The answer to this is short & sweet at the surface level, and if you’re okay with restricting yourself for the sake of “keeping it simple” then all you need to do is eat between 20 and 50 carbs per day, depending on your body size and activity level.
Though, if you want to actually enjoy your time in ketosis and eat more than just a set meal plan day in and day out, you’re going to want to keep reading because there are a few details that are going to show you a much better way.
Are There Different Types of Carbs?
Yes, there are and not all are created (or digested) equal… although they all do pretty much end up in their final stages in much the same way.
A simple carb is made from 1 or 2 sugar chains called saccharide. You don’t really need to worry much about all the technical terms unless you plan on writing an article of your own about this stuff, for now just knowing that this type of sugar comes from:
- Cane or table sugar & anything made from it
- It’s contained in starchy veggies in the form of glucose
- Fructose is another form which is in fruits and honey, this is the sweet tasting sugar
- Galactose which is the natural sugar found in dairy products
You probably didn’t know there were different forms of sugar, much less the fact not all of them are sweet (at least not in the same way) as your average cane sugar or honey and stuff like that.
Details About Simple Carbs & Sugars
It’s a lot easier to think about simple sugars as the ‘natural sugar’ like things commonly found in nature. We’re talking about stuff like fruits & vegetables and even milk.
Simple carbohydrates stem from natural foods like those listed above. Simple carbs are also found in a ton of other stuff, we’re talking about things like non-starchy veggies, flour that’s been processed and of course any food that’s made with flour like bread.
Anything that also contains your average table sugar contains simple carbs. That means candies, soda-pop, juices, milk, honey and syrup… and of course fruit. This is obviously not an all inclusive list but more just to get the point across, it’s found in a lot of stuff.
A simple carb doesn’t require your body to do anything special to digest it which means it’s digested quickly and is then absorbed into the bloodstream which is what causes insulin spikes. This is the body’s own natural response to ‘sweet things’ which means it’s perfectly natural for this to happen but the problem comes from putting too much, too fast.
If you are forcing your body to continuously produce insulin in order to process those simple carbs (which oftentimes come from simple sugars) you begin to come resistant to insulin and then your body has to adjust and this process will cycle through over and over until eventually you end up a type 2 diabetic. Simple sugars aren’t dangerous by any means when eaten within reason. They are however a trigger for weight gain and type 2 diabetes if you don’t consume them with respect, keep that in mind.
This form of carbohydrate is made up of more than just 1 or 2 molecules which are all chained together thus forming a “complex chain” of carbs.
To give a very quick idea of where you’ll find complex carbs look to foods like:
This again isn’t a complete list but it gives you a general idea. Your insulin response to a complex carb is typically less intense than that of a simple carb which comes from the simple sugars listed above. This doesn’t mean your body still won’t store these complex carbs as fat because as stated in the very beginning of this article… all carbs end up on the same path in the body.
These types of sugars aren’t usually insulin triggers. That doesn’t mean you can go party harty and down a bunch of booze with zero regret of it affecting your ketosis, there’s still other stuff in those drinks to be mindful of.
If you’d like to check out how alcohol will affect your ketosis then ( click here ) to read our recommendations on which beers and booze you should try while on keto and which to stay away from. We researched and wrote an entire article on the topic to save you the trouble of learning the hard way.
Although an alcohol-sugar isn’t counted toward your “impact carb” which is just a fancy term given toward your net carbs… meaning carbs that count while on keto vs carbs which don’t. Though this form of sugar doesn’t really count, it does still have a pretty high glycemic index and should still be monitored as your body may process it in a way which still results in the storage of fat.
In case you’re curious, here are the sugar alcohol types and their GI numbers:
- Maltitol – 36
- Xylitol – 13
- Sorbitol – 09
- Glycerol – 03
- Isomalt – 02
- Mannitol – 00
- Erythritol – 00
I know, it gets a bit confusing and you probably don’t even care about all this stuff. It’s important to be very well informed however when you want to make the best decisions for your body and the keto diet.
Let’s make it a bit more simple
You have a variety of foods you can eat aside from meats and leafy green veggies when on the keto diet. It’s important to at least stay at the baseline of 20 carbs per day and if you’ve noticed you’re still in ketosis after bumping that number of slowly over days to come then keep going until you are finally kicked out of ketosis… then just dial it back until you’ve found your max amount of carbs allowed per day.
Yes, it takes some testing, there’s going to be trial and error involved but if you want to enjoy things like most veggies which grow above ground and even a few low-sugar berries among other things, you’ll want to do this testing phase for yourself to get the most out of the ketogenic diet.