“Macros” is an abbreviation for macronutrients – What are macronutrients?
Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that are not essential for survival. There are essential fatty acids and amino acids (the building blocks of fats and proteins), but there is no such thing as “essential carbohydrates”. Sugars and starches fall into this category. Eating under 20 net grams of carbs per day will guarantee nutritional ketosis. All UK food labelling shows net carbs. A good clue is that if fibre is spelled the “English way”, e.g. FIBRE on the label, then carbs shown should already be net.
Protein is important for growth, tissue repair, immune function, making essential hormones and enzymes and preserving lean muscle mass. As you can see, protein plays a vital role in almost all biological processes. The body breaks protein down into amino acids, 9 of which cannot be made by the body. As a result, these essential amino acids must come from the food you eat. A good starting point is 1g protein per kg of ideal body weight. You can adjust this later to accommodate your personal goals/needs.
Fats are the main source of nutrition and energy in the absence of carbohydrates for a ketogenic diet. We need adequate amounts of fat in the diet for daily energy expenditure, growth and development, absorbing certain vitamins (fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids), providing protective cushioning for the organs, and maintaining cell membranes. Not to mention dietary fats help us stay full and add ﬂavour to our food! There are two essential fatty acids that our body can’t synthesize, so they must be obtained from diet. Initially, you should not limit fats as all the calories for daily energy expenditure you are no longer getting from low nutrient carbs need to be replaced with high quality nutrient dense fats.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR MACROS
1. How much do you weigh in kilograms? This is your baseline for later comparison
2. How much would you like to weigh in kilograms? This is your target weight
3. We strongly suggest that you make your target weight achievable – For example if you currently weigh in at 100 kilograms, but would like to weigh 70 kilograms, set your first target weight at 90 kilograms. Once you have reached that goal then reset your target weight to 80 kilos. Again, once you have hit 80 kilos then go for your ultimate target of 70 kilos. You get the idea…
4. The bottom line is that 20 grams of Carbohydrates in the form of vegetables (approximately four cups) per day will guarantee that you enter nutritional ketosis. 20 grams of carbs equal roughly 80 calories (although we don’t count calories they are still important. Read on and we will explain why…)
5. The next Macro to think about is Protein – this works out as one gram per kilogram of your current target weight. Using the example above, this means that if you currently weigh 100 kg and your first target is 90kg, then you should eat 90 grams of protein a day. This equals 360 calories as protein is around 4 calories per gram.
6. The final Macro is Fat. You should eat twice as much fat as protein, so this will mean 180 grams of fat per day. Wow. This sounds an awful lot of fat – remember you are resetting your metabolism to actually burn fat as its main source of energy, so don’t worry! 1 gram of fat is 9 calories, so this equals 1620 calories worth of fat.
7. Explanation time… Basal metabolic rate (BMR), Calories and Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Your body needs a minimum level of calorific intake per day to maintain its normal function. This is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is approximately the same as the calories you need to eat from the three macros above, so 80 + 360 + 1620 = 2060. This means if you weigh 90 kilos and do very little in the way of exercise, you still need to eat 2060 calories a day to maintain your body’s systems. This is why calories are important. If you have an active lifestyle, you will need to increase your calorie intake by 1.2 – 1.4 times your BMR. This is your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). These extra calories MUST come from increasing your fat intake.
• If you weigh 100 kilos and would like to reach 90 kilos, your body will need roughly 2060 calories a day to maintain your BMR.
• If the above is true and you have a moderately active lifestyle, i.e. you are on your feet all day then this is the calculation: 2060 X 1.2 = 2472 calories. The extra 412 calories must come from fat, which is an additional 46 grams of fat. See our what can I eat page.
• If the above is true and you have a very active lifestyle and work out a lot or have a very physical job then this is the calculation: 2060 X 1.4 = 2884 calories. The extra 824 calories must come from fat, which is an additional 91 grams of fat.
You can work to a calorie deficit if you want but you should consider this:
As you eat less you must continue to eat less to continue to lose weight. Losses will stop at some point. When they do you will be fighting against your own body and you cannot win this fight without cast iron willpower. FOREVER.
Participants in strict calorie reduced diets ALL ended up weighing 10% more than they did to start with (The Minnesota Starvation Experiment study among others).
Keto is not low calorie, it’s a hormone reset. Eating between your basal metabolic rate and your total daily energy expenditure is the only way to sustain your weight loss. You can mix it up of course with days you have no hunger being offset by days eating to your full TDEE. Find ways to stimulate your appetite like a brisk walk before dinner. THIS WILL INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM INSTEAD OF LOWERING IT.
Yes, lowering calories works in the short term. High carb, low fat diets are testimony to this but if they worked long term, you wouldn’t need to keep going back.