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.
Fat: 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 than 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
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 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