How to figure out your macros on keto [The palette of your plate]

In this article I will be covering how to figure out your macros on keto.

You probably know by now that you have to eat a lot of fat on the ketogenic diet… But how much is ‘a lot’? I will be explaining the details and helping you with 2 tried and true formulas that will calculate your daily needs.

One that calculates your muscle mass and separates it from your fat mass to help you calculate how many calories you need on a daily basis, this the most reliable method.

The other method bases its calculation on gender, weight, age and height. Usable for everyone, even without knowing your body fat percentage!

In this article i will shed some light on frequently asked questions such as: How many carbs can i consume on a daily basis? And what about protein? Isn’t that an essential macronutrient to build muscle mass?

I will dive straight into the details!

It’s gonna get a bit difficult, but stick with me. I promise it will make sense when you are done reading this!

Macronutrients for the ketogenic diet

What are macronutrients? And why do I need to calculate them?

There are 3 sources of fuel your body can use for energy. These are known as macronutrients and when combined they make up your total energy(or calorie) needs per day:

  • Carbohydrates: The macronutrient we’re trying to avoid on the keto diet. In this article I will refer to ‘net carbs’ a couple of times. Net carbs is the sugar and starch content, minus the fiber content. Fiber should not be counted towards your daily intake of 30 grams(or roughly 5% per day) I repeat, you do not have to watch out for fiber! Only sugar will count towards your intake. One gram of carbohydrate contains 4 kcal.
  • Fat: Your main source of fuel on the keto diet, you need this through your diet and your body will feed on this if your calorie intake is low enough. Each gram contains 9 kcal.
  • Protein: The building blocks of your cells and muscles. Consume a moderate amount(Around 25%) as too much protein will be converted to glucose(Your body’s stored form of carbohydrates) You are allowed to eat slightly more protein if you exercise regularly to maintain your muscle mass. One gram of protein contains 4 kcal.

Macronutrient percentages for the standard keto dietKatch McArdle formula

Now that you know what they are you will probably ask yourself how much you need of these individual energy sources.

On the standard ketogenic diet, the typical guideline is to get 70% energy from fat, 25% from protein and the remaining 5% from carbs. To calculate your needs as accurate as possible we’re utilizing the Katch McArdle formula. This formula is basing your daily needs on your fat free mass, or muscle mass instead of your total weight, As fat mass doesn’t burn any energy. By subtracting the fat mass from muscle mass we uncover the so called Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR for short.Woman working in an office

BMR is the amount of calories you will burn without any activity, just to keep your body running if you wouldn’t move during the entire day. Although you may come close to that with something like an office job, it still isn’t very realistic. So on top of our BMR we are going to add an activity multiplier for you total daily calorie expenditure.

For this method it is required to know your body fat percentage. If you don’t know that, fret not. I’ll get back to you with another method (albeit less accurate calculator) later in this article.

The Katch McArdle formula which you can apply with your own numbers looks like this:

Weight in KG – Bodyfat% X Weight in KG = Weight in KG – 1/5th X Weight in KG =Lean body mass

370 + (21,6 X LBM in KG) = 370 + 1552 = BMR

Multiply this number by the activity multiplier above

As an example we’re going to calculate the energy needs and macros for Greg. A (fictional)90KG male with 20% body fat with a normal intensity training regimen that wants to maintain his current weight.

The calculation would look like below:

Lean body mass(muscle mass) = 90(KG) – 20(%) X 90(KG) = 90 – (20/100 x 90) =72KG

BMR(Basal metabolic rate) = 370 + (21,6 X 72(KG)) = 370 + 1552 = 1922 kcal

Use the following multipliers for your BMR calorie needs to reach your total daily energy intake:

  • Sedentary, no training, office job – X 1.15
  • Light training regimen – X 1.35
  • Normal training regimen – X 1.5
  • Heavy training regimen or intense physical job – X 1.725
  • Heavy training regimen and intense physical job – X 1.9

In Gregs case, we’re going to multiply 1922(calories) X 1.5 activity = 2883 calories total per day.

