27 Apr 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: depending on the food, each calorie affects the body differently. Let me give you an example! Imagine eating one calorie from 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 until your next meal without needing snacking. The result? Weight loss without restricting yourself or obsessing about calories.
The Scientific Formula for Weight Loss
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. “Starving” the body on carbs makes it use fat instead of glucose for energy, resulting in the metabolic state of “ketosis” and automatic weight loss.
The keto guidelines are to get 70-80% of your calorie intake from fats, 15-20% from protein, and around 5% from carbs. For the average person, eating like that should switch your fuel source to fat.
When I start working with clients, they are often anxious about these food percentages. How do they know that they get it right?! How do you even calculate how much fat equals 70% of what you eat?!
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 modern society (sugar, carbs, and processed foods) that are causing unnatural illnesses such as obesity.
So to get rid of today’s health issues, we must get rid of the way of eating that caused them. This doesn’t mean moving back to caves, but just eating more as we used to: lots of healthy fats, protein in moderation, and minimal carbs.
Using My Body as My Eating Compass
There are apps for helping you figure out your daily macro (short for “macronutrient” = protein, fats, carbs) intake. I recommend using an app like Cronometer, which has official data for micro and macronutrients, to learn how to eat to enter ketosis. Track your foods while tracking your ketosis (using a ketone meter for accurate results) for feedback on your progress.
But what matters more than apps and macro 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 right 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 keto diet, I know that it’s not. Being used to overeating can be a hardwired habit that takes a while to break. Also, the food companies are doing an excellent job of adding ingredients that put our cravings into overdrive.
When I Learned Mindful Eating at a Convent
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 keto 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:
Choose grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and pastured eggs. Nurturing your body with high-quality foods will help it achieve peak health. A well-functioning, healthy body is better at getting rid of extra weight.
Preferably, choose whole foods instead of processed foods. Read all food labels and watch out for toxic additives. The fewer ingredients are usually better.
Toxins get processed in the liver, which also creates the molecules ketones to put you into ketosis. Give your liver a break from toxins to help it focus on your fat-burning!
3. Meal Preparation
Don’t ruin your foods by microwaving it or burning it on the grill. Instead, steam for minimal impact.
How to Practice Eating without Counting:
1. Pay Attention to How the Food Makes You Feel
Do you feel satiated, or do you get cravings and energy crashes?
2. If You Get Hungry:
Think back on your last meal. Should you add more healthy fats the next time? More vegetables?
3. If You Get Cravings:
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. Because there are more exciting things to focus on during romantic dinners!
Now, I’d love to hear about YOU. How is worrying about what you eat affecting your life? Share it with me!