Tracking Macros 101: Easy Starter Guide [E18]

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Want to know how to get started tracking macros? Join us for this week's episode as we discuss who should and should NOT be tracking their macros, how to log and tally your intake, and which macro tracking app is the best fit for you.

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Hey there, Tasha here! We are talking all about tracking macros today, and I think this is going to help a lot of people out there because it’s not something most people naturally tend to do in their daily lives. And a lot of people feel like they really need to do this in order to effectively do keto, which isn’t necessarily true. And I’ll get into that later on. But tracking macros can be a bit confusing at first, and that’s because it’s a whole new habit you’re trying to tackle on top of changing your eating habits. So instead of just focusing on one thing at a time, it can feel really frustrating and overwhelming. So I’m gonna talk about tracking macros today, including how to get started with tracking, the best app for tracking macros, and even what you can do instead of tracking macros. If it’s just not your thing. Now, if you’re wondering, “What the heck are you talking about, Tasha, what are macros even?” Then, I want you to hop back over to last week’s episode to give that a listen. I also have several resources over at Ketogasm dot that will set you straight on macros. And naturally I have a couple chapters in my book, Keto: A Woman’s Guide and Cookbook dedicated exclusively to understanding macros, including how to set them up for different scenarios beyond just a standard keto diet if you’re doing more advanced strategies. But in a nutshell, macros are macronutrients. They provide the calories in your diet. They’re the source of energy from your food. And macros are the carbs, fat and protein from your food. OK, from all of the ingredients that you eat, macros are the carbs, fat and protein.

And ultimately macros are important for keto because the macronutrient composition of your diet influences your metabolism and whether or not you’re in ketosis. And for keto, we just really need to make sure that carbs are low enough to induce ketosis. Right. So carbs are one of the macronutrients and carb restriction is key here. And if all you are concerned about is being in a state of nutritional ketosis or not, then you really only have to worry about that one macronutrient: carbs. Right? But the other macros are important, too. And depending on your personal context, your activity, the reason you’re doing keto, your goals, and what you want to do with your weight and body composition in the long run, that’s going to help determine the other macros–protein and fat. OK, now again, we talked about this for quite some time last week. So if you want more of that context about what macros are and how they influence your body, I would really recommend jumping back to last week’s episode. But today, I’m talking about how to actually track those macros, the carbs, the fat and the protein. OK.

Who should track macros? I don’t actually recommend that everyone tracks their macros 24/7, 365 days a year. Full disclosure, I definitely do not do that. And honestly, most people who end up doing keto for any length of time don’t do that either. But some people do find the routine of macro tracking to be helpful. And there are plenty of reasons why tracking macros could be a good fit, if not permanently, than at least temporarily.

So here are the main scenarios where busting out the macro tracking app is a good idea. The total newbie keto dieter. But I have a caveat to this one! If you’re just getting started on keto and you’re not familiar with the nutrient composition of your foods. If you have no idea what the nutrients are in the food that you’re eating, then keeping tabs on at least the carbs is a good idea in the beginning of your diet. If you’re going it alone, you’re not following a predetermined meal plan from a nutritionist or a dietician. If you’re just trying to figure out what you can and can’t eat on keto, then tracking can be a good way to tally up the carbs. OK, but if you’re just getting started, then don’t fuss with the protein and fat macros just yet. Let your body adjust to eating low carb. Decide if you find tracking macros to be a helpful habit and let that guide your decision to add more complexity to your tracking effort.

If it works for you, the other people who might really benefit from tracking macros are people who have a good relationship with food and they’re working to improve their body composition. Now, these people generally tend to be at a healthy weight and there aren’t stressing and assessing over each little bite that they take. They’re not afraid of food and they don’t have any extreme eating habits. Right. Tracking macros to ensure that you’re in the ballpark of your goals can help you make progress. And these are the people that understand that even if they’re tracking macros, that it’s all ballpark estimates and they don’t have to do it all perfectly. Right? People who are working to resolve nutrient deficiencies could also benefit from tracking apps. Some of the tracking apps out there, they give you so much detailed information about the nutritional composition of the food that you eat that you get a breakdown of like every little detail. You have your micronutrients or macronutrients, amino acids, fatty acids, all of these kind of things in this really granular, detailed way. So if you are low in iron or low in calcium or magnesium or any one of those micronutrients that are commonly low in people, then tracking your food intake can help you identify the foods that are giving you the most bang for your buck, so to speak, and help you make better decisions about your food.

