Can You Do Keto Without Counting Calories?


In this article, I will share with you methods you can use to do keto without counting calories. Can you do keto without counting calories?

You can do keto without counting calories because counting calories is just one of many external cues we use to track the amount of food we consume. Other measuring methods include measuring portion size, intermittent fasting, intuitive eating, and mindful eating.

I will explain to you all of those methods so by the end you will have a better understanding of how to do keto without counting calories.

Is The Keto Diet Better Than Calorie Restriction?

Keto diet isn’t better than calorie restriction because calorie restriction is the reason why keto works in the first place. Calorie restriction creates a calorie deficit which drives weight loss. So the keto diet works because of calorie restriction, not because of the food types you eat.

Think of a calorie restriction as to the road.

Keto is the vehicle. You can choose many different vehicles (keto, plant-based, carnivore, paleo, intermittent fasting, one meal a day, etc.) but the road is gonna be the same for everyone.

None of the diets offer a short-cut.

But they all have to go down the same road. There is no other way to get to where you wanna go.

Calorie restriction is the main way to create a calorie deficit, regardless of the diet (source). And only on a calorie deficit, you can reduce excess weight.

Does Keto Work Without Counting Calories?

Keto does work without counting calories because you don’t need to count calories to eat less. During keto, the body uses more energy than it consumes and creates weight loss by a calorie deficit. Keto works because of the calorie deficit and can be done without calorie counting.

Counting calories is just one of many ways we know how much food we eat.

But many people take it into the extreme and let those numbers dictate how much food they should eat.

Related article: Should I Count Calories From Vegetables?

Big mistake.

Because after you spend some time with the calorie charts, you quickly start to qualify foods as “good” or “bad” based on their calorie numbers. You will get to the point where you’re wondering should I count calories from olive oil.

Which can lead to unnecessary stress.

Because now is not only about how many calories you’ve eaten but also what foods you “can” eat.

This creates this tension and cravings for the foods you like, but you believe you cannot have them cause they are “high” in calories.

And the more you restrain yourself from those foods, the more stress you have (source).

How To Do Keto Without Counting Calories?

The easiest way to do keto without worrying about counting calories is by doing intermittent fasting, intuitive eating, or the combinations of both.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting will help you eat less food in general, which means you don’t need to stress about counting and measuring your food on a daily basis.

There are multiple ways to do intermittent fasting. You can do short period of fasting on a daily basis where you eat for a certain time followed by a fasting window.

You can also have more intense and less regular fasts where you don’t eat anything for 24-36 hours once to twice per week.

Related article: Should I Weigh A Banana With Or Without Peel?

Both ways work.

Regardless of which one you choose, the moment you fast (not eating) for an extended period of time, you will get more comfortable with the hunger feelings.

And the more you get familiar with hunger, you realize that hunger is not an emergency.

And over time, you will automaticaly eat less food.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is about listening to your body signals and trusting your body to guide you when is a time to eat, and when it’s time to stop eating (source).

This is one of the most effective and grounding methods that can restore your relationship with food, however, it has to be practiced.

For a full guide on how to practice intuitive eating check out my article 7 Steps On How To Stop Counting Calories.

What Happens When You Overeat On Keto?

When you overeat on keto your body will store all the excess calories in the form of fat. One day of overeating on keto won’t create a significant difference to notice visible changes. If you overeat for multiple days or even weeks, the changes can add up and create weight gain.

In other words, nothing is gonna happen after one day of track.

But if you finding yourself that you overeat day after day.

And despite having a meal, you constantly reach out for food to your fridge or pantry, stop and ask yourself, are you really hungry, or there is something else going on?

I like to look at it from a perspective of a car. Imagine you have a car with two engines.

One engine is fueled by food. Other is fueled by emotions.

And the only way to feed both engines is by the appropriate fuel. This means it will take a lot of food to mute or silence emotional hunger.

Related article: Should I Count Calories On Vacation?

What Happens If You Eat Too Much Fat On Keto?

If you eat too much fat on keto your body will breakdown, digest, and absorb all of the nutrients. Any excess calories will be stored as adipose tissue. One gram of fat delivers around 9 calories, therefore, it is much easier to overeat fat because fat is a more energy-dense nutrient.

Also, remember that fat is the easiest nutrient to break down. It also stimulates your palatability and taste buds. Which triggers appetite.

So the more fat you have in your meal, the more appettie you will develop to eat more.

One trick to consume less, but have more satiety, try to consume a spoonful of coconut oil. Coconut oil has a 60-70% of medium-chain fatty acids that are broken down directly in the liver, and provide energy.

This means they won’t be stored in the adipose tissue. As long as you only have a spoonful, of course.

To learn more about coconut oil check out my article Can I Eat Coconut Oil On An Empty Stomach?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Eat Too Much Fat On Keto?

You can eat too much fat on keto but it will cause you to gain weight. Fat is the most energy-dense and easily digestible nutrient. High energy-dense foods deliver more calories per gram of food. Therefore, eating too much fat on keto will cause you to gain weight.

Is It Better To Count Calories Or Do Keto?

For people who work with numbers and are comfortable with calculations, it is better to count calories rather than keto because numbers make sense to them. For people who are not comfortable with daily rules and measurements, keto is better than counting calories.

Do Calorie Restrictions Cause Ketosis?

Calorie restrictions can cause ketosis if it’s done for a prolonged period of time. Ketosis occurs in the body when glucose is not available for at least 8-12 hours since your last meal. After 8-12 hours body starts to switch from glycolysis into gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis.

In Conclusion

You can do any diet, including keto without counting calories because calorie counting is only one of the ways to know how much food we eat.

There is nothing wrong with knowing how many calories there are in the food, however.

Once that becomes your compass to choosing the foods based on their calorie numbers, in the long term this will create a lot of friction, stress and obviously can lead to unwanted binge behaviors.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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