Which Keto Tracker App is Right for You?

Which Keto Tracker App is Right for You?

The ketogenic diet has gone mainstream, and with it, so have the number of apps available to efficiently track your progress. But finding the right keto tracker app can get complicated and confusing quickly. There are big differences between free tracking apps with basic functionality and premium apps offering a broader range of keto diet tracking plus other useful features that help you more easily monitor and manage your overall health, no matter what your goals.

So here are some useful tips to help determine if a free keto tracker app is right for you, or if you may want a little more ‘spice’ in your ‘keto app sauce.’

The Freebie Options

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a popular calorie counter web and mobile app for tracking fitness and food intake. This keto tracker app diary feature couples with the calorie counter to help track every calorie, nutrient and vitamin you consume. The macros feature helps you analyze eating patterns to determine where you may be out of balance so you can make necessary adjustments to stay on track with your goals.

  • The Pros: MyFitnessPal is convenient to use with easy access to a huge database of foods and information, offering instant feedback and flexible diet plans. It also integrates with other health dashboards as well as a host of other activity, fitness and lifestyle apps as well as wearables (see all integrations). 
  • The Cons: The food database has many listings that are not verified, which can make it hard to find the right food in their system. There is also more emphasis on calories versus macros, and for some, not having net carbs displayed without running a script can make it less keto-friendly than other keto tracker apps. The app also requires an internet connection to access the database in real-time. It may be best suited for those who are steadfast in their dedication to calorie counting as the best method to reach their goals. 
  • Cost: Free; in-app purchases on Apple watch
  • Platforms: Web app and mobile app on Apple & Android
MyFitnessPal Diary
Carb Manager App
Carb Manager App

Carb Manager

The Carb Manager Low-Carb Diet Tracker is a great option to track your keto diet macros. You can log meals using photos, search, voice input or barcode scanners, making it flexible and user-friendly no matter what method(s) you prefer. The database of foods, although size is uncertain, seems large enough to accommodate most dieters, and you have access to meal planners, diet forums, recipes, eBooks and more. Total and net carbs are verified instantly and the user interface is simple.

  • The Pros: As another free keto tracker app option, this one is full-featured and easy to use, and lets you enter your own carb limits and track water intake. The database of foods is plenty big, you have access to a plethora of relevant diet resources, and it’s applicable for Keto, Atkins, Paleo and other diet plan preferences that espouse a similar low-carb lifestyle approach. You can also chart your body mass index (BMI), weight and progress against your personalized goals, access via the web or mobile device and use unlimited logging for taking food pics. 
  • The Cons: Although free, you may reach a food limit on what you enter before being required to upgrade, and is sometimes challenging to search for and upload their own food items from a personalized meal plan. The user interface is also a bit lacking compared with some of the other nutrition apps covered here.
  • Cost: Free with in-app purchases
  • Platforms: Web app, mobile app on Apple and Android

Lifesum 

Lifesum is another food and fitness tracking app available on mobile devices only (no web app) that offers calorie tracking, recipes and nutrition tips. This keto tracker app offers some recipes along with social media integration and gamification that allows users to connect with friends to challenge, motivate and inspire each other. The app’s food rating guide also makes it easy to quickly assess the foods with the best nutritional value versus those that are high in calories, saturated fats, sodium or sugar.

  • The Pros: Track meals and physical activity through an easy user interface and select your health goals from three simple options, “be healthier,” “lose weight,” or “gain weight.” It includes some recipes and a filter to find and track foods based on what’s popular in your area.
  • The Cons: The food database is much smaller than MyFitnessPal and some of the nutrient information is inaccurate. Significant features such as the full food database and the larger catalog of recipes also require a paid upgrade. 
  • Cost: Free with in-app purchases for additional foods and recipes
  • Platforms: Mobile app available on Apple and Android
Lifesum App

Try a Health & Keto Tracker App Free

Total Keto Diet App

Total Keto Diet

The Total Keto Diet app offers a wide variety of healthy recipes for people on the keto diet plan, as well as a host of educational articles on the ketogenic lifestyle in general. You can select and save your favorite meals and recipes and from that, create a personalized shopping list. Users can share recipe ideas with other users. The keto tracker app also includes a macronutrient tracker, helping you log carb intake and overall diet macros.

