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Keto Portion Control: What Does 30g Carbs Per Day On Keto Look Like?

While it may seem pretty straightforward, the concept of “low carb” is actually a little ambiguous. For some people, low-carb could mean 100 grams of carbs per day, while for others, low-carb is strictly 20-30 grams. 

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However, when following the keto diet, there’s very little wiggle room when defining what low-carb means to you. Essentially, low-carb in keto terms means that your carbs have been restricted to the point where you can enter ketosis.

But what’s the magic number that gets you in ketosis? Read on for tips on what 30 and 50 grams of carbs look like, which carbs to focus on, and meal plans to guide your journey. 

What 30 To 50 Carbs Per Day Looks Like

On the keto diet, you’re trying to transition to a metabolic state where you use ketones — rather than glucose — as your body’s primary energy source. To do this, you’ll need to keep your daily carb intake to a minimum and replace calories with healthy fats and protein. 

To enter (and remain) in ketosis, the macronutrient guidelines for the average person include:

  • 5-10% of calories from carbs
  • 20-25% from protein
  • 70-75%, or remaining calories from fat 

For most people, this nets out around 30 to 50 grams of carbs per day. 

The Difference Between Total Carbohydrates and Net Carbs 

Net carbs are the total amount of carbs you consume (in grams), minus the grams of dietary fiber. Net carbs are calculated this way because dietary fiber does not raise your blood glucose levels (blood sugar), which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid on keto. 

Many people choose to calculate net carbs — as opposed to total carbs — when they’re on a ketogenic diet. Calculating net carbs means you’ll get to eat slightly more total carbs during the day, which can make your life a lot easier.

Other people choose to stick to 30-50 total carbs daily, which is much more restrictive but is a guarantee that you’ll stay in ketosis. 

Your Keto Carb Limit: Which Carbs Are Best?

If you’re eating just 30-50 grams of carbs per day, you’ll want to make those carbs count. That means eating more high-fiber, nutrient-dense carbs and avoiding carbohydrates like sugar, grains such as bread, white rice, quinoa, and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and other tubers.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs: The Keto vs. SAD Debate

When it comes to good carbs and bad carbs, once again keto takes a different approach than most diets. 

The Standard American Diet (SAD) includes processed carbs like white bread, pastries, cookies, and pasta. Many dietitians will recommend more complex carbs like those found in lentils, beans, brown rice, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to combat SAD[*]. 

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They tell people to veer away from simple sugars (or “bad carbs”) found in white rice, white bread and processed snack foods, as most of the nutrition has been stripped away.

However, most foods considered “healthy carbs” by USDA dietetics are eliminated on keto, as they spike your insulin levels (thereby kicking you out of a ketogenic state). 

On keto, you’ll consume whole foods that rank very low on the glycemic index (and have very low net carb counts), including green, leafy veggies, healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and MCT oil, and high-quality protein[*].

What Does 30 and 50 Grams Of Carbs Look Like?

While the concept of keeping carbs within a 30 to 50-gram window may sound simple in theory, truly knowing the carb count in common foods is critical if you want to stay on track. Below is a list of common foods with their carb counts to give you an idea of what 30 to 50 grams of carbs would look like. 

This list is not exhaustive but it is meant to give you a general idea of which food groups are safe and which to keep an eye on when planning your meals. 

Grains

  • One bagel 36 net carbs
  • 1 piece sourdough bread 12 net carbs
  • ½ cup oatmeal 10 net carbs
  • ½ cup of white rice 26 net carbs
  • ½ cup of quinoa 17 net carbs

Meat

Most unprocessed meat contains zero net carbs. However, if the meat is processed, ingredients can be added, which up the carb count. For instance: 

  • 6oz ground beef 0 net carbs
  • 6 oz lamb chops 0 net carbs
  • 6 oz veal cutlet 0 net carbs
  • 6 oz chicken breast 0 net carbs
  • 1 oz beef jerky 2.6 net carbs 
  • 3 oz beef salami 3.4 net carbs
  • 3 oz deli ham 1.5 net carbs

