Do you have to count calories on a keto diet? And why do some people need to do it while others don’t? Dr. Westman answers these questions as he covers keto and calorie counting in-depth and how to go about it.
How does the keto diet work?
Consuming fewer calories: In light of the research that has been done over the last 20 years, and specifically the last five years, we know now that the low-carb keto diet works because you eat fewer calories than you did before. It turns out that you burn about a hundred calories more per day on a low-carb diet than a low-fat diet, so there is in fact a metabolic advantage, but it’s pretty small.
Eating less: A low-carb/high-fat diet or keto diet will reduce your hunger, or rather ‘normalize’ your hunger so that your body starts burning fat. You’ll eat less and you’ll lose weight, however, if you’re eating as much fat as you’re burning calorie-wise, then you’re not going to access your fat storage and burn your body fat and lose weight.
When do you need to count calories on the keto diet?
- Taking medication
There may be other reasons why you’re not losing weight on keto and feel hungry all the time. “The most common reason that I see in a clinic are medications like antidepressants, insulin, steroids, prednisone, or steroid nasal sprays,” says Dr. Westman. These can all make you hungry, so there isn’t that automatic hunger reduction and calorie reduction that happens for most other people.
- Stress eating
Stress is another factor that can cause hunger, especially if your response to stress is emotional eating. If you don’t eat fewer calories than you’re burning, then you’re not going to access your body’s fat storage and lose weight, however stress eating does subside over time. “What I see typically is that the stress or therapeutic eating goes down rather quickly without me even discussing it because it’s another automatic benefit,” says Dr. Westman.
- Frequent social eating
When has there ever been a time in human history where you had such access to food? Social eating and the availability of food is something you may have to deal with forever in an environment that has such free and easy access to food. These factors could make weight loss on keto tricky.
- If you’re physically active
The metabolic rate can often be unpredictable. The more you exercise, the hungrier you’ll get and then you won’t be able to rely on your hunger as the guide for how much to eat. For some people – the more you exercise, the more your metabolic rate goes down meaning your weight loss on keto then slows down, so it’s just another factor that you have to figure out for your own body. Fortunately, most people don’t have to worry about that because you should experience an automatic hunger-reduction.
One reason why you may not be losing weight on keto
If you feel like you’ve lost weight, you’re losing inches and your clothes feel different, but the number on your scale isn’t changing, it’s important to remember that not all weight is ‘fat’ weight. A doctor can determine the difference between ‘fat’ weight and ‘water’ weight in a weight loss clinic.
Sometimes in the first month or two – the ‘fat’ weight loss on keto is actually happening but the ‘water’ weight remains high. This can also be the case if someone’s taking a water pill or a diuretic. So while the diet is working for fat reduction, you may still be experiencing a ‘water’ weight change.
Keto calorie counting
Excessive hunger will automatically go down once you’ve adapted to the keto diet. If you want to lose more ‘fat’ weight and it’s not working – you may have to count the calories. If you’re eating 10 or 20 different foods, figure out what the calories are, and how much you’re eating, then simply reduce it. With the availability of information, it’s just so easy, simply do a quick search online for a calorie counter app that calculates it for you, and you can write it out to keep track.
Watch your calorie intake
For some – hunger caused by exercise and a few other factors may cause you to have to start counting calories on the keto diet, but it’s important to be wise with your intake of cream, cheese, and mayonnaise, these foods are very high in calories and should be limited if you want to achieve weight loss on keto.