As a practitioner, this is what I hear from the people I help who are trying to get into ketosis:
“I need help to calculate my macros for ketosis.”
“I just don’t know if I am doing it right.”
“I don’t know what is wrong, but I can’t quite get it right!”
If you need help changing your diet, calculating your macros, and/or identifying what you need to do for success, follow the three steps below and you will be heading in the right direction.
But first, you need to know what makes up your food! Does your food contain carbs? Protein? Fat? and how much of each. This is learning your macronutrients (macros). Second, you need to make changes to your diet based on the information you learn. It’s not always lower carb, you may find you need to increase your fat, or decrease your protein. You might even find you need a higher carb count. Third, you need to measure how your body responds to your diet. Learn how to calculate macros below.
Here are the 3 steps explained in detail:
#1: Learn your macronutrients. In order to learn, or decode your foods, you can use an app on your phone or computer, or buy a macronutrient book. I personally use Cronometer , it’s an app on my phone and it goes with me everywhere which helps my success of using it. It’s what I encourage my patients to use. I’ve had patients who use My Fitness Pal or other apps and websites that count macronutrients also. Regardless of which app or book you use, the goal is this: at the end of every day, you want to write down a total of net carbohydrates eaten, protein, and fat. I record these in grams, not in percentages. Percentages aren’t as helpful in most cases for making adjustments to your daily diet. Be sure if you use an app other than Cronometer, that it counts carbs as “net carbs.” Cronometer counts net carbs. This is important because net carbs are the number of carbs minus the grams of fiber. This is important. It allows you to have quite a bit of vegetable and still maintain low carb status. Step one isn’t about understanding your macros or making changes, it’s about learning what you eat on a regular basis so you can identify what to change after you’ve identified patterns.
#2: Alter the quantities of foods you eat: After a few weeks of recording the macronutrients (macros), now you begin to make sense of it all! Examine if you go too low on fat, making you feel overly hungry, or if you go too high on protein, making you gain weight or feel bloated.
In step 2, you write out all of your totals for each day in a grid pattern. I’ve attached an example of mine. My sample is not a sample you should try to reproduce. It’s just a sample from my real daily food log. I can tell you some days were optimal, and others weren’t. You can examine your own macros and pick out the obvious areas to change. If you’re having trouble, you can get help from your practitioner too. My most successful patients bring a grid with their macros to every visit. Your grid might look something like this:
Once you start looking at a graph like this, you can see the days where you had more carbs, more protein, and days when you had more fat. This helps you to make adjustments. Maybe on day 4 when you ate 120 carbs, you also felt bloated and sluggish the next day. But you thought you did well because you attended a health fair and ate the “Paleo Pumpkin Spice” cookies, muffins & bread. Although food can have good quality (non-GMO, organic, local) it does not mean those same foods have the quantity (# of protein/net carbs/fat) that you’re looking to eat. Counting macros isn’t about never making a mistake again with your diet, it’s about learning and being in control of how to make more days optimal and get control after you have a day that is non-optimal. It’s about knowing exactly what foods are made of and what works best for you! Don’t forget about incorporating the Good Fat Bars into your diet. They are a great alternative for people on the go or for a quick snack.
#3: Measure your body’s response! Now you’ve got control with your macros. But, you don’t know how your body is responding to these macros! Yes, you might say, my headaches are less, and my bowels are better and other symptoms of dysfunction may be improving…but I don’t feel like I’m getting ALL of the “benefits of keto” that people talk about! Now it’s time for step 3, time to purchase a ketone & glucose meter. I use the Keto Mojo and for your ease, we sell them here at the NHCAA! Every night, I wait two hours after my last meal (this includes drinking water and taking supplements too)! Then I poke my finger and measure my blood ketones & my blood glucose. I record it next to my macronutrients. Now, in order to understand what the blood glucose & blood ketones mean, you’ll learn how to calculate Glucose Ketone Index (GKI). To do this, you will use Glucose divided by 18.016 divided by Ketones = GKI.
SO, for a blood glucose of 72, a blood ketone of 1.0 it would be as follows: 72/18.016/1.0= 3.99 GKI.
Your initial GKI goal is anywhere between 0.7-8.0. 0.7-1.0 is true ketosis.
A range from 1.0-8.0 is where many patients get good results with their health. You may need to stay in a true ketosis range of 0.7-1.0 if you are working on a health concern like seizures. 1.0-8.0 may help if you’re working on mood stability, hormones, or skin issues. Above 8.0, you’re simply out of ketosis. You either need fewer carbs or protein, or more fat, or a combination of all 3. Sleep, hormones, and other health issues can also keep your body from reaching a state of ketosis as well. If you’re having trouble reaching a GKI of 0.7-1.0, bring the above data for a full month and ask your practitioner for help. Adding intermittent fasting, high carb days, the 5-day fasting mimicking diet, carnivore diet, or other nutritional supplements, lifestyle factors, or diet variations may be needed for your success. These first 3 things help to determine which of these you need next!
Make the best of your health program and do these 3 things consistently. Bring your data from these measuring tools to your visit to show your practitioner so that he or she can help guide you! When you put forth the necessary effort to learn, gather the information you need, and make the change, you will create consistently sustainable, and most importantly, repeatable results!
Yours in health and longevity,
OTR, Holistic OT,
Nutrition Expert & Certified Wellness Coach
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