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The keto diet has been popular of late because of its effectiveness for weight loss.
To achieve the transformation you want, you need to eat a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet to induce ketosis.
This has sparked many people’s interest because much of dieting is focused merely on counting calories. It is common knowledge that you should eat fewer calories if you want to lose weight.
But with the ketogenic diet, you are more focused on your fat, protein, and carb intake ratios rather than total calories.
So, does keto have a calorie limit?
Can you eat as much as you want and still lose weight?
Learn why not all calories are created equal and why keto focuses more on your macro intake!
Calories are a unit of measurement for the energy content of foods and beverages.
A dietary calorie is the amount of energy required so you can raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Simply put, to perform different tasks and make involuntary movements like blood circulation, you need calories.
This involuntary process with the support of calories is referred to as your basal metabolic rate or BMR.
Excessive calories will be stored as fat, resulting in weight gain over time.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. This basic formula for weight management is one application:
Weight gain = energy (calories) in – energy (calories) out.
How Many Calories in Macronutrients?
Each macronutrient provides a certain number of calories.
Carbs have 4 calories per gram, protein provides 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram.
Fat provides more than twice as many calories as carbs, but the latter can be more satiating.
But the most filling of all is protein, although it’s usually used for cell repair and muscle maintenance instead of as an energy source.
Not All Calories are Created Equally
As you can see, not all calories are created equally.
Many people, especially those on the keto diet, think that calories don’t count. This is only partly true.
Calories do count, but they are not everything. Eating more calories than you burn will result in weight gain.
It’s a simple fact that means you should count and limit your calorie intake to maintain your weight and avoid gaining it.
However, not all calories are created equally. The type of food or drink you consume has a different effect on the energy you burn.
Regulating your weight is more just calories in vs. calories out.
For example, it takes more energy to process and store protein than it does carbs or fat.
Another reason why calories are not everything is that hormonal changes are sometimes associated with different types of food.
High-carb meals can cause more release of insulin, and therefore more fat storage.
Research also suggests that low-carb diets trigger hormones that lead to a natural reduction in calorie intake by influencing your appetite.
Food reward regions in the brain designed our dependence on processed foods and refined starches.
But you can reverse it with acute bouts of aerobic exercise.
So, there you have it. You finally understand that even the psychology of eating affects weight loss.
In one study, overweight people ate bagel and eggs for breakfast. Even though each meal has the same number of calories, the group with eggs stayed fuller and ate fewer calories at lunch.
Another study shows that low-carb diets outperform low fat, calorie-restricted for weight loss.
Weight loss generally occurs when you burn more calories than you eat. Caloric intake is important, but the macronutrients in these calories have a varying impact on your body.
Where your calories are coming from is just as important as how much you are eating.
The keto diet typically reduces total carb intake to less than 50g a day.
A good starting ratio for keto suggests that 70%-80% of your calories should come from fat, 5% to 10% from carbs, and the rest from protein.
Your focus should be on consuming good quality whole foods that have plenty of nutritional value.
Does Keto Have a Calorie Limit?
There is no specific calorie limit agreed upon by keto experts. But like with any other weight loss efforts, you want to consume fewer calories than you burn.
The keto diet is more focused on lowering your carb intake. According to the studies, carbs have a bigger impact on weight gain due to hormonal regulation.
As a low-carb, high-fat diet, keto promotes limiting your carb intake and consuming more fats to switch your metabolism into burning fat instead of glucose for energy.
Calculating your macro ratios is recommended before you start the keto diet. This includes working out your specific caloric intake and your carb, fat, and protein ratios.
This will make your high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet more specific and personalized to maximize your success.
But be careful as too much fat consumption can kick you out of ketosis.
Many versions of keto ban all carb-rich foods like starches and whole grains. These include:
- processed foods
- fruit juices.
Effectiveness of Keto for Weight Loss
The macronutrient composition of calories is vital, so why does keto promote a high-fat diet for weight loss?
It’s designed to get your body into a fat burning metabolism, so it uses ketones for energy instead of carbs.
One study found that people on a low-carb diet lost more weight than people on a low-fat diet over the same amount of time. They also tend to keep it off for longer as well.
FAQ Keto Diet and Ketosis
How Do I Count My Macros on Keto?
Macros, or macronutrients, are the caloric compositions of your foods and drinks.
We just mentioned why counting calories is not everything, so you should also calculate your macro intake on keto.
Find out what percentage of your calories should come from carbs, protein, and fat to help you get into ketosis and burn more fat.
Your specific ration will depend on your weight, age, sex, keto goals, activity levels, and more, so make sure to calculate your personal macros.
Check out how to compute your macros on keto now!
How Do I Know I’m in Ketosis?
One easy way to know if you’re in ketosis is if you’re experiencing any keto flu symptoms. However, the symptoms are different for everyone. Some don’t even experience any at all.
To get a more specific answer, try testing your ketone levels. This can be done via blood, urine, or breath tests.
Find out the best ketone level testing method.
What Kinds of Fat Should I Eat on Keto?
Just because keto is high fat doesn’t mean all fat sources are acceptable to eat.
Always eat fat sources that offer other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. For example, instead of margarine and cooking oil, try butter and MCT oil instead.
You also want to choose avocadoes, cheese, and red meat over fast food, processed foods, and other unhealthy fat sources that cause heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
The key is to understand the difference between good fats and bad fats!
How Many Carbs Will Kick You Out of Ketosis?
That depends on you.
Some need to keep their carb intake as low as 20g per day, while others can have around 50g. But in general, the standard ketogenic diet shouldn’t go beyond 50g of total carbs per day.
Otherwise, your body will use glycogen for energy instead of fats and you won’t be able to lose weight.
How Much Protein Should I Eat on Keto?
Many people tend to take protein for granted on keto. What “moderate protein” means can be confusing.
Too little can cause weaker muscles, while too much can knock you out of ketosis.
As with other macros, the amount of protein you should eat or drink on keto depends on each person, but there is a formula for that.
The amount of protein to eat on keto is between 0.6g and 1g per pound of lean body mass.
We have a guide on protein consumption for keto which you can check out.
So, Should You Count Calories on Keto?
You can, but you don’t have to! What you should count on the keto diet is your macronutrient intake instead.
This means the keto diet is more about the type of calories you eat and drink rather than the amount.
While counting calories is helpful for people who are not getting results, counting macros before kick starting the ketogenic diet will be more effective.
Be mindful of the foods and drinks you consume on keto, especially your carb sources. Learn about all the different foods and drinks that can kick you out of ketosis.