Do Calories Matter on Keto?

In Fitness, Health, Holistic, Ketogenic, Ketosis, Lifestyle, Nutrition by Marja

If you have ever been on a diet (like me) you are well aware of how much it SUCKS. 

The old school way of losing weight, exercising more and eating less. You slowly start to cut back on your calories (especially the fat) because we have all been told “fat makes us fat” (urgh)  and  then you throw in double workouts at the gym.

This methods seems to work great at the beginning…

But overtime you start to feel exhausted, burnt out and HANGRY all the time. I Like to refer to this as raging bitch syndrome.

I know when I ate a low fat diet I completely messed up my hormones. I had bad skin, low energy and just a bad relationship with food and myself.

I would feel SO hungry that when I got into the kitchen, I would want to eat everything and anything, including the kitchen sink. And I DID (well not the kitchen sink).

When people (like me) finally decide they want to get off the dieting train and attempt keto, I often get asked the question…

“DO CALORIES MATTER ON KETO???”

My Answer is: It depends on the calories

Finding your own individual baseline for calories is going to be VERY different for each person. This is not a constant number, it changes over time.

  • Activity level
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Past “dieting habits”
  • Medical conditions

All play a role in each persons metabolic adaptation. We are all SO different.

We can get SO caught up in the numbers game, calories in vs. calories out that we grab that processed protein bar because it is “low calorie,” or it fits my “macros,” for the day. If that is currently your thought process it’s TIME TO SHIFT IT.

When we focus only on Calories, we don’t pay attention to…

N U T R I E N T S
& how this affects our
H O R M O N E S

Calories from a protein bar with artificial sweetness are going to be a lot different than calories from an avocado.

Although they may contain close to the same amount of calories your hormones, metabolism and hunger will be affected VERY differently.

Low caloric intake may work well for short term goals, but coupled with poor quality nutrition, can create the perfect storm for DISASTER (metabolic damage) and additional weight gain.

There tends to be 2 different camps when it comes to weight loss on a ketogenic diet.

Camp 1: Calories do matter. You must be in a deficit to lose weight and change body composition.

Camp 2: Weight loss is simply a hormonal response and calories do not really matter.

I am NOT 100% camp number 1 or camp number 2. I see importance in both.

I believe weight loss is largely based on a hormonal response opposed to strictly calories in and calories out.

But when you go keto, I don’t believe you should EAT ALL THE FOOD without thinking about it.

If your metabolism is “damaged” from yo-yo dieting or discorded eating and you start eating loads of fat without thinking about it, you most likely will put on weight. You still need to be mindful of what you are consuming.

But the beautiful thing about eating a high fat diet is, we start to balance out our hormones. Cholesterol (fat) is the precursor for all of our sex hormones, so more fat in the diet tends to mean better hormonal health.

We can regulate our blood sugar and improve our hormonal health by increasing  fat in the diet, reducing the amount of carbs we ingest and improving our food quality (organic, grass-fed, gmo free).

Below are 5 examples of how making a few modification in the diet can support our hormones:

1. How can we regulate our blood sugar (insulin)?

*Lower carbohydrate intake

2. How can we manage our stress hormone (Cortisol)?

*Improve food quality, reduce carb intake, add herbal supplementation

3. How can we support our sex hormones (Testosterone, Estrogen)?

 *Increase good quality fats (remove soy) look at nutrient deficiencies 

4. How can we regulate our hunger hormones (Leptin Ghrelin)?

*Increase good quality fats, reduce carbs, look at food quality

Even if someone is not adhering to a ketogenic diet, I strongly believe reducing the amount of carbs and sugar ingested daily will help improve current health and promote lasting health

Remember calories do matter to some degree…(we are all different).

While your friend Sally may be able to crush 3500 calories a day and remain lean, while your friend Bob is eating 1,500 a day and having a hard time losing weight. Again we need to look at where the calories are coming from and how they are effecting our HORMONES

Don’t get caught up in the numbers game, look at the how these particular foods are NOURISHING your body, mind and spirit!

Remember this is lifestyle change not something we need to crazzzzy about!

The take away here is:

  1. Focus on food quality above anything else
  2. Remeber everyone metabolic rate is different
  3. Manage your stress – make more “me time” have these non negotiable
  4. Reduce your carb and sugar intake (your already sweet enough!)
  5. Move your body – find a type of physical activity or exercise you TRULY enjoy!