  • The Pros: This is an easy and convenient way to keep track of your keto plan, weight-loss progress and offers an easy spot for keto education and logging of shopping lists.
  • The Cons: For users that may want to incorporate tracking other health metrics, through integration with other devices or apps, this may simply be too basic of an option to do everything on your wishlist. It’s also difficult to adjust the amount of specific food entered (i.e. entering ½ cup of cooked cauliflower).
  • Cost: Free 
  • Platforms: Mobile app available on Apple and Android

When FREE Falls a Little Too Short

Keto Diet App

When you’re ready to step into the paid keto app world for more robust features, The Keto Diet app offers more to help users adopt a healthier lifestyle rather than just losing weight at any cost. For people interested in using the ketogenic plan to follow a low-carb eating plan with a high degree of accuracy, this is a great choice. Its intuitive diet planner lets you create a custom profile using options from hundreds of meals and snacks. Beyond calorie counting and carb monitoring, this keto tracker app helps you more easily track your ketogenic diet macros, and you can set your carb intake, pull from hundreds of free recipe ideas and use its built-in keto calculator. The virtual shopping basket also helps simplify grocery shopping.

  • The Pros: This app is big on both accuracy and data privacy, so your personal info is secure, and all of the tracker’s nutritional details are from verified sources. Its simple interface is user-friendly, and the diet guide is well-suited for beginners and advanced keto dieters, with thousands of delicious recipes that are formulated for keto via a whole-foods lens. 
  • The Cons: Although the app is user-friendly, it is sometimes considered time-consuming to use. Measuring options for some items are only in ounces or grams, not cups, tablespoons or teaspoons, so volume accuracy can be a challenge on-the-fly.
  • Price: $8.99 per month with in-app purchases
  • Platforms: Apple and Android
Keto Diet App

Heads Up (formerly Heads Up Health)

Heads Up (formerly called Heads Up Health) takes ketogenic diet tracking to a different level and is a more robust personal health app designed to give users an easy way to see all of their important health metrics in one place, whether the goal is weight loss and changing body tape measurements, chronic disease management, athletic performance, biohacking or general health and well-being. 

This keto tracker app integrates with a growing number of popular fitness apps, diet trackers and wearables, such as MyFitnessPal, MyMacros+, Fitbit, Apple Health, Cronometer, BioStrap, Oura Ring and KetoMojo, with more being added. In fact, whatever keto tracker app you decide to use, Heads Up is a great complement to seeing the big picture of your health.

  • The Pros: Heads Up lets users track a much broader range of health and medical data to monitor total lifestyles, while still tracking specific diet plans such as keto. A wide range of popular integrated apps and wearables automatically sync, and the dashboard can be customized to feature the most important stats you need to monitor most often. The Care Team Access feature allows users to share health data with loved ones and medical practitioners if desired, and remove access at any time. Data privacy practices are in place to make sure all your personal and medical information is secure.
  • The Cons: For users that only want to only track a specific diet or food plans such as Keto, Paleo or Low-Carb, the app may have more features than needed.
  • Price: Free 30-day trial / $8.99 per month 
  • Platforms: Web app, mobile for Apple and Android
Heads Up Health App

Try a Health & Keto Diet Tracker Free

https://app.headsuphealth.com/users/sign_up

The Bottom Line

The list of keto diet tracking apps is wide and long, and clearly, there is a lot of overlap between options, especially when it comes to the free ones. The pack begins to separate when you get into the more robust paid options that offer a deeper, feature-rich experience. So the best way to choose…?  Start with the end in mind. If it’s a diet plan and you’re on a budget, free is the way to go. But if you want to monitor more health stats over the short and long term, then upgrading to a paid solution will be way worth the investment in monitoring your broader health metrics. 

Tracking the Oura HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV)

Tracking the Oura HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV)

Written by Andrew Flatt, Dave Korsunsky and Chuck Hazzard

Overview

We’ve released an experimental feature in Heads Up Health which automatically calculates the HRV coefficient of variation (CV) based on the data from your Oura ring.

