Aussie Keto Queen

How to do Keto without Tracking Macros or Calories

How to do Keto without Tracking Macros or Calories

Tracking macros and calories on Keto can derail even the most determined Keto eater. Fat, carbs, protein, calories, micronutrients, electrolytes, fasting windows, hydration… it can all become a bit much.

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If you’ve been interested in trying Keto, the thought of tracking every bite you eat can be overwhelming and off putting.

And if you’ve tried Keto before, even with tracking macros you’ll know it can be difficult to stay on track.

Portion sizes creep up, you don’t know if your favourite cafe sneaks sugar into their scrambled eggs and it can be draining to constantly be thinking about whether your broccoli’s carb count was total or net carbs. It’s harder still to know if any of that even matters.

Whoa there!  Take a deep breath, step away from the tracking app.

Before you give up on Keto because the thought of tracking every bite for the rest of your life fills you with dread, let’s review if you even need to track – and how to be successful on Keto without counting a single carb.

Below I will take you through the reasons you shouldn’t track macros, and the times it can be helpful. I’ll also give you some tips on how to reach your goals while never calculating net carbs again.

This article is adapted from content from the Keto For Life program. If you’re interested in learning how to finally stick with Keto, without the overwhelm, shame cycle and yo-yoing, read more here.

Why you shouldn't track macros and calories on Keto

Why you shouldn’t track macros and calories on Keto

I am a firm believer in making Keto work around your life – not the other way around.

If we take a ‘perfect’ Keto diet where we are never going to eat high carb foods again, and try to distort our hectic lives to fit around that, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

After surveying my readers, 86% reported falling off keto wagon more than twice. over 75% of the same group said they hadn’t been able to make Keto stick long term.

Most people who give up on Keto cite they feel too restricted or burnt out from obsessing over carbs and calories instead of enjoying their meals.

This obsession often leads to caving in to carbs, beating ourselves up for it and not being able to get back on track quickly.

When we have a high carb meal and know we are out Ketosis, for many people this leads to a ‘well stuff it’ mindset and we throw in the towel for the weekend.

The same thing can happen when you see a negative result using Ketostix.

The weekend extends to a week, then a month and longer until the idea of going back to Keto seems almost impossible.

This cycle of tracking and blow outs is damaging for our bodies and our confidence that we CAN stick with Keto.

Tracking Macros and Calories can lead to obsession

Tracking Macros and Calories can lead to obsession

Some people get overwhelmed or confused with macros on Keto, but the flip side of the coin is those who become obsessed with it. I was one of these people.

I went deep on learning everything to do with net carbs, electrolytes, micronutrients. I tracked everything religiously for months when I started eating Keto the first time.

While it armed well to help others who are struggling with Keto now, it was difficult, time consuming and obsessive.

Instead of enjoying my brunch date with a friend, I was mentally estimating whether there was 1/2 or 3/4 of a large avocado on my plate and how that would impact the amount of broccolini I could have with dinner.

I would avoid pumpkin with my Christmas roast so I could squeeze in a little more Keto friendly chocolate cake I had rushed to prepare to ensure I stayed in Ketosis.

I was slimmer than ever before – I had hit my weight loss and fitness goals and then some.

After 6 months like this, I was burnt out and never wanted to look at a carb count again.

The restriction and effort required was too dramatic so when I fell off the wagon, I fell hard and stayed off Keto for 6 months. (I’ve since learnt this is now considered an eating disorder, Orthorexia)

The weight started creeping back on but the idea of tracking carbs again deterred me from starting Keto again. It felt impossible.

This was when I realised that sticking with Keto long term had to be sustainable, and for me that meant not tracking carbs.

Keto without tracking macros and calories

Keto without tracking macros and calories

The good news is that you CAN be successful on Keto without ever opening a macros tracking app again.

This is the way to make Keto stick long term – fitting Keto around your life, not the other way around.

The biggest benefit of not tracking macros on Keto is learning to listen to your body instead of an app.

If you’re always relying on an app or a urine test to tell you if you’re doing well, you don’t learn the body’s clues that your health is improving.

You miss the energy boost or slump when you go over, the metallic taste in your mouth and reduction in joint pain.

Instead of noticing the clearer skin, you’re looking at net carbs.

Tapping into the clues our bodies are providing is key to not tracking macros. Your body will tell you what it needs and when, once you give it a chance to become fat adapted.

Tips for success with Keto without tracking Macros or Calories

Tips for success with Keto without tracking Macros or Calories

1. Stop weighing yourself every day

When you want to lose weight, stepping on the scales may have been part of your daily ritual.

If you’ve tied your success to the number on the scale, I’ve got news for you: your weight does not equal your happiness, energy or confidence.

Shifting your goals to something you can actually influence day to day will lead to long term motivation and success. If you are new to sustainable goal setting, we cover this in lesson 1 of Keto For Life.

If you enjoy having some sort of data to support your motivation, try measuring yourself once a month.

2. Accept that you will make mistakes

Chances are you will eat something that is higher carb without realising. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean your keto journey is over, or that you have failed.

If you can become ok with small bumps in the road, you won’t get derailed completely and you can make your very next choice a healthy Keto meal

3. Keep a list of your tried and true Keto meals that you enjoy

Rather than counting carbs or calories, have a repertoire of Keto meals you love to cook and eat. You don’t need to track the carbs or calories because you know they fit in already.

Whether its a cookbook, Keto recipe website or an old 21 Day meal plan, recycle those recipes you love and make them your own.

4. Learn the difference between brain hunger and body hunger

This is crucial if you are letting go of tracking macros on Keto. Many of us can’t tell the difference between bloated with carbs and full, because we’ve trained our brains to think is the desired feeling after a satisfying meal.

