“How do I figure out my child’s macros for keto” is by far the biggest question I get in the Full Family Keto Facebook Group. Are you wondering how to determine the macros for your keto kids? Kids needs are different than adults so they need a different set of numbers than the standard keto diets for adults. So, let’s talk about keto kids macros and how to set them properly.
Our kids deserve the best we can give them and that includes optimal nutrition. Children need a good amount of iron and fat in their diet for proper growth. Healthy ketogenic foods provide plenty of both. These are important for brain development and growth as well as absorbing and using fat soluble vitamins and building nerve tissue.
This lifestyle can have amazing results for kids. The meal plans can be simple and family friendly when done right. This lifestyle can not only reverse years of damage caused by high-sugar and high-carb eating, it can protect our children from suffering metabolic issues later in life.
Keto Kids Macros: An Overview
Keto can be a great option for children who are not needing to lose weight or even for those who are underweight and need to gain.
Kids and teens need a good amount of iron and fat in their diet for proper growth. Healthy keto foods provide plenty of both. These are important for brain development and growth as well as absorbing and using fat soluble vitamins and building nerve tissue. They should also be supplementing with a high quality, sugar free vitamin and probiotic each day.
The nutrient ratio for the ketogenic diet in children is typically 4:1 for fat to protein and carbs combined. But what exactly does that look lie int he real world?
Let them eat fats that come with their proteins. Children, especially infants and toddlers, need a significant amount of fat and iron in order to grow properly, most especially in the development of the brain, and this requirement continues well into childhood. Fat is required to build nerve tissue as well as to absorb and utilize fat soluble vitamins, and iron is necessary for the health and development of a plethora of bodily systems.
Do not limit your child’s protein.
Where an adult would have a protein goal of 0.8 times their lean body mass, kids can eat two or three times their lean mass per day. Protein is what helps kids grow so do not limit their protein intake. Animal proteins are some of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Along with the protein they will be getting tons of nutrients to help their brains and bodies thrive.
A great starting point for protein goals is 3 times the lean body mass for toddlers; 3 times the lean body mass for children 5-8 years of age; and 2 times the lean body mass for pre-teens and teens.
Similar to the way we as adults reduce carbs, you should keep good carbs to a minimum. Eliminate the bad carbs and sugars totally. Keeping carbohydrate consumption low is known to combat insulin resistance (it’s presence or the development of). Here are some basic guidelines when it comes to carbs for keto kids:
- For young children you do not need to calculate carbohydrates. Assuming no food allergies are detected, use this stage of life to simple teach your child to snack on cheeses, cold cuts, sliced almonds, celery, and unsweetened peanut butter instead of high carb, processed foods like gold fish or chips.
- Sedentary Kids and Teens should have about 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. Sedentary teenagers during their accelerated growth stages may require more.
- Active Kids and Teens should have an average of 50-80 grams of carbohydrates a day.
- A very active high school athlete should have about 100 grams of carbohydrates daily.
- High Endurance Marathon Runners and Swimmers should have as many carbohydrates as needed based on their caloric expenditure.
Keep in mind that the growth rate of children and teens demands a LOT of fuel to keep up with those demands. And if they play sports like my son does, that demand becomes even higher. So when you think of Keto Macros, these macros will not be what an adult would follow (usually limiting carbs to 20g net carbs or less per day).
The above is true for a typical child. This is not meant to be medical advice. Children who follow keto for seizures and such do have a more well formulated keto lifestyle with your medical provider they need to follow. You can read more from The Boston Children’s Hospital about keto and epilepsy in children by clicking here (there is also a sample children’s keto meal plan on that page)
Do You Need to Track Your Child’s Macros?
I never recommend tracking a child’s macros. You do not want to be super restrictive (let alone drive yourself crazy trying to track everything they eat all day). Let them eat foods that are on plan when they are hungry and pass on foods when they are not. This also helps then learn hunger cues their body sends them and when to know they are feeling full!
The Result is Healthy Kids
Remember, each child has a different routine and your child’s eating plan should be discussed with their pediatrician or nutritionist.
Our kids deserve to feel their best and have the mental clarity, focus, improved moods, and more that comes with being keto. Later in life they will have more energy for sports, less acne, and more focus. Keto is an amazing lifestyle for the whole family when done right!
If your kids are already doing keto., or are just getting started, share in the comments below how you set up your child’s macros.