Not just the macro side of thing, but the micronutrient side, the vitamins and minerals. OK. Now, those are the people that I think could benefit from tracking. I know there is a lot of people out there that are really data minded and analytical and they might get a kick out of tracking, too, just for the sake of statistics and metrics and data. But I think there’s a lot of people who shouldn’t track OK. And I think people who find tracking to be stressful or unsustainable are people who shouldn’t be doing this. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress and resistance when you’re trying to track, then forcing yourself to do it probably isn’t the best use of your energy. Remember, perceived stress is not going to help you reach your goals. It’s going to sabotage you. And if tracking macros is one of the things that’s causing you to stress, then maybe you should ditch it. OK. Tracking macros is just one strategy of many strategies, so don’t feel like you have to force something that doesn’t really work for you. Shift your focus to something that is more sustainable. OK. Because that’s where you’re gonna start to shine. And that’s where you’ll really see progress in the long run. People with disordered eating habits or those who feel triggered by tracking are also not good candidates for this. If you have a past of disordered eating, then thinking about your food in numbers or laying food out in a highly detailed metrics and goals is not the best way to home a healthy relationship with food. I definitely do not recommend even opening this can of worms. Do not go down this rabbit hole if you have an eating disorder or a history of disordered eating habits, ok. In fact, I would even go as far to say don’t think about dieting.

And diet perfectionists… I will also include as people who should avoid opening that can of worms that goes into macro tracking. OK, this goes along the same line as before. A mindset of diet perfection goes hand-in-hand with disordered eating habits. And I know for many people that are diet perfectionists, you probably don’t identify with eating disorders or disordered eating habits. So I want to frame this in a different context. Something that you can actually relate to, and that’s perfectionism. If you are a perfectionist and everything needs to align perfectly with your plans or you deem yourself a failure. If you set a goal or a target and your brain goes, “man, I blew it.” Instead of “I’m close enough,” then I don’t think that tracking is a good fit for you either. Seriously, because all the nutrition data from the nutrition facts on the food labels to the data in the app databases and so on to the macro goals set out by these calculators. These are all ballpark estimates, their averages.

Ok, so getting super caught up in the minutia of hitting your macros and being over or under a certain number is not only going to drive you totally nuts. It is a huge, absolutely huge waste of your energy. OK. So many of you know that I’m a recovering perfectionist and I’m gonna be the first to tell you that tracking macros was one of those things that really brought out the worst in me for a time there. So is tracking for everyone? No. Is it the only strategy? Absolutely not. But is it an effective strategy to consider? For sure. If you see tracking as totally objective data, that’s going to help you work towards your goals and your efforts, then go for it. But if tracking is emotionally exhausting, mentally draining, or your self-worth is somehow tied up with the outcome of the numbers, then it’s probably in your best interest not to track. And that’s the same with the scale, right? If you come out of your bathroom in tears every morning after seeing the number on your scale, maybe you don’t weigh yourself every day. Tracking can be an on-again off-again kind of thing too. It doesn’t have to be every day. Like I said, it could be something you do just to calibrate your portions and eating like a periodic check in to say here’s a typical day of what I’m eating. Here’s where I’m at compared to where I want to be, that kind of thing. Right. Just to kind of get a check in. It doesn’t have to be a huge part of your life. Take up all your time or anything dramatic. You will have a much better idea if it’s actually going to be a good fit for you. Once you know what all it entails or even after you try it for a little bit.

