Limit calories intake or not?

(Dario) #1

Hi guys,
a topic for you find very contra dictional info all over the internet.
Which answer is correct to limit daily intake of calories or not?




(Allie) #2

It depends, which is why there’s so much conflicting advice. I don’t limit at all, others do. Best to eat to your hunger, for me anyway, doesn’t work for everyone as some need to work to specific numbers for varied reasons. Find what works for you.


Never for me. I can eat 1000 in a day or eat 4000 in a day. I just go by hunger and food choices my body wants. I am carnivore so I am not answering for a ‘keto plan’ menu lifestyle tho.


It depends… Goals, what happens without limiting, is it forceful limiting…

Of course overeating and undereating is bad. Whatever that means for the one in question, I mean it’s not always easy to figure what is too much or too little. And it’s different to have a high-cal or low-cal day once in a blue moon…

I wish to lose fat and I am a hedonist. I don’t force things but I must eat less to lose fat. I don’t just lose fat if I just do keto and IF, I eat way too much then for it to happen. I know I need to eat less fat but I can’t and don’t want to force it. I try things where it (almost) automatically happens. Health is even more important though so that’s my priority. Then joy, then fat-loss. Muscle gain is nice too…

I try to avoid items which just boost my calories without giving me satiation and possibly important nutrients. I never would lose fat eating cream and added fat galore.
But it wouldn’t work for me to eat too lean either (not like I could do it, my tastes and love towards fat keeps me from that) as I need my calories. Just not overly much.

Many people automatically eat little enough on keto. Some way too little. I overeat on any woe if I just let myself roam free (maybe not on long term carnivore but I couldn’t test that yet. but it seems I need a very tiny eating window for not eating at maintenance or more).

It doesn’t mean people like me need to track let alone controlling food intake directly. I am curious so I track but I eat as much as I want and if it’s too much, I try to tweak my woe. Lazily. I am patient. Stalling for 1 more year isn’t that a big deal to me though I really hope 2022 will be the year when I lose some fat. But it’s not my primary goal.
I still need to limit my calories as overeating is unhealthy, mentally and physically, wasteful and wrong. Nope.
But I don’t have some random fixed number or more, one for every macros… I don’t have targets or limits. Maybe very vaguely, based on my experiences. And percentages matter even less.

(Robin) #5

I counted calories until I was consistently losing weight and had a feel for what I could and should consume…. The main focus being staying below 20 total carbs.

It felt necessary for me to be aware of calories then. I had no idea how many I ate (at 218 lbs) and how many I should eat for my height. So I looked up calories a person at my goal weight (150) should eat compared to what I WAS eating. OMG. Shocker.

So, I started by aiming for the calories needed to get to my first short term goal weight (180). Start with what feels like a reasonable, do-able short term weight. Then re-eval. Eventually you’ll be on auto-pilot most of the time. I stopped counting cals at 180 and am now at 155. So close. And yet so happy. You’ll get there.

(John) #6

I’ve never made a conscious effort to stay within a calorie limit, but I’ve also never gone crazy and eaten an abnormally large quantity of food. When I first began keto, I used tracking apps to have an understanding of the macros I was eating, so by that I also saw the calories - but I didn’t let that decide if I should continue eating.

If I just ate fatty food until I was full, the calories were reasonable, the carbs were low, and I lost weight (which was my goal).

(Robin) #7

Yep. Good summary of the way it should work.


I think it’s a double edged sword.

In a perfect world, we’d want to be able to trust our satiation. This can be impossible with food that we find tempting - I think we’ve all probably experienced ‘this is tasty, I will have one more’ versus real hunger. Some people on this forum have expressed that they don’t experience satiation cues at all; others found that those cues developed whilst eating keto or carnivore. (I found that my satiation cues developed whilst on plan. I think @PaulL was the same.)

If we can’t trust satiation, then forcing a calorie limit seems logical - but the problem is fraught; how do we know what the right calorie intake is? For me, the part that makes me pause is that if we’re happy to rid ourselves of traditional nutrition wisdom, then why would I suddenly adhere to the logic that I require X calories?

Personally speaking, I have experienced both - I have done keto and restricted calories, and I have done keto and not restricted calories. In both circumstances, I lost weight/fat.

I always think it’s interesting when carnivores talk about putting weight on during the initial phase. I sometimes wonder if we’re looking for weight/fat loss whilst our bodies are re-calibrating, and we’re too keen to lower calories when our bodies are busy using the new nutrient dense foods to resolve things.

One boring story I tell is hormone driven. I’m a woman in my 30s, so I am of childbearing age. When I went carnivore, I no longer had cravings (for chocolate etc) but I started to notice that my hunger was perfectly in line with my hormonal cycle.

I don’t track my food (because I eat the same things all of the time), but looking it up, I regularly ate around 1600-2200 calories each day, most of the time hitting 2000ish. On the days prior to my cycle change, I would easily eat 3200-3600 calories.

What’s interesting to me is that this was hunger driven. I was eating exactly the same food - just more of it. So it wasn’t that one meal was more delicious than another, or there was a thinner sauce or any other variable; I only ate beef and eggs.

So I’ve been able to eat to satiation, even with those wild swings of calorie ranges, and still lose weight/fat and gain muscle. The keto hypothesis is pretty much based on an hormonal model. I felt that my experience demonstrated that hormones do have a massive part to play. If I’d been trying to stick to an arbitrary calorie limit, then I might’ve struggled on those days - and then, what are the consequences? I can only assume my body requires the extra nutrients/energy on those days. If it’s not provided, does it result in more successful fat loss? Or does it result in cravings and going off plan? Or does it result in a stall whilst my body takes nutrients/energy from elsewhere?

