Do you need to focus on macro and micronutrients?
The easy answer is if you’ve been taught how to keto by me, then, no. You don’t need to focus on macro or micronutrients. But if you’ve been taught by someone else or using apps or someone with a mistaken notion that you need to be in ketosis all the time, or if people are worried about nutritional adequacy, then you might have to worry about these things.
Macros and ketosis
Let me explain: the method I teach is based on real foods. You eat primarily from a list including meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, some leafy greens, some non-starchy vegetables, cheese, and things like that. The nutrition that you get is so good that you don’t have to worry about a lot of things other people worry about. In terms of macros, everyone agrees that if you’re going to be in ketosis, meaning maximum fat burning, you have to keep carbohydrates really low. I suppose if you were focusing on macros, it would be to keep the carbs low.
The next level of worry or concern about macros is the amount of protein and the amount of fat and the ratio of those. Some people even worry that you have to have that at every meal or that at the end of the day, the ratio has to be right. I think that’s a carryover from the ketogenic diet for epilepsy, where they have to be very careful about macros all the time. The diabetes and obesity reversal diet, which started with the Banting diet, did not focus on the macronutrient ratios and didn’t assume that you had to be in ketosis all day long. They didn’t have you measure urine ketones. I’m much more relaxed in terms of the protein and fat ratio but you do have to keep the carbs super low. Some people come to me saying the keto diet is so difficult because they’re using an app, and the app is telling them to increase the protein or increase the fat. I don’t think an app is good if that’s what it’s telling you. The amount to eat and what to eat really should be based on you and your body signals, not on any sort of app. I can recall some people who are relieved because they didn’t want to use an app anyway!
If you like it and it helps you to stay on track – some people find it helpful – please don’t let the app tell you what to eat. That should be determined by what you like and by the teaching of the dietary approach. In the approach I use, all of the food is on one sheet of paper. It’s not difficult. It’s a relaxed version of a keto diet so you don’t have to worry about the proteins and fats at every meal and being in ketosis all day long.
When you think in terms of micronutrients, I think of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes – these are all micronutrients. In the beginning, I don’t ask everyone to take extra nutritional electrolytes or vitamins or supplements. The only case, I guess, is if someone is taking a medication like a diuretic fluid pill that depletes magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Then I might ask someone to add that in at the beginning. I might check a blood test to make sure that the potassium level is okay at the beginning if someone’s on one of these medications. I know some programs ask you to take these electrolyte supplements from the beginning – that doesn’t bother me but if you think you have to have those things to do a keto diet, that’s not true.
I wait. The approach that I learned was to be more minimalist, not to have everyone do something so that maybe a third of people will not experience something. If a third of people get muscle cramps, for example, at some point in the first three months, then I’ll tell them to add some magnesium supplementation. (I like the milk of magnesia liquid form because it seems to be absorbed better than some of these pills that don’t get absorbed so well.) If you want to reduce your chances of getting the headaches and fatigue that some people get at the beginning (of a keto diet) then you might take some salt in the form of a bullion cube mixed into hot water once a day. The only concern I have is if you’re taking blood pressure medicine or you have heart or kidney failure where you have trouble handling sodium, then I don’t want you adding salt at the beginning unless you’re measuring those situations carefully.
Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are the electrolytes that some people will need if they’re having trouble with muscle cramps or hard-to-pass stools. I’ll bring out magnesium supplementation to treat that. If you’re eating real foods, there’s really no concern about any sort of micronutrient deficiencies. There are lots of electrolyte companies selling these. I think it’s fine to take them if you can afford them, but it’s not necessary.
Getting back to my first response, you really don’t have to worry about macros and micronutrients as long as you’ve been taught how to do a properly formulated keto diet, meaning you’re not focusing on having fats all day long, but focusing rather on protein as the main source of nutrition. Fats will come along with the protein. If you’re trying to lose fat from your body, then the last thing you want to do is add lots of oils or fats to your food and drinks. Your body won’t burn its stored fat as well because it will prioritize burning the fat that you’re eating over the fat in your body, in that order.
The good news is if you learn how to do a keto diet the simple way, you don’t have to worry about counting macros, you don’t have to use an app, you don’t have to worry about the micronutrient issues that other kinds of programs have to worry about. It’s actually an easy lifestyle once you get the hang of it because you get to eat tasty foods and you get to reverse metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, and fatty liver, which can all be reversed by a low-carb keto diet.
Watch the full video here.