Are you ready to start following a keto diet, but are unsure how many calories or macronutrients your body needs? Do you want to lose weight on a keto diet? Gain muscle? Read below for an easy step-by-step process to calculate your macros for a ketogenic diet.
For those of you who have asked us how to calculate macros for a keto diet without an indirect calorimetry device, we’re going to show you exactly how to do it.
In This Article
- General Information We Need to Get Started
- Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
- How to Calculate Your BMR
- How to Calculate Your TEE
- How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat on a Keto Diet?
- How Many Grams of Fat Do I Need on a Keto Diet?
- How Many Grams of Protein Do I Need on a Keto Diet?
- How Many Grams of Carbohydrates Should I Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
General Information We Need to Get Started
- Your height
- Your weight
- Physical activity level
- Body composition goals
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
We need this general information to be able to figure out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your total energy expenditure (TEE).
Your BMR is basically the calories your body needs to just exist without taking into account your daily activities and workout expenditures.
Your TEE is your basal metabolic rate + activities of daily living + exercise.
We need to know your TEE so we can figure out how many calories, grams of protein, and other macro/micronutrients your body needs.
How to Calculate Your BMR
The most accurate way to test your resting metabolic rate is with an indirect calorimetry device. However, if you don’t have access to one, we can use the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation below to help estimate our needs.
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
The resulting number is your BMR.
How to Calculate Your TEE
After you calculate your BMR, multiple it by your activity factor below to calculate your TEE.
|Little to no exercise||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2|
|Light exercise (1–3 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375|
|Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55|
|Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725|
|Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9|
After we figure out your total energy expenditure (TEE) we will break down each macronutrient into percentages of total calories.
How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat on a Keto Diet?
To Gain Weight:
If you want to gain weight, add 500 calories to your TEE.
To Lose Weight:
If you want to lose weight (about 1 pound per week), subtract 500 calories from your TEE.
To Maintain Weight:
If you wish to maintain your weight, leave the calories the same.
For example, Larry’s total energy expenditure is 2100 calories, and he wants to maintain his weight. Next he needs to find out how many calories he needs from fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Standard percentages start out with 80% of your calories from fat, 15% of your calories from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.
How Many Grams of Fat Do I Need on a Keto Diet?
Using our example above, to figure out how many grams of fat Larry will need to consume, multiply the 2100 calories by 0.80, which yields 1680 calories. And now take that number and divide it by 9 because there are 9 calories per gram of fat. This gives Larry about 187g fat.
How Many Grams of Protein Do I Need on a Keto Diet?
Continuing on with our example above, to determine how many grams of protein Larry needs, multiply 2100 calories by 0.15, which yields 315 calories. And then divide that by 4 because there are 4 calories per gram of protein. This gives Larry about 79g protein.
How Many Grams of Carbohydrates Should I Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
Keeping with our example, to find out how many grams of carbohydrates Larry needs, multiply 2100 calories by .05, which yields 105 calories. And now divide that by 4 since there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates. This gives Larry about 26g carbs.
Alternatively, you could take 2100 calories minus the calories from fat (1680) minus the calories from protein (315), which gives the calories from carbohydrates (105 calories). Now take the 105 calories and divide that number by 4. This gives about 26g of carbohydrates.
So Larry’s calories would be 2100 calories, broken down into 187g fat, 79g protein, and 26g carbohydrates.
So there you have it! Now you know how to calculate your calories and macros for a keto diet.
Digging Deeper Into Carbs
Carbohydrates are a very tricky situation. Not all carbs are created equal!
Carbohydrates are broken down into fibers, sugars, and starches. Also, there are now sugar alcohols in the mix! And we even have different types of fibers. Our body cannot digest some fibers like insoluble fibers, whereas soluble fibers are digested by the bacteria in our intestines and create short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which our body can use for fuel. Some sugar alcohols produce an insulin response while others don’t (we’ll save this for another post and go in-depth).
Another thing you’ll often hear discussed in low carb or ketogenic talk is the term “net carbs”. Net carbs refers to the number of carbs you get when you take the total grams of carbs minus the fiber minus the sugar alcohols.
Some people who are already fat-adapted or those who are not very carbohydrate-sensitive can follow a higher carbohydrate diet (but still low compared to the normal Standard American Diet) and still stay in ketosis. They can do this because the total net carbs are relatively low, and the carbs that they are consuming do not have a very high insulin response.
If you don’t want to do this by hand, check out our article Keto Macro Calculator Review to see which ones we recommend.