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We all know that carbs are the number one enemy when on the keto diet. Although you don’t have to eliminate carbs from your diet completely, you should be significantly lowering your carb intake.
But how low is a low-carb diet? How many carbs kick you out of ketosis?
The truth is, there is no hard carb limit for keto. This will vary among individuals.
Learn how to calculate your carb count and what factors affect your upper carb limit!
Also find out how your carb limit changes over time.
What are Carbs?
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are molecules with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They are one of three macronutrients in our diets, the others being protein and fat.
On the ketogenic diet, carbs are restricted to use stored fats as an alternative energy source. Normally, carbohydrates are what give our bodies fuel.
Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat for later use.
There are 3 types of dietary carbs.
These are long chains of glucose molecules that break down into glucose when they reach the digestive system.
Some examples of starchy food include:
These are sweet carbs found in foods. Sugars also have short chains.
Examples of these are:
Sugar alcohols are also classified as carbohydrates.
Fiber cannot be digested by humans and do not provide energy. However, the bacteria in the digestive system can feed on this nutrient.
Some fiber-rich foods include:
- whole grains
- dried fruits
What Carbs Do to Your Body
Many people think that carbs are not important. While this is technically true, the keto diet does not recommend zero-carb meals, instead suggests eating low-carb meals to continue providing health benefits.
Many foods that have carbs are healthy and nutritious, such as vegetables and fruits.
Carbs help to fuel our brains, kidneys, heart muscles, and the central nervous system.
They are the body’s main source of energy. The carbs are broken down into glucose, which is the primary fuel that circulates in our blood.
A zero-carb diet is usually not sustainable long term as you will miss out on essential nutrients like fiber.
Eliminating carbs completely may cause the following:
- bad breath.
You will still need to include carbohydrates in your diet. They should just be high fiber whole food carbs that provide nutritional value.
Carbs can spike your blood sugar levels and result in increased hunger and cravings for more high-carb foods.
Refined carbs, which are processed and have their natural fiber stripped out, are lacking any essential nutrients.
For instance, added sugars in foods merely provide “empty calories” while increasing your risk of chronic diseases.
These health risks are a good reason to start a low-carb diet like keto. 23 studies have shown that they are more effective than a “low-fat” diet.
Keto can even lead to weight loss and greater improvement in cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and other health markers.
Factors that Affect Your Carb Limit
Everyone’s carb limit is different even if you’re on the same ketogenic diet. In fact, yours can even change from time to time.
Here are some factors that influence your carb limit on keto.
- emotional stress levels
- caffeine intake
- type of carbs.
Different types of carbs affect your insulin levels. For instance, simple sugars from juice will quickly give you an insulin and glucose spike, kicking you out of ketosis.
On the other hand, complex carbs are more slowly digested, having less of an impact on your ketosis.
Once you find out your carb limit, maximize your results by choosing low-starch, above-ground, healthy vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
How to Calculate Your Carb Limit
It’s important to consume low-carb foods to get into ketosis and stay in that state. Your keto carb limit varies from person to person.
For those starting out, the upper limit is 50 grams of total carbs or 20 – 35 grams of net carbs. If you eat less than this, then you should get into ketosis within a week.
To know your exact carb limit, use a keto calculator. This will determine your daily recommended intake of fats and protein too.
If you’ve calculated your carb limit and think it’s unattainable, try starting the keto diet with a carb limit of less than 50 grams of total carbs.
This will help you adjust to the diet as you decrease carb consumption gradually.
How Many Carbs Kick You Out of Ketosis?
You’re finally in ketosis. Now what?
You can start experimenting with how many carbs you can consume without getting knocked out of ketosis.
However, this isn’t necessary. Some people want to play it safe by sticking to 20-35 net carbs per day.
If you want to up your carb intake, make sure you are keto-adapted first. This can take one to three months.
For example, if your usual carb limit is 30 grams, then a cheat meal a little over that won’t affect ketosis.
That means you can enjoy a slice of pizza, which has up to 33 grams of carbs, occasionally. But the rest of your diet that day would need to have no carbs.
However, eating a slice of pizza, or anything else over your carb limit, every day will definitely kick you out of ketosis.
Make sure to test your ketone levels to understand your new limit.
You also have to remember that, just because 40 grams of carbs didn’t kick you out of ketosis on one day doesn’t mean you can stick to this number daily.
You should slowly increase your carb intake and monitor yourself closely.
Your Carb Limit Changes Over Time
Let’s say the keto calculator says you need 22 grams of net carbs a day and you’ve been following it for three months already.
Once you’ve adapted to the diet your body shifts into ketosis more quickly than when you first started keto.
You can also tolerate more net carbs each day while staying in ketosis.
If you want to consume more carbs while in ketosis, you should stay on a strict ketogenic diet for at least 3 to 6 months first.
Restrict your carb intake to whatever the keto calculator recommends and let your body adapt.
Then, once you’re in stable ketosis, gradually increase your net carbs and test your ketone levels.
Increase it by 5 grams and stay at this for three days. Test and monitor your levels to make sure you’re in ketosis.
If you come too close to being kicked out of ketosis don’t increase it any more. But if you’re still in ketosis you can increase your net carbs a little more.
High-Carb Foods to Avoid
Because keto is all about low-carb and high-fat foods and drinks, you want to be familiar with which ones to avoid.
Here are some high-carb foods and drinks that could kick you out of ketosis right away:
- most fruits
- starches and grains like cereal, rice, and pasta
- low-fat and diet dairy
- beans and legumes
- sugar-filled alcohol
- processed meats
- starchy vegetables like carrots and potatoes
- sodas and juices
- desserts and smoothies.
FAQs Carbs and Ketosis
How Do I Test My Ketone Levels?
Testing your ketone levels is vital to know if you’re still in ketosis.
It’s even more important when you have adapted to the diet and want to know if you can tolerate more net carbs without getting kicked out.
To test your ketone levels, you can use tools that need samples of your breath, urine, or blood.
Find out how to test your ketone levels now to monitor your ketosis closely.
How Do I Know if I’m Already in Ketosis?
Aside from testing your ketone levels, you’ll know you’re in ketosis by simply listening to your body.
When you’ve reached this state, you may feel symptoms like headaches, leg cramps, constipation, and weakness. These are all normal and temporary.
This is oftentimes called the keto flu.
Find out more about the keto flu and how you can treat it!
Can I Have Keto Cheat Days?
You can’t have cheat days on the keto diet because they can surely kick you out of ketosis in no time.
But you can have cheat meals. These cheat meals can reduce your cravings and help you stick to the keto diet better without getting kicked out of ketosis.
Learn how to properly cheat on the keto diet now.
Which Desserts Can I Have on Keto?
Most desserts are not allowed on keto because they use high-carb sweeteners.
You can have any dessert as long as it uses low-carb sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit.
Here are some keto dessert recipes you can try that use heavy whipping cream.
Cut Out Carbs on Keto!
How many carbs can kick you out of ketosis? The truth is it varies among individuals. And it depends on your body’s adaptability to ketosis.
In fact, your carb limit even changes from time to time, especially when your body starts adapting to keto.
What matters is that you continue consuming low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat foods and drinks to stay in ketosis.
If you are just starting out on keto, then keep your carb intake to less than 50 grams. Anything over this on any given day will probably kick you out of ketosis.
Learn how to count your macros on keto for a more specific idea of your carb limit, as well as your protein and fat intake.
Monitor what you are eating daily and avoid those high-carb trigger foods.