Keto Diet Plan Week 4! Wondering how to start Keto? Totally confused by where to start? It’s easy to get overwhelmed. These posts break down how to start on Keto in an easy way. This is week 4 of keto tips!
I am not a medical, or health care professional so you definitely want to consult what my sons call “a real doctor, not a Ph.D. like my Mom”. My only objective here is to show people how easy it can be to start on keto using baby steps and achievable goals.
Keto Diet Plan Week 4
This is a short series on how to start Keto. Some of us want to jump into Keto cold turkey. Others might want to ease in. For those of you who are wondering how to start Keto:
It’s time for us to get a better understanding of macros and why they matter. My aim here is to be accurate but not comprehensive. So, I am going to simplify this section as best as I can.
Here’s are the topics we are covering in Keto Diet Plan Week 4:
- What are macros?
- How many calories in C/P/F
- Why do calories matter on a keto diet?
- The very basics of weight loss
- What roles do macros play in insulin release?
- How to calculate macros on a keto diet?
- What is the difference between total carbs and net carbs?
- Do calories matter on a keto diet?
- Do I have to eat all that fat on a keto diet?
- Do I need to adjust calories as I lose weight on a keto diet?
- So what’s the bottom line?
WHAT ARE MACROS?
For our purposes, macros or macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. All of your food can be thought of as different combinations of C/P/F. Much of keto is maintaining the desirable balance between these macros, and for Keto Diet Plan Week 4 you need to understand this.
On a typical keto diet plan, you want between 20-40 gms of carbs, you want enough protein to maintain muscle mass, and you want enough fat to provide satiety.
Here’s a high-level view of which foods contain a lot of carbs.
- Starches such as pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, oats
- Sugars such as sugar, honey, molasses, high-fructose corn syrup
- Grains such as quinoa, wheat, amaranth, millet
- Beans and legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas, blackeyed peas (except black soy beans)
- Fruits, especially tropical fruits (berries are lower carb than other fruits)
- Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, sweet potatoes, winter squash etc.
HOW MANY CALORIES IN C/P/F?
- Carbs and Protein each have 4 calories per gram
- Fat has 9 calories per gram
WHY DO MACROS MATTER ON A KETO DIET PLAN?
There’s a reason you are calculating macros. It’s because they serve as a proxy for things that will keep your insulin and your blood sugar in check. By themselves, they don’t mean that much.
People argue endlessly about whether this ingredient or that “is keto”. It’s not an ingredient per se you should worry about—you should worry about being in ketosis. There are ways to get into, and stay in ketosis.
The ways to do that are:
- control what you eat
- control when and how often you eat.
For our Keto Diet Plan Week 4, let’s talk about what you eat first, and the role macros play in this. I will discuss fasting or controlling how often you eat, in a separate post later.
THE VERY BASICS OF WEIGHT LOSS
For your Keto Diet Plan Week 4, here’s what you need to know about weight loss in a nutshell. (Assuming your weight gain was related to excess consumption of carbohydrates, insulin resistant, excess appetite and the like). This is especially important for your Keto Diet Plan Week 4.
- You are either FEASTING (eating or having just eaten within the last 2-4 hours) or you are FASTING (haven’t eaten in a while.)
- While you are feasting, your body is releasing insulin.
- While you have insulin in your bloodstream you are not burning fat.
- The way to burn fat is to a) not eat (fast) for long periods and b) eat foods that don’t cause you to release excess insulin.
- FEASTING = INSULIN.
- INSULIN = NO FAT BURNING
- FASTING = NO INSULIN
- NO INSULIN = FAT BURNING.
EVERYTHING else about keto diets is just how to not release excess insulin so your body has a chance to burn fat. As I said earlier, the ways to do that are a) control what you eat; and b) control when and how often you eat.
WHAT ROLES DO MACROS PLAY IN INSULIN RELEASE?
Understand these three (oversimplified) facts and you will understand how to eat for your keto diet plan.
- Carbs will make you release a LOT of insulin.
- Protein, if eaten to excess, will make you release some insulin, but if you eat moderate amounts of protein you will be fine.
- Fat will not cause you to release insulin.
So, the way to keep your insulin down?
Eat more fat, eat moderate protein, eat very few carbs, and go long periods without eating. That’s it. No need to complicate things beyond this.
Let’s add to our previous equations.
- FEASTING = INSULIN.
- CARBS = INSULIN
- EXCESS PROTEIN = INSULIN.
- INSULIN = NO FAT BURNING
- FASTING = NO INSULIN
- FAT = NO INSULIN.
- LOW CARBS = LOW INSULIN
- MODERATE PROTEIN = LOW INSULIN.
- NO INSULIN = FAT BURNING.
As I said earlier, oversimplified view, but accurate nonetheless.
HOW TO CALCULATE MACROS ON A KETO DIET PLAN?
Let’s get this out of the way. There is no magic about the 20 gms of carbs everyone keeps pushing on keto. The right number of carbs are what you will get you into ketosis and help you stay there, which is why we’re discussing this for our Keto Diet Plan Week 4.
