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How Many Carbs Can You Actually Have on the Keto Diet?

If you’re thinking about starting the keto diet, you might already know that it’s a high-fat and low-carb eating plan. But just how low in carbs is this low-carb diet, exactly? As you might imagine, it’s nearly impossible to completely cut all carbs out of any healthy diet — and that includes keto. That said, it’s important to understand what to expect when starting a new dietary plan, especially one that differs quite a bit from your prior ways of eating.

How many carbs can you have on keto?

According to Perfect Keto, the standard rule of thumb for keto dieters is to eat no more than 30 grams of carbs per day. To understand how low-carb this diet truly is, keep in mind that The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day for people who are eating 2,000 calories a day. 

However, it’s worth noting that the “standard” rule for keto can vary quite a bit depending on the individual on the diet. Some folks might reach their best ketone levels consuming just 15 grams of carbs per day, while others may be able to reach them while eating 40 grams of carbs. After all, different dieters have different body compositions — not to mention different goals — while being on the diet.  

But in order to follow a strict keto diet, you’ll probably need to figure out your daily calorie intake first before you do anything else. Then, with the help of a doctor, you can go from there to figure out the precise number of calories from protein and fat you need to eat to lose weight on the keto diet.

“In a clinical setting, a strict ketogenic diet would involve ultra-low carb consumption, like 20 or 30 grams a day,” said Eric Westman, MD, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University, in an interview with Time. “You’d want healthy fats to account for about 80 percent of your calories, and protein around 20 percent.”

As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave much room for carbs. That’s why it’s so important to always get the OK from a trusted doctor before trying any new diet, especially a restrictive one like keto. A health professional can work together with you to tailor an eating plan to your specific needs. 

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