Have you mastered the carb counting discussed in part 3 of the Keto Approaches series and still want to go deeper? Then the fine-tuning approach may be good for you. Here we look at tracking the other macros, how to use a macro calculator, how to test your ketones and extending fasting. If you are the type of person that really enjoys monitoring and tracking then this next approach might be for you. If you are happy at either the LCHF approach or the experiment approach, or just want to keep things simple then keep doing what you are doing.
Now that you are more confident with counting and tracking your carbs, the next step is to focus on all your macronutrients – carbs, protein and fat. The tracking app you have been using to track carbs can also be used to focus on the overall percentage breakdown of your macros. The goal percentages for a keto way of eating are typically 5% carbs, 15-25% protein and 70-80% fat. This is one way of dialling in your macros.
Another way, is to calculate your specific macros using a macro calculator. These calculators will work out your specific macro needs in grams and your calorie needs based on your health goals, current weight and activity level.
Another aspect of fine-tuning can be to start keeping a track of your calorie intake. When considering your overall calories there are two schools of thought around this in the keto world. Some believe that calorie intake is not important if you are eating to satiety and only when hungry, as fat storage is ultimately based on your body’s insulin response. The other school of thought is more based on the calories in versus calories out model. As the keto lifestyle involves a high fat intake and fat has significantly more calories than carbs and protein it can be easy to overeat calories eating this way.
Some people find that they do not need to worry about calories when they first start on keto, but as they get closer to their goal weight they need to fine-tune things. A macro calculator will be able to give you a guide on your specific calorie requirements if you would like to know. For further details around the science behind calories and a ketogenic way of eating check out these articles –
How do you know if you are in ketosis and burning fat for fuel? The easiest way is to measure your ketones. The three ways to test your ketones are urine strips, ketone breath analysers and blood ketone monitors.
- Urine Test Strips are the least preferred testing method as they are the least accurate. They are known to show readings when you first enter ketosis but the longer you are in ketosis, the less ketones you will have in your urine. They are a cheaper option though so may be a good thing to use at the start to know you are producing ketones.
- Breath Ketone Analyser is another way of testing your ketones, this time measuring the acetone in your breath. The benefit of measuring your breath is that it is less invasive than the blood measurement and it can be more cost effective as you only spend the one-off fee to buy the device. Accuracy is better than the urine strips but not as accurate as the blood ketone measurement.
- Blood Ketone Monitoring is the most accurate way to monitor your ketone levels. We use the Freestyle Optium blood glucose monitoring system and the freestyle blood ketone strips. It does require you to pierce the skin on your finger and get some blood. The ketone strips are also very expensive.
If you decide to measure your ketones to make sure you are in nutritional ketosis, the desired blood reading is between 0.5mmol/L and 3.0mmol/L. The benefit of measuring your ketones is that you can confirm you are in ketosis and you can also see what affect different foods have on your ketone levels. Our recommendation is to invest in a blood ketone monitor so you can measure your ketones as accurately as possible.
Experiment with extended fasting
If you have tried intermittent fasting and feel like you would like to take that to the next level, it is worth trying extended fasting. Extended fasting is not consuming food for longer than a 24-hour period. Extended fasting of 3-7 days can provide a myriad of health benefits, aside from fat loss, and is not as crazy as it might initially sound.
As we mentioned Dr Jason Fung is the fasting guru and this article provides a more in depth discussion of the health benefits as well as busting some myths, so you can decide if extended fasting is something you would like to try. We can also recommend Dr Fung’s practical guide to fasting, The Complete Guide to Fasting, which covers all the specific dos and don’ts. We found this book very helpful as it explained the mechanisms behind fasting which helped reassure us we were not starving ourselves!
One important note to consider is that if you have had any disordered eating patterns previously, then fasting may not be for you due to the restriction required.
We hope you have found our 4 part Keto Approaches Series beneficial to help you find the keto that works best for you. It is designed as a guide only and it is likely you may end up doing a combination of all three approaches as we have at times. We would like to stress again the key is finding the keto that works best for you around your work schedule, social life and lifestyle. There is no one size fits all here, and if you want this be to sustainable it has to suit you.
We look forward to hearing your stories and what keto looks like for you in the comments on any of the posts in this series. We also love to hear about any strategies that you think we may have missed that may be helpful for people new to LCHF.
- Keto Approaches Part 4 – Fine-tune
- Keto Approaches Part 3 – Experiment
- Keto Approaches Part 2 – LCHF
- Keto Approaches Part 1 – Overview
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