Why track HRV CV?

Looking at daily HRV readings enables you to note short-term fluctuations relative to your baseline. This can be useful for observing the effects of various stressors and lifestyle factors which can help inform on behavior-modification strategies to optimize your HRV.

Due to daily fluctuations, an isolated (i.e., single time-point) HRV measure may not truly reflect an individual’s typical HRV. Thus, some researchers and practitioners are moving towards averaging a series of daily measures to better characterize one's autonomic activity. In turn, most HRV apps are now reporting a rolling weekly average of your HRV values.

Tracking the rolling weekly average provides a better indication of whether your HRV is actually changing in a given direction. In addition, instead of reacting to an isolated change in HRV, a more conservative and convenient approach would be to react only when the rolling average starts to change. One low HRV reading may not be of much concern and would have little impact on the weekly average. However, a series of low scores will reduce the rolling average and may indicate that it’s time to do something about it.

Along with your rolling weekly HRV average, further insight can be gained by monitoring the Coefficient of Variation (CV) among the rolling HRV values. This is because the magnitude of HRV fluctuations can change from week to week, with or without out much change in the rolling average. How much your HRV fluctuates on a day-to-day basis is quite meaningful. Large fluctuations increase the CV while smaller fluctuations lower it.

Interpreting HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV) values

Typical HRV CV values range from 2 - 20%. If we were to take a random sample of adults and measure their HRV for a week, we would probably find that individuals who are younger, healthier (i.e., without disease), leaner and more aerobically fit will fall on the lower end of that range and less-healthy individuals on the higher end.

Regardless of what your CV is at a given time, it’s important to know that it can and will change. Now, whether an increase or decrease in your CV should be interpreted as good or bad is entirely context-dependent. We’ll use some practical examples to explain.

Among healthy individuals, an increased CV is typically associated with greater stress, fatigue, and lower fitness. Vice versa for a lower CV. Thus, the CV is a useful value for assessing adaptation to a new fitness program or lifestyle change. For example, unfamiliar stress will typically cause greater fluctuations in HRV (i.e., increased CV). However, as you become familiar with the new routine, there should be less fluctuation (i.e., decreased CV) which is a sign of positive adaptation. What was once quite stressful to your body is no longer as stressful.

Reductions in the CV are typically good, indicative of increasing fitness, lower stress (or improved stress tolerance) and so forth. There are exceptions, however. For example, suppose your new training program or work schedule is overbearing. Accumulating stress causes an initial increase in your CV. As things continue, your healthy eating habits start to wane, your sleep deteriorates and you become rundown. In this context, your HRV readings may become chronically suppressed, failing to bounce back to baseline. Thus, your rolling average has now decreased, as has your CV.

How we calculate Oura HRV CV

At the time of this post, Oura currently does not report the HRV CV in their app. Thus we are calculating this in Heads Up Health using the average HRV value during the sleep cycle as reported by the Oura app:

Oura HRV Coefficient of Variance (CV)

Figure 1: Oura HRV Average

Using these average HRV values we then calculate the Oura Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV) as follows:

  • Calculate the natural logarithm (ln) value of the nightly HRV average as reported by the Oura app (figure 1)
  • Calculate the mean and standard deviation from the prior 7-day HRV values
  • Divide the standard deviation by the mean
  • Show as a percentage

Note: Some experts in the field have suggested a more accurate method would be to look at the Oura HRV readings from the deep (slow wave) sleep states or by looking at the HRV readings just prior to waking. We are open to changing our approach here based on feedback from users. Feel free to send us your comments.

Tracking Oura CV in Heads Up Health

You can now add the Oura CV metric onto your Heads Up Health dashboard:

Add the Oura HRV CV to your dashboard

Figure 2: Add the Oura HRV CV to your dashboard

You can also graph this marker on the Analyzer next to any other health metric to explore your own correlations:

Compare your Oura HRV CV metrics on the Analyzer

Figure 3: Compare your Oura HRV CV metrics on the Analyzer

Moving the needle

Why would these numbers increase or decrease? The CV reflects the fluctuation in your day-to-day HRV over the last 7 days. High or low HRV readings relative to your baseline will, therefore, contribute to a higher CV whereas more consistent or stable HRV readings will contribute to a lower CV.