Now on to calculate Gregs macros per day:

Carbs: 0,05(%) X 2883 = 144 kcal : 4(calories per gram) = 36 grams (This exceeds the recommended amount of 30 grams, however since Greg does perform exercise this difference of 6 grams doesn’t matter)

Protein: 0,25(%) X 2883 = 577 kcal : 4(calories per gram) = 180 grams

Fat: 0,7(%) X 2883 = 2018 kcal : 9(calories per gram) = 224 grams

Macronutrients for GregDo note that the above calculation is based on his training days. He will have to run the calculator with the 1.1 X multiplier (for instance) for the days that he doesn’t have much physical activity. Or a higher multiplier will have to be applied if Greg goes out walking for several hours beside his training to 1.750 or so.

Harris Benedict formula

If you don’t know what your body fat percentage is we can use the somewhat less reliable calculator known as the Harris Benedict formula. This calculator bases the outcome solely on gender, weight, age and height, without body fat or fat free Woman working outmass. I personally advise you to buy body fat calipers and calculate your body fat percentage and stick with the Katch McArdle method. Since a pair of bodyfat calipers will only cost you around $9 as this will provide you with the most accurate results.

If for whatever reason you don’t want to spend that money on calipers or if you want to get a general idea of how many calories you need per day you can stick to the Harris Benedict formula.

For this example we will use the calculation on today’s winner: Jennifer

Jennifer is a 41 year old 73KG female, with a height of 176cm. She leads an insanely active lifestyle. Working out intensely for 2 hours 5 times a week & she also has a dog she walks regularly, and she has a job as a letter carrier. Her intention is to lose weight at a healthy pace.

The calculation would look like below:

10 x 73(KG) + 6.25 X 173(CM) – 5 X 41(Age) – 161 = 1464 kcal

Use the following multipliers for your BMR calorie needs to reach your total daily energy intake:

  • Sedentary, no training, office job – X 1.15
  • Light training regimen or other light activities – X 1.35
  • Normal training regimen or other medium intense activities – X 1.5
  • Heavy training regimen or intense physical job – X 1.725
  • Heavy training regimen and intense physical job – X 1.9

In the case of Jennifer, we’re going to multiply 1464(calories) X 1.9 = 2782 calories total per day – 500 kcal to lose weight = 2282 kcal for healthy weight loss

Now on to calculate Jennifer’s macros per day:

Carbs: 0,05(%) X 2282 = 114 kcal : 4(calories per gram) = 29 grams

Protein: 0,25(%) X 2282 = 570,5 kcal : 4(calories per gram) = 144 grams

Fat: 0,7(%) X 2282 = 1597 kcal : 9(calories per gram) = 177,4 grams

How to figure out your macros on keto

Like Greg, Jennifer will have to run the calculator with the 1.1 X multiplier (for instance) for the days that she doesn’t have much physical activity. Or another multiplier that applies to her activity level on that given day.

Please not that both ‘Greg’, and ‘Jennifer’ are fictional, as are their weight and activity levels. They merely serve as an example to run these formula on. Always insert your own numbers for an accurate calculation!

It sounds more complicated than it is in practice!

Trust me on this, I found it all pretty hard when I first got into this as well. It all comes down to the amount of calories, and the amount of each macro you consume.

To make things a little easier for you, In my the keto diet food list article i went over the keto products that i recommended to go into your shopping cart!

If you feel like this is all too much hassle for you to incorporate into your lifestyle(Which I can understand) you can ‘eyeball’ the amounts/ratios, although I personally wouldn’t recommend you to do that to achieve the maximum results. You will most likely not get into ketosis(Which roughly requires you to consume less than 30g net carbs) by ‘gambling’ how much of each macro nutrient you take in per day.

If you do still want to practice this less calculated and more practical approach make sure that you eat a lot of fats, a moderate amount of protein, and as few carbohydrates as possible.

I can assure you that by doing this you will still get a big boost in fat burning, albeit not as much as by being in ketosis, because your blood sugar levels will still be low throughout the day, keeping you burning fat for fuel.

You may or may not get into ketosis this way. It is almost impossible for me to tell if you don’t track your macros.

The only way is to know for sure whether or not you are in ketosis is by measuring your ketone levels. I recommend you do this by either testing your blood or breath for ketones.

On top of that we all have a different tolerance to carbohydrates and macro nutrient ratios in general. While I, for example, may be able to eat 50 grams of carbs a day and remain in ketosis, You might get kicked out of ketosis by consuming 31 grams of net carbs.

The only guarantee I can give you is that when you do follow the standard ketogenic diet and its ratios – you will get into ketosis sooner, rather than later!

