Ketogenic diets might sound fun, thanks to the high fat intake required, but make no mistake: like any diet, they’ll only work if you take the diet seriously. If you do not monitor certain metrics, you won’t know whether it’s working, or whether you need to adjust how you’re approaching it. Here are the seven metrics you must monitor to make sure your keto diet is working:
1. Your FBS or Fasting Blood Sugar
Monitoring fasting blood sugar, or your sugar levels after you wake up but before you eat anything, isn’t just for diabetics. Ketogenic dieters will also gain a lot of information from checking their morning sugar, as it can tell you how well your macros are going. If your sugar levels spike for a day, for example, you may discover that a snack you thought was safe could send your levels up. It could also indicate that your exercise for the previous day wasn’t sufficient. Just knowing that your sugar spiked can help you further optimize your diet.
The best way to see if your ketogenic diet has taken effect is to measure your ketone levels. There are many ways to do so, including testing your urine, breath, or even blood. Knowing when your body enters or leaves ketosis can help you tune the diet further.
Monitoring ketones is important. What works for one person may not necessarily put you in ketosis, and if you want the diet to work for you, you need to know. However, don’t fall into the trap of obsessing over ketones. All that’s important is that you’re in ketosis. As long as the numbers are good, there’s nothing to worry about.
3. Sleep Quality and Amount
One of the most important supporting factors in determining the success of any diet is the amount and quality of sleep you get. It’s almost as important as nutrition. Miss out on your sleep, and you’ll have trouble managing your glucose levels. This will naturally make it more difficult to slip into ketosis. Get poor sleep, and you’ll have trouble regulating your appetite.
You can track your sleep through any of the numerous apps available, or with a good old-fashioned notepad. Some wearable devices can even monitor your heart rate, which can further inform you. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, take a look at your habits. Is your sleep schedule aligned with the day and night cycle? Is your sleeping area comfortable? These things may seem trivial, but making sure you get enough rest at night can help your keto diet work wonders.
4. Activity Levels
Diets are great for losing weight, as they answer the fundamental requirement for reduction, i.e., using up more calories than you take in. However, many factors can alter bits of the equation. For example, your macros change according to the amount of physical activity you do, which can affect your goals. People who want to lose weight, for example, may find that a lack of exercise during certain days requires a change in how much they consume.
When figuring out your weekly diet, you need to take into account how much physical activity you’ll be doing. Weekends, for example, may leave you mainly sitting around, so you should adjust your intake accordingly. You should supplement your workout days with higher consumption so you’ll have the energy needed to work out.
5. Physical Measurements
Most people on keto don’t do so for any specific health reason, but to lose weight. Unfortunately, many hesitate to check their physical measurements. For whatever reason, they just want to put in the work and wait for the results to come in. To a certain extent, that’s OK. If that’s what you need to do to get started, then nothing should stop you from doing so.
However, not periodically checking your measurements comes at a cost. Not doing so makes it difficult to monitor your progress and the effectiveness of your diet. That can cost you precious time. The good news is, there’s value in checking your measurements — a sense of accomplishment. Nothing feels quite like checking your waistline and finding all those old clothes you still like now fit again.
6. Your Daily Macros
If you cannot or refuse to track your macros, your keto diet will likely fail. There’s a saying: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Without proper tracking, you will slip. It might seem harmless, and you might not even notice, but it will set you back. With keto diets, getting set back means delaying the process for days, or even weeks, due to how the body needs time to shift into ketosis.
The good news is that you don’t need to track everything in a pad or app forever. But you do have to do so every few weeks to make sure you’re not falling off the wagon.
7. Your Enjoyment
One of the goals of a ketogenic or any diet is to improve your satisfaction with life. Some people just want to look better. Others want to feel better. Whatever caused you to embark on the keto journey, it inspired you to improve the way you live (at least ideally).
Your overall enjoyment might not be measurable, but it is an important metric. If it’s ruining your time with friends or stressing you out, it might not be for you, and that’s OK. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to diets. If it’s not working out, you can always find another way to meet your goals.
Keto diets can be beneficial and fruitful, but you can’t just do it willy-nilly. Much like any other diet, you’ll need to keep track of important details and metrics to make sure you find the approach that works best for you and your body. It might be tough, but it’s worth it.