Why is lower better?

When the rolling average is stable or increasing, a lower CV reflects less disturbance in autonomic homeostasis. This may mean that you are experiencing less stress or simply coping with it better.

The CV must always be interpreted in context. For example, a night of high-quality sleep may increase HRV well-above baseline, contributing to a higher CV. In a situation like this, the elevated CV is obviously not reflecting higher stress. In addition, stress is important as it stimulates adaptation. Therefore, an increased CV is a normal response to a greater or novel stimulus. However, repeated exposure and adaptation to the stimulus should provoke smaller HRV fluctuations over time and therefore a lower CV. Here, the reduced CV reflects an improved ability to tolerate and recover from the stressor and thus a capacity for greater stress.

Important lifestyle factors which can affect HRV CV

Any factor that alters HRV from baseline contributes to an increased CV. Common factors that affect HRV include:

  • Travel/jet lag
  • Physical stress such as high-intensity exercise
  • Mental and emotional stress
  • Over-training / injury
  • Sleep quality and quantity
  • Illness
  • Drastic changes to daily routines
  • Pain
  • Blood sugar fluctuations
  • Hydration

Heads Up Health can help you holistically track these other lifestyle factors to help identify areas that need attention.

Summary

The HRV CV is another powerful biomarker we can use to further understand how we are managing the stressors in our daily lives. Heads Up Health now supports this metric. This is an initial implementation and we will further refine this feature as required.

Ready to start tracking your Oura HRV CV? Start your free trial using the button below!

START TRACKING!

References and Recommended Reading on the CV

Flatt, A.A. Improving HRV Data Interpretation with the Coefficient of Variation https://elitehrv.com/improving-hrv-data-interpretation-coefficient-variation

Buchheit, M., Mendez-Villanueva, A., Quod, M. J., Poulos, N., & Bourdon, P. (2010). Determinants of the variability of heart rate measures during a competitive period in young soccer players. European journal of applied physiology, 109(5), 869-878.

Flatt, A. A., & Howells, D. (2019). Effects of varying training load on heart rate variability and running performance among an olympic rugby sevens team. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 22(2), 222-226.

Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Allen, J. R., Robinson, J. B., Earley, R. L., Fedewa, M. V., ... & Wingo, J. E. (2018). Heart rate variability and training load among national collegiate athletic association division 1 college football players throughout spring camp. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32(11), 3127-3134.

Flatt, A. A., & Esco, M. R. (2016). Evaluating individual training adaptation with smartphone-derived heart rate variability in a collegiate female soccer team. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(2), 378-385.

Flatt, A. A., Hornikel, B., & Esco, M. R. (2017). Heart rate variability and psychometric responses to overload and tapering in collegiate sprint-swimmers. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 20(6), 606-610.

Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Nakamura, F. Y., & Plews, D. J. (2017). Interpreting daily heart rate variability changes in collegiate female soccer players. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness, 57, 907-915.

Flatt, A. A., & Esco, M. R. (2015). Smartphone-derived heart-rate variability and training load in a women’s soccer team. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 10(8), 994-1000.

Nakamura, F. Y., Pereira, L. A., Rabelo, F. N., Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Bertollo, M., & Loturco, I. (2016). Monitoring weekly heart rate variability in futsal players during the preseason: the importance of maintaining high vagal activity. Journal of sports sciences, 34(24), 2262-2268.

Plews, D. J., Laursen, P. B., Kilding, A. E., & Buchheit, M. (2012). Heart rate variability in elite triathletes, is variation in variability the key to effective training? A case comparison. European journal of applied physiology, 112(11), 3729-3741.

Tonello, L., Reichert, F. F., Oliveira-Silva, I., Del Rosso, S., Leicht, A. S., & Boullosa, D. A. (2016). Correlates of heart rate measures with incidental physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight female workers. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 405.