For some people, that’s 20 gms of carbs. For other people, it’s 40 gms of carbs. The majority of us will reach ketosis at 20 gms of carbs if sustained over several days.
There are complicated ways to calculate macros (and let’s face it, I use the complicated ways that involve calculating lean body mass first etc.) But we are going to keep it stupid simple for our Keto Diet Plan Week 4.
- You are going to get 20 gms of carbs.
- You are going to get 60% of your calories from fat.
- Rest of your calories will come from protein.
The EASIEST way to do this is to use a fitness calculator such as Cronometer or MyFitnessPal and let them do the calculations for you. You just specify 20 gms of carbs, 60% from fat, rest from protein.
But if you insist on calculating it yourself, follow my logic below, if not, skip to the next section
Remember that Carbs and Protein each have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram
- Total calories. Start out by looking at the total calories you need. I won’t repeat those calculations here since there are many reputable calculators out there. Let’s say that I need 1200 calories a day to lose weight.
- Carbohydrate calories. We will assume you need 20 gms of carbs to be in ketosis.
- 20 gms x 4 calories = 80 calories from carbs. This leaves you 1110 calories to play with.
- Fat Calories. 60% of your calories will come from fat.
- 1200 * 60% = 720 calories
- 720 calories/9 calories per gram = 80 gms of fat
- Protein. The remainder of your calories will come from protein.
- I have used up 80 carb calories + 720 fat calories which leaves me 400 calories.
- 400 calories / 4 calories per gram = 100 gms of protein.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOTAL CARBS AND NET CARBS?
Total carbs minus Fiber minus sugar alcohols= net carbs.
If you’re diabetic, you may need to track total carbs. Many of the rest of us do well tracking net carbs as fiber and sugar alcohols do not raise blood sugar or insulin levels for most people.
DO CALORIES MATTER ON A KETO DIET PLAN?
Yes, they do.
Your body, much like me is #lazyefficient. Given a choice, it will use energy from food to fuel itself. What you want is to make that body work to use body fat to fuel itself. This is a vastly oversimplified description of how your body works but stay with me for a minute.
The way to make it use body fat to fuel itself is to keep insulin levels low, and to not give it so much energy from food that it never needs to use body fat to fuel itself.
So yes, calories do matter. But two things help. First, you will likely not be that hungry when eating a keto diet plan because you won’t be crashing and burning from carb intake. Second, most people seem to be able to eat more (but not unlimited) calories on keto than on high carb diets. Especially once you hit your Keto Diet Plan Week 4.
I will freely admit research on this is murky and the usual calories in-calories out equations are not always backed by science. But I have yet to meet anyone who has eaten tons of calories and lost weight. If you can do that, more power to you. The rest of us schmucks need to track calories.
DO I HAVE TO EAT ALL THAT FAT ON A KETO DIET PLAN?
This area is murky and I will be the first to admit that scientific studies for this are sparse and badly conducted. But I can share what works for me, and you can experiment with what works for you.
Here’s what you need to know: Fat grams on keto are a limit, not a level. If you’re hungry eat fat. Remember, FAT = NO INSULIN = FAT BURNING.
Personally, I feel that eating protein matters since it helps with maintaining muscle and when you’re losing weight you do not want to lose muscle. So, here’s how I treat it:
- Protein = Level and Limit. Hit the level and do not exceed the limit
- Carb = Limit. Do not exceed (but don’t have to eat it all.)
- Fat = Limit. Do not exceed (but don’t have to eat it all.)
So, eat fat to satiety. If you’re hungry, eat all the fat grams. If you’re not hungry don’t eat all the fat grams.
I eat all my protein. I keep carbs at 20. I eat the fat specified. If I don’t lose weight, I cut calories. Since I don’t want to cut protein, I have to cut fat calories.
Then this puts my percentages out of whack and all of a sudden I am consuming less fat as a percentage and now I want to tear my hair out!
Except. I don’t.
Those percentages? Nothing holy about them. They are merely heuristics. What matters is total insulin load and blood sugar swings. If I eat 20 gms of carbs, 100 gms of protein and whatever fat I need to stay full while staying within my calorie limits?
I am. Doing Just. Fine.
Even if my C/P/F percentages now look like 10/40/50 because I ate less fat that day.
Stop worrying so much about details. Focus on the big picture which is: Keep carbs low. Keep protein moderate. Eat mainly fat to keep yourself full. If you’re in ketosis and not losing weight, cut calories.
DO I NEED TO ADJUST MACROS AS I LOSE WEIGHT ON A KETO DIET PLAN?
You will need to adjust calories downward as you lose weight. The easy answer to this is that if you are losing weight, don’t worry about readjusting so much. If you stop losing weight, it’s time to tweak.
If you need to be more regimented, then every 10 lbs or so at first, readjust your calories. As you get closer to goal weight, you may have to adjust after every 5 lbs of weight loss. As you adjust calories, re-adjust your macros.
SO WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?
Stop worrying so much about details. Focus on the big picture which is: Keep carbs low. Keep protein moderate. Eat mainly fat to keep yourself full. If you’re in ketosis and not losing weight, cut calories. Enjoy eating this week with your Keto Diet Plan Week 4!