When you’re first getting acquainted with a ketogenic diet there’s a lot to learn. One of the first things to wrap your head around is the concept of macros and using a keto calculator. A keto calculator is not necessary, but one does make it all a lot easier.
What is a “macro?”
The word is a simply a shortened version of the word “macronutrients” which are the various types of nutrients we need to stay alive. For humans, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the macronutrients that give us energy and sustenance through calories.
But not all macros are created equal.
Carbs and protein supply four calories of energy per gram, and fat consists of nine calories per gram. Each macro carbs, protein, and fat can be converted into energy and the body uses each one in different ways. Let’s look at how each macro has a specific impact on the body’s ability to produce ketones. Fats have a very small amount of glucose and are 90% ketogenic and 10% anti-ketogenic because insulin levels rise after eating specific amino acids proteins are generally around 46% ketogenic and 54% anti-ketogenic. Carbohydrates which raise both blood glucose and insulin are 100% anti-ketogenic and shut down ketone production. Proteins and fats are crucial for the body to function. For example, proteins are essential for maintaining and building muscle mass. Dietary fats help cell production and the absorption of nutrients from other foods. Although the modern mainstream diet is full of carbs, the one thing you really don’t need in your diet is sugar. While important for energy there is a metabolic process in the liver called gluconeogenesis. Glucose can be made from glycerol, which is found in fat and gluconeogenesis is from protein (this is why people on the keto diet can consume so few carbs and still feel fantastic).
So that’s a basic understanding of what macros are. The next step is to figure out how many of each type you should be eating each day we can easily do this with the help of the keto calculator. The keto calculator is a simple to use tool and is basically a survey. You put in your age, gender, weight, height, body fat percentage, and level of daily activity … and it will crunch the numbers to figure out your macros for you. For example, a moderately active 45-year-old female with a height of 5 foot 4 inches weighing 170 pounds with 30 percent body fat has the advice to eat 1530 calories each day. Those calories are broken down into the following macros: 106 grams of fat, 20 grams of net carbs, and 119 grams of protein. Pretty slick!
As you lose weight, at about every 10 to 15 pounds it’s important to revisit the keto calculator to make sure your macros are up-to-date. Tracking your macros is one of the fundamental keys to success in a keto diet. With such a big shift in the types of foods that you’re eating, trying to keep all the numbers straight each day can be tricky without the help of a tracking tool. There are calorie-tracking smartphone apps like “My Fitness Pal” or “Chronometer.” These apps help you keep an eye on portion size, find carbs hidden in foods you wouldn’t expect, and keep you honest when it comes to those extra bites and snacks that can really add up and prevent success. These apps will need to be configured to suit the parameters of a keto diet, but there’s info on this website that will show you the easiest way to track carbs on a keto diet. We’ll show you exactly how to do this as each person’s individual goals are different (so meal sizes and macros are not the same for everyone on a keto diet). That’s why we do strongly suggest using a calorie tracking app and a carb tracking guide to help you figure out the macro nutrient content of your meals.
Remember it’s a process that by tracking your macros you’ll be able to make the adjustments you need and fine-tune your diet to achieve your goals. There’s one other really important thing to know about macros. Messing up or making a mistake isn’t the end of the world! If you forget to track your macros, eat too many carbs, or just have a bad day don’t be too hard on yourself or give up! Dieting is a long-term lifestyle change and mistakes are opportunities for us to learn by choosing to embark on the journey of a ketogenic diet. You’ve already taken a huge step towards a healthier and more energized you!