Tracking the Glucose Ketone Index

Tracking the Glucose Ketone Index

In this post we will examine the "glucose ketone index" as a biomarker for tracking metabolic health. We will also explore some of the primary use cases for tracking the glucose ketone index including cancer treatment, weight loss, metabolic disease management and athletic performance. Lastly, we will demonstrate how you can use Heads Up Health to track the glucose ketone index along with all of your other important health data.

If you want to skip ahead, click the button below to create an account with Heads Up and start tracking the glucose-ketone index alongside all of your other health metrics. Or, read on for more information on tracking the glucose ketone index.

Track your GKI!

What is the Glucose Ketone Index?

The glucose ketone index is simply a way to measure the relationship between your ketone levels and your glucose levels at any moment in time. It is measured by dividing your blood glucose level (mmol/L) by your blood ketone level (mmol/L). The result is a single number we can use an indicator of one’s metabolic state.

The index has its roots in brain cancer treatment, where researchers using metabolic therapy found best results when glucose and ketones maintained a very precise relationship in the patient [1]. Since there are many aspects of daily life (stress, exercise, nutrition etc.) that can upset glucose or ketone levels in the body, thereby throwing off the optimal glucose-ketone ratio, the index was developed to ensure both metrics (glucose and ketones) are maintaining the ideal ratio for optimal treatment outcomes.

Example: If my fasting blood sugar first thing in the morning is 4.6 mmol/L (82 mg/dL) and my ketone reading is 0.8 mmol/L, I would record a glucose ketone index of 5.75 (4.6 / 0.8).

Despite its roots in cancer treatment, the index can also be very helpful for those using metabolic therapy to treat (and prevent) diabetes, obesity, cancer (particularly cancers that express aerobic fermentation) and other metabolic conditions. By using an index that tracks glucose and ketones TOGETHER, we can develop zones that are optimal for addressing various health conditions.

The table below outlines some generally accepted zones of treatment using the glucose ketone index:

GKI value Degree of ketosis Degree of dysfunction
<1 Therapeutic ketosis Epilepsy
Cancer
1-3 High ketosis Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity
3-6 Moderate/functional
ketosis
Insulin resistance
6-9 Low ketosis Optimal health
Maintenance
Weight loss
>9 No ketosis

Table 1: Optimal zones for the glucose ketone index [2]

Use cases for tracking the glucose ketone index

1. Cancer treatment
For those using metabolic therapy as a means to fight cancer (e.g. brain and other cancers that express aerobic fermentation), the index is an excellent way to ensure you are staying in the optimal zone [1].

2. Prevention

Maintaining a healthy glucose ketone index (i.e. low to moderate ketosis) may be an effective tool for preventing many common metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it may actually be very beneficial to periodically (once or twice per year) employ a metabolic therapy (such as an extended fasting period) that pushes our index into the 1.0-3.0 range as an effective technique for disease prevention.

3. Athletic performance
By measuring the glucose ketone index and correlating with diet, training regimen and performance, athletes may be able to identify their own personal zones of optimal performance.

4. Weight loss
For those using metabolic therapy to lose weight, the glucose ketone index may actually be a more effective marker than tracking glucose and ketones independently. Heads Up Health can help to track and correlate the index along with other metrics such as weight and body fat.

5. Fasting
Tracking the glucose ketone index can be a very helpful piece of biofeedback to understand how your metabolism is responding during the fasting period. Over time, you can look back at different fasting periods and use the index as an indicator of your metabolic state during the course of the fasting period.

6. Feeling awesome
If you are employing fasting and/or ketogenic diets for optimal health, the glucose ketone index can help you find your ideal sweet spot. If you reach a point where you start feeling absolutely awesome (which you inevitably will in ketosis), take a glucose and ketone reading and calculate your index. Having data to know when you are feeling your best will increase your chances of being able to consistently reproduce this state of optimal performance.

Here is a infographic created by one of our beloved Heads Up users, Michael Alward, based on Optimal Ketogenic Living’s Raymund Edwards’ work with Dr. Thomas Seyfried:

Glucose Ketones Index

Glucose Ketones Index

Tracking the Glucose Ketone Index in Heads Up Health

In order to track the glucose ketone index, you will need to measure glucose and ketones at the same time. This means two drops of blood - one for glucose and one for ketones.