So now that you know who tracking macros is a good fit for, I’m going to tell you how to track macros on keto. And the first thing you need to do is calculate your macros. OK. Last week we talked about the nitty gritty details behind what all these keto macro calculators should be doing–limiting carbs, making sure you get adequate protein based on your lean body mass in determining your energy needs to fill the rest with fat. And this fat macro is the real variable in the equation. This will be the thing that adjusted up and down to either eat at maintenance or create a calorie deficit. So if you’re eating to maintain your weight, your fat macro will be higher. And if you’re eating to lose weight, your fat macro will be lower. OK. Now, whatever calculator you decide to use to determine your macros, remember, you need to pay attention to the grams, not percentages. OK. You want macros and grams. Not percentages, not ratios. The grams–how much carbs, protein and fat that you eat in grams–are going to be really important for tracking purposes. The ratios and percentages are pretty much pointless when it comes to tracking your macros. So just focus on grams and use a calculator that actually provides your macronutrient goals in grams instead of percentages, instead of ratios. OK, the calculator at Ketogasm dot com will do this for you. It’s geared towards female body composition and will give your results in grams. But if you decide to use something else, just make sure that you hone in on the grams. And don’t worry about percentages. Don’t worry about the ratios. They don’t really matter.

Ok, now that you have the results from the macro calculator, here’s what you do with them. You use them as goals to guide your eating. OK, so the carb fat and protein goals in grams can be used to make decisions about your food when you’re looking at a label or deciding what to cook. OK, and in the context of keto these macros are necessarily fixed targets that you need to lock in on and hit necessarily, OK. For carbs, I want you to think of these as a limit. OK, so if the calculator says 50 grams of carbohydrate or 30 grams net carbs as your macro goal, that doesn’t mean that you need to hit that goal to be successful. That’s the limit that you should aim for to get into ketosis and stay in ketosis. OK, so think of your carb macro as the number of carbs that you can eat up to. You could be at or below 50 grams, at or below 30 grams net. OK. So if you’re trying to stay at, or below 30 grams of net carbs per day, but you only eat fifteen grams of net carbs…

You’re still totally within your goal, right? You don’t have to eat 30 grams just because the calculator said to. All right. That’s a limit, because you’re limiting carbs to that amount. You’re not trying to get up to that amount. And even then, there’s going to be wiggle room with how many carbs you can eat and stay in ketosis. We’re dealing in general averages here. OK. That’s the idea behind the carb macro for a standard keto diet. Basically stay at or below that number. For protein, that one is actually more of a goal. Eating adequate protein ensures that you’re preserving your lean body mass. So if you have a protein goal, you should try to target that. OK. Think of that as a goal to reach. You don’t have to laser focus in on that exact amount of protein and grams, whatever that number that the calculator said day after day. Honestly, you just want to be in the general vicinity of your protein goal.

And in terms of going over or going under, you actually would be better off being consistently over your protein goal than consistently under. Because if you’re not eating adequate protein and if you’re consistently shorting yourself on protein, this can lead to muscle loss overtime and your metabolism will suffer. So when in doubt, aim for higher protein intake, especially if you’re eating at a calorie deficit or you’re physically active. Now, for fat, this is the variable. And then the whole big picture. The fat is what can shift the most. So your carbs are going to be low. Your protein is going to be pretty much fixed based on your lean body mass and the fat goes up or down.

Ok. Some people in the keto space prefer to fat as a lever that you move up or down, adjusting for your goals. And that can be kind of helpful to think of visually. But basically, this is just the main source of your calories. OK, so if you eat lower fat, then you have a higher calorie deficit and if you eat higher fat, you have a lower calorie deficit. And a lot of people think when they’re counting their macros that they have to hit their fat macro, that they have to hit all of these macros perfectly. Right. So they’ll start pouring heavy cream on stuff, melting butter into their coffee, eating fat bombs, just to bump their fat content up in their diet without really affecting their carbs or their protein. But you do not have to do this, OK? You don’t have to hit your fat goal. Really, think of fat as a limit. OK. And you’re just adding more energy for your body to burn through before it gets to use your body fat for fuel. OK, so fat can come from your plate or it can come from your body. And the number of fat grams that the macro calculator is telling you how much fat to eat, it’s just based off whatever you plugged into it. OK, whatever calorie deficit that you said, oh, maybe a 10 percent deficit or a 15 percent deficit or whatever. So if you don’t eat all that fat, you’re just increasing your calorie deficit. And that’s all that’s really happening. OK, so you don’t actually have like a special fat content that you need to reach in your diet, especially if body composition improvements align with your goals. OK, if your goal is fat loss than you do not need to eat all of the fat, ok.

