Are you eating the right sort of carbs on your Keto Diet? Not all carbs are equal and the question is not just How many carbs can you eat each day but How Many Carbs Can You Have on a Keto Diet, making sure you’re eating the right ones!
As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming to eat no more than 20g of carbohydrates each day on a keto diet.
At this level, it’s safe to assume that you will achieve ketosis and benefit from the weight loss and health gains that keto offers.
With a daily allowance of just 20g of carbs you need to be very picky about which carbs you are going to allow on your plate.
Remember that this allowance is 20g is referring to net carbs which is the total carb count minus any grams of fiber.
Fiber is super healthy, and you should make some effort to make sure you’re including it in your diet.
However, it cannot be absorbed by the body, and so there is no need to take it into account when working out your net carbs.
Fiber helps with digestion and keeping your gut bacteria healthy and in balance.
Some foods look as if they have a high carb content but they are actually very high in fiber which means that they will be safe to eat and keep within your keto goals.
Not all carbs are created equal
A carb is a carb right?
Wrong. There are good carbs, not so good carbs and carbs that you should be walking away from, even if you’re not following the keto diet.
With so few carbs allowed on the keto diet, you don’t want to be wasting any of your carb allowance on the sort of carbs that are mostly junk food.
Take sugar for example. 100% carb, and 100% bad for you.
Honestly, try to limit this as much as you can, it’s not just bad for your health, it’s terrible.
It causes massive inflammation in your body and is implicated in a very long list of diseases.
There are nutrient dense carbs out there, and those are the sort of carbs that you should be mostly eating.
The internet is filled with recipes for special “Keto” foods, and while many of these recipes look very tempting, especially if you have a sweet tooth, they are not going to all be healthy for you.
Now I’m the first to admit that from time to time I’m tempted to chow down on a huge slice of keto chocolate pie, with keto chocolate sauce and covered in keto sprinkles.
And really, now and then isn’t going to hurt, and I get to stay in ketosis too. Pass me a fork!
The trouble starts when you are eating too many of these sorts of foods.
Many low carb desserts are made up with not so healthy sweeteners, and even “low carb” will very often mean that you’ll have to skip some healthy vegetables and fruits in order to squeeze that slice of chocolate pie into your daily allowance.
In order to eat a keto diet that is a healthy keto diet, you will need to make sure that you include as many nutrient rich carbs as you can.
You want to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals that you need to stay in optimal good health.
Vegetables are nutrient rich, and contain fiber and should not be omitted on this or any other sort of diet.
The keto diet does not allow you to eat every type of vegetable and fruit, but if you choose above ground vegetables and berries, you can still have sufficient vegetables and fruit to ensure that all your micro nutrient needs are being met.
There are too many people that work out their macros and feel that as long as they stay within those, then all will be well.
It’s definitely possible to lose weight by eating only junk carbs, but the keto diet isn’t just about loosing weight. It’s also about being as healthy as you can be.
Other good carb choices are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, strawberries and other berry fruits.
So, 20g carb of cake is not the same as 20g carb of cheese or cauliflower or blueberries.
I know, sometimes we just have to face the truth.
Simple carbs and complex carbs
Carbohydrates contain sugars, starch and fiber. Starch and fiber are found in complex carbs, while sugar is king in simple carbs.
Unfortunately, food labels don’t tell us directly if we are eating complex or simple carbs.
Sugar is 100% a simple carb of the worst possible sort. Avoid it like the plague.
I can’t think of one good thing to say about this “food”
It likes to hide under a few aliases such as glucose, fructose, cane syrup and so on.
There are over 50 words for sugar that are allowed to appear on nutritional labels.
Cookies, cakes, donuts, fruit juice, breakfast cereals are all pretty much packed with sugar.
These simple carb foods may hit the spot from time to time, but at no stretch could they be called healthy or necessary.
The more starch and/or fiber a carb contains, the more it can be described as a complex carb.
These are the sort of carbs that are healthy and should be included in your diet.
You certainly don’t want to be aiming to cut out all carbs.
Some carbs are necessary for your health, and it would be very difficult to get a nutritionally sound diet without them.
These are the carbs that should be forming a small but important part of your keto diet.
Many above ground vegetables and some fruits contain complex carbs and are nutritious enough that you should try to eat them as often as you can.
For example, an avocado, which is one of the most nutritious foods available, comes in at a large 12g of carbs for 136g/4.8 oz.
However, this size fruit contains 9.2g of dietary fiber, bringing the net carbs down to a very nice 2.8g.
Under 3g of your daily allowance of 20g, and you’re getting a powerhouse of goodness.
Avocados contain not just fiber but copper, potassium and vitamins K, E, C, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. On top of that there is a good dose of zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Without even mentioning that it’s packed with healthy fats.
That’s more than enough reason to include an avocado in your keto diet plan every day.
Healthy carbs for a keto diet
Meat and animal protein is carb free, but watch out for deli meats and some sausages. These can have added sugars which will bring the carb count way up.
Eggs have a very small carb count, and should be eaten often.
Most above ground vegetables are good to eat with keto and include:
Healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are all carb free.
Why is it important to limit carbs on keto?
Carbohydrate heavy foods, especially simple carbs have an immediate effect on our blood/sugar levels and cause us to release a hefty dose of the hormone insulin to keep sugar levels at a healthy level.
Unfortunately, insulin is also the body’s trigger for storage, and it tells us to store all glucose not needed for immediate energy.
Constantly eating too many carbs causes too many insulin spikes, and this can have a very harmful effect on our bodies.
Eating a carb heavy diet also causes us to rely on glucose to meet all our energy needs. This is the easiest metabolic pathway for our body.
To turn the body into a fat burning machine, it is necessary to force your body to switch to its second metabolic pathway. This is when you start to use your fat stores for energy instead.
In order to force this switch- over it is necessary to limit carbs, so that there is not enough glucose in the blood to meet all our immediate energy needs.
It is the process of fat burning that produces ketosis, and gives the keto diet it’s name.
If you are not already familiar with the keto diet this is a good place to start : what is the keto diet about
The take home message
All to often I read that the keto diet is unhealthy, cannot be maintained in the long term, and is not nutritionally sound.
The main reason for this is, I believe, that many people on the keto diet keep within their carb macros but do not pay enough attention to the type of carbs that they are eating.
There are also a small amount of people who underestimate the importance of healthy complex carbohydrates in our diet.
Any diet that eliminates fruits and/or vegetables completely will not be able to meet your full nutritional needs.
This is not what the keto diet it about.
You do need to keep your daily carb intake to 20g net carbs or less each day, and this will without a doubt take a lot of grains, processed foods and desserts off the menu.
That’s no bad thing for your health, but that doesn’t mean that you should attempt to go without vegetables too.
They are packed with vitamins, minerals and the fiber that you need to stay healthy.
With some forward planning and research it is completely possible to eat enough vegetables and still keep to your keto diet goals.
The keto diet isn’t just amazing for weight loss, it is a healthy and health promoting way of eating.