When you want to lose weight, it boils down to being in a state of energy deficit. That is, having a lower calorie intake and a higher output. Therefore, you do not have to necessarily count your macros or calories.
In addition, you can evaluate your protein intake as it is the most essential macronutrient for fat loss and eventual weight loss. Having a higher intake of protein helps with weight loss as it helps in the regulation of appetite and in keeping the hunger pangs at bay.
DO I NEED TO COUNT MACROS ON KETO?
Macros, short for macronutrients, are the three ways that we produce fuel. They include fat, protein, carbohydrates, or simple carbs. In a typical keto diet plan, it is of utmost importance to count the number of each macronutrient in grams that are you are eating every day from your meals.
There are ways of tracking your macros. You can use a complete keto food list together with a macro meal planner and a portioning guide to help with the food choices ad portions. Also, you can use keto-friendly nutritional apps or keto macro calculators that are available in Google Playstore or Apple online store. An example is the MyFitnessPal app.
However, if you are on a lazy keto, it is not essential to track your macros. Lazy keto for the uninitiated is simply eating no more than 20 grams of carbs per day and not having to track the rest of the macronutrients; protein and fat.
WHAT SHOULD THE MACROS BE FOR KETO?
All of the calories come from the macros in your meals. Each macronutrient has a unique role to play in your overall health and keto goals. Therefore, for a keto diet, there are specified macro ratios that are outlined. 5 percent of calories should be from carbs, and this is the fewest you should be consuming. This is followed by proteins that should be consumed in moderation and should provide 25 percent of the calories. Lastly, the highest amount of calories should be 70 percent and should be coming from healthy fats.
This specific micro split is intended to aid and promote ketosis, and help your body switch to burning most of the fats instead of sugars, for fuel. You can build your macro goals based on your daily calorie/ energy needs.
According to research studies, in most people, a daily carb intake of less than 20 – 50 grams is enough to promote ketosis. This amount can vary based on circumstances too. Furthermore, your total calorie intake can act as a gauge. Let’s say you are at less than 2000 calories per day, which means that 20 grams of carbs would be sufficient for getting 5 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates.
For your keto protein needs, you can estimate this according to your activity level and fitness goal. Activity levels can either be sedentary, moderately or very active. Protein intake is important for keto, however moderate, as it is important in supporting the lean body mass and other vital body functions.
For your keto fat needs, you can calculate it based on your remaining calories, as each gram of fat has about nine calories.
HOW DO I HIT MY KETO MACROS?
Familiarize yourself with single–macro foods, or foods that are mostly made up of just one macro type.
Start by filling in the largest remaining macro first, then followed by the smaller macro targets. This is because the single–macro foods also may have small amounts of other macros. For example, if you have 30g of carbohydrates and 10g of proteins left, first select food from a carbohydrate list and then next from the proteins list.
Choose a more macro-dense food for high numbers and a less macro-dense food for low numbers. Macro density is measured in terms of macros’ concentration in a food portion. There are those foods with low macro density and those with high macro density. So, if you have 20g or more of a macro left to reach your daily macro count, then you should consider a higher macro-dense food as it is only feasible to eat that amount of food in a single meal.
On the other hand, if you have less than 5 grams of macro remaining to hit your allotted macro count for the day, then you should pick from the low macro-dense foods.
Try trial and error. You can try and tweak your food servings in terms of portion sizes so as to find the amount that fits your macros. Also, you can combine various keto foods to reach your macros. It is not a must that you eat a single food that contains all three macros. Therefore, you can begin with the biggest macro number and take it one food at a time. Within no time, you will have found your keto-approved and go-to foods to hit your macros.
Try and hit your remaining target even if you have achieved one or two macros. You can still hit your macros at the end of the day even if you get a little over 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and 5 grams of carbohydrates of your target per day.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HIT MT KETO MACROS EVERY DAY?