You’re just increasing your calorie deficit if you don’t eat all of the fat. All right. Think of it as the limit. The fat macros a limit as well, especially if weight loss is your goal. It’s similar to the carbs. So carbs and fat are more like limits where you can eat at or below those macros, whereas protein is the goal. You want to make sure you’re eating adequate protein everyday. Okay. Now once you have all of these macros figured out and your eating foods and letting it guide your choices, now you just have to tally up your carbs, protein and fat from the food that you’re actually eating. OK, and you can do this manually in a journal. You can make an Excel spreadsheet or you can use an app, whatever is going to be the easiest for you to do. Whatever makes it feel less like work and resistance, then that’s going to be the thing that you’re most likely to stick with. So find what works for you. Find what feels the best if you want this to be a long term sustainable habit that you’re building. You’ll get all this information about macros from the food labels and nutrition databases. That’s one of the reasons that tracking macros in grams versus percentages is a lot more helpful. OK. All the data is already in grams when you look at a label or you look nutrition information up online. OK. And basically what you’re doing is taking that information, all of that nutrition data for whatever serving size you’re eating, you account for that ingredient by documenting the carbs, fat and protein. For each thing you eat, each ingredient, everything gets tallied up over the day. So if you’re just doing carbs, just be mindful of carbs.

That’s not too hard to track in a physical paper journal by writing everything down. But when you start to track all three of the macros, that’s a lot of math to do. So something like Excel or an app can do the math for you and keep tabs on all of the different macronutrient content in the food that you eat. OK, now apps are by far the most popular way to do this because they source information from all the nutrient databases. And honestly, it’s just a matter of looking at up selecting your serving size and logging it into the app as part of your diet journal. And there is barcode scanners, so if you’re eating packaged foods, it can be a quick, convenient way to log that food into your journal with all the nutrition data built into it. Including your macros, it’s basically it just takes a picture of the barcode and it pulls all the nutrition data from the manufacturer or from the user generated entries in the database. And it’s really easy to do. Then as you go through the day, you just log what you’re eating. And by the end of the day, you have a total tally of the nutrition information for everything that you’ve eaten. As long as you actually took the time to log what you ate, then you’ll have a good comprehensive picture of what you ate throughout the day. So your macros from the food that you ate will all be added up and then you can compare that to your goals. Or you eat something, look at the nutrition information once it’s logged and say I have this much room left for carbs, protein and fat. So you can kind of guide your decisions throughout the day if you kind of like to wing it. If you’re not a planner, OK, if this is kind of one of those things that works more for people who like to wing it throughout the day versus planning ahead in proactively building their meals and meal prepping and stuff like that.

Ok, so when you’re looking at your macros as they’re adding up throughout the day and you’re making decisions about your food and saying, I have this much room left for carbs, protein and fat, it’s a lot like counting calories in that you have a budget to spend. Right. But instead of coming out of one big wallet, it’s coming out of three separate wallets with different amounts. And technically, you are counting calories as well when you’re tracking your macros in grams, because macros are where your calories come from. Right. Carbs have 4 calories per gram. Protein has four calories per gram and fat has nine calories per gram. So when you add all the grams of carbs, protein and fat from your diet, you’re also tallying your overall calorie intake. And you don’t have to separately count calories while you’re counting macros, they’re intrinsically tied together. Right. And if you use an app, all that math is going to be done for you already. So what’s the best app for tracking macros? There’s a lot of nutrition apps that help you track your macros out there on the market today. And not all of them are created equal, but most of them tend to do the same thing.

