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Do I Need to Count Calories on the Keto Diet?

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  • Do I Need to Count Calories on the Keto Diet?

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    In this article, we look at how the microbiota, the way food is prepared and even sliced affects calories, why the calorie theory doesn't work, and if there is a way to calculate calories on the ketogenic diet.

    Keto adherents often repeat: "Eat when you are hungry until you feel full".


    The keto diet gives you freedom - from food stalls, from endless snacks, from the need to think about where and when you can get food next time.


    But in our keto community, there is no agreement on everything. How to count calories on keto and whether it is necessary to do it at all is a question that arises very often. My position: no, you don't need to count calories, it's pointless.

    The same product - whole, chopped, or pureed - will have different calories.






    There is no exact way to calculate the calorie content of food


    Does your phone application take into account the calorie content of a tomato? Ok, then did the tomato grow on the ground in the sun or on the ground in a greenhouse? Matured in the wild or in a box while driving in a wagon? Cooked or Raw? Cold or hot? Ground or whole?


    All of this will affect the calorie content, but neither the label nor the calorie counter will be able to take this into account.


    Counting calories to a number is absolutely not a real task, because the number of calories depends on many factors. For example, the number of calories in cold and hot food is different. Much depends on how the dish is prepared, for example, whether it has been ground.

    In one Japanese study, rodents were given a low-calorie meal of the same calorie content. But one group received whole grains, and the other - something like beaten porridge. After 8 weeks, the rats on porridge have significantly increased weight.






    There is no exact way to calculate your calorie needs

    The Calorie Calculator calculates the need for calories using special formulas. Enter your height, current weight and desired weight, activity level, etc., and get the magic figure in your hands - “the average daily calorie intake”. And now it is proposed to take away 10-20 percent from it to create a calorie deficit and lose weight.

    Even if you were a car, your need for gasoline could be very roughly calculated. And even then, a lot would depend on the quality of the poured fuel, traffic jams, the number of brakes, stops.


    For a person, the input parameters that affect how much energy is spent are orders of magnitude greater. For example, not a single miracle formula takes into account the composition of your intestinal microbiota.


    Some people have more firmicut bacteria, and there are people who have more bacteroids. Fermikut owners tend to gain weight and metabolize carbohydrates and fat less efficiently. Or, for example. Your apps are activity-based.

    The higher it is, the “more calories you burn”.

    However, some studies show that on calorie-restricted diets, more than 1 hour of aerobic exercise per day reduces (!) your metabolic rate by 15%.

    Can some kind of calorie counter measure the stress level in your life? Stress level from choosing a restrictive diet? Meanwhile, this is also "considered". Here is one of the many studies on a metabolic slowdown in stress, published in Biological Psychiatry.

    Modification of the FTO gene alone can affect your ability to spend calories - by a difference of 160 kcal.


    Lack of sleep reduces metabolism by 5-20%.


    Those lucky ones who have a lot of brown fat spend 400 kcal more in the cold than others, and 120 if they eat something with capsaicin (found in hot peppers).

    The error on different days of the menstrual cycle is 150 kcal.

    And so you can go on about endlessly. Is it necessary?

    Activity, mood, and day of the cycle can alter your daily calorie needs






    Calorie theory is not supported by practice

    And it would be fine, for example, there was a way to introduce a million parameters but the problem is that calorie theory doesn't work at all.

    Restricting calories in some strategies can lead to weight loss but does not guarantee it. In the American Paradox study (conducted from 1980 to 1990), people were reduced in calories by 4%, in fat by 11%, the percentage of low-fat foods was increased in 10 years from 19 to 76. The percentage of obesity increased.

    The data do not fit the theory of calories. There is a similar French study SU.VI.MAX. Obviously, calories are not associated with overweight.

    The idea that calories enter the body and "burn" there was first voiced by the Prussian chemist Justus von Liebig. In the 1830s, he was tasked with putting together a balanced and (preferably) inexpensive ration for the soldiers.

