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Keto Macronutrients -- HOW MUCH?

Saturday, October 06, 2018

It's frustrating: nobody says definitively what they are!!! Lots of research proved that nobody was going to say definitively! But all that research showed me the reason why... it is because it is the only diet that actually realizes that every human body and every human lifestyle creates a highly unique situation that ONLY YOU can account for. In other words, you have to pay attention to yourself -- your lifestyle and your body and figure it out for yourself. That sounds hard to do, but it really is not. Here's what I've learned:

Protein: You MUST eat JUST enough protein ( not too much more, not too much less) preferably every day but it can be averaged out over a week. This generally falls in the range of 80-100 g protein for everybody-- unless you are an extreme case (either under or over!) of age, weight, or activity (body-builders need more). It is good to get it within a 10 g range! Why? Because thanks to a process called gluconeogenesis, your body will turn excess protein into carbs -- which you really don't want since excess carbs can screw up your body's ketotic state.

Carbs: eat no more than 20 g TOTAL carb daily -- yes, that means you have to count the fiber -- until you figure out exactly how many carbs you personally can "get away with". You do that by making tiny adjustments up or down and still staying in ketosis. IF 20 is too much for you, then you won't be losing weight. Adjust downward and when abruptly you start peeing a LOT, you will have entered ketosis. You will also abruptly lose extra water weight due to all the peeing.
Now it will be necessary to be SURE to drink enough calorie-free fluid every day -- about 100 oz. Yep. Get used to it. You can do it.
And as long as you stay in ketosis, you might be able to (by tiny increases) eat more carbs than 20 g; it is entirely up to YOUR body and how YOU feel. If you abruptly stop losing weight, it will probably be because you ate too many carbs. Back off from that -- you've found your limit -- and consistently eat a few fewer carbs than your limit. Assuming you ARE consistent, there will be the extremely rare occasions (3-4 a year?) when you overeat because it's Thanksgiving, my birthday, whatever. As long as it is ONE day (sorry, ONE day only), if you resume normal ketotic dieting immediately, you will be back on track EASILY in 1-3 days. Stretching it into 2 days will cause you to struggle, trust me on that!

Fat: Ahhhhh -- here's the trick! And here is why percentages don't matter! Are you eating Keto to lose weight? Gain weight? Maintain weight? Your answer makes a big difference here! But I'm just gonna deal with the "LOSE" part: I assume you are interested in losing weight because you are FAT -- because your body has excessive fat. That, in a nutshell, means you have a choice to make based on just HOW fat you are. Up to a certain point in your weight loss journey, the more fat you eat, the slower you lose weight. That is because you are TRYING to get your body to burn up your body fat -- and the more fat you EAT, the less your body needs to use up/burn your own body fat!
SO! If you want to lose weight slowly, or if you want to eat more, choose to eat more fat -- a higher calorie diet. If you want to lose weight faster, EAT. LESS. FAT. EXACTLY how much is up to you! The percentages, or ratios, don't matter because YOU GET TO CHOOSE! And I can only imagine that you would choose based upon how your body feels.

I'll use myself as an example: I LOVE to eat. I LOVE sweets! I have a BIG appetite. This 5'8", moderately active 60+ y.o. woman regularly easily eats 3000 calories daily when not dieting. (I SAID I like to eat!). And I think of myself as a scientist -- I love to control, measure, record, and analyze. And I chose to do keto and I chose to pay close attention to what my body was telling me during my "experiments" with this diet.
I segued from eating low carb to keto, and I rapidly learned that I could NOT stomach eating 100 g protein -- as long as my total carbs were less than 20. How much fat was irrelevant at this early stage. I was simply almost nauseous trying to eat 100 g protein (an amount I can easily exceed if I eat carbs). I was eating about 1000 calories at the time and feeling so over-stuffed I had to do SOMETHING....
I already was extremely low carb, and believing that I HAD to eat 100 g protein, the only thing I could change was fat. So I cut back on fat. WAYYYY back! I was eating 650 calories -- 400 of them protein-based, and STILL felt over-stuffed. It was only when I cut back slightly on the protein --to 85-90 g -- that, suddenly(!) I FELT GREAT!
I was bursting/bounding/boiling-OVER with energy, endlessly -- on 630 calories daily. I was in the most terrific good mood EVER -- endlessly -- on 630 calories daily. I was almost manic, it seemed to me. I was NEVER hungry, and often felt full. I went on like this for THREE MONTHS. It was totally unexpected; okay, it was weird!
The ONLY drawback was the amount of time I spent on the computer every day -- figuring out what and how much I could eat HEALTHFULLY, and stay at this level. I was losing weight slower than I'd like for the amount of effort I was putting in (but very fast for a menopausal woman). I mean, on 630 calories a day, I had to pay close attention to getting good levels of MICROnutrients -- I don't want to bankrupt my body; staying in good health is more important than weight loss! Yessss.... I could (I DO!) take vitamins, but micronutrients are more than that, and are best obtained from actual food, not pills.
I had too much energy to stay at the computer -- too many other important ways to live my life than fiddling with exactly how to eat 630 calories! In other words, this was a healthy, feel-great way of eating for me -- but it was too extreme for my lifestyle. I ended up relaxing my standards. To encourage my appetite, I increased my carbs to 25 g carb TOTAL, kept my protein at 85-90 g, and the tiny increase in carbs allows enough of my appetite to return that I can eat more fat without feeling over-stuffed. The tiny increase in carbs means I don't have to obsess over my veggies so much; the increase in fat gives me more enjoyment in what I eat, and I don't have to spend any time at the computer adjusting adjusting adjusting every day. I'm losing weight VERY slowly now. Shrug. I'm menopausal -- the fact that I'm losing at all is awesome! The downside: the manic energy and good mood are gone. I feel normal (and that is good too!) again. It is MY choice! I chose this. It suits me. If I want, I can revert to a faster weight loss with great energy and mood -- and never feel hungry, but feel frustrated by my food limitations. I could. And I might again -- just because I really liked the energy and great mood. But I doubt I'd do it for long. Just as a change. If and when I choose. I love having the option!

As I mentioned, there comes a point (several, in fact) in your weight-loss journey that changes must be made. I refer to a particular point -- when you've lost so much body fat that you MUST eat more fat if you've previously chosen to eat minimal fat. That's a blog for another day.

Until then, the last thing I want to say is that "fat bombs" are a crutch. Some people need them; some don't. Ultimately, THIS crutch is designed for short-term use (less than a month!). The eating of a fat-bomb can help prevent eating carbs. That is its good. BUT eating fat means that you aren't eating nutritious food -- that is its bad. And it slows your weight loss. Use the crutch as long as you need it; then get rid of it. Crutches are for the lame; and you are seeking full health!
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.