Ok, so I have two nutrition apps that I personally really like, but the one that you choose is really going to depend on what you want to get out of the app. OK. What is your goal for using the app? Is it just to track macros or do you want a more in depth nutrition analysis? Do you want something that’s really easy to use or do you want something that’s going to let you spend some more time in it to geek out on all of the information? OK. So for super detailed nutrition information, you really can’t beat Cronometer. Now Cronometer details pretty much everything you can think of. Macros, fiber. It counts net carbs if you want it to details all the vitamins and minerals and even the breakdown of the macro nutrient components themselves like amino acids. So for people who want that kind of information, that level of detail, you know, you really can’t beat cronometer. You can build out recipes and a meter and. Get the nutrition data for the whole recipe or based on individual serving sizes. You can save the recipe and use it for later. Or just different food combinations that you use on a regular basis so you don’t have to individually select ingredients every time you log what you’re eating. Now you can do whole recipes and re-use them for later. That’s actually what I do when I develop recipes for Ketogasm.

I like cronometer because it is probably the most accurate and in-depth information out there as a database that’s easily available for people and for the people who want that. And they’re tracking their macros and other nutrients in their diet. I want to provide that for people. So personally I used cronometer when I calculate all the recipe information for Ketogasm. So if you want my personal recommendation for the nitty gritty details, cronometer is where it’s at. You can also log your supplements and any kind of like vitamins or anything like that that you’re taking and it gets logged alongside your food so you can get a comprehensive big picture view of what your nutrient intake looks like for your diet overall. And it’s free. It’s free to use cronometer. But if you do opt for the paid version, I think they call it gold’s version or something like that. You also track your nutrients over time so you can see the trends that are happening over time, which is pretty cool. So if you’re taking the time to log all the information and all of your food and every bite that you’re taking throughout the day, then being able to see the patterns over time is really helpful. Because if you’re consistently low on something like, say, you are consistently low on B12, then you could see that that’s an opportunity to supplement and boost your nutrition.

Right. So it’s more of fine tuning it. And if you have any specific targets or some kind of really individualized goal, then you can set that up in cronometer. So you can set up your macros, you can set up if you maybe you are deficient in B12 if you need to get that into your diet, you can set a specific goal to do that. So it’s kind of helpful as a visual guide as well because it has little bars that track every single one of these nutrients. So as you log your food intake or your supplements or anything that you’re eating and ingesting throughout the day, these little bars fill up and show you how close you are to reaching your goal. So it can be kind of motivating if you’re using it for that purpose. And just a nice visual guide to help you out. But the problem with cronometer–I love cronometer and I use it for a lot of things–but there’s so much data that it can be really super duper overwhelming for people. Especially if people are only interested in counting carbs or they only want to know their carbs, protein and fat macros. Right. I didn’t really realize how overwhelming and daunting it is to look at that information until I tried to show my mom how to use cronometer.

This is like, I don’t know, a month ago or something. It was pretty recently. And my mom has zero interest like zero interest in nutrition. And she totally doesn’t like the science. She doesn’t like the details. She just wants things to be she wants it to be healthy and easy and it doesn’t need to be complicated. And I get it. I totally get it. So when I was showing her cronometer, she totally glossed over and immediately lost interest. OK. So I started showing her all these features that I thought were so cool and she didn’t think they were cool. OK. Nutritionists think these are cool. But if you don’t geek out on nutrition, you might want to consider using something else because it can be overwhelming. The amount of detail and information that you get when you log into cronometer, it’s kind of like drinking water from a firehose. Okay. If you don’t know what you’re looking at especially, then you might want to opt for something that’s a little more user friendly.

Now, the most user friendly tracking app that I have found is called Nutritionix, and it’s nutrition with an I X, Nutritionix. And it doesn’t do the level of detail for tracking that cronometer does. So if you want that detail. Like I said, cronometer is where it’s at.

But if that does not appeal to you at all and you want something that’s incredibly user friendly, Nutritionix is something to look into. And honestly, it kind of strips away all of the extra fluff and it just shows you the basic stuff that you would find on a standard nutrition label. OK, it has your macros and your energy, so it shows you your protein, carbs, fat, fiber, all of that kind of stuff and the calories, right. And it does show some additional micronutrients if you start digging around for them. But but the lay out and the presentation is really simple and straightforward. OK. Now you can set calorie goals in Nutritionix and you can also set macro goals in percentages, but you can’t really set them to grams unless you start to tweak the percentages to make them align just right. So that might be frustrating for you, but it’s not the same as cronometer where you have the bars that you’re like building up to fill the bars. So it doesn’t really matter. It’s just tracking it. If you know your macros, then you don’t need to enter them into an app. Right. And there’s not really a whole lot of customization in terms of the goal setting and everything, but it still tracks and tells you all the things that you need to know. And you can enter custom foods and build recipes out as well.