Do not exceed your daily net carbohydrates allowance so as not to fall off the railings. Going over your allotted net carbs will definitely kick your body out of ketosis. So keep in mind that carbohydrates are a limit.
Protein is the most essential macro to hit so it is a goal. This is because if your keto goal is to lose weight, then you have to eat adequate amounts of protein so that you do not end up also losing muscles, a phenomenon called wasting.
For someone on a keto diet, the fat from your meal is for satiety, hence it is a lever. So if you feel hungry, eat healthy fats, and if you are not hungry, then you do not have to hit your daily fat macros.
CAN YOU DO KETO WITHOUT COUNTING MACROS?
As we all have come to learn by now, macronutrients are the language of the keto diet, and it cannot be emphasized enough. This is because for the body to get into ketosis and stay in that metabolic state, one has to balance their macros and strictly adhere to the daily macros split.
Additionally, it is different for everyone because we are all not the same. Some people tend to do well with specific numbers as compared to other people. This also trickles down to individual goals for starting keto, hence it is of utmost importance that you find what works for you instead of jumping into what the rest of the people are saying you do, or telling you to do. So, the keto police will have to sit this one out.
Also, it comes as a no-brainer that one has to calculate and track their macros count. However, for most people, these numbers eventually end up feeling cumbersome and hence create unnecessary stress around eating a keto diet.
This is because over time they start to feel like these rules- of which they are- and which are not supposed to be broken, of which it is also true. So how can you go about your usual keto diet without driving yourself crazy with macros tracking? Short answer, we got you! There are alternative approaches to stick to your low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet plan without really doing the macros counting and tracking. Here’s how:
First of all, just stick to keto-friendly and supporting foods. Since we already know that keto, in general, is supported by consuming foods that are high in fat, low in carbs, and have adequate amounts of protein, we can start by finding foods that fit the above parameters. After that, you then have your meals built around them and with that, you are almost close to keto. So, the same concept applies to tracking macros.
You select foods that are ketogenic supportive, that is those with low carbs, and then key it in your macros tracking application and it would it will break it down for you. So, the numbers of exact carbs, proteins, and fat in that specific meal will help you to select your next meal for the day. But if the feedback that you get from the app is disheartening, this will only drive you into a state of panic-either the macro’s numbers were way more or less than your set limit.
What I am driving at here is that just don’t track your macros because that feedback loop after every meal might end up making you feel bad about yourself instead of helping you achieve your keto goals. Simply put, just pick foods that have low carb content and eat to your fill.
Actively practice mindful eating. This involves really listening to your body for when you are full, hungry, and generally your eating patterns. You can ask yourself the following questions: can you differentiate between hunger and random cravings? Are you eating because it is lunchtime and people are eating or are you actually hungry?
Do you stop eating because you are stuffed or because you are truly full? Is what you are eating something that aligns with your keto goals or you are eating for the sake of it? Are you distracted while eating or are you actually paying full attention to your meal? In addition, you need to focus your attention on the elements of your meal beyond just the low-carb foods that you are selecting. This will help you in aligning your food intake with your keto goals minus counting the macros.
Have a food journal on your food awareness. This is a great alternative to actually counting your macros. The food journal comes in handy, as it helps you to learn about your eating behaviors and dietary patterns.
You can ask yourself questions about the ‘who, where, why, what, when, how, and how much of your diet, and then take note of your responses in your food journal. The responses will give you a lot of insight into your eating trends, and this will help you in building better keto food habits, instead of tracking every single bite of your meal.
Macros counting or tracking is not for everyone as it leads to an obsession with striving to achieve a “perfect diet.” Also, some people are not all about macros tracking as it leads to stress build-up around eating on the keto diet. Therefore, there are alternative approaches to hitting your daily macros without having to keep a count of the macros.
If you must track your macros, then there are approved methods of doing so. Also, you can lose weight while on keto without necessarily having to track your macros. Just watch out for the protein intake though as it is the element that is responsible for fat loss.