What Are Macros?
Macronutrient, commonly referred to as “Macros”, is the umbrella term for the major nutritional components of the food you eat every day. Macros are broken down into four main groups: Calories, Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein. In the ketogenic diet, knowing what your daily macro allowance for each of these groups is vitally important to your success. Another term you may become familiar with is Micronutrient, or “Micros”. This term is used as an umbrella for the further broken down components of the food you eat every day. This consists of the electrolytes such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium, vitamins and minerals, and the breakdown of the different types of fats and carbohydrates in your food. While these are important to begin to understand to avoid vitamin deficiencies and maximize your health through diet, the majority of the focus in this post will be on Macros rather than Micros.
So where do you start? Well, as was stated in our What Is Keto post, your Macros can be determined using freely available macronutrient calculators on the web (we like Ruled.Me). These calculators rely on your accurately reported age, gender, height, weight, estimated body fat percentage, desired calorie deficit (to maximize weight loss), and desired maximum carbohydrate intake (we generally recommend 20 net grams of carbohydrates or less per day). Once you have determined what your daily allowance of Calories, Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein are, you should look into a way of tracking these macros every day. Tracking your macros with the use of a fitness tracker that can be found on your phone’s app store( we use Myfitnesspal but Cronometer is also popular) keeps you accountable to yourself and can keep you accountable to any fitness community you may decide to join within your app, workplace, gym, or family. Accountability can be a useful tool to keep yourself honest and on-track with this lifestyle change.
Now that you know what your macros are you need to stick to them! Macros are your road map to getting into Ketosis (the magical metabolic sate we spoke about in the first post that turns your body into a fat burning machine).
While it is true that most people need to have 20g or less of net carbs a day to staying ketosis there are some people that can consume up to 40g. Unless you are testing your ketone levels with a blood monitor like KetoMojo(http://bit.ly/2iDBtRf) or breath meter like the Ketonix(http://amzn.to/2CnRAOY) then I would suggest sticking with 20g of net carbs or less. For carbs this is a limit, you do NOT want to exceed your carb allotment.
Protein is used to build and maintain muscle. That being said you do not want to eat more protein then you need based on your macros because too much can kick you out of ketosis! So how can it kick you out of ketosis? When protein is not used it is broken down into glucose which essentially will cause a spike in your insulin levels and lower the ketone levels in your body. So while bacon, jerky, chicken, unless burgers are all delicious and keto-friendly you can not consume as much as you want.
Fat is your fuel source on the Ketogenic Diet. Choosing good fats such as MCT oil, Coconut oil, Butter, cheeses, nuts, and meats will help you hit your fat macro. Fats you want to get as close to as possible! These are very important as they are your fuel now. Going a few grams up to 10g over is fine but consuming too much will have the same effect as consuming too much protein and will kick you out of ketosis.
Some are under the impression that calories do not matter on the ketogenic diet. But if you are looking to stay in ketosis and lose weight you will need to track these as well. Consuming too many calories will mean that the excess will be converted to glucose kicking you out of ketosis and then storing as fat(and not the good kind you want)! Try to stay at or slightly under your calorie goal.