Stop Counting and Start Living: Your Guide to Enjoying Food on the Keto Diet

Let Go of Useless Calorie Counting and Start Eating as Nature Intended Instead.

It’s NOT the Calories – Quality is What Counts. Dave Asprey

Counting calories. It might be the oldest weight loss strategy there is – and perhaps the most useless one. If you’ve tried restricting your calorie intake without seeing any results on the scales (maybe because you ended up flipping out from starvation and cleaning out the fridge), I want to assure you: you are not a failure. It’s the method that’s failing.

How is that? Because not every calorie is equal: it has a different effect on the body depending on from what food it comes from. Imagine eating one calorie from a candy. The sugar from the candy will spike your blood sugar levels, probably causing cravings that will make you want to go on a sugar binge.

Imagine, on the other hand, eating one calorie from an avocado. The avocado is a natural, whole food with no toxic ingredients added to it. The healthy fats from the calorie consumed will give satiation so that you will last longer without the need for snacking. The result? Weight loss without restricting yourself or obsessing about calories.

If you’re freaking out by my suggestion of eating fats for weight loss, I get it. We’ve heard warnings about fat’s impact on health for a long time. But isn’t it interesting that during the same period of the advice to avoid fat, illness and obesity rates have exploded? Check out these graphs to see the facts regarding the correlation between fat and weight. And read here about how the war on fat started as an initiative by the sugar industry.

I’m a coach on the keto diet and lifestyle. This eating protocol is high in fats, moderate in protein and very low in carbs. The general guidelines are 70-80% fats, 15-20% protein and around 5% carbs. When I start working with clients, they are often anxious about these percentages.How do they know that they get it right?! How do you even calculate how much fat equals 70% of a day’s food intake?!

My view is: let’s not go from obsessing about calories to obsessing about fat percentages! Cavemen didn’t have scales or calculators, and humanity has still evolved. It’s the unnatural food habits of today’s society (sugar, carbs, and processed foods) that are causing unnatural illnesses such as obesity. 

So if we want to get rid of these issues, we also need to get rid of the way of eating that has gotten us there. This doesn’t mean moving back to caves, but just eating more like we used to: lots of healthy fats, protein in moderation and minimal carbs.

Having said that, there are apps for general macronutrient calculation guidelines – if you find them helpful. Just bear in mind that we’re all individuals with individual needs, and need to figure out what works best for us.

What matters more than apps and percentages is how food makes you feel. For me, I know that I’m eating “right” when I enjoy my food and feel satiated after the meal. I know that the food is good for me when it doesn’t make me feel bloated or leave me hungry after just a couple of hours. I know that I’m on the right track when a meal doesn’t cause an energy crash or sugar cravings.

The way I describe it might make it sound simple. But after many years of struggling with compulsive overeating before finding a solution in the ketogenic diet, I know that it’s not. Being used to eating too much can be a hardwired habit that takes a while to break. Also, the food companies are doing an excellent job in adding ingredients that put our cravings into overdrive.

So remember that adopting a natural and healthy way of eating is a journey. Many of us are so disconnected from food that this process can take a while. Be patient with yourself! Adopting a mindful eating practice along with the ketogenic diet can be a helpful tool to start to connect with food. I share my experience with mindful eating in this blog post (but don’t worry, you don’t have to escape to a convent if you don’t want to).

Here are some simple tips to try when letting go of calorie counting and starting eating naturally instead. Not only is it a more enjoyable way of life, but your excess weight will drop off as a result!

What Matters More Than Calories for Weight Loss:

1. Quality. Choose grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and organic foods.
2. Whole foods. Watch out for toxic additives. The fewer ingredients, the better.
3. Meal preparation. Skip processed foods. Steam for minimal impact.

How to Practice Eating without Counting:

1. Pay attention to how the food makes you feel. Do you feel satiated and energetic? Do you get cravings?
2. If you’re still hungry: think back on your last meal. Should you add more healthy fats the next time? Protein and fat together are great for satiation.
3. If you’ve got cravings: think back on your last meal. Did you eat something that doesn’t agree with you?

The cartoon for this blog post might be a bit extreme, but I don’t think it’s too far away from the truth. Too many of us are wasting energy on counting, measuring and obsessing about calories – with little impact on weight and the more impact on our sanity and social lives.

How about an experiment? Put the calorie counting aside for just a few days and try the ketogenic diet instead. See if it makes a difference in how you feel. As a bonus, you can hopefully focus on more exciting things during your romantic dinners.

Alexia Bjarkan

Alexia Bjarkan

Keto Coach at The Benefactory.

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