And it’s free. It’s free just like cronometer as. So it’s easy to use and it’s free. So you can’t beat that. Right. But the logging process, that’s what I love most about Nutritionix. Because it has the barcode scanner just like cronometer does. But you can also type or speak the quantity and what you’re eating. And it just automatically fills all that information into the logging portion of the app. So I think that’s really cool because the other tracker apps, you have to find the food in the search bar. Then you dig through the lists of ingredients and then you manually adjust the serving size. OK. And I know that probably doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, but it’s actually a huge timesaver if you can just speak directly into the app or directly type the quantity and the number like what you’re actually eating directly into the search bar instead of just the ingredient. But like how much of the ingredient into the search bar? OK. It’s just a little bit less steps to go through. Even shaving off just a few seconds off of the process can be a huge difference. OK. That could be the difference between choosing to track your macros or choosing not to track your macros.

Because I know a lot of people that say, “I can’t do that. That’s too time consuming.” You know, even if it’s not like stressful, it just seems like it’s taking up a lot of their time. So having something that has the timesaving features is really, really good in my perspective as far as being a user friendly tool to use. Now they have a couple more timesaving features. So it’s that free-form speed sorry, the free form feature that lets you speak or type directly into the search bar. So whatever you want to enter and then it just does it like magic. It automatically logs your food based off of whatever you type in and it has the smart search feature which takes your history, all the common foods, restaurants and grocery items and shows you results as you type into the search bar also. And then it has predictive features based on your history and the time of day. So it’s actually like recommending different things. And it’s kind of smart and it learns with you as you go. So it’s definitely awesome. And they claim that you “track what you eat in 60 seconds per day using our app.” And honestly, I do think it feels quite a bit quicker than other apps. I always have used cronometer or I’ve tried Myfitnesspal. I’ve tried a lot of different apps and I don’t tend to love apps. But when I saw how easy and quick this was–and I’m not sponsoring this guys like they’re not sponsoring this, like this isn’t a commercial for them.

I had to use this for a project recently and it was amazing. And I was like, I’m going to talk about this. So if you don’t track your macros because it felt too time consuming, then nutritionix might be a decent option to checkout. OK. Now do you have to track macros on keto? Nope. You don’t. And next week I’m going to dive into the different strategies for doing keto without tracking. But until then, I have a few pointers for you. And number one is to just focus on eating foods that are naturally low and carbs. Back in the portion control episode, I showed you how to build simple keto meals using your hands as guides. And if you focus on eating protein and non-starchy veggies, then you don’t really need to worry about macro counting because it’s naturally keto. OK, a palm sized portion of protein two cupped handfuls of veggies like leafy greens and a thumb or two of fat. OK, it’s keto. It’s easy, no tracking apps required. The second pointer is mindful eating or intuitive eating. And if you know you feel better eating foods that are lower in carbs and you build meals accordingly, just listen to your hunger cues, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.

Then getting into those super granular details doesn’t really add a lot of value. If you’re nourishing and fueling your body in a way that feels good without the stress, without the obsession, that’s leaps and bounds better than running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Worried that you went over your calves or you didn’t hit your macros. OK. keto is wonderful, but so is flexibility. Remember, macros are just ballpark estimates anyway. And my final pointer is to meal plan because meal planning is a great way to proactively work out meals that align with your goals. If you’re running around at meal time getting super stressed about what you’re going to eat, or you’re worried that the macros won’t magically align when you haphazardly throw things together, then you really should consider meal planning.