Dairy

  • ½ cup cottage cheese 2.8 net carbs
  • 1 tbsp butter 0 net carbs 
  • 1 cup 2% milk 11.7 net carbs
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt 17 net carbs
  • 1 piece American cheese 0.3 net carbs
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese 0.8 net carbs

Fruit

  • 1 apple 17 net carbs
  • 1 small banana 21 net carbs
  • 1 avocado 4.8 net carbs 
  • ¼ cup blueberries 4 net carbs 
  • ¼ cup strawberries 4.8 net carbs 

Vegetables (non-starchy)

  • 6 asparagus spears 2.4 net carbs
  • 1 cup bok choy 0.8 net carbs
  • 0.5 cup broccoli 1.7 net carbs
  • 1 celery stalk 0.8 net carbs
  • ½ cup kale 2.4 net carbs 
  • 1 cup spinach 0.2 net carbs 

Vegetables (starchy)

  • 1 sweet potato 19 net carbs 
  • ½ cup white potato 14 net carbs 
  • ½ cup pumpkin 6 net carbs
  • ½ cup acorn squash 10.4 net carbs 
  • ½ cup butternut squash 8 net carbs

Nuts and Seeds

  • 2 tbsp almond butter 5.6 net carbs
  • 2 tbsp whole almonds 1.4 net carbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped pecans 0.6 net carbs
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds 2.4 net carbs
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds 1.5 net carbs 

Fat

Sources of fat like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, and so on all contain zero carbs(and therefore zero net carbs), making them excellent additions to your keto diet. 

Which Foods To Focus On, And Which To Avoid

As you can see, it’s best to avoid anything in the grain family when you’re trying to avoid excess carbs. With carb counts hitting up to 30 grams per serving, grains are likely to be too carb-heavy to fit into your diet, even in modest amounts. 

Some people can get away with adding a small amount of the lower-carb varieties here and there (quinoa, for instance), but if you’re aiming to keep your carbs between 30 and 50 grams, you’re better off avoiding grains altogether.

The same goes for starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash. One-half cup of most starchy vegetables will provide at least 10 grams of net carbs, which is simply too many when you’re trying to keep carbs low. Instead, focus on the non-starchy varieties like green leafy vegetables (kale and spinach) and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. 

Most meat is almost 100% carb-free. However, some processed meats contain sugars and other additives that bring the carb counts up significantly. For instance, some beef jerky brands will come with 5 grams of carbs per serving, and a serving is only one ounce. 

Creating a meal plan that centers are unprocessed, high-quality meats is an excellent way to ensure that your plate is high-protein while remaining low-carb. Pair your meat with some low-carb veggies and you have a well-rounded keto meal. 

Fruit tends to be high in carbs, but you can enjoy a few varieties in moderation. Berries, for instance, are considerably lower carb than other types of fruit, and avocados are practically in line with low-carb veggies. 

Dairy can be hit or miss, so always check the label on your dairy products. In general, milk and yogurt are higher in natural sugars, while cheese and butter are much more keto-friendly. 

5-Day 30 Gram Meal Plan

Below is an example meal plan if you’re aiming to keep your carbohydrate intake around 30 grams of carbs per day. You’ll notice that this diet plan is made up of primarily low-carb foods, with an emphasis on fat and protein.

Day 1

Breakfast

2 eggs with ½ cup sauteed kale and onion and a piece of Cloud Bread (5 net carbs)

Lunch

Grass-fed burger lettuce wraps with cheese, ½ avocado, and mayonnaise, with a handful of macadamia nuts (9 net carbs)

Dinner

1 ½ cups Garlic-Lemon Zucchini Pasta (12 net carbs) 

Dessert

Classic No-Bake Cookie (6 net carbs) 

Day 2

Breakfast

Keto Oatmeal with ¼ cup blueberries (5 net carbs) 

Lunch

1 ½ cups Keto Taco Salad (7 net carbs) 

