How to Track Macros on Keto
Keto Beginner's Series

How to Track Macros on Keto

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton

10 months ago

New to Keto? Trying it out, but still learning the ropes? If you haven’t already, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the concept of tracking macros. Tracking macros—short for macronutrients—means tracking your carb, protein, and fat intake for each and every bite of food. 

At first, tracking macros may seem like a pain. It’s extra work to log your meals, even if you have a well-designed app that makes this as easy as possible.   

Ugh. Another thing to do every day. 

But it’s worth it. Once you dial in your macros (especially your carbs), you’ll get your low-carb diet humming on all cylinders. 

The truth is, the benefits of Keto—fat loss, better energy, reduced cravings, and focus—are 100% dependent on hitting your macros! We’ve had users complain that they’d been on Keto for 9 months, and it just isn’t working for them. But then - lo and behold - after they began strictly tracking macros for 30 days, they came back and reported life-changing results. 

How’s that for motivation?

Today you’ll learn all about tracking macros. We’ll cover what they are, why they matter, and practical tips you can implement right away. Enjoy! 

What Are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are nutrients required in large, or “macro”, amounts in your diet. Nutrients required in smaller amounts, like vitamins and minerals, are called micronutrients. 

Macronutrients come in three main forms: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These three macros provide the raw materials to produce energy, build muscle, heal wounds, and much more. Technically, alcohol is also a macronutrient, but it’s not essential, and not something you need to track on a macro-based diet.

Another feature of macronutrients? They contain calories. (Calories approximate the amount of energy released when a food is digested.) Here are the calorie counts in each macronutrient: 

  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
  • Protein: 4 calories per gram
  • Fat: 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol: 7 calories per gram (in case you were wondering!)  

Despite what you may have heard, calories matter on a macro-based diet. For instance, if you eat too many calories (even healthy fat calories) on a Ketogenic diet designed for weight loss, you probably won’t lose weight. (Fortunately, most people find that overeating isn’t a problem on Keto, likely due to reductions in hunger hormones like ghrelin.)[*]

So yes, calories matter. But the type of calorie matters too. In other words, a fat calorie doesn’t affect your body in the same way as a carbohydrate calorie. And protein has its own special functions too. 

With that in mind, let’s run through these macros:

#1: Carbohydrates 

Carbs are how plants store energy. (Think grains, fruits, and roots). So plants store carbs...then animals eat them. 

When we digest carbs, they end up in our blood as blood sugar. This blood sugar can either be used immediately for energy, or stuffed away as glycogen (stored sugar) or fat. Your ability to process carbs depends on the hormone insulin, which we’ll cover soon.[*]

#2: Protein

Protein is found in both plant and animal sources, and it’s an absolute dietary necessity. Getting enough protein helps you maintain muscle, produce neurotransmitters, and synthesize a wide variety of hormones.[*

If you don’t get enough protein, your body breaks down your muscle mass to meet those needs. Yikes. That doesn’t happen when you restrict carbs or fat.  

#3: Fat

Fat gets a lot of flak, but assuming we’re talking about healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, butter, and animal fat—this is mostly undeserved. Fat helps you produce and store energy, absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D and K, and build cell membranes.[*]

On a Keto diet or during a fast, fat becomes your primary energy source. In other words, eating fat helps you access body fat.[*] Let’s dig into why. 

Why Macros Matter On Keto

The #1 rule of low-carb dieting is to mind your macros. On the Keto diet, minding your macros means eating 60-70% of your calories from fat, 20-30% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs.[*

This isn’t just for funzies. Keeping your macros in these ratios signals your body to enter the fat-burning state known as ketosis. 

Keeping carbs low is the crucial piece. That’s because keeping carbs low keeps blood sugar low—which means that less insulin (your blood sugar boss) is released into circulation.[*

With insulin absent, a neon sign lights up inside your liver cells: CARBS ARE SCARCE! TIME TO START BURNING FAT AND MAKING KETONES.

That’s how ketosis happens. And when you stay in ketosis over a period of weeks, the benefits of fat loss, stable energy, appetite management, and mental clarity often follow. 

What About Net Carbs?

You just learned why you need to cut carbs on Keto. Not all carbs, however, are on the chopping block. 

Fiber and sugar alcohols, for instance, have very little blood sugar (or glycemic) impact.[*][*] Because of this, they won’t meaningfully affect your Keto macros. 

So instead of total carbs, consider tracking net carbs on Keto. When you track net carbs, you’ll be much less restricted in what you can eat.   

The equation for net carbs looks like: 

Net carbs = Total carbs - fiber - sugar alcohols

Avocados, for example, have about 12 grams of total carbs, but 9 of those are from fiber. Only 3 net carbs, phew!

Any macro tracker worth its salt will have net carb functionality, although many include this feature with their premium membership only. Net carb tracking is free with Carb Manager, and you can learn how it works here

Customizing Your Macros

No diet is one-size-fits-all. You’re a unique individual, and you have unique needs. Let’s use Keto as an example.  

Let’s say you’re doing Keto for weight loss. In this case, you might want to cut carbs below 5%, lower than a person maintaining weight.  

Alternatively, if you’re extremely active (CrossFit, say), you might want to bump up the carbs and protein a bit. Protein in particular is essential for repair and recovery after exercise. 

So, how do you calculate your macros? You use technology to calibrate your diet to your specific needs. 

