Count Carbs – Keto Diet Basics

Getting started

So you’re giving this Keto diet a whirl…what do we know so far? On a basic level the food that you intake should be made up of the following macro nutrients 70% Fat, 25% Protein, 5% Carbs…oh perfect!…uh what does that mean?

Macronutrients, or macros for short, are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. So, basically, everything you eat can be broken down into these three macro nutrient categories.

MacrosFat: Is an essential nutrient that your body cannot do without. Eliminating it from your diet does more harm than good. Fat insulates and protects your bones and organs, acts as backup fuel for energy, and helps in brain development. Healthy, unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

Protein: Is an essential macro nutrient that helps to build and repair your muscles, organs, skin, blood, and different chemicals, like hormones, in your body. It’s found in large amounts in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, tofu, and eggs, and in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Carbohydrates: Are your body’s preferred fuel source. The reason for this is that they are easy to break down and turn into energy. However, unlike proteins and fat, carbs are not an essential nutrient. Carbs are simply a cheap and convenient sources of energy. The biggest problem with carbs is that they’re easy to over consume….like potato chips…bet you can’t just eat one.

How do I count carbs?

We live in the best time ever to be able to execute this task…the smartphone really makes this very simple. There are several excellent apps that you can use to enter foods consumed that will give you a breakdown of nutrients, calories, macros. Many of these apps will have a food database that’s more Woman-holding-smartphonethan one million foods strong, offer bar code scanning, photo logging, and voice command logging. Some will sync to your Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other supported device, as well as connect it to several other health and fitness apps.

At a later date I’ll post a detailed review of the top apps to use, for now here’s a list of top (3)

Myfitnesspal – One of the easiest calorie-counting apps to use, and the Premium version gives you useful information about nutrition. Activity-logging is just as easy, too, with so many compatible apps and devices. For its ease of use and flexibility in letting you customize your weight goal. Owned by Under Armour…customizable for whatever weight loss program you decide to follow…not necessarily “Keto Specific”

Carb Manager – This app’s built-in search engine will make your life 100 times easier. You can either search the extensive database for what you’re eating, like grilled salmon or plain yogurt, or simply scan the bar code. With Carb Manager, you’ll always know exactly how many net carbs you have left for the day….downside is that you need to upgrade to premium in order to sync with fitness trackers

 

Senza – Really good for beginners. While it doesn’t have the world’s largest database of nutritional information behind it, you can nonetheless use it in restaurants and supermarkets to get real-time data on an item before adding it to your cart or your order. Keto newcomers get a “5 Days to Keto” guide that helps them get off on the right foot. They then receive personalized food recommendations every day based on their input that shows net carbs, fat and protein.

There are others too…find one that you like and that you will use on a daily basis…it’s key to success

My personal favorite is MyFitnesspal…while it does have a premium upgrade that adds a ton of features…the free version allows me to sync with my fitness tracker….

Net Carbs…wait, what’s that?

Net carbs are sometimes referred to as digestible carbs. The terms refer to carbs that are absorbed by the body, including both simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs contain one or two sugar units linked together and are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar, honey and syrup. Complex carbs contain many sugar units linked together and are found in grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes. When you eat a carb-containing food, most of the carbs are broken down into individual sugar units by enzymes produced in your small intestine. Your body can only absorb individual sugar units.

However, some carbs can’t be broken down into individual sugars, whereas others are only partially broken down and absorbed. These include fiber and sugar alcohols. Because of this, most fiber and sugar alcohols can be subtracted from total carbs when calculating net carbs….Web MD

 

This can become a slippery slope… Food manufacturers looking to cash in on the low carb wave will promote their products as low carb snacks. For example Quest Nutrition is well-known in the low carb community and they make awesome tasting supplements, snacks etc. Take a look at the nutritional facts of their Chocolate Sprinkled Doughnut protein bar

Chocolate-Sprinkled-Doughnut-protein-bar

23 grams of carbs is practically all the carbs you can eat on the keto diet per day. Subtract the Dietary fiber (14g) and the sugar alcohols (Erythritol 5g) and you are left with 4g of net carbs per bar…. I can certainly fit 4g of carbs in my daily intake now and then.

Tread carefully…the idea behind the keto diet is to eat more whole foods; healthy fats, lean proteins, carbs from cruciferous vegetables. Your goal is to stay away from highly processed foods….you will get your best results by sticking as closely to this as possible. That said…now and then you want a little something decadent, …this is certainly better than getting an actual chocolate sprinkled doughnut.

Our minds are complex and we can justify just about anything …counting net carbs feels a little like justifying eating more carbs. While there is certainly science to back whole “net carb” debate… I recommend counting whole carbs. If you want to treat yourself to something occasionally, by all means do so…and look to companies like Quest Nutrition for low carb treats rather than that piece of chocolate cake in the fridge…just own it and do it within moderation.