Brain hunger can be brought on by a range of factors including hormones, social situations, cravings, stress, bad sleep and more. If we can recognise brain hunger and learn to soothe it, instead of fuelling it with carbs, we can reduce our cravings.

5. Wait until you’re fat adapted for the most success

Once we have been eating Keto for around 4- 6 weeks, our bodies become ‘fat adapted’. This means our bodies are used to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

The major benefit of being fat adapted is that our bodies now prefer to burn fat – so even when we do eat a higher carb meal and are out of ketosis, getting back in is much quicker. It won’t take 3 – 4 days anymore, but sometimes just a matter of hours.

If you can stick with a strict keto meal plan for the first 4 or so weeks, after that you can build in flexibility comfortable in the knowledge that your body will get back into ketosis quickly.

Downsides of not tracking macros and calories - and what to do about them

Downsides of not tracking macros and calories – and what to do about them

It will likely feel liberating to stop tracking macros on Keto, but it’s important to know the pit falls and how to overcome them.

1. It can take longer to reach your goals

By not tracking macros and calories on Keto, you are more likely to eat too many of both. We humans have evolved to over eat when presented with sugar and fat. If you’ve ever suffered from binge eating, you’ll be painfully aware of how strong your brain’s urge to over eat can be.

Mistakes will be more frequent, but becoming ok with this is part of making Keto sustainable long term. If you make a mistake, rather than berating yourself you can feel confident that your next choice will be a healthy one.

2. Portion sizes can creep up

Another barrier to reaching our goals on Keto can be portion sizes. Once we’ve got a handle on what Keto meals look like, it can be easy to overload our plates.

As a typical Keto meal looks smaller than a carb heavy meal, it is natural to start putting more on your plate. However, the calorie count of many keto foods is higher due to the higher fat and protein content.

For example, if you look at your husband’s plate loaded with rice or pasta, then your plate with meat and vegetables, it might encourage you to add more to your plate.

The best way to keep an eye on portions on Keto is to divide meals up immediately upon cooking. If the serving size of a recipe says 4, divide it into 4 immediately and freeze the left overs.

Another way is to try mindful eating. Load your plate with a smaller serving, then eat slowly. Chew thoroughly, put your utensils down between mouthfuls and have a sip of water between eat bite. Take notice of how your stomach actually feels.

The goal is not stuffed full and unable to move – but simply not hungry. Understand hunger and full cues is hugely important and is covered in depth in Keto For Life if you want to learn more.

3. Sneaky carbs can creep in, causing cravings

One of the best parts of being on Keto is the reduction of cravings. When we are fat adapted, people marvel out our ‘willpower‘ when we say no to the office donuts, but really we don’t feel like them.

Those cravings are gone, our body and brain isn’t screaming for the next sugar fix anymore.

The problem with letting go of tracking is that our carbs may increase a little which can lead to those cravings creeping back in.

If you are aware of this though, it can be a great sign to notice that you may have to lower your carbs a little bit.

When should you track macros on Keto?

When should you track macros on Keto?

Before you delete your macros tracking app or throw out your food scales, there are some situations where tracking macros on Keto makes sense.

In all of these situations, I recommend only tracking your macros and calories for a short period though – 1 – 2 weeks at most should be sufficient to get back on track.

1. You have been on Keto for a while, and don’t feel as good anymore

Listening to your body and brain is key to not tracking macros. If you’re feeling pretty in tune with both, and something isn’t feeling right, it can be good to do a quick check in with your macros.

A few signs that it could be a good time to check in with your macros include;

  • Energy levels are inconsistent or you feel weak or tired
  • You are holding on to a lot of water weight
  • Carb cravings are getting stronger, not weaker
  • Other physical benefits are disappearing, like joint inflammation
  • You’ve been having digestion issues

2. You are unsure of your portion sizes

As mentioned above, portion sizes can creep up even when we are eating Keto. If you think your plate is looking a little fuller than before, it can be helpful to track macros for a week or so, or even just for a few meals, to check you’re still on track.

3. You need a refresher on what Keto meals look like

If it’s been a while between Keto stints, it can be helpful in the first few weeks to track your macros.

It won’t take long before you’re back in the swing of it, and having a refresher period can help you eyeball portion sizes and Keto recipes a bit easier.

There’s also many products and recipes out there claiming to be Keto, but would barely make the cut.

Sometimes these recipes can fit in if the rest of your day is soundly low carb, but being aware of how it fits into your day is crucial to ensuring you’re not constantly out of Ketosis.

4. You’ve hit a Keto stall

If you’ve been travelling well on Keto for months or even years and hit a stall it can be helpful to check back in on your macros.

It may be that you’ve lost weight and need to adjust your macros again, or had another change like introducing exercise or cutting out dairy.

A stall isn’t just weight loss related, it might be motivation, energy or measurements. If you’ve been stalled for a while, it might help to troubleshoot with my article, Why Keto Has Stopped Working For You.

Is Tracking Macros on Keto Right For You?

Is Tracking Macros on Keto Right For You?

Whether or not macros tracking is the right choice for you depends on your personal goals and your previous experience with Keto.

After eating Keto for nearly 10 years, I very rarely track my macros unless I need a refresher or need to get my portion sizes back into check.

If you are wanting to make Keto stick long term, then letting go of tracking every bite you have is essential for most people.

We need to make Keto enjoyable and data entry for most people, is not fun!

Do you track your macros? Tell me below in the comments.

This article is adapted from content from the Keto For Life program. If you’re interested in learning how to finally stick with Keto, without the overwhelm, shame cycle and yo-yoing, read more here.

If you enjoyed this recipe, don’t forget to rate and review it or share on social media! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not sure how to start Keto? 

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