A meal plan to get you started

If you have no idea how to get started with setting up a balanced ketogenic meal with the ingredients that you are allowed on the keto diet, that is not unlikely. I had a hard time figuring out which fruits, vegetables and meats to use in order to come up with meals that not only boost your ketogenic results, but at the same time are also a delight to consume.

Because keto really can be delicious! Fat is an amazing macronutrient with a very versatile array of use.

I highly recommend you to purchase this ketogenic beginner meal plan. I used this meal plan book in the beginning quite regularly as i had no clue which ingredients to combine for a nutritious and appetizing meal. It is a great source of inspiration.

The meals in this book are very easy to prepare, delicious, nutritious, and adhere to the ketogenic ratios – which saves you a ton of calculation work. The bestselling author and keto guru Leanne Vogel has done all the thinking for you!

The recipes in her book are slightly higher protein than what is commonly recommended  at 20% protein, for the ketogenic diet. Her recipes are roughly around 25% protein(the amount of protein i advise you to take in as well)

The keto beginner guide is a fantastic guide to reach the state of nutritional ketosis without feeling like you are punishing or restricting yourself – in fact, it will feel like you are cheating(Yep, the recipes are that good!) while you are actually burning your own body fat for fuel.

Leanne herself has utilized these recipes in The Keto Beginning to shed a whopping 12% of her body fat at a fast, but still healthy pace of 2 months(!). In the video below she will briefly explain what the the first month on the keto diet did for her body!

For the price of only $35 you will get the complete ‘The Keto Beginning’ recipe book that contains 11 chapters, consisting of 188 pages with over 70 keto, low carbohydrate keto, high fat, moderate protein, gluten-, sugar-, grain-, legume-free recipes to ignite your body to burn fat and get you into the almost superhuman state of ketosis. On top of that her recipes take allergies into account & avoid you feeling bloated!

The keto beginning tagline - creating lifelong health and lasting weight loss with whole food-based nutritional ketosis

Take action today!

I hope you are now able to make sense of the formulas and the amount of calories and macros you need to consume daily by inserting your very own numbers into whichever formula you would like to use that i listed above.

I can assure you that if you have problems putting together ketogenic meals, or you find it difficult to stick to all these numbers – that The Keto Beginning starter guide will definitely be a dealbreaker. It provides a ton a valuable high quality recipes that will save you from all the thinking of putting together the ingredients and calculating whether or not they are keto!

Take action today, ditch the carbs & accept the dietary fat in order to reduce your body fat. Once you get started, and start seeing the results it will only further induce your motivation te keep going and reach your goals.

However, I understand that this can all still be a bit overwhelming. If you require any assistance at all, please let me know in the comments below and I will help you out ASAP!

You are NOT alone in this! We are all in this together!


4 thoughts on “How to figure out your macros on keto [The palette of your plate]”

  1. Excellent outline. I’m glad you added BMR, which so many people (even some personal trainers) have forgotten. For me, it was important to establish what BMR was to clients, as none of them had any idea how many calories they were really burning and as a result, would undereat before learning more on nutrition.

    I’m also happy you covered the macronutrients, since it’s more than just calories if those embarking on a nutritional regimen want results. It’s also in the macros, which basically states it’s also important to know the type of calories one’s eating as well. 

    • Exactly! BMR is a crucial component in calculating your daily caloric intake.

      Like you said – people often tend to either undereat when dieting, or overeat when trying to gain lean muscle mass.

      With your BMR as the fundament of your intake, and an added daily activity multiplier sets you up for eating the right amount that is in line with your goals.

      Indeed, it’s not just calories. Especially on the ketogenic diet the macronutrient ratios are of high importance. And then theres a case to be made for hormonones and enzymes, but that is an article for another day!

      Glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

  2. Hi, and thanks for a very informative website. I’m happy I came across it, since I did not know any of this prior to this visit. I’m a bit sceptic to all the new diets that pop up all the time. Have been on a diet myself, lost some punds, happy. Gained it back, un happy. Your suggestions might work. Again, thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Sofus,

      Glad to be of help. We’re all on this ketogenic journey together after all!

      The keto diet has proven to be not only an effective, but a sustainable diet as well.

      When you embrace the ketogenic diet, it essentially is not even really a diet anymore – but moreso a new and revolutionary way of approaching food. Not just for a certain period of time, to shed a few pounds of weight – but for life!

      If you have any questions, do reach out! I’d be happy to help 🙂



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