My Kitchen

How Is a Keto Day Calculated?

foods allowed on the keto diet

The Introduction (or Why have you written this post?)

This information is for those like me, who prefer to understand the beginning, the end, and the in-between.  It is for those who prefer explanations and a few facts and figures behind those explanations. And also, for those who prefer a bit of knowledge behind their faith.

clear light bulb placed on chalkboard

The questions you want answering are:

  • “What figures do I base an average day on?”
  • “How did I come up with the numbers I use for a keto day?”
  • “Why did I come up with those numbers for a keto day?”
  • “What thought process goes into the recommendation for a keto day?”
  • “Why do I choose one food over another for a keto day recommendation?”

Now, this will get a bit technical here. But, it’s impossible for it not to, so bear with me while I try to explain.

The Calories Needed Per Person Per Day (or How have you decided on the calories each person should eat in a day?)

When it comes to the number of calories required per person per day, there are many variations.  These variations depend on:

set of fitness equipment placed on marble surface
  • gender,
  • height,
  • current weight,
  • exercise level,
  • muscle mass,
  • stress levels,
  • personal health
  • the subjective view of the doctor giving the personal opinion.

So basically, the upshot of this is that without some technical computerised algorithms, a whole lot of personal information and an opinionated medical opinion, it’s way too complicated.  

photo of person peeking through the hole

So, here’s a mess! I’m not going to argue with the medical community. I’m not a computer algorithm whizz, nor am I going to run after people counting each footstep and heartbeat (– that would be very creepy, and I would get arrested).

There is no way I could cover every possible permutation. A dilemma… What do I do?

Decision made, I go with the averages – an average person with an average life and average everything.  Problem solved.

Average Calorie Requirement (or How much should I be eating?)

So, I took the most common statement of average calorie consumption per day for women, and then again for men, to maintain their current weight.  For women, this was 2000kcal, and for the men, the average was 2500[1].  Please keep in mind this is an average. This figure is too high for those who are leading a rather sedentary life (think 1600kcal for women and 2000kcal for men instead). For those who are more than moderately overweight or are highly active, this figure is too low. 

Also, remember that this is the calorie consumption needed to maintain weight, not to lose it.  While, so far, the keto diet is proving to be a far healthier diet than the low-fat diet we have all be told was best for us for the last few decades, there has not been enough long term studies to prove this conclusively. Therefore, my assumption is that those on the keto diet would be on it to lose weight and not to maintain it. With this in mind, how do we lose weight?

The Magical Formula of Weight Loss

green apple with measuring tape on table in kitchen

While many diets report magical results, no effort, hormonal rebalancing etc., etc.  Every diet in the history of diets, be it keto, low fat, low carb, Atkins’ or whatever, works on precisely the same principle – the magical weight loss formula.  Which is… Wait for it…. Ta-da-daaaa!

Calories In < Calories Out

I know, I know you are thinking is she having me on? I know this!

Yes, I’m sorry. I know you know this. But there’s this illusion that ‘going keto’ means you can magically eat lots of calories and still see those pounds/kilos melt away.  I hate to burst the bubble, but this is definitely not the case. You must maintain a calorie deficit. The calories you consume must be less than the calories your body requires.  The diet you choose, including keto, isn’t so much magic but just the best way for you to do that day after day, week after week.

Where the keto diet has an advantage is with satiety and hunger suppression. These are the properties that make it a successful diet for so many. Will you be one of that many? It depends on you.  I always say that the best diet is the best diet for you.

scrabble pieces on a plate
Photo by Total Shape on

Average Calorie Deficit (or How Much Food Can I Eat?)

The upshot of all this is that for an average person to lose weight on any diet, that day must contain less than 2000kcal for women and 2500kcal for men. But how much less?

The theory is that 450g or 1lb of fat is equivalent to 3500 kcal[3].  So, to shed 450g/1lb of fat, you must have a calorie deficit of 3500kcal.  