Dinner

3 Simple Keto Meatballs over one cup of spaghetti squash with olive oil and ¼ cup tomato sauce (14 net carbs)

Dessert

3 Mocha Cheesecake Brownie Bites (4.5 net carbs)

Day 3

Breakfast

Strawberry Collagen Shake (4 net carbs) 

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Lunch

1 ½ cups Low-Carb Chili (8 net carbs)

Dinner

6 oz Instant Pot Ribs with side Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (8 net carbs) 

Dessert

Classic No-Bake Cookie (6 net carbs) 

Day 4

Breakfast

2 eggs with ½ cup sauteed kale and onion and a piece of Cloud Bread (5 net carbs)

Lunch

1 cup Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (12 net carbs) 

Dinner

Italian Turkey Casserole (5 net carbs) 

Dessert

3 Mocha Cheesecake Brownie Bites (4.5 net carbs)

Day 5

Breakfast

Keto Oatmeal with ¼ cup blueberries (5 net carbs) 

Lunch

Sheet Pan Sausage And Peppers (5 net carbs) 

Dinner

Creamy Garlic Chicken over spaghetti squash (12 net carbs)  

Dessert

Classic No-Bake Cookie (6 net carbs) 

5-Day 50 Gram Meal Plan

Below is a meal plan that fits into the 50 grams of carbs category. You’ll notice that there are slight adjustments to the 30 grams per day meal plan, with a continued focus on high-quality protein and low-carb veggies.

Day 1

Breakfast

3 Blueberry Protein Pancakes (9 net carbs) 

Lunch

Grass-fed burger lettuce wraps with cheese, 1 avocado, and mayonnaise, with a handful of macadamia nuts (12 net carbs)

Dinner

1 ½ cups Garlic-Lemon Zucchini Pasta with 6 oz scallops (16 net carbs)  

Dessert

2 Classic No-Bake Cookies (12 net carbs) 

Day 2

Breakfast

Keto Oatmeal with ¼ cup blueberries (5 net carbs) 

Lunch

1 ½ cups Keto Cashew Chicken (15 net carbs) 

Dinner

3 Simple Keto Meatballs over one cup of spaghetti squash with olive oil and ½ cup tomato sauce, sprinkled with pine nuts (20 net carbs)

Dessert

Nut Butter Cheesecake (6 net carbs) 

Day 3

Breakfast

3 Low-Carb Vanilla Waffles (12 net carbs) 

Lunch

1 cup Keto Butter Chicken with Cauliflower rice (12 net carbs)

Dinner

Instant Pot Ribs with side Balsamic Turnips (12 net carbs) 

Dessert

2 Classic No-Bake Cookie (12 net carbs) 

Day 4

Breakfast

3 Blueberry Protein Pancakes (9 net carbs) 

Lunch

1 cup Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (12 net carbs) 

Dinner

1 ½ cups French Onion Soup with Sourdough Bread (13 net carbs)

Dessert

3 Lemon Cashew Cookies (12 net carbs) 

Day 5

Breakfast

2 cup serving Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie (14 net carbs) 

Lunch

2 Low-Carb Chicken Tacos (10 net carbs) 

Dinner

Creamy Garlic Chicken over spaghetti squash (12)  

Dessert

2 Classic No-Bake Cookies (12 net carbs) 

The Takeaway

Most people eat between 25-50 grams of carbs per day or 5-10% of their total calories on the ketogenic diet. While a stark contrast to the Standard American Diet, lowering your carb intake and getting into ketosis can lead to some impressive health benefits. 

The exact amount of carbs you consume will depend on your body composition, activity level, and fat loss goals. However, using the Perfect Keto Macro Calculator is a great place to start. 

On the keto diet, your goal is to burn ketone bodies — rather than glucose — for energy. To do this, you’ll eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. Keto foods include high-quality meat, nuts and seeds, plenty of healthy fats, and low-sugar fruits and vegetables. If you are looking to get started, be sure to visit the Perfect Keto recipe library for plenty of low-carb meal ideas.

Missing carbs on keto?

Get our top keto recipes for carb lovers.

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