Unless you possess Rain Man levels of mathematical genius, you’re going to find it impossible to track keto data in your head. You may think, so what? Well, you need some form of accurate measurement, you cannot guess-timate your way into ketosis. There is a specific science behind it, which you need to follow, and you will learn exactly how in this article.
Without wishing to sound like a goody two shoes, when you follow the guidelines for ketosis you reap the most rewards. All you need to do is accurately track either your food intake or your blood ketones
It is possible to get into ketosis without any tracking. But realistically you are going to slip up much more easily if you aren’t recording either your input of the food you eat and the macros it contains, or your output with the levels of ketones in your blood.
Getting the right technology will support you to make this process easy and efficient and the data you generate, presented in cool graphs and graphics can be a big motivator in your journey. To effectively track your data you need be able to record information immediately. You might think that you will remember what you ate, but chances are you will forget! Either get yourself an app, or a little notebook that you will have on you at all times.
We will start with the leading free ketodiet app for tracking food and exercise, MyFitnessPal by Under Armour. Using MyFitnessPal you can specify weight, macro and calorie goals, input recipes and food combinations, and even scan many barcodes and find store products. Record exercise, track water and probably much more. It reminds you to enter data if you forget and makes graphs of your results.
A word of warning about portion control: if you are preparing food at home, your “small fillet” might actually be quite large. At least to begin with use some kind of kitchen weighing or measuring device to ensure accuracy. Reliable tracking of food intake and macros means you need to know exactly how much you eat.
Whether you use MyFitnessPal, another app, or a manual method you setup the data to capture. Start by specifying your goals. This is the amount of fat, protein and carb you want to eat. On MyFitnessPal you can set custom goals for nutrition and exercise. You specify calories and macro levels to fit your keto goals, for example 70% fat. Use and online keto calculator to help you work out the levels best for you.
Once you have targets for what you are going to consume, you can start tracking data. Using an app makes this much easier as they have databases of nutritional information. You can input that you ate 300g of cauliflower with 200g of cheddar cheese, and even which brand. Then the app will tell you exactly how many grams of carbs that is and the protein and fat content too. Or you can the barcode of something pre-packaged, to get all the nutritional data.
Having this level of nutritional information really supports you to make decisions. If you can see that you are already close to your carb limit you can plan to eat differently. Or if you see that you haven’t eaten enough fat, you can add some more.
The science of ketosis optimizes how your body works and how you feel. You need to get a little scientific with accurate measuring and tracking, at least to start with, to ensure you are doing it correctly.
The other option, of using blood ketone measuring is also one way you can ensure you are getting it right. But after a short time gathering experience most people feel that they can work out how much they are eating by eye. However, another word of warning: keto forums are full of people confused about why they have stopped losing weight but are sure they should be losing but they aren’t tracking!
The answer is pretty obvious, we can’t accurately weigh things with our eyes and we easily deceive ourselves when tempted with food! Also we remember what we want to remember, which is rarely the truth! Accurate tracking is the only way to really know what’s going on, especially when you are starting out, or if you plateau, you need data.
When you are tracking carbs, you need to ensure you are tracking net carbs. There are several types of carbs. One type, fiber, is not broken down by your body. It passes through the gut, cleaning it, and then feeds your good bacteria. This means you don’t need to track the carbs from fiber in your macros. On nutritional labels it is often listed as:
To get the net carbs, simply subtract the carbs from fiber. Some apps may assist you to do this. MyFitnessPal it doesn’t do this, so you need to pay attention yourself. 20g of net carbs could be as much as 50g of carbs from fresh vegetables.
Cronometer is a popular nutrition app. Available as a web or mobile app, this does track net carbs.
It also tracks micronutrients, electrolytes, and your personal biometric data like blood ketones. It has a huge food database and can breaks down fats and proteins into specific types. You can even capture other notes alongside your personal data. They claim to help users restrict food intake and remain healthy, by tracking vitamins, minerals and protein.
Lifesum is an app designed to help you reach health goals. It will help with picking food and portion sizes and has a keto diet mode that focuses on the macros but it doesn’t track net carbs.
Carb Manager claims it is the #1 carb counting and diet tracking app, possessing over 600k verified net carb counts and 350k Low Carb Recipes. If you set goals and food preferences it can even generate a meal plan & shopping list for you. It also boasts image recognition AI, voice logging, barcode scanning and natural language input.
Bant is an app designed to specifically help diabetics. It captures calories and meal data, and even allows you to take photos of meals on a timeline so you don’t forget them. Although not specifically designed for keto many diabetics enjoy the simplicity and basic features.
The Stupid Simple Keto App is a specialist app designed for people on the ketogenic or paleo diets. It claims to be the easiest-to-use carb and macros counter.
MyKeto App is another specialist keto app and there are more coming out every month!
The strangely named FatSecret is powerful nutrition and health app that integrates with wearable devices. The app counts calories and tracks food using a huge nutritional database and combines a food diary with image recognition to track your nutrition with pictures of your plate. It records calories, exercise and other data and reports them back alongside a personal journal and has meal ideas and recipes for specific diet plans, including keto.
Also available on the apple watch, FatSecret will even share your data with a health coach (ironically making your fat intake not so secret), if you want that. Like MFP it can also be integrated with a fitbit or other wearables.
Zero is an to help you fast. It can be used for intermittent, circadian rhythm, and custom fasting. It tracks progress and reports results. Zero is designed to help you plan and optimise fasting.
So, as we have seen there is plenty of technology available already to make ketosis as easy and efficient as possible. Keto success relies on you keeping within specific parameters, and tracking your food or blood ketones is the only way to really ensure this. As you get good results, and feel more confident, you can cut the tracking to a level that suits you.