Now, strictly speaking, you could lose that at 100 kcal per week, but it would take you 35 weeks to do it.  Most people, including me, will lose all hope well before the 35 weeks is up. It’s way too slow.  However, research does show that losing weight slowly and consistently is the safest way and the one most likely to succeed. Unfortunately, the recidivism rate for those who subject themselves to extreme dieting is very high and extreme dieting in itself is fraught with health dangers. Also, it is generally a highly unpleasant experience all around. Food is meant to be enjoyed!

We need some balance here!  Dropping 500 kcal per day, 7 days per week, makes a 3500kcal deficit over one week.  Now, this amount is over the space of a week.  In reality, you could overdo the calories some days and cut right back on other days.  As long as you have an overall deficit of 3500 kcal at the end of the week, you will lose 450g/1lb of fat.  But, again, I have to go with averages, so I kept it to a 500kcal deficit for each day.

(But keep this little tidbit in mind, store it there at the back of your brain! Just ‘cos you blew your diet with a binge on Friday doesn’t mean you cannot recover and still lose weight by the end of the week. So, don’t think to yourself, ‘I’ve done it now!’ and give up.)

Back to my conclusions after researching and sifting through all this data, for the purposes of the keto diet in an ‘I recommend This’ post, the magical number of calories consumed per day to lose weight slowly and consistently is 1500 for women and 2000 for men. This is not to say these amounts are perfect for everyone. Again I will say that there is no one size fits all.  But, for the purposes of this website, I have to start somewhere.

The Chosen Keto Macros (or Gimme the Percentages!)

Whilst generally low carb, the keto diet still has a lot of wriggle room for variations. Should you wish, you can go extreme or not so extreme, higher protein or not so high protein, higher or lower fat. There are 10% carbs and carbs below 20. There’s 75% fat and carbs below 25.  Wriggle, wriggle!

While having something for everyone regardless of age, my website is specifically aimed at the over 40’s, like me. While this decade of life, like others, has its absolutely fantastic points, it also comes with a few minus points. It is, unfortunately, a little bit more tricky to lose weight and substantially easier to put it on. There can also be other health and lifestyle factors creeping in that were not there years ago.

Protein In The Keto Diet (or I Had Dinner!)

plates with various raw meat with spices on table

Keto-advocating doctors disagree about the exact amounts of protein you need on a keto diet, and various theories abound. One sure thing is that consuming protein actually comes with its own set of benefits.  On ‘I Recommend This’ keto days, I use protein amounts at the higher end of the spectrum because as we get older, we need more protein. Women closing in on menopause are also recommended to keep a slightly higher protein level in their diets. Health-wise, your body needs all the good that protein provides. Another thing, which is highly important for weight loss success, protein makes you feel like “you’ve eaten”.  You can pat your tummy and say, “I’ve had dinner!”

The 40 Year Old’s Viewpoint (or Childhood Conditioning Lasts a Lifetime!)

photo of kid sitting on a chair

We, generation whatever we are, in our 40’s, are also the generation which grew up under the old health regime. Remember that now ancient and now defunct food pyramid?  The one with a massive block of agricultural grains at the bottom while the fats were a teeny tiny triangle at the top? Fat is bad, carbs are good, grains give you a healthy heart etc., etc. Well! Wasn’t that a load of rubbish? The height of culinary health was a pasta salad. (I used to hate pasta salads.) And err… someone declared pizza to be a vegetable…

But the thing about childhood conditioning… It’s hard to get away from it.  Even with all evidence now to the contrary, we still shy away from too many steaks. We choose chicken breast meat over a juicy leg. We still see any food called a salad as healthy (you’d be shocked at the ‘extras’ that come in those not so healthy salads). And that excess of oil or that blob of fat… We shudder to include enough fat in our diet.

However, some of us go in the opposite direction and take the keto diet as a license to overload. Those low-fat diets have kept everyone hungry for so long, it’s hard not to overdose on keto, which allows so many wonderous fatty food possibilities. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

The Final Macros (or Get On With It!)

