If you've started your keto diet or are getting ready to start... you probably have a lot of questions. In this post, I'm going to cover some important things to track on your ketogenic diet. These are all things I personally track and encourage my clients to track over time.
First... what are the main things that you should be paying attention to and measuring on a ketogenic diet?
It's important to track your macronutrients (fat, protein and carbs) in order to move your body to a state of ketosis.
Your fasting blood sugar is a valuable metric to track as you begin a ketogenic diet. You'll gain insight into what's happening in your body by logging your fasting blood sugar over time.
Some even test post-meal blood sugar 1, 2, 3 and 4 hours after eating and track how things change the longer they are on a keto diet.
Testing your ketone levels with a breath analyzer or blood tester provides you with a measure of how deep your body is in ketosis. You'll be able to tell if what you are doing is working and you'll know exactly when you need to make adjustments to your diet.
Measuring your ketones is also a motivational tool. When you see that number, you don't really want to cheat and have to start over.
How To Calculate Your Macros For A Keto Diet
In the video tutorial above, I show you exactly how to set up Cronometer to calculate your calorie goals and macro goals automatically. This video will help you use any tool you wish to do this and provide some recommendations for settings.
There are many different styles and recommendations for manually calculating macros. I'll cover one of these in the blog post below.
The key is, every time you hit a plateau or weight loss stall - it's time to make an adjustment.
I love using cronometer because as your weight changes your targets are adjusted automatically. You don't have to go in and make the changes until you're ready to switch other things.
For example, maybe you want to follow "strict keto" rules for a few weeks to accelerate your weight loss with the keto diet. You just go into the settings tab and then click on "targets". Then, in the Macronutrients area you can choose "Ketogenic Calculator" and under "Your Keto Calculator" choose "Rigorous" from the drop down.
Cronometer will automatically update all of your macro goals for you.
If you'd like to friend request Tara on Cronometer to get all her keto recipes in your Cronometer Gold account use this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, comment on this blog post so we know to go in and approve you. It may take up to 72 hours for us to get you approved.
How To Track Your Macros on A Keto Diet (% Method)
Aim for 65-80% of your calories from fat.
Focus on healthy saturated fats (coconut oil, organics) and monounsaturated fats (avocado oil, olive oil). Avoid polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oil to minimize oxidative stress.
The keto diet is a moderate protein diet. Aim for 15-25% of calories to come from protein. Avoid lean meats such as chicken breast and instead choose the higher fat meats (chicken thighs).
To transition to ketosis rapidly, track total carbs for your first 7-10 days on keto. Then, you can change to tracking "net carbs".
Net carbs are calculated by taking the total carbohydrate content of the food and subtracting out the fiber content.
Do be sure and include plenty of low-carb veggies for the best possible results.
Should I Test My Ketone Levels?
There are three different methods for tracking the amount of ketones your body is producing. It is recommended that you take your ketone levels about an hour after waking each morning or at the exact same time of day every day. Note that taking exogenous ketones will skew your results.
The best ways to test for ketosis is using either a ketone blood testing device or a ketone breath test device. It is important to know that these two devices test a DIFFERENT measure of ketosis.
Blood tests measure Beta Hydroxybutyrate in the blood and breath tests measure acetone. Acetone is a metabolic waste product we breathe out when we're in a state of ketosis. It's why some people have "keto breath" which can taste a little odd or sometimes like maple syrup.
The Ketone Breath Test
I'll start with our most-used method of tracking ketones. To take a deep dive into ketone breath testing, see my article here. You'll also find reference to a number of studies you can review.
You'll also find our recommendation for an accurate keto breath tester.
The Ketone Blood Test
Blood tests are an excellent way to test your blood level for BHB (beta hydroxybutyrate).
We personally use the blood testing device from Keto Mojo.
Keto blood tests come with two drawbacks.
- The price of the testing strips
- Having to poke yourself in the finger over and over again (ouch!)
If these caveats don't bother you, I recommend investing in a Keto Tester from Keto Mojo.
The Keto Urine Strips
Testing your ketone level by urine is something almost all of us do when we first start a ketogenic diet! I remember how excited I was to see the strips get darker and darker. But then... something strange happened... the strips got lighter again.
Later I learned that urine strips measure what is exiting your body. In the beginning, your body dumps a lot out...and once you become adapted and your body figures out what to do...it starts using them! It's not that you are doing anything wrong, but that your body is becoming more efficient.
Therefore, I recommend you skip these completely. If you have some, have fun with them but don't use them over the long term.
Now let's discuss testing your blood sugar...
Tracking Blood Sugar
Get A Glucometer
Invest in a glucometer that has 50-100 test strips. You'll want to test your blood sugar 203 times per day during your first month on keto. Then, you can continue to test when you try a new food or ingredient to see what the affect is on your blood sugar.
When Should I Test My Blood Sugar?
There are a few specific times of day to test your blood sugar that can provide helpful data for you to track.
- Fasting Blood Sugar
- Post Meal Blood Sugar
- Before & After Workout Blood Sugar
Most of us are familiar with taking a fasting blood sugar. If you've ever had to fast for a test at the doctors office you may have had this measure taken. Ask your doctor for your prior lab results so you can get an idea of what your numbers have looked like historically.
Taking a post meal blood sugar can tell us what's happening in our body after we eat. Some will choose to take this measure 1, 2, 3 and even 4 hours after eating and chart the data to learn about their blood sugar response to food.
If you are someone who works out regularly, you can start tracking your blood sugar exercise response. It is very interesting to learn how our body makes it's own glucose when needed!