Tracking and Measuring Nutrition

In order to have an accurate picture of your diet and how it affects your wellbeing, it’s important to track and measure what you eat. It also helps us follow your progress and tailor your macros to your unique genetic and neurological make-up.

What You’ll Need

  • Digital food scale — we recommend this one, which costs $20 on Amazon.

  • Measuring cups and spoons — available anywhere kitchen goods are sold!

  • Ketone level testing — we recommend urine strips or blood tests. This guide gives an overview of the options available as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Scale to weigh yourself — most scales work great!

What You’ll Be Tracking

  • Your weight — make sure you're weighing yourself on the same scale and at the same time every day, preferably in the morning before you eat or drink. If you work nights, weigh yourself when you wake up.

  • Calories — the total amount of energy you’ve consumed for the day. Your macros have been designed to restrict your total calories in order to get your body burning fat for energy instead. Remember to include alcohol and to keep track of any artificial sweeteners!

  • Fat, protein, and net carbs — the total grams of each you’ve consumed for the day. In order to get your body primed for fat burning, you’ll be restricting net carbs, eating enough protein to fuel your muscles and organs, and getting the rest of your energy from fatty foods.

How to Measure Nutrition from Labels

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When eating food with nutritional labels, measuring is quick and simple. Calories, fat, and protein are straightforward: take the numbers straight from the label. For carbohydrates, we are only concerned with those that affect blood sugar and insulin levels. This is what is referred to by “net carbs” — you can read more about carbs and your body’s response to them here.

Measuring net carbs requires a bit of simple math. Since fiber is not digested normally and since sugar alcohols are digested and absorbed slower than other sugars, the basic formula for calculating grams of net carbs is:

Total Carbs - Fiber - ½ Sugar Alcohol = Net Carbs

Take this example. First, we find the total carbs, which in this case is 29g — remember that total carbs includes sugars, so don’t count it twice!

Next, we subtract the fiber, which is 2g, to get 27g. Finally, we subtract half of the sugar alcohol. Half of 18g is 9g, leaving us with a grand total of 18g of net carbs.

29g Total Carbs - 2g Fiber - ½ (18g Sugar Alcohol) = 18g Net Carbs

How to Measure Nutrition while Cooking

To calculate the nutritional content of meals you make yourself, you’ll need to use your food scale, measuring cups, and the help of the USDA’s Nutrient Database or websites like Happy Forks.

After you have measured out all of the ingredients for your meal — including any cooking oils or fats — you can open up a database and find the entries for each ingredient. While it doesn’t have the easiest interface, the USDA database is very thorough and contains nutritional information for all kinds of raw foods as well as many branded products. If you’d like to look up the nutritional content of, say, a strip of bacon, you type “bacon” into the search bar. If you’d like information on a specific brand of bacon, use the Select Source menu to choose Branded Food Products. If you’d like to find information on the average strip of bacon, choose Standard Reference instead.

When you hit search, a list of results will populate. Clicking on any one will bring up its individual page, where you can see the complete nutritional content of the food. You can also enter in custom amounts (say, three strips of bacon) to quickly see the total for your meal.

If you are cooking for more than one meal, you can calculate the nutrition for each portion individually. This makes prepping and tracking your meals for the week easier — you only have to do the math once! Label each individual container with the nutrition to make logging a cinch.

  1. First, calculate the nutritional content for all of the ingredients.

  2. Use the digital scale to weigh the empty pot or pan you’ll be using to cook. Be sure to leave the lid off.

  3. When cooking is done, let the pot or pan cool a bit before measuring it. Take this weight and subtract your first reading to get just the weight of the cooked food.

  4. Divide the total weight of the cooked food by the number of servings to get the weight of a single serving. You can do the same for the nutritional value.

Most digital scales have a “tare” button, which makes subtracting the weight of your pot or container much easier. With the empty pot or pan already on the scale, press the button to zero-out the display. Removing the pot or pan should result in a negative number — the weight of your container. Keep the scale on while you cook. Once the pot or pan has cooled, place it on the scale. The display will now show only the weight of the food!

Here’s an example for calculating the nutrients in individual servings.

  • The nutritional content of the whole batch of food comes out to:

    • 1430 calories

    • 119.2g of fat

    • 73.3g of protein

    • 15g of net carbs

  • The pot we use to cook weighs 896g without the lid.

  • The cooked food and the pot together weigh 1960g.

  • Total weight of the prepared food is then 1960g - 896g = 1064g.

  • Since the recipe made 6 servings, one serving weighs 1064g / 6 = 177.3g.

  • The nutritional analysis for the whole meal can then be divided by 6 as well:

    • 238 calories

    • 2.5g of net carbs

    • 16.6g of protein

    • 19.9g of fat