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How Many Calories on Keto Simple Formula

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

How many calories should you have on a keto diet? In this article, I'm going to talk about some of the dos and don'ts when it comes to your calorie intake and keto. I'm also going to clear up some of the most common misconceptions about calorie counting. If you are struggling to lose weight even while on a keto diet, then you're in the right place!

In this article, I will cover:

Woman counting calories with smartphone app while surrounded by healthy keto foods


What is Keto?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. By increasing your fat intake and cutting back on carbs, you put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is where your body switches from using glucose (sugar) as your primary energy source to using ketones (fat). Ketones are actually your body's preferred source of energy.

When you go into ketosis, a number of things happen. You start burning fat and losing weight. This is why the keto diet is incredible for weight loss. You also reduce blood glucose and Fat Storing Hormone spikes. When your Fat Storing Hormone levels stabilize, you can start to repair Fat Storing Hormone resistance and type II diabetes. When Fat Storing Hormone spikes happen, it's impossible to lose weight.


Why the Traditional Calorie Counting Method is Flawed

Let's talk about the traditional calorie counting weight loss method. To put things in perspective, take a look at how much fat a person is carrying around. A 140 lb woman who is fit will have about 23% body fat (32.3 lbs of fat), which comes out to 113,050 calories worth of fat. While a woman who is 140 lbs but obese might have 39% body fat (54.6 lbs of fat), which equals 191,000 calories worth of fat. A 170 lb man who is fit will have around 16% body fat (27.2 lbs of fat), which is 95,200 calories worth of fat. A 170 lb obese man may have around 27% body fat (45.9 lbs of fat), which is worth about 160,500 calories.

Every pound of fat is 3,500 calories. Let's say the base metabolic rate (BMR) is 2,000 calories per day—this is the number of calories you will burn at rest (without any physical exertion). To lose one pound have to cut your calories by 500 a day (500 x 7 = 3,500).

The problem is, the calories-in, calories-out approach doesn't work. In theory, it seems that you should lose weight when you cut back on your calorie intake. However, not all calories are the same, and not all people are the same.

The reason the keto diet works is because you eliminate high carbohydrate foods. 500 calories of pasta will be far more fattening than 500 calories of spinach, kale, and broccoli. Keep in mind that the keto diet is not a low-calorie diet. You can maintain a healthy amount of calories and still lose weight because of the type of calories that you consume.

Plate, fork, knife, and scale for counting calories | How Many Calories on Keto? The Simple Formula


Keto Fat-burning Factors

Aside from the source of calories, there are numerous other factors that the calories-in, calories-out approach doesn't account for. If you want to lose weight, you have to consider these factors.

Age - As people age, they typically put on more weight. This means that your weight loss plan needs to factor in how old you are. For instance, someone in their 20s will be able to consume far more food than someone in their 60s while maintaining the same weight.

Thyroid function - Your thyroid glands produce hormones that affect how much weight you gain or lose. If you have irregular thyroid function, you can expect more weight fluctuations. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can cause sudden weight loss, while hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can cause sudden weight gain.

Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity - In the presence of Fat Storing Hormone, your body is not able to burn fat. If you have Fat Storing Hormone resistance, then your body will produce far more Fat Storing Hormone, making weight loss impossible—even on a diet. Restoring your body's normal Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity is key to weight loss. Keto is the most effective way to restore Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity.

Exercise - How much and what type of exercise you do will affect your weight loss. For instance, high-intensity interval training can kickstart your metabolism and trigger a fat-burning process that lasts hours after your workout. Going on daily walks is a great way to lose weight and keep it off.

Stress levels - High levels of stress will pump your body full of cortisol, also known as the "stress hormone." Cortisol can break down your muscles and turn them into more fat. In turn, your body fat percentage will increase, and your muscle mass will decrease. Cortisol also contributes to Fat Storing Hormone resistance. As I mentioned before, you cannot lose weight when you have high levels of Fat Storing Hormone.

Sleep quality - Sleep is instrumental in the fat-burning process. Sleep deprivation increases ghrelin production. Ghrelin is a hormone that both increases your hunger and slows your metabolism. To lose weight fast on keto, you have to get quality sleep.

Metabolism - Your metabolism is one of the top factors in weight loss. A slow metabolism means you will burn fewer calories at rest. A fast metabolism means you will burn more calories at rest. The calorie-in calorie-out method doesn't take this into account.

Previous dieting - If you've been dieting on and off all your life, chances are, you've caused some amount of damage to your metabolic process. Stick to a healthy keto diet to prevent further damage to your metabolism.

Dietary fat vs. body fat burning - While on a ketogenic diet, you have two ways that your body can create fuel. First, it can turn dietary fat into ketones. Second, it can turn body fat into ketones. Your body prefers to keep stored fat as a defense mechanism against starvation. This means that it will prefer to burn dietary fat first. If you consume too much fat, you will struggle to tap into using your stored body fat as fuel.

