Tools to Help with Eating Keto (Food Scale and MyFitnessPal)

For me, one of the great things about the ketogenic diet when I first started was that I didn't need to worry about counting calories. Counting fat grams and protein ounces? Nah. Didn't worry about those. I just needed to make sure my total daily carbs were below 20 grams.

I ate only the foods noted in this post. But I wanted to track my food. As I've written before, I like data. I find comfort in numbers. And if for no other reason, I was curious how many carbs really are in all those foods.

This required a couple of tools. The first is an app called MyFitnessPal. There are many others. I just happen to like this one. It has a robust food database and a cool bar code scanner that seems to have every product known. You enter the food, the portion size and the number of portions. You end up with daily tracking of calories, carbs, protein, fat and various minerals and vitamins. You can adjust the goals you want. Pretty user friendly.

That meant I needed a way to measure those portion sizes. Some are measured by ounces, grams, cups, teaspoons, etc., Just depends on the item. My answer to that was to get an Oxo food scale. Again, any scale serves the purpose. I like this one because it measures in grams and ounces and has a pull out display for those times when you place a large plate or bowl on the platform. And I like the pretty blue back light. :)

The thing is, ultimately, not only do carbs matter, but so do calories. And it can be shocking to find what an actual serving size looks like when you start measuring them. Let's use my beloved 'Palmetto Jalapeño Pimento Cheese" as an example: It lists 2 TBSP (30 g) as a serving. For each serving there are calories, carbs, protein, etc., listed. Basic label reading.

Here's the deal. The photos here show my idea of a tablespoon worth of pimiento cheese. Then we can see the weight of said 'tablespoon'. Yikes. My 'one tablespoon' actually is, by weight, 2 tablespoons. So I could easily get off the rails and double up on portion sizes. You should have seen my face when I started measuring what 2 tablespoons of cream for my coffee actually looks like. And do you have any idea how tiny an ounce of cheese is?

To be clear, when I eat only when hungry, stop when sated, keep my carbs below 20 grams a day, things move along pretty well. But sometimes we call can let things creep up on us.

I highly recommend keeping a food scale on hand. And track your food with something, whether an app, a carb counter booklet, or a pencil and paper. Truth is, eating only when hungry has been the greater challenge for me than giving up pizza. And that was big give!

Measuring, at least occasionally to remind myself of what human sized portions are, helps keep me on track, focused and successful.

The information I present here is based on my own experiences and personal research. While I’ve been fortunate to have exposure to leading researchers, physicians and journalists regarding the ketogenic specifically and LCHF (low carb/high fat) more generally, we are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths. I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, i you have something to add, go for it. Thanks!  - Casey