When you decide to venture onto a ketogenic diet, you need to get one thing straight:

You are going to eat a lot of fat.

And when I say a lot, I mean the vast majority of your diet is going to come from dietary fat!

This is not an approach for someone who’s been part of the low-fat bandwagon for years and years and has a slight phobia about eating fat in their diet.

When you move into a ketogenic diet plan, fat becomes your primary fuel source.

Without enough of it, you’ll fail to succeed with this diet plan.

Sadly, this is also one of the biggest mistakes many people make when going on the ketogenic diet plan because they think eating too much fat will hinder their fat loss goals. But this isn’t the case – not if things are planned out properly.

Let’s walk you through how to go about figuring out how much fat you need to have in your diet plan.

Macros: A Snapshot

First, we need to ensure you are clear on your macros for the ketogenic diet plan. For a standard ketogenic diet, you want to consume 30% of your calories from protein, 5% of your calories from carbohydrates and a whopping 65% of your calories from dietary fats.

Now you can see why you will be eating a lot of fat – fat comes in at over double the volume compared to the other two macronutrients.

And you may go higher. Don’t let these ratios be set in stone.

When looking at your protein intake, you may not even need 30% depending on your own individual situation. For example, let’s say you aren’t using the ketogenic diet for fat loss, but simply because you feel great on it and it promotes good health.

Example:

You are an active individual and workout regularly. Therefore, you require more calories. Your calorie intake is around 2500 calories per day, and you’re 160 pounds.

The most protein you really need to maintain your body weight will be around 160 grams per day. This only works out to be 640 calories coming from protein, which his just 25.6% of your total calorie intake.

So this particular individual may actually use a ketogenic diet that has around 70% of their total calories coming from dietary fat. While they likely can eat a bit more protein and stay in a state of ketosis, it’s not necessary. If you don’t love your protein, why do it?

The one thing that does need to stay constant, however, is your carbohydrate intake. You want to keep that in line because that will dictate whether or not you are in ketosis. If it goes above 5%, you may find that you have problems with the program.

Calories Dictate Everything

Now in terms of sheer numbers, remember this is completely dependent on your target daily calorie intake. Someone who needs to consume 3000 calories per day will have a much different dietary fat intake than someone who is dieting on 1400 calories per day.

To figure out your target dietary fat minimum:

  1. Simply take your total calorie intake and multiply it by 0.65 to get 65% of that number.
  2. Divide this by nine (since there are nine calories per gram of dietary fat) and you have your answer as to how many grams of fat you should eat daily.

If you can hit this number, you’ll be right on the mark for seeing success.

When you don’t get enough fat

So what happens if you don’t get enough fat?

What if you venture off the plan and consume fewer grams of fat, leaving your calorie levels lower?

While this may seem like an okay thing, since fewer calories mean more weight loss, right? Wrong.

The problem with not getting enough fat is that it’s the specific ratio – 30/65/5 that keeps you in ketosis. If you don’t hit this ratio because you are trying to reduce your fat more, you are going to wind up moving out of ketosis and suffering the side effects because of doing so.

These might include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling lethargic and tired
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Suffering from food cravings – possibly carbohydrate cravings
  • Poor exercise performance
  • Less than optimal sleep
  • Slower rate of progress

Basically, if you aren’t making sure that you are taking in the least amount of dietary fat, you aren’t doing the ketogenic diet any longer and instead, are doing a diet that really doesn’t support optimal fat burning.

Very low carb diets are challenging to maintain, and most people don’t for very long.

Getting into ketosis is what helps you stay consistent and on the program.

Food Choices Matter

Finally, the last important thing to note and remember is that your food choices will matter. What you choose to eat will have a huge impact on how you feel and function during the day.

If you are eating all trans fats and saturated fat, your energy level won’t be optimized, you may start to struggle with health problems, and you aren’t going to be seeing the fat burning you could be had you have eaten smarter fat sources.

Stick with primarily unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and some saturated fat, coming primarily from medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) and naturally occurring fat from animal-based sources.

These are the fats that will sustain good health and help keep you consistent on the ketogenic diet.

Optimal fat sources include:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Chicken thigh’s
  • Dark meat turkey breast
  • Whole eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk/cream
  • Natural nut butter (in moderation as the carb count is higher)
  • Avocados (also in moderation)

Stick to these healthy fat sources more often, and you’re going to fare a lot better with your approach.

As you begin the diet and start focusing on eating these foods, you are going to set yourself up for success and begin seeing why the ketogenic diet plan is such a popular dietary approach.

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Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, helping others lose weight, build muscle, and improve their athletic performance. She’s worked with people of all ages and helped them find the right fitness path for themselves. She is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance. For more about her, find her at ShannonClarkFitness.com.

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