Ketogenic/Low Carb Lifestyle: Do Calories Count?

Today we address the age old question:  do calories count?  There has been a backlash to calorie counting over the last several years that in large part was long overdue.  But possibly not for the reasons that you think.  Here’s the thing - we love to oversimplify stuff - as health professionals we get told that people have neither the time, the patience or the attention span to read long articles so chop chop….distill your point down to a sound byte or two and get on with it - details be damned.  Sigh.  As I’ve said on this newsletter time and time again - the devil is in the details especially when it comes to optimizing your health - the issue around calories is no different.

 

Don’t get me wrong - there’s no doubt that just counting calories will not get you the results you’re looking for…at least not in the long term.  Certainly, if you are the type of person who pays zero attention to portion sizes and over consumes food to the point of excess, every single day - there’s a good chance that you will see some degree of benefits simply by dialling back on the sheer size of your meals - and by all means please do this at least as a first step.   But as many frustrated others can attest, simply counting calories doesn’t always work - sometimes it even backfires!   On the other side of the fence, there’s the Ketogenic Lifestyle crowd positively crowing that there’s no need to pay any attention whatsoever to how many calories you eat if you eliminate carbs….all ya gotta do is chow down on cream cheese filled bacon wrapped jalapeños and your weight problems will disappear.  In fairness, sometimes it appears that this approach might work for some people but for many many others it simply leads to heartburn and weight gain and my suspicion is, that for most, it will lead to a different set of health issues down the road.  

Infuriatingly there are those who do not seem to need to count calories and get to have perfect health and body composition - and, in truth, for most of us, our ultimate goal should be to never need to count calories - but in my experience here is what most of these people, are also doing whether they realize it or not:

  • they tend to eat a nutrient dense, whole food diet at least most of the time.
  • they are not suffering from metabolic imbalances (high blood pressure, dysregulated blood sugar, excess inflammation, excess belly fat, poor body composition etc) - in short, they are fairly healthy to begin with.
  • they eat only when they are hungry - and stop eating when they are satisfied (read: they don’t wait to feel full to stop - people who do tend to over eat)
  • they don’t snack
  • they hydrate
  • they lead an active lifestyle - and/or they are athletes.
  • they manage their stress fairly well.
  • they are reasonably good sleepers.

So what should everyone else do?  The cardinal law of writing these types of articles of course is to never ever leave your audience more stressed and confused than they started…..I hear you.  Here’s the plan - you’ve read it here before but I’ll keep it brief (you can always go back to old posts for the details):

  • ditch processed foods that are designed to keep you eating and eating till it’s all gone and that leave you undernourished and overfed.
  • Eat mostly vegetables, moderate protein and healthy fats.
  • On a scale of 1-8 eat to an 8 knowing that within 15 minutes or so you will hit 10 - it takes that long for your stomach to let your brain know you’ve had enough.
  • if you have a hard time knowing when you have had enough (yes, this is a thing and you are NOT alone) - start logging your food using a food logging app like cro-no-meter.com or, myfitnesspal - be honest when you input your data and activity levels, use the caloric intake as a guideline - you may be over or under eating - either is a problem. This is a temporary strategy - think of yourself as an investigator - eventually you will be able to feel your way to the right amount of food.  Hack: Use the new Zeroodle Premium Shiratake Noodles or Rice as part of your meal - the Konjac helps with satiety and with keeping blood sugar steady. Order from lowcarbcanada.ca
  • Eat when you are hungry and only when you are hungry - but make sure you’re eating enough.
  • Cut snacks - at first this will seem incredibly hard. Hack: use KetoMax shakes to tide you over, they are incredible for managing cravings and appetite along with a laundry list of other benefits.  If you don’t have KetoMax - drink water - and then more water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar - won’t taste as good as Max but it should help.
  • Get active - you cannot exercise off a bad diet but your body needs to move to be healthy. Start walking - or change up your workouts - if you’ve been doing the same thing for years and aren’t happy with the results - well, you know what they say lol!
  • Sleep better - my next post will be all about sleep - get to bed at a reasonable hour. If you don’t sleep you will be hungrier, and more inflamed and have less control over your food choices.
  • Stress management - download the Headspace app and start meditating - just 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference. Seriously, I kid you not.  That will be another post.

Are you still with me?  So, should you calorie-count?  The answer is yes, but only to a point.  Ultimately if you consistently provide your body with more energy than it can use it will store the excess for another day - it’s what allowed us to survive as a species.  BUT.  Remember that what you eat is just as important as how much you eat, and, that getting enough sleep, staying active and managing your stress are also part of the puzzle.  There are no quick fixes I’m afraid but if you put in the work, just one small change at a time, I can almost guarantee you that you will feel better and start to experience the results you are after.  If you cannot do it on your own, get some help - a friend to keep you accountable, a health coach or a nutritionist all can work.  If you like to work in a group look out for my next online Group Coaching Program starting November 1st (yes, I’m doing it again) - either email me to get on the list or follow me on KetoNat on Facebook where I will post details.

Keto//OS When to Take:

The general rule of thumb I use is: any time of day you are looking for an increase in focus, energy and/or help with cravings or hunger. 

  • Use Keto//OS midmorning when you get hungry to keep you focused and energized till lunch.
  • If you know that you get hungry or tired mid afternoon have a Keto//OS around 1 or 2 pm to carry you through till dinner.
  • Pre workout to give you energy, focus an support recovery or Post workout to support recovery (KetoMax is my favourite formula around workouts).
  • On a night when you need to work late to meet a deadline - have a Keto//OS (uncharged) to help with focus and mental energy.
  • Use the Caffeine Free formulas any time of day that you want energy without the use of stimulants like caffeine.
  • For the Charged or caffeine versions I recommend that people use these before 1:00 or 2:00 pm to avoid messing with your sleep.
  • KetoKreme (yes it’s back!) can be added to caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, tea or other warm beverage at any time of day to bump up ketone production & curb cravings. Great before bed with herbal tea for sleep.

Thank you as always for reading, for your comments and emails.  Here are some useful links:

Note: Say yes to Today and Smartship when you are placing your order to save 22% on your Smartship order and make sure you never run out of ketones!  Smartship can be cancelled at any time with the push of a button with no penalty by simply logging into your back office and looking for the Box “My Smartship” on the home page.

Cheers!!

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