You’re going to save time energy. You’ll save money. It’s amazing. OK, honestly, it’s a game changer for people who don’t love tracking too, because you can meal plan in a way that sets you up for success to meet your macros. I was so excited when I had this revelation, you guys. Even if you’re really focused on specific macros, you can essentially reverse engineer your macros to align with your meals. OK. Or your meals to align with your macros? Right. It goes both ways. So that’s what the master your macros meal plan on my site is all about. You just plug your macros in and all the recipes adjust to fit your macros. And it’s pretty cool. The people who have used it have been super surprised. They’re like, “Oh my God, this is genius!” And I thought I was a genius when I came up with it. So it’s worth mentioning here, but there’s options. Guys, there’s strategies that you can use to make keto work for you without tracking. And like I said before, I am not a tracker myself. I’m more of a meal planning, mindful eater kind of type, OK. And I run a keto website. I literally wrote the book about keto for women, I have this keto podcast and I’ve been doing keto for years myself. So no, you don’t have to track macros on keto, but you can if you want to. All right, guys, I hope this was helpful for you all. And I will see you next week.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Ketogasm podcast. You are awesome. I really hope the shows added value to your keto journey. Making big changes to your eating habits can be a little tricky, but if you’re taking the time to listen and learn about keto, you’re well on your way. You got this. Be sure to visit Ketogasm dot com for the show notes with full transcripts, references and resources to help you out, including a totally free course called Hello Keto. It’s helped over seventy five thousand people start keto with confidence. I’ll see you in the next episode. Bye!

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Hi, guys! Thank you for joining us for this week’s Easy Keto with Tasha! As you recall, last week was all about demystifying keto macros. Today’s focus will tackle the next step: tracking macros! 

What are Macros?

Macros are short for macronutrients. They are the carbs, protein, and fat from your food, and they provide your calories.

Macros are important to keto because the balance of macronutrients in your diet affects whether or not you are in ketosis. Carb restriction induces ketosis, and carbohydrates are one of the macros.

If your only goal is nutritional ketosis, then you can focus solely on carbs. However, the other macros–protein and fat–are still important for achieving weight and body composition goals! 

For a more in-depth breakdown of what macros are, check out last week’s episode, Keto Macros Demystified [E17].

Who Should Track Macros?

I do not recommend tracking macros 24/7. I don’t do that, and most people following keto don’t do that either. However, many people find the process of tracking macros to be beneficial to their goals. 

Not sure if tracking macros is right for you? Ask yourself this. Are you:

  • Total keto newbies. While you’re figuring out what you can and cannot eat on keto, tracking can help you stay mindful of your carbs. Don’t stress too much about protein and fat at this point.
  • Someone who has a good relationship with food and is working on body composition. You may already be at a healthy weight. There is no stress about each bite of food you eat. You don’t fear food, nor do you have extreme eating habits. Tracking macros to keep you in line with your goals can ensure you’re making progress.
  • People working to resolve nutritional deficiencies. Tracking your food will provide you with a detailed nutritional breakdown that allows you to make positive decisions about your food.
  • People that are data-minded and analytical. You enjoy having the statistics and metrics purely because you like data.

Who Should NOT Track Macros?

Just as there are some people who benefit from tracking macros, there are also people who would do well to avoid it. People who associate tracking with stress and resistance, or have struggled with unsustainable tracking previously, would do well to avoid it.

Forcing yourself to track macros when you find it to be extremely stressful is not helping. Perceived stress will not help you reach your goals; it will sabotage you. If that’s how you feel about tracking macros, then it’s okay to ditch it!

People with disordered eating habits and those who feel triggered by tracking are also not good candidates for this. The most important thing is that you create a healthy relationship with food. If you have a history of disordered eating habits, I suggest you do not even think about dieting.

Finally, diet perfectionists should avoid tracking macros. The diet perfection mindset also goes hand-in-hand with disordered eating habits. Frequently, perfectionism requires that everything be perfectly aligned or it is a failure. Nutrition facts and data are just estimates and averages. Getting caught up in the minutia of hitting macros will only add stress and waste your energy.