The upshot of all this psychology and health is a final keto formula used for every keto day in a post that runs high in protein and not as high with fats [2].

So, based on this demographic, the keto macros for I Recommend This are:

  • 5% carbs
  • 25% Protein
  • 70% Fat

These amounts make for the most flexibility and most likely success for those above the age of 40 who want to lose weight.

hands woman hand desk

What’s That In grams? (or Eh?!)

So, working this all out to something you can actually read and figure out from a nutritional label, you have to calculate these percentages into grams from 1500 calories (I know you, men, out there are at 2000, hold on just a second, and I will get to you too.)

We need to first assign each percentage its own allotment of calories from the allowed 1500 per day.

  • 5% carbs from 1500 is 75 calories
  • 25% protein from 1500 is 375 calories
  • 70% fat from 1500 is 1050 calories

So now we have the calories for each group, we need to convert those calories into grams to pick and choose recipes easily and to do that, it’s important to know some essential information. How much 1 gram from each group makes in calories.

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate makes 4 kcal
  • 1 gram of protein makes 4 kcal
  • 1 gram of fat makes 9 kcal

So the next step is to divide the calorie amount by the grams to find the number of grams of each food group.

  • 75 calories / 4 = 19g of carbohydrate
  • 375 calories / 4 = 94g of protein
  • 1050 calories / 9 = 117g of fat

[Please note: These values are rounded up and down for ease of use.]

Now, we had to round the amounts because they were not exact. So, the rounded amounts we can recalculate.  They make 1505 calories. So, following these numbers, you will have a diet of 1505 calories but, things in life and recipes are rarely that exact. So when I talk of the calories for this diet, I round it down to 1500.

Now for the guys, who have a larger amount based on generally larger bodies to power through one day.

The 2000 calories assigned are converted to grams like this:

  • 5% carbs from 2000 is 100 calories / 4 = 25g of carbs
  • 25% protein from 2000 is 124 calories / 4 = 125g of protein
  • 70% fat from 2000 is 351 calories / 9 = 156g of fat

Other Included Factors For a Keto Day(or Anything Else?)

But, I don’t just stop at the macros. That would just be far too easy… cough, cough! What’s life without a challenge or two?

Firstly, I try to consider other day-to-day considerations within your keto day.  The first being that usually there are two of you.  Obviously, same-sex marriages can use the same diet plan, but for those in male/female partnerships, both of you get the same menu and then the men just need to add a little extra. That way, you don’t have to make completely different meals and compete with each other in the same kitchen, thus avoiding fisticuffs and bloodshed.

Secondly, I don’t just recommend putting a side dish with a main dish willy-nilly.  Each day is worked out based on your kitchen having a standard kitchen set up of a four ring hob, one oven with the grill and a microwave.  No ‘meal’ will ever involve any kind of appliance clash. If the main dish requires cooking at 200 deg C or 400 deg F until it is served, so will the side dish unless it is done on the hob.

Thirdly, I tried to make various days (obviously not all in the same post because that would be way too much work). Some posts include recipes for off-work days, others are lazy brunch days, while others involve packed lunches for going-to-work days.

Fourthly, I really hate having to convert between imperial and metric and vice versa so, in every recipe, I try to include all possible permutations a home cook might use. Apologies if I missed one.

Final Thoughts (or Yay, She’s Nearly Finished!)

I’m going to say again that these figures are the average for the average. Keep in mind – you might need something more personalised.

Also, if you are struggling to lose weight without any medical problem behind it, the first and best thing you can do to help yourself is to measure and record – everything.  And I do mean everything! I know it’s a pain, I really do, but try it, just for a week. That extra dab of butter was 100 kcal. That sausage weighed more than you thought and was another 150 kcal. You didn’t notice the right portion size and ate twice as much for another 300 kcal.  You nibbled on that cheese in the fridge; how many extra calories was that?

99% of the time, you are not losing weight because you have eaten more than you thought. Remember that magical formula of weight loss?  

Calories in < calories out.

You can do it!

Comments welcome!

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