The keto hashtag appears in over 21 million Instagram posts as health fans continue to embrace this effective diet. Naturally, there is an assumption that the keto diet has nothing to do with calorie counting at all because the focus is on achieving ketosis.
Whilst it is certainly true that the type of food you eat is more important than the numerical data on the packet, there is something to be said for keeping at least one eye on calories, especially if you’re not getting the results you would like on keto.
Is Calorie Counting Behind Me On Keto?
Keto can cause you to lose anywhere from 1-10 pounds in the first week, and then often slows down after that as your body efficiently burns fat. This is all done by limiting your carbs to less than 50 grams a day (in some cases as low as 20g) and fuelling your body with fat instead. This process will push your body into a process known as ketosis, whereby your body begins using fat as its primary fuel source, rather than carbohydrates.
Calories become less of a factor when doing Keto, simply because you can expect to be consuming much better, more filling foods when focusing on fats as a primary fuel source. Keeping less of a close eye on calories, may result in us filling more full up for longer and not desiring to eat as much or as often as usual.
However, mistakes can still be made.
Remember, the “calories in calories out” approach, has many times failed to produce successful weight loss outcomes. One of the big reasons for this, is the fact that people are pretty bad at quantifying how much they eat, even when using the best phone apps available. They simply eat too much!
So it's important to recognise, that even on Keto we can make the same mistakes a counting calories approach can have. We simply eat the wrong things and eat too much.
The fact of the matter is that whilst Keto is more successful for some people in comparison to other diets, it's important to recognise that the reason it does works so well for so many is a combination of feeling full from specific veggies, protein and fat whilst also avoiding the common blood sugar swings associated with a high carb diet. Let’s be honest, keto diets also taste delicious so of course most of us are happier eating this way long-term.
So should you count calories on Keto?
Initially, counting the number of calories you’re consuming whilst doing Keto is a good idea. It will give you an idea of how much you are eating and help you avoid overeating in the early stages of your plan. The foods we eat on Keto are usually much more calorie dense and so it would be easy to over consume calories when you first start, something that would prove counter productive early on.
It is possible to over eat fat and protein dense foods when on Keto! Especially foods like cheese or butter (a big weakness for many), the calories can really rack up when picking at these type of foods, so it is important to watch yourself and track how much you are consuming.
Moving past Calorie Counting
As time moves on and your body begins to become much more Keto and fat-as-fuel adapted, you should expect to feel much fuller and less hungry throughout the day. This should allow you to take it easier when it comes to watching the calories and allow keto to really work it's magic.
It is this full feeling from the good foods you are eating that will begin to see your lifestyle lean towards other proven methods that compliment Keto, such as fasting and time restricted eating. Keto will allow you to focus on quality over quantity and allow you to see results without having to keep punching numbers into your phone app all day long.
Watching Calories if Keto isn't working for you
If you are losing weight at a steady pace on keto there isn’t any need to do anything else as your eating style is working for you. If you are struggling with a weight loss plateau on keto and you’re eating the correct ratios of different food types, calorie counting is a really easy tool to use to tweak your eating habits further.
You never know, it could be that Keto snack or certain type of food you are slightly over snacking on that is causing you to fall off track. Think about all the foods you eat in a day and maybe identify the ones you know are causing you that plateau. Try replacing them with something more fresh and natural - salads and lean meats maybe.
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To achieve weight loss with keto you need to reduce hunger and cravings to avoid overeating. Keto is fantastic for that because fat keeps you fuller for longer. The second thing you need to do is decrease the calories you are eating so that your body has the chance to start noshing on your body's fat stores.
If you consume more calories than your body requires, those calories get stored as fat, stalling your weight loss. Even if you are actually in ketosis this will happen. All you need to do to make this work is start tracking the calories of what you are consuming for a week or two.
It may soon become apparent that certain portion sizes are too big, or certain items are so calorie high they need switching out. The good news is that it is so easy to make these changes, and you can probably stop calorie counting once you’ve streamlined your eating habits and weight loss continues as expected.
The best free calorie counting apps to use are:
- Live strong.com Calorie Tracker Lite
- MyNetDiary Food & Calorie Tracker
If you have a fitness device like a watch, there may also be an app that comes with it that you can use for calorie counting.
Add Calorie Counting To Your Keto Toolkit For Weight Loss Success
You can leave calorie counting behind when you do keto, but it’s still a good tool to keep in your kit should you find the weight loss starts to slow down. With a few adjustments to your calories in vs calories out, you’ll be back on track in no time, burning fat and dropping pounds for phenomenal weight loss success.
Keep your Keto snack draw full for those moments when your your calories need a top up!