How Many Carbs To Eat On Keto, According To Experts

Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Your carb intake on a keto diet is key to how much and how fast you lose fat. If you do not follow the carb limit, there’s a high chance that you will not burn fat effectively. Dr. Michael Rogowski, Senior Nutrition Scientist, says, “These diets are not synonymous with the more typical “low carb” diets that usually allow up to 30% or so of total dietary calories from carbohydrates. There is no slack in Keto for extra carbs.” This raises two questions — how many carbs to consume in the keto diet per day and what low-carb foods to consume. Get all the answers here, along with a keto calculator. Scroll down!

What Is The Keto Diet And Why Is The Carb Limit Important?

Dr. Carly James, Ph.D, says, “A Keto diet tries to create the state of ketosis where the body uses fat as its primary fuel source in place of carbohydrates. It does this by reducing the number of carbs you eat, so the body is forced to stop relying on glucose and start using fat (1).”

The carb limit in Keto diet is of utmost importance to keep your body in a fat-burning state. Dr. Michael Rogowski, Senior Nutrition Scientist, says, “High fat and low carbohydrate diet is designed to keep the amount of available carbohydrate in the body low enough to shift the metabolism towards ketosis. It is a metabolic process that allows the body to create metabolites from fat called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies function as nutrients for the brain and neural tissue that otherwise heavily rely on carbohydrates for their energy needs (2).”

He further explains, “Despite being a restrictive diet, many people lose weight with a keto diet. This is due to a combination of the increased metabolic cost associated with ketogenesis (ketone synthesis) and gluconeogenesis (conversion of amino acids, lactate, and pyruvate to glucose) in the liver (3), in addition to the appetite suppressive effects of increased levels of ketone bodies.”

Key Points: The ketogenic diet primarily uses fat as fuel, which happens when you lower your carb intake. It also helps suppress appetite, which explains the rapid weight loss that the dieters experience. Now, the question is, what is the maximum limit of carbs you can consume while on a keto diet? Let’s find out.

How Many Carbs To Consume On The Keto Diet?

The keto diet allows about 20-50 grams of carbs per day (4). The complete breakdown of the macros is 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrate.

But there are several versions of the keto diet with variations in the carb content. To make it a true success, learn how to calculate your net carbohydrate intake. While 20-50 grams of carbs seem enough, given the high-carb lifestyle most of us are used to, the keto diet can seem restrictive in the initial stages. Hence, it is important to learn how to calculate your net carbs to consume nutritious and fiber-rich foods while following a low-carb diet.

Also, it is important to know whether your body can achieve ketosis at 20, 30, 40, or 50 grams of carbs. Usually, it differs from person to person. Why? Scroll down to find the answer.

Individual Carb Limit: Why Is It Different For Everyone?

The keto carb limit is 20-50 grams per day. To be more specific and scientific, the carb limit is 35 grams of total carbs and 25 grams of net carbs. Total carbs include fiber, starch, and sugar alcohols. Net carbs consist only of carbohydrates absorbed by your body, calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs.

Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber

For ketosis to kick in, you need to limit your net carb intake to 20 grams per day. However, you can also go into ketosis at 35 grams of net carbs per day. How do you find your carb limit? Find out in the following section.

How To Find Your Carb Limit

If you are a beginner, your net carb limit would be 20 grams per day. It is sufficient for ketosis to start kicking in. However, there are a few factors that determine the individual carb intake:

  • Body’s metabolism
  • Workout routine
  • How long you have been on keto
  • Sleep
  • Types of carbs you consume
  • Stress levels

The best way to go forward is to stick to 20-30 grams of carbs for the first three months. Here’s a keto calculator to know how much carbs you should consume.

Keto Carb Calculator

You can also do a ketosis test to check if your body is in ketosis. How is that done? Scroll down to find out.