    He likened the stomach to the stove of a calorimeter: he put the potatoes in, burned them, counted the energy released, and received calories. You will be surprised, but your stomach, and indeed the whole body, is somewhat more complicated.

    For a long time, the theory was not in general use. Until in the middle of the last century, anti-fat dogma began to gain momentum.


    In the United States, obesity has been seen in fats, especially animal fats. However, despite a low-fat diet, citizens continued to gain weight and die of heart attacks.


    And then they thought of tightening up the theory of calorie content. You just have to spend more than you have.

    Atkins challenged this theory back in the 1970s and began treating patients with bacon, butter, and eggs. But one in the field is not a warrior, and we continue to believe: we need to count calories, reduce them, and move more.

    By the way, Big Soda companies - PepsiCo and Coca-Cola - like to sponsor research that confirms this.

    In fact, it is not how much you eat that matters, but what exactly you eat and how the body hormonally reacts to this food.

    Yes, the first law of thermodynamics (the law of conservation of energy for thermal processes), on which the theory of calorie content is based, certainly works for the human body. But you shouldn't understand it straightforwardly.

    Canadian nephrologist Jason Fung, author of the bestselling "The Obesity Code," a leading evangelist for intermittent fasting explains that the root cause and most important part of calorie theory is not "the Calories In", but "Calories Out" AND INSULIN.

    Whether we burn calories for energy or store them in fat is controlled by hormones. The fat can be stored or wasted. Who makes this decision?


    The main responsibility is on insulin. We eat - it rises. Insulin is released in different amounts for different foods.


    Some calories (white bread) raise it a lot, others (butter) don't. And that should be the first key to understanding that calories are not the main factor in weight gain/loss.

    Let's say you eat 2200 kcal and spend 2200 kcal. You are full, satisfied, and keep your weight. You decide to reduce your calorie intake to 1400 calories, but you don't worry about insulin.

    Since the body needs 2200 kcal, and you cannot take them either from food or from fat stores (insulin does not provide), your base metabolism is reduced to 1400 kcal.

    You do not lose weight, at the same time the body turns off something "unnecessary" to save about 800 kcal.

    The body doesn't have a calorie counter inside. It doesn't know how many calories the app has counted for you. It has a completely different logic.

    Calories, proteins, fats, carbs on the ketogenic diet

    Our body is not a calorimeter, it does not “burn” calories, but reacts to them hormonally.






    Numbers are nerves

    So what, there's not a word of truth in the calorie theory? Not really. If you openly overeat, constantly keep your insulin high through frequent snacks and carbohydrate foods, you will gain weight. However, reducing calories alone will not work at all.


    But the beauty of the keto diet is that on it, people naturally begin to eat not so often and ... less. And without provoking frequent and sharp rises in insulin.


    People don't want to eat fractionally on keto. Therefore, stimulation of the pancreas occurs 1, maximum 2-3 times a day. Plus, in the absence of frequent peaks of insulin and "sugar swings", as on fractional nutrition, there is no constant feeling of hunger and "eating up" carbohydrates.

    This makes the fat burning process more frequent and more efficient.

    In my observation, people on the keto diet are more likely to miss out on calories than they need to exceed the required amount. Some are still afraid of fat and therefore limit themselves, while others combine keto with a low-calorie diet.

    Well, the body, which does not receive the required amount of energy, reduces the basic metabolism, and does not give up reserves.

    Most of those who switch to the keto diet from the world of dieting continue to count calories rather than follow their hunger. They trust the app more than they trust themselves.

    They are malnourished if the number on the screen is too large. They arrange an extra meal for themselves because they “haven’t got enough calories”, although they feel normal.

    They get very nervous and won't order anything at a restaurant until they check the calorie table.

    Eat when you are hungry until you feel full.

    Stop counting calories and eat on a schedule. Trust your hunger. Trust your body.

    Healthy eating is not only food that you put in yourself, but it is also an attitude towards it. And it's an unhealthy relationship if every meal turns into a math lesson.

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