Sunday, June 28, 2015

KETO: Macros, Ketostix, and Sugar Alternatives

   Being in and out of the ketogenic diet for the past years, I missed a couple of pretty important details along the way. Other than the importance of electrolytes, which I discuss in my post here:
KETO: Electrolytes

 There are a few other things to know about following a very low carb diet.


The "Golden Standard" for ketogenic macros are:
65% Fat
30% Protein
5% Carbohydrates

   I used to try to stick to these macros diligently, fretting about getting "enough fat" each day. However, the truth is that, as long as you are able to remain in ketosis, and are hitting your protein count: you can have as little fat as you'd like. That is, IF you have fat on your body. Rather than taking the old calorie count, finding whatever percent of your calories should be allotted to each category, and figuring it out that way, try this:

   Determine your body fat percentage/BMI. You can use an online calculator, like the one here, but know that these are notoriously inaccurate. You can also use a set of calipers, like these:

In any case, this is all a rough estimate. If you aren't completely accurate here, it won't be the end of the world.

So, take your handy BMI number, and input it into the following set of equations:

BMI * Current Weight = A
eg: If your BMI is 30 and you weigh 210 lbs, that equation looks like this: 0.30*210 = 63

Current Weight - A = Lean Muscle Mass

eg: 210 - 63 = 147

Lean Muscle Mass * 0.67 = Grams of Protein per Day for Muscle Maintenance
eg: 98g/day

   The 0.67 number is a rough estimate as to how many grams of protein are ideal per pound of lean muscle mass (More info on that here). So, this will get you an estimate of your daily required protein.

   So, hit your protein, remain under your cabs, and eat fat to satiety. It doesn't have to total at 65% of your day's calories.

   If you are short for time, or are having trouble hitting your protein goals, there are some protein bars that are quite popular among ketoers, and I personally enjoy them very much. Quest bars!
 My favorite flavor is cookie dough and my husband loves the cookies & cream flavor.

These bars are known for having the best flavors when it comes to protein bars, and an amazing texture similar to that of cookie dough. I highly recommend these!


   These guys come in 31 different flavors, and are the best-tasting protein bars I've ever had. Here are the nutrition facts for double chocolate brownie flavor:
  • 20 grams protein
  • 5 grams net carbs
  • 19 grams fiber
  • 170 calories
   These things are great! Best price I've seen is $2.08 per bar, generally they run up around $3 per bar at grocery stores. Multi-flavor packs cost more than cases of individual flavors, but I recommend starting with a multi-pack to see which flavors you like best.


   When we first started the ketogenic diet, ,we thought these were helpful little tools to determine whether we were in ketosis. In actuality, these are not very accurate at measuring whether you are in ketosis or not. What are these for, if not for helping people determine ketosis? Ketostix are actually intended to help diabetics avoid ketoacidosis - something you won't have to worry about if you are not diabetic.

More detailed info from u/bluefocus on Ketostix:
PSA: When and How to Use KETOSTIX

More info on Ketoacidosis:
Difference Between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

 3) Sugar Alternatives

    There are a number of reasons to avoid or limit your consumption of fake sweeteners. Reason one is that even though these aren't regular sugar, for some people fake sweeteners can kick them out of ketosis. Most people, if affected at all, are only affected by certain types of sugar alternatives. Erythritol seems to be the best choice these days, as it has the lowest glycemic index, followed by Xylitol. Sucralose (Splenda) isn't too bad, but not quite as good as the others.

   Other than that potential risk of being booted out of ketosis, artificial sweeteners have been known to cause sugar cravings in some individuals. You taste something sweet, your body expects some sugar, and the cravings pile up. If you do not act on those cravings, then there's not much harm done.

    When my husband and I first started out, we knew we could have  sugar alternatives, and basically to only watch out for over-consuming some as they had minimal carbs or could cause diarrhea. My husband and I had cut out so many carb-laden foods that we were really being hit with cravings - hard. We tried substitutions for all of them. Low-carb breads, low-carb pancakes, low-carb cookies, etc etc. We probably had a faux carb food each day, at least. While we quickly noted our limits when it came to carb count of sugar alternatives, and even more quickly our threshold before we had digestive issues, what took much longer was realizing that some of those fake sugars were causing our progress to stall out. Only when I hit a long plateau did I decide to try a sweetener-free "clean Keto" week to test out this new theory.

My Before post: Clean Keto
My After post: Clean Keto After One Week

   What a HUGE difference it made! Now, I'm not saying my results were typical. Not everyone consumes as many faux-sweeteners as I used to, and not everyone is affected by them. However,  if you are at a stall or are having intense sugar cravings - it's worth looking into.

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