Do You Still Have To Count Calories On The Keto Diet?

If you're on the keto diet in order to lose some weight, counting calories as well as carbohydrates, fat, and protein grams may still be important. While there are no caloric rules for someone following the ketogenic diet, it's easy to end up with a calorie surplus at the end of the day, especially if you're fond of keto treats that mimic your favorite carbohydrate-heavy dishes. And that caloric surplus, regardless of your macronutrient balance, could cause you to actually gain weight while on the keto diet.

There are many less-than-healthy keto-friendly foods that are extremely calorically dense — like peanut butter or other nuts and seeds — that can easily add thousands of calories to your daily total even if you eat the appropriate number of grams of carbohydrates (via Healthline). 

And while some researchers believe that the keto diet can boost your metabolism to burn more calories in a day, as long as you're eating more than you burn, you're going to keep gaining weight. The increased burn is also only around 250 calories in some studies, but other studies argue that the difference in metabolic rate is negligible (via Livestrong).

Can you naturally eat the right amount of calories on a keto diet?

It is possible to stay well within the recommended calorie ranges while eating a keto diet, though. Keto-friendly foods aren't all calorically dense: As long as your version of the keto diet is also high in low-carbohydrate-containing vegetables and plenty of protein, the high-fat, low-carb diet should leave you feeling full without over-consuming calories, according to registered dietitian Franziska Spritzler. 

However, if you've chosen to try the keto diet for a reason other than weight loss, or if you're losing weight at the appropriate rate (aiming for no more than one to two pounds per week), then you may be able to skip counting calories. There isn't a need to do so, as long as you're keeping track of your macronutrient intake and are feeling fine. But if you're losing too much weight or not enough weight, it may be time to check in to make sure that you're eating the right foods — and the right amount of food — for optimal metabolic function.