If you don’t have any satiety signals - and none develop in the first few weeks of doing keto/carnivore - then maybe choosing a calorie limit would be useful. I think @amwassil did that?

It also depends what your aim is. I have sometimes wondered whether it would be worth taking a calorie hit in the short term to lose fat more rapidly, and then reverse diet - but I have also been very carefully watching my skin as I’ve lost weight, and so far, it hasn’t lost its elasticity. Part of it may be my age - but I would hate to drop calories, force fat loss, and then have loose skin to contend with.

As it is, I am seeing other benefits with improved metabolism (such as body heat - I was always incredibly cold prior to carnivore), so I’m not keen to meddle with limits. I do recognise that I’ve been fortunate in that I think I’ve been able to correctly interpret my body’s signalling.


You are amazing, guys, just to decide to eat less and doing that… I get hungry or just fancy eating so no way I stop at 1800 or 2000 or 2500 kcal just because that is supposed to be good for me…
It just doesn’t work and I don’t struggle anyway, I eat when I want so it’s all about finding my healthy, easy woe. If it takes more than a decade, so be it, it’s not like I have many options. I DON’T starve just because I already ate too much (starve in the meaning that I feel I am starving, I am hungry and I feel super miserable. just because I drop my carbs, I have that sometimes).

But I find being flexible important anyway. We may need way more calories one day than the other, we aren’t robots. I usually don’t have big changes in my activity and a little is fine without reflecting in my energy intake but when I did have a very active day (for me. I just walked 9 hours in the mountains :D), I surely ate way more. And anyway, I always felt the need for the occasional higher-cal day especially when I actually lost fat. My body surely knows what it needs but it makes sense that it doesn’t like a calorie deficit every day anyway… Or my sanity. I like eating much sometimes :slight_smile: I gave up eating as much fat as I wanted 11 years ago (I had that for my first few decades but it wasn’t enough, I love fat! one day this will be over…), I can’t give up my occasional high-cal days too!

(Tim Cee) #10

Animals don’t count calories and yet, they don’t get obese on wild food. Calculating calories accurately enough to match metabolism in the real world is technically impossible. However, you can tell if you are operating on a deficit by how you feel. I just go long enough between meals to feel good and hungry. Then I eat till I think I’ve had enough.

The reason this works is not that ketogenic nutrition violates the laws of thermodynamics. Rather it’s that ketogenic and/or carnivore nutrition, with real food instead of food products, gradually restore the natural feedback loop that regulates the desire for food. In nature, sustainable systems have negative feedback loops built in that stabilize them. Processed foods made with refined sugar and fake fats set us up for metabolic dis-function leading to a positive feedback loop that causes uncontrollable appetite for more fake food resulting in weight gain and organ damage.

I’m losing weight right now and reporting the results in the accountability forum.

(Robin) #11

Domesticated animals may have adapted to meet the food we give them. And individual animals respond differently. I’ve had both dogs and cats who had food available 24/7 and only ate as needed. Others who could not pass by a bowl of food without eating it all.

Of course, in the wild they don’t have access to too much food, most of the time. I doubt they have a hidden stash of mice or other tasty treats tucked away for late night binging. Except squirrels. As in most studies, squirrels are devious little outliers.

(Tim Cee) #12

Either way, they are part of a cycle that keeps the calories in balance with need unless there is a famine. Humans don’t need to count calories as long as they eat what they’re supposed to and don’t overeat. Coincidentally, calorie information on food labels post-dates the obesity epidemic, or so I’ve heard. How did people not get fat without nutrition labels?


Nutrition labels have absolutely nothing to do with my overeating… I guess my past caused that I don’t feel right without eating much… And maintenance is ridiculously easy for me, losing is the hard one. Animals don’t need that to begin with unless they don’t have food and they got fat for that reason to begin with.

No but my big hunter cat can grab a mouse in 2 minutes, she did it zillion times after leaving the house. Fortunately she is the type who doesn’t eat herself into obesity, she can leave the moderate amount of food I give her. We had cats who were like dogs and just didn’t stop eating until there was food.

Sure, we don’t need counting under good circumstances. And we don’t get obese under right circumstances. But being modern humans, our circumstances aren’t always that great.
(And counting doesn’t help for many of that even then. I can’t eat little just because I track. And it’s quite sad when someone stays fat if they just eat according to hunger but it’s a thing. Not me, my urges to eat are way more complicated. I typically eat without hunger and I can’t and don’t want and shouldn’t change that. Just a little as I don’t do it exactly right now. Alas, 10-11 years on low-carb just couldn’t set it right…)

By the way, my healthy, active anchestors 100-200 years ago probably weren’t thinner than me. Their diet wasn’t as great as many animals’s either, they were modern humans, after all.

I can’t get obese myself. But I never was thin, not even as a kid. I wasn’t really fat, I was chubby. And it’s good enough for many humans and it was even less of a problem in the slightly more distant past.
So that’s one part, we simply want to be thinner now. But obesity is a bigger problem now, indeed. I blame various things.

(Juanita Rice) #14

My goal weight is 150 also. I started at 186 in June 2021 and lost 20 pounds counting calories. I switched to keto in October 2021 and lost 14 more pounds. My current wt is 152. I still count calories though along with carbs and will continue to count until I am sure I have the hang of keto without overeating but eating to satiety. I am 5’6".

(Tim Cee) #15

Well done! I guess your experience is an example of, “count calories if it helps.”


There’s no conflicting info, only people who can get away without tracking and those who can’t, what you need to eat is completely up to your metabolic rate. If you want to lose you need to eat below your TDEE. Whether you can pull that off or not without tracking is individual. Many people never figure out where that line is, and that’s the problem.