Carb Manager, for instance, features a macros calculator that allows you to customize macros based on diet (like Keto), activity levels, weight loss targets, and more. If you’re on a Keto diet, the key to success is to hang near the recommended macros, then make adjustments based on your goals and lifestyle. The macros calculator makes this easy.     

IIFYM

Keto isn’t the only diet in which you track macros. IIFYM, or “if it fits your macros”, is another approach that’s catching on for weight loss. 

The IIFYM diet is higher in protein and carbs than Keto, and bases your macro and calorie targets on your resting metabolic rate, activity levels, and weight goals. If you’re interested, calculate your IIFYM macros here, then use a macro tracker like Carb Manager to meet them. 

Tips for Tracking Macros On Keto

Now for the fun part: Actually tracking your Keto macros! (The highlight of your day, I know). Here’s some actionable advice to get you started.

#1: Write things down

You’ll want to use an app to track your macros (that’s tip #3!), but still: Don’t neglect the ancient power of pen and paper. 

When you write something down, you’re more likely to make it happen. In one study, people who pre-planned exercise were 2-3 times more likely to follow through than those who didn’t.[*]

Practically speaking, this could mean:

  • Using a journal to plan your meals and macros each morning
  • Logging your meals in the app, and comparing your actual results to your plan

Give it a try. 

#2: Track Ketone levels

Ketones are tiny molecules produced when your liver burns fat.[*] Once released into circulation, they fuel your brain and body with clean, efficient energy. 

Ketones can be measured in both blood and urine. If Ketone levels are elevated, it’s a good sign your low-carb macros strategy is working.  

To test Ketone levels accurately and affordably at home, consider picking up a Keto-Mojo meter. As a bonus, Carb Manager will likely be rolling out an integration in the near future. 

#3: Use a macro tracker

When you embark on your Keto journey, don’t do it alone. Hire a digital health coach to guide your steps. 

If that sounds expensive, don’t worry: It’s not. We’re talking about an app here! 

A macro tracker makes your Keto diet MUCH easier. You tell it what you ate, it queries a massive food database, and out pops your macro ratios. Then you adjust accordingly.  

But a quality app should offer more than just macro tracking. The Carb Manager app, for instance, gives you meal plans, Keto advice, community support, a video tutorial course, and over thousands of low-carb recipes. 

With all that support, why spend big bucks on a health coach? You have everything you need, right there in your pocket. 

Comments 24

  • FabulousMacadamia603067

    FabulousMacadamia603067 6 days ago

    I have my macros set and at first I was losing weight. This past week I have been very hungry and not losing weight. I have my calorie limit at 1350. Do I need to increase this? I walk about 5-7 miles per day with my job doing semi heavy lifting.

    • FabulousMacadamia603067

      FabulousMacadamia603067 5 days ago

      Could someone please reply???

  • kini6960

    kini6960 23 days ago

    I hope you deliver what you promise.

    • OutstandingKetone322239

      OutstandingKetone322239 a month ago

      So where do I do this tracking? Ie where do I list my foods? This app means nothing if I can’t do this.

      • Babs

        Babs 12 days ago

        Under “daily log”

    • Gad1966!

      Gad1966! a month ago

      So much success! So glad I have This app!! World of help.

      • StellarArugula521372

        StellarArugula521372 a month ago

        Why doesn’t the entered carbs equal the totals?

        • Babs

          Babs 12 days ago

          The entered carbs are what you ate during a meal/snack etc.… The total net carbs are what you can have during the day...it adds up as you eat through the day-You don’t want to go over your daily limit!

      • RousingRadish505919

        RousingRadish505919 a month ago

        Excellent assist information

        • OutstandingKale257571

          OutstandingKale257571 2 months ago

          So much to learn- I love it!

          • GorgeousKetone350957

            GorgeousKetone350957 2 months ago

            If I don’t get all of my net carbs in will it affect my weight loss?

            • Merms

              Merms 2 months ago

              I really enjoy reading these articles because the author(s) present it in a positive and fun way. I’m curious now about the Keto Mojo tracker. Any guess-timate on when it would be added? FYI I’ve never regretted going Premium CM. Thanks!

              • SpectacularArugula654469

                SpectacularArugula654469 2 months ago

                How do you calculate the macros that you should follow/track?

                • Karissa

                  Karissa 2 months ago

                  Any updates regarding when CM will roll out an integration with KetoMojo?

                  • Yamileth

                    Yamileth 2 months ago

                    Thanks for the Net Carb setting option information.

                    • Jeannie

                      Jeannie 2 months ago

                      Brian makes hard to comprehend info on tracking macros much easier to understand.

                      • AwesomeCauliflower660034

                        AwesomeCauliflower660034 2 months ago

                        Can I deduct Allulose from carbs too ?

                        • Hobe78

                          Hobe78 2 months ago

                          Great information.

                          • MarvellousMacadamia411959

                            MarvellousMacadamia411959 2 months ago

                            Thank You, this information is the key to better understanding the Keto diet

                            • MirthfulAvocado167918

                              MirthfulAvocado167918 2 months ago

                              Excelllent info 👍

                              • IneffableRadish786038

                                IneffableRadish786038 2 months ago

                                Great information. Thank you.

                                • Rhona

                                  Rhona 2 months ago

                                  👍🥰

                                  • FabulousMacadamia353459

                                    FabulousMacadamia353459 3 months ago

                                    Thank you

                                    • mluciavalenzuela

                                      mluciavalenzuela 3 months ago

                                      Excellent!