Here's How Many Carbs You Can Actually Have on the Keto Diet

If you're thinking about trying the ketogenic diet, you've likely already started thinking about the foods you're going to have to restrict in order to successfully lose weight. The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet in which the body produces ketones in the liver to use as energy in place of of carbohydrates. This state is called ketosis to describe the presence of ketones, a chemical produced when the body burns stored fat. While the thought of indulging in high-fat foods might cheer you up about your impending lifestyle change, we don't blame you if your initial first thought is, "Just how many carbs can I actually have?"

According to Dr. Josh Axe, a certified doctor of natural medicine, chiropractic doctor, and clinical nutritionist, in order for the body to successfully transition to and remain in ketosis, you should aim for about 30 to 50 daily net grams of carbohydrates. Once your body has gotten used to the reduction in carbs, you can opt to further reduce to about 20 grams of net carbs per day, which is considered the standard "strict" amount most keto dieters stick to. (More details on calculating net carbs can be found here.)

Shauna Sacco, a registered dietitian in Houston, finds it much more effective to simply put the calculator away, because unlike other diets, the keto diet restricts macronutrients rather than calories. "I encourage my clients to follow a 'food as medicine' approach to the keto diet, emphasizing the importance of getting plenty of antioxidants from leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, as well as whole foods from high quality, anti-inflammatory sourcing such as pasture-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and eggs," she said.

And we hate to break it to you, but yes, you do have to say goodbye your favorite comforting carbs like bread and potatoes when following the keto diet. "There is no room for any carbohydrate-heavy foods in the keto diet," Sacco said. "That means eliminating fruit, grains, starchy vegetables, and, of course, all sweets and sweetened beverages."