Count carbs…Keeping score

Keeping-ScoreKeeping score and keeping yourself accountable for what you consume is key to any diet program. Counting carbs or macros is far more effective than simply counting calories. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to do and if you stay true to yourself, the results will come…make the commitment to challenge yourself for 30 days (I know I’ve said this before). Anyone can do low carb (or do almost anything) for 30 days…then see what your results are…everyone is different, but odds are if you eat healthy fats, lean meats and cruciferous vegetables for one month at the end of that month you’ll feel better, you’ll likely drop some weight and maybe…just maybe you’ll have discovered a lifestyle that suits you and your weight loss goals….let me know how your month goes in the comments below

16 thoughts on “Count Carbs – Keto Diet Basics”

  1. Well I recently discovered Keto diet and I am still researching all the sources I can find to fully understand it. You gave some really nice explanation on carbs and how to track their numbers.

    I will definitely take your advice and track their daily take.

    Also, really nice website. I will bookmark it as it will help me a lot in the future.

  2. I liked your post. I’m just learning about Keto. I find it interesting how manufacturers tried to get over on us by using certain key words. I agree, always read the contents of the products.

    1. They love to catch the wave don’t they…remember the low fat wave?
      It still comes down to eating whole foods whenever possible and staying away from starchy vegetables, grains & pasta…trying to eat clean…Keto friendly snacks are the lesser evil…and should be used accordingly
      Thanks for the read and the kind words!

      Bob

  3. Just about a year ago I decided that it was time for me to put on some weight. Being super skinny by nature I wanted to at least put on 10-15 kg to end up with in the ‘normal’ section of BMI.
    Having an app to track my calorie intake was the biggest step to my success and reached my goal by tracking my food intake daily for 8 months.

    I can highly recommend these apps for people who want to lose weight because it’s the exact same process but just with the opposite goal in mind. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  4. Hi, Bob,

    I must admit that I have never counted the calories I am consuming but with all the informational technology available to us in this day and age, it’s really to do almost any task out there.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this information together, I have really enjoyed your post.

    Best Wishes,
    Natalie

  5. Hi Bob! I’ve never tried keto but I’ve certainly tried low carb in the past. I was working out pretty hard at the time and found that my endurance training especially was suffering on such low carb intake.

    But, other than that I felt great in my day to day life. I was wondering how long you have been keto, and if you have noticed any differences from when you started? Anything that you see differently or that you have changed your thinking around?

    1. Hey Adam,
      Thanks for the read…I’m on Keto now for close to 23 months and it’s really more of a lifestyle now than a diet…I’ve lost over 80 lbs so besides the health benefits, there’s an emotional change that I’ve experienced. I didn’t realize it then or perhaps I just suppressed the anxiety & shame that I was feeling…masked it with self deprecating humor. I still have a way to go until I get to my goal, but I’m comfortable enough in my skin now to try and share my journey with others…I want to help others that are possibly feeling the angst I was feeling, but at the same time helping others also helps me stay focused….does that make sense?
      Thanks for the kind words

      Bob

  6. Great article Bob. I am familiar with carb counting as part of our grandsons Type 1 management . We do make some keto recipes for him. Your article explains it well. Thanks for the tips on the aps. That will make life much easier than a calculate every meal time.

    1. Oh wow…I’m thrilled to be of any service. I have experience with children that have specific needs, my youngest was born with congenital bilateral cataracts…different issue, but managing childrens special needs is near to my heart.
      Thank you for the read and the kind words…

      Bob

  7. This was a very informative post, wonderful!

    Although I haven’t found Keto to be the right fit for me I can relate a lot to what you are saying. This year I finally started calculating my macros and it’s made the world of difference to me! I’ve already lost over a stone, and my energy feels so much better. I find I work best with a pretty equal split between carbs, fat and protein (this may sound like a lot of carbs compared to Keto but before my diet was mostly carbs so for me this is a huge improvement.)

    I hadn’t heard of the term net carbs- very interesting. Quick question- is your body either always using carbs for energy or in ketosis- is there a midway ground where you can get it relying on protein as well as carbs for energy without pushing into complete ketosis? The reason I ask is the Keto diet seems to be a bit extreme for my body to handle but I really like the idea of my body also using fat as an energy source. Would love to know your thoughts. Thanks for the info 🙂

    1. Typically we burn carbs first…the body prefers that source. In the absence of carbs the liver breaks down fat and releases ketones that we can burn for fuel…I’ve heard of burning protein for fuel, but that’s extreme and typically associated with malnutrition….Check out Tomas DeLauer’s YouTube channel…his video’s are really informative and fairly detailed…here’s a video on fat burning vs. carb burning https://youtu.be/pJJ02Ek1nIE
      Hope this helps
      Bob

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