Lazy, dirty, clean - there are so many kinds of keto, how do you know what’s right for you? If you’re wondering “Do I need to count calories on keto?”
We’re going to help you figure it all out. The truth is that there is no such thing as one size fits all. Calorie needs vary greatly from person to person.
For most people who are genuinely fat-adapted, calorie counting isn’t a necessity. When you eat a low-carb high-fat diet, you naturally enter a state of ketosis. Side effects of ketosis are not feeling hungry or overeating.
If you’re new to keto or looking to lose weight, however, you may wish to review your calories as an objective way to streamline your weight loss.
This doesn’t mean you need to go crazy and chop down your calories, but it does mean you need to understand what your daily calorie needs are and how many you specifically need to lose weight, on a keto diet.
The excellent news, this is usually far more calories per day than anyone guesses. This is due in part to the rules previously practiced by low-carb diets, who pushed an all or nothing approach.
On a keto diet, you're encouraged to eat more of the foods you love. You may be surprised to learn your body needs, and wants more calories per day. And most of all, you can eat all of these foods and still lose weight.
How? The secret is all in ketosis and how quickly you become fat-adapted. So, if you want to eat more fat and burn more fat, keep reading.
How Ketosis Weight Loss Occurs
To decide how many calories you need, first understand that on keto, your body isn’t running on carbs. All other diets use glucose and carbs for energy.
On keto, you’re running on ketones. It’s unfair to compare apples to oranges, don’t you think?
Ketones, also known as “ketone bodies,” are byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low.
To achieve ketosis, a fat-burning state, you must lower your carbs to fewer than 20 net grams carbs per day. In this instance, carbs are far more potent than calories.
Whether you eat 1000 calories per day or 10,000, you cannot get into ketosis if you’re eating carbs.
It’s only after you get into ketosis, and become fat-adapted, you should start to transition to fewer calories. Getting into ketosis requires your body to change its metabolism to that of a fat burner, which is not an easy feat.
When going into ketosis, it’s never advisable to reduce calories. If anything, you want to eat even more so that you can overcome the hunger you may feel when transitioning.
When this change is happening, your body is unable to find it’s regular fuel source, and so it will send out hunger signals to make you eat more carbs. As you won’t eat more carbs, you will need to make fat more accessible.
This is when you will hear people talking about eating fat bombs - these are low carb moderate protein and high-fat treats you can use to squash sugar cravings and get more energy.
Once you are adapted, which takes about 4-5 weeks of being in ketosis, you can then begin to taper off calories and start to lose weight. The cool thing is in ketosis; you will already likely be losing weight, you’ll just be increasing the weight loss rate in a few weeks time.
Calories In vs. Calories Out
It’s time to look at the old calories in calories out equation. As you may know, to lose weight, in ketosis or not, you have to eat fewer calories than you use for energy.
But how do you know how many calories you use each day and is it different for some people?
To answer your questions, you can use a calorie calculator, or a keto calculator, to determine your exact macros. These vary depending on your age, sex, height, weight, and activity level and differ from person to person.
Once you know how many calories your body needs to function every day, you can deduct 5-20% of your daily calories from this total to view your weight loss range.
5% will enable you to lose about a half pound a week, and 20% is the fastest weight loss of 2 pounds a week. It is not advisable to increase this percent for a few reasons.
First, losing weight too quickly can be a real problem on the keto diet and may leave you feeling and looking weak and gaunt.
Secondly, once you start to near your goal weight, you will have no calories to work with; you can only reduce them so much before you run out.
What happens in 10, 30 or 50 pounds time when you still have weight to lose?
You will have a big problem on your hands. Instead, believe that people transform their lives with unbelievable results at 2 pounds a week - that’s over 100 pounds a year!
And best of all, you can continue to eat the foods you love and have fun.
You should update your macros for every 10-15 pounds of fat loss to ensure you’re still in the optimal fat burning zone.
Here is a very simplified overview:
- Weight loss on a high carb diet: calories determine the fat loss.
- Weight loss on a regular carb diet: calories determine the fat loss.
- Weight loss on a ketogenic diet: calories determine the fat loss.
- Weight gain on a high carb diet: calories determine the fat gain.
- Weight gain on a regular carb diet: calories determine the fat gain.
- Weight gain on a ketogenic diet: there’s no scientific data.
Calorie counting should only be used as a tool in your ketogenic toolkit.
Now that you know how to discover your calorie goals, work out your calories, and maintain them, the question remains, “Do I need to count calories on a keto diet?"
The good news is the answer varies. Let’s find out what is best for you.
Should You Count Calories on Keto?
Here we are; the moment you’ve been waiting for… should you count calories on keto. If you want to count calories, we say go for it, if you don’t - you don’t have to.
This eating plan allows your body to fall into balance and regulate itself, making calorie counting redundant.
However, for this to be accurate, you have to generally eat a clean keto diet and be in tune with your body. It’s hard to overeat broccoli and cabbage or gain weight, although it can happen!
If you have these symptoms you may have been kicked out of ketosis:
- Sugar cravings
- Mood swings
If you have these symptoms, it’s a good indication you’re not yet fat-adapted.
Just follow our guide on how to get into ketosis and follow the program for 4-5 weeks.
Once you are fat-adapted, you can begin to eat without tracking calories and see what your body does as you go.
For newcomers, people who want more targeted results, and active people, we recommend using a macro calculator to give you percentages of what you should be eating.
Quality of foods matter more on keto than calories and having a guideline can’t hurt either. For a faster way to get into ketosis and lose sugar cravings, check out Keto Activate.