Tracking Macros on Keto

The first step to take in tracking macros is to calculate your macros. Ensure that your keto macro calculator is limiting carbs, providing adequate protein for lean body mass, and utilizing fat based on energy needs. Remember, fat is variable. Also, make sure your calculator provides macro data in grams, NOT in percentages or ratios. Check out our macro calculator and tutorial!

Now that you have your results from the calculator, you can use them as goals to guide your eating. Use this information to make decisions when looking at labels or deciding what to cook. For keto, your macros are not fixed targets.

With carbs, think of your macro as a limit. You don’t necessarily have to hit your macro goal to be successful. Instead, that’s the limit you should aim to maintain ketosis. 

With protein, your macro is more like a goal to achieve. You can preserve your lean body mass by ensuring that you’re consuming a sufficient amount of protein. If you have a protein goal, you should try to hit it. With protein, you would be better going over goal rather than being under it.

Fat is a limit, especially if weight loss is the goal. Many people look at fat as a lever that can be adjusted up or down, depending on your goals. Fat is the main source of your calories. Eating lower-fat will create a higher calorie deficit; eating more fat will create a lower-calorie deficit. Fat can come from your plate or your body. 

Recording Your Progress

You’ve calculated your macros. You’re eating food and letting it guide your choices. It’s time to tally up your carbs, protein, and fat from the food you’re actually eating. Do it manually in a journal, create an Excel spreadsheet, or utilize a food tracking app. Choose something that works for you that you will stick with.

Use information from food labels and nutrition databases for tracking macros. This is one reason why it’s so important to track your macros in grams instead of percentiles or ratios. 

Take the nutrition information for your serving size. Document the carbs, protein, and fat. Do this for everything you consume. Tally these values throughout the day. From there, you can compare the values that depict what you actually ate to your macro goals.

Counting Calories and Tracking Macros

Tracking macros is very similar to counting calories. You have a budget to spend. However, where calories come from one wallet, your macro budget comes from three separate wallets with different amounts.

When you track your macros, you’re also counting your calories. This is because your macros are what make up your calories. They’re tied together. You’re also tallying your overall calorie intake when you add your carbs, protein, and fat together. 

Macro Tracking Apps

There is no shortage of nutrition apps. If you find a quality app, it can make tracking macros extremely easy. While not all apps are created equally, they do tend to provide the same thing.

To find the best app for you, ask yourself what you want to get out of it. Is your goal to simply track macros, or do you want an in-depth nutritional analysis?

Cronometer: An extremely detail-oriented app. This is the most accurate and in-depth database that is easily available. The free app provides tracking and detailed nutrition information. The premium version also tracks trends that occur over time.
Nutritionix: The most user-friendly, free tracking app. This app provides basic information that would be found on a nutrition label. It also has a barcode scanner. This app would be good for someone who already knows their macros, but they need a resource to track their diet.

Keto Without Tracking Macros

Tracking macros might feel a bit overwhelming. If you feel like tracking is too time-consuming and that it doesn’t fit within your diet, don’t stress! You do not have to track your macros.

We’ll explore strategies for doing keto without tracking in a different episode, but until then, remember these pointers.

  • Focus on eating foods that are naturally low in carbs. Eat protein and non-starchy vegetables, and utilize the portion control suggestions from Portion Control Made Easy [E13].
  • Follow mindful/intuitive eating. Listen to your hunger cues, eat your lower carb meals when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
  • Meal plan. Proactively work out meals that align with your goals. Check out the Master Your Macros meal plan that adapts the recipes to your unique macronutrient input!

Tracking macros can be a great thing, but you should follow what works for you!

Further Resources

Keto Macros Demystified: Everything You Need to Know [E17]
Portion Control Made Easy: A Hands-On Approach [E13]
Keto Calculator: Macros for Women
Keto: A Woman’s Guide & Cookbook

Timestamp

Intro
1:39 – What Are Macros?
3:17 – Who Should Track Macros?
7:10 – Who Should NOT Track Macros?
11:14 – Tracking Macros on Keto
19:09 – Recording Your Progress
22:49 – Counting Calories and Tracking Macros
23:50 – Macro Tracking Apps
24:23 – Cronometer
29:26 – Nutritionix
34:18 – Keto Without Tracking Macros

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