Do You Have to Count Calories on a Keto Diet?

How Ketosis Affects Metabolism

Some research suggests that going keto can boost your rate of calorie burning, but there's not a scientific consensus. "It's still up in the air whether or not your metabolic rate is higher on a ketogenic diet versus any other type of diet," Goss says. "Some studies have found that people burn around 250 more calories a day while in ketosis, while others say there's not much of a difference."

Since the jury is still out, Goss doesn't recommend counting on a hyper-revved metabolism to burn off excess calories you wouldn't have eaten otherwise. Instead, she recommends aiming for a daily calorie count in a normal, healthy range.

According to U.S. Dietary Guidelines, moderately active men should consume between 2,200 and 2,800 calories a day in order to maintain calorie balance (in other words, not gain or lose weight), while moderately active women should consume between 1,800 and 2,200. Sedentary men and women should aim for fewer calories, while very active people can allow themselves more.

If you want to lose weight, you'll have to consume less than you're already eating. For healthy, sustainable weight loss, experts generally recommend cutting out 500 calories a day from your current diet to lose about a pound a week.

Do You Have to Count Calories?

Ketogenic diets generally don't give rules for calories, although they might give suggestions. For example, the Atkins 20 Diet — one of the most well- known ketogenic diets — recommends that women aim for 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day, while men aim for 1,800 to 2,200. It also advises dieters to limit empty calories and to stick to a list of approved foods for each phase of the diet.

​Read more: ​ Should You Count Carbs or Calories to Lose Weight?

"You're going to be eating veggies, which are high in fiber and can fill you up on very few calories," she says. "And you're also going to be eating things like nuts and meat and cheese and oil — which, yes, are high in calories, but they're also very satiating, so you really only have to eat small portions to get your fill."

​Read more: ​ 7 Things Nutritionists Want You to Know About the Keto Diet

That being said, if you find you do have a tendency to overeat or get carried away with calorie-dense foods like cheese — or you're following a ketogenic diet and you're not losing weight — it may be smart to start paying closer attention to your daily calorie consumption, Goss says. It's also important to remember that keto is not a license to eat unlimited quantities of low-carb foods or to forget about calories entirely.