How To Know If You Are In Ketosis

If your blood ketone reading is between 1.5 to 3.0 mmol/l, you are in ketosis, which is ideal for weight loss. A reading of 0.5 to 1.5 mmol/l indicates light nutritional ketosis, which is also beneficial (5).

You can check your ketone levels with an at-home blood ketone monitoring device that works like a regular glucose monitoring device. Sterilize your ring finger and prick the tip. Smear a drop of blood on the testing strip and wait for the reading.

The best time to check your ketone levels is early morning, right after you wake up. You can also do it before lunch or before every meal for a day. Checking the levels will help you understand if your body is getting familiarized with ketosis. But once it happens, will it affect your carb intake in one way or another? Keep reading to find out.

Can Keto Adaptation Change Your Carb Limit?

Keto adaptation is a state where the body becomes familiar with ketosis. If you are on the keto diet for the second time, your body will switch to ketosis quicker than the first time. For example, if it took three weeks for your body to go into ketosis, the second time, it might take two weeks. When this happens, can it change your carb limit? Yes, it can.

If your body enters ketosis easily, it invariably means that you can now eat more carbs compared to when you first started the ketogenic diet. The best way to start is to limit your carb intake to 20-25 grams per day for the first 3 to 6 months. When your body adapts to the new keto lifestyle, you can slowly increase your carb intake to a maximum of 50 grams per day. Keep checking your ketone levels at equal intervals.

Now that you know how many carbs to consume, the difference between net carbs and total carbs, and how to be on ketosis, it is crucial to know what carbs to consume and avoid. Scroll down to get a complete list.

Low-Carb Foods To Consume On Keto

  • Low-Carb Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, arugula, asparagus, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, and onion.
  • Low-Carb Fruits: Apple, honeydew melon, and peach.

Note: Grains and legumes are not allowed on the keto diet.

When you are on the keto diet, your carbohydrate intake has to be extremely limited, and you must avoid certain high-carb foods. Scroll down to know which foods they are.

High-Carb Foods To Avoid On Keto

Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., says, “Carbohydrate-rich items are not allowed on a sluggish keto diet.” The list includes the following:

  • Starchy Vegetables: Potato, sweet potato, peas, and corn.
  • Fruits: Banana, watermelon, grapes, mango, sapodilla, pineapple, and papaya.
  • Grains And Legumes: Wheat, barley, sorghum, millet, rice, brown rice, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils.
  • Sugary Foods: Cakes, ice cream, muffins, cookies, candies, and churrolto.
  • Trans Fats: Chips, pizza, burgers, deep-fried foods, crackers, and biscuits.
  • Beverages: Fruit juice, vegetable juice, packaged drinks, sports drinks, and soft drinks.

This list seems exhaustive, and you may feel like almost everything is excluded. But we have good news. Here’s a list of foods that you can eat for ketosis to kick in.

What To Eat More Of For Ketosis To Kick In

  • Fats: MCT oil, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, peanuts, and peanut butter, sunflower seeds and sunflower butter, almonds and almond butter, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia, walnut, cashews, Brazil nuts, coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, butter, ghee, cheese, and mayonnaise.
  • Proteins: Chicken with skin, beef, turkey, pork, duck, tuna, mackerel, salmon, haddock, carp, tofu, mushrooms, eggs, and cottage cheese.

The Takeaway

The whole premise of the keto diet is to eat more healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and limited carbs. Limiting your carb intake to 20-50 grams per day can help ketosis kick in quickly. Once that happens, your body will start using fat as a fuel source, thereby burning more fat and help you lose weight.

Talk to a registered dietitian to know if a keto lifestyle would be best for you. If yes, calculate your daily carb intake, adhere to the recommended amount of carbs, and track your blood ketone levels. You will start shedding the fat, feel energetic, and reduce the risk of multiple diseases eventually (6).


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  1. Ketogenic Diet
  2. Ketosis ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship
  3. Gluconeogenesis
  4. Low Carbohydrate Diet
  5. Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome
  6. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.