Create a new Glucose Ketone Index reading by entering both numbers into your Heads Up profile. For those who measure blood glucose in mg/dL, Heads Up Health will convert this number into mmol/L as part of the calculation.

Track the glucose ketone index in your Heads Up Health profile

Track the glucose ketone index in your Heads Up Health profile

Once you have stored your first readings, you can track the index on your dashboard along with all of your other health metrics:

Tracking the glucose index on your Heads Up dashboard

Tracking the glucose index on your Heads Up dashboard

Lastly, you can trend the index on the Analyzer and compare it to your other health metrics:

Trend your glucose ketone index over time and compare it to other health metrics.

Trend your glucose ketone index over time and compare it to other health metrics.

The following video shows exactly how to enter and track the index in your Heads Up profile:

Summary

If you are already tracking glucose and/or ketones or leveraging metabolic therapies such as fasting and ketogenic diets, the index can be helpful metric to track your progress. Heads Up Health can help you track this marker and compare it to your other health metrics. You can create your free account and start tracking this index today.

START TRACKING!

References and additional information:

[1] The glucose ketone index calculator: a simple tool to monitor therapeutic efficacy for metabolic management of brain cancer

[2] Raymund Edwards - Optimal Ketogenic Living

[3] The Quantified Body - Water Fasts as a Potential Tactic to Beat Cancer

[4] Thomas Seyfried, PhD -- Cancer as a Mitochondrial Metabolic Disease

[5] Boston College and Heads Up Health Partner to Help Patients Monitor Metabolic Health

Tracking Breath Ketones in Heads Up Health

Tracking Breath Ketones in Heads Up Health

For those who are looking to reap the benefits of a ketogenic diet, tracking breath ketone levels can be a very helpful part of the process. Breath ketones are a real-time indicator of your level of ketosis which is a big advantage compared to other testing methods that merely indicates traces of ketosis.

New devices on the market, such as the Ketonix make testing easy, affordable and pain free by testing the level of ketones in your breath. At Heads Up Health, we make it easy to record your breath ketones along with all of your other health data. If you are ready to start logging breath ketones now, create your free account using the link below. Or read on to learn more about tracking breath ketones with Heads Up Health.

Step 1: Order a breath ketone testing device

The first step is purchasing a breath ketone testing device. These devices offer an affordable and reliable alternative to blood and urine based ketone testing. Heads Up Health recommends the Ketonix breath ketone meter. You can learn more about this product by clicking on the link below.

Ketonix - Breath Ketone Analyzer

Step 2: Connect Ketonix to your Heads Up account

You can now electronically connect your Ketonix account to Heads Up Health to enable automatic data synchronization. See the video below for instructions and how to use Ketonix and Heads Up together:

Step 3: Customize breath ketones on your Dashboard

The Heads Up dashboard is completely customizable, so you can move the breath ketones card anywhere you want. For example, in the image below, I have my dashboard configured to display breath ketones in the top row, right next to my weight and blood glucose readings:

Configure location of the breath ketones widget on your Heads Up dashboard

Step 4: Explore trends and correlations on the Analyzer

You can use the Analyzer to track your breath ketone readings over time. You can also use the Analyzer to look for correlations between breath ketones and other data sources such as your weight, blood glucose or cholesterol levels:

Examining breath ketones over time and comparing to other data sources

Examining breath ketones over time and comparing to other data sources

Step 5: Hybrid strategy - tracking breath and blood ketones

Another option is to leverage the reusable breath ketone meter for frequent testing throughout the day/week with less frequent blood ketone readings as needed. This allows you to save money on the expensive blood test strips yet still obtain regular readings with the breath meter. Heads Up allows you to track both separately:

Tracking breath and blood ketones

Tracking breath and blood ketones together for a hybrid strategy

You can also compare both readings on the Analyzer to see how breath ketones correlate with blood ketones:

Comparing breath and blood ketone readings

Comparing breath and blood ketone readings

Voila! If you are ready to get started, click below to create your account and start logging breath ketones today. Feel free to send us any comments or questions, we are here to help!

START TRACKING!

Breath ketones - ketonix