and enter the above percentages based on your total daily calorie count. This will give you your gram number per meal of the three main nutrient groups.

Targeted Ketogenic Diets and Carb Intake

If you engage in regular physical activity at an intense level (and three or more times per week), note that the standard ketogenic dietary ratios likely won’t be quite enough to cater to your performance needs. That’s where targeted ketogenic diets come into play.

In targeted keto, during training times only, you might want to integrate a carb “boost” both immediately before and immediately after your training sessions. This will ensure your muscles have enough glycogen to perform their necessary task mid-performance and fully recover and replenish afterwards.

When adopting this targeted principle, you’ll still be following the standard ketogenic dietary ratios throughout the day, but then you’ll consume 15-30 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates in the half an hour window before and after training.

Since your body will immediately use these carbs during these two windows, there’s next to no risk of your ketogenic state being reversed or adversely affected. This targeted ketogenic diet will ensure proper sustenance for sports performance — and intense physical activity in general — while following the keto diet.

Note: If you engage in light physical exercise, that’s absolutely fine; you only need to make alterations if you’re performing intense physical activity three or more days per week. If you’re not engaging in regular, high-intensity physical activity, the standard keto nutrient breakdown will be just fine.

Make It Count, and Be Precise

After you’ve determined the proper amount of carbs to consume based on your calorie intake, it’s now up to you. Be sure you’re sticking to your numbers religiously; if you don’t, you’ll never fully capitalize on the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Remember: you’re trying to alter your internal body chemistry at this point, and in order to do that you need to go to fairly extreme lengths. Even the slightest deviation is going to greatly interfere negatively with your desired outcome.

It’s also very important to keep in mind that it’s incredibly likely your body weight will change while following the keto plan, which means your individual percentages will represent varying quantities of each nutrient as your physical weight goes down.

Testing Ketone Levels

The best thing to do is TEST your ketone levels. Check out our guide for testing ketone levels, if you’d like to see how.

Therefore, every couple of weeks, it’s crucial you re-measure your body weight to ensure that you’re still on track:

  • If weight loss is your main goal, for instance, you should factor in a 300-500 calorie deficit when figuring out your nutrient ratios. When you reach a certain body weight, that deficit is obviously no longer going to exist.
  • And when that happens, you’ll actually be eating at what is now your new maintenance level.
  • It’s at this point that weight loss is likely to stall considerably unless you alter your numbers and incorporate another deficit. Roughly a 200-calorie drop at this point per day would be enough to create the difference needed.

It doesn’t matter what your numbers happen to be at any given time, though — all that truly matters is that you stick to them. You’re making these changes for your health above all, so the diet needs to become the most important, or one of the most important aspects, of your life at the moment.

Simply put: be strict, be precise, and discipline yourself to adhere to your numbers exactly. If you do, you’re going to reap the fantastic benefits of the ketogenic diet, not only for your health, but for your waistline, too!

And if you don’t want to always worry about carb counts and you get kicked out of ketosis, no problem, that’s why we make Perfect Keto Base. This exogenous ketone supplement will get you back into ketosis immediately! No problem.

Dr. Anthony Gustin is a board-certified sports chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, entrepreneur, podcast host, and founder of Perfect Keto.

Over the last few years, he has treated thousands of patients with movement rehab, internal diagnostics, and natural interventions, including NFL, MLB and NBA champions. After growing his sports rehab and functional medicine clinics to six locations in San Francisco, he shifted his mission to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health and well-being.

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Responses (14)

  1. My husband and I have just started the diet so confusing.we on on meal plans and everything says on serving but. I’m so much smaller then he is I don’t want to starve him. I never know how much for both of us.

  2. Hello!

    When you say 30-50g of carbs per day, is that net carbs? or Just carbs? If it’s net carbs, then total carbs will be higher correct? Is that ok?

    Also, I used the calculator and I know how much to consume per day. I also now know the approved foods. So my question is, where do I go for help with the next and most important (to me!) step of which approved foods to eat when? Are there lists with macros for common portions of approved foods that I can use to mix and match meals?

  3. Hi Keri, that is correct. I would recommend sticking with 30g of net carbs or lower if you are just starting out. We also just launched a sample meal plan on our website. If you go to the main page you should see a pop up that will prompt you to enter your info and then you’ll have access to a sample meal plan to help you further plan your keto meals 🙂

  4. This article was very informative compared to some I have tried to decipher. Trying to balance dietary intake for weight loss isn’t the easiest thing to do.

  5. So the apps calculate carbs, but we need to be looking at our net carbs?? (Also) do we subtract fiber?

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