Hormone influence - Your hormones have a huge influence on how much fat you lose and gain. When your hormone levels are out of balance, you're far more likely to experience sudden weight fluctuations. Hormone levels can be altered by lifestyle factors, pregnancy, body type, and disease.

Chronic conditions - Conditions like autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation, diabetes, insomnia, hypothyroidism, and polycystic ovary syndrome can lead to weight gain and obesity. The calorie-in calorie-out method doesn't consider chronic conditions like these.

Healthy ketogenic foods on green table | How Many Calories on Keto? The Simple Formula


The Simple Keto Calorie Intake Forumula

How do you know how many calories you should have to lose weight? The truth is, the number of calories will change for everyone. The only way to figure out how many calories you need to consume to lose weight is to experiment. I have six simple tips you can experiment with that will help you lose weight quickly and effectively.

Tip #1. Go on a healthy keto diet

Healthy Keto is my version of the ketogenic diet. It includes more vegetables than other keto diets. You need plenty of nutrients from vegetables to stay healthy and lose weight. Most people lose a significant amount of weight on healthy keto alone. Check out my complete beginners guide to the Healthy Keto diet.

Tip #2. Don't stuff yourself

Pay attention to how you feel after a meal. There are three possible outcomes: you still feel hungry, you feel satisfied, or you feel stuffed. The goal is to feel satisfied after a meal. If you're still hungry, you need to add more vegetables and healthy fats to your diet. If you're stuffed, you need to cut back on your food intake. Try to stop as soon as your satisfiedyou don't have to eat all of the food on your plate!

Tip #3. Remove snacks

Snacking between meals is a huge problem when it comes to weight loss. Every meal causes a spike in your Fat Storing Hormone levels. If you have a meal every couple of hours, your Fat Storing Hormone levels never get into a range where your body can start to burn fat. Your body will run on your calories you're consuming instead of burning fat.

Tip #4. Go to two meals a day

If removing snacks isn't enough to help you lose weight, you need to go to consuming only two meals a day. It's often best to skip breakfast and only have lunch and dinner. This is the easiest way to do intermittent fasting. You can learn more about intermittent fasting here.

Tip #5. One meal a day (OMAD)

OMAD, or one meal a day, is a fantastic way to lose weight if two meals a day doesn't work for you. Most people will see significant results with an OMAD plan. Keep in mind that having one meal a day doesn't necessarily mean you're cutting calories. It simply means you will reduce the number of Fat Storing Hormone spikes, which will help kickstart the fat loss process.

Tip #6. One meal every other day (OMEOD)

Tip #6. One meal every other day (OMEOD)


How to Enhance Weight Loss

How can you enhance your weight loss while staying healthy? There are four things you can do today to boost the fat burning process naturally and without putting your body through stress.

1. Physical activity

Exercise may not be the primary factor in weight loss, but it can significantly increase the weight loss effects of a healthy ketogenic diet. At the very least, you should take a 30-minute walk every day. Walking is incredible for the fat-burning process. It's also beneficial to do 2-4 workouts throughout the week.

2. Increase your nutrients

Dietary supplements can help support your body's natural fat-burning process. If you find that it's difficult to include enough healthy vegetables into your diet, it could be very beneficial to take vitamins and minerals. MCT oil can also help support ketosis and accelerate fat burning.

3. Get plenty of good sleep

Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for losing weight. When you are sleep deprived, your hunger increases, and your metabolism slows down.

4. Reduce stress

As I mentioned before, stress can stop the fat-burning process. Stress triggers cortisol, contributes to Fat Storing Hormone resistance, and converts muscle into fat. Long walks in nature, meditation, acupressure, and breathing techniques can help reduce your stress levels.

Man counting calories on phone and notepad | How Many Calories on Keto? The Simple Formula


Key Takeaways

What is the right number of calories on keto? There isn't a definitive answer to this question. Numerous factors play into the ideal amount of calories on keto, including age, thyroid function, Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity, exercise, stress levels, sleep quality, metabolism, previous dieting, dietary fat intake, hormone levels, and chronic health conditions. However, there are six tips you can use to experiment with to figure out the right amount of calories for you:

  • Go on a healthy keto diet
  • Don't stuff yourself
  • Remove snacks
  • Go to Two Meals a Day
  • Go to one meal a day (OMAD)
  • Go to one meal every other day (OMEOD)

Give these tips a try and see if they work for you. I'm currently working on a keto calorie calculator that incorporates many of the fat-burning factors. This will help you get a general idea of how many calories you will need to consume to lose weight. Subscribe to my YouTube channel, and I'll let you know when I release the keto calorie calculator, so you know how many calories on keto is best for you.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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