The keto diet has exploded in popularity as a way to lose weight. This trendy (yet controversial) diet, which is high in fat, moderate in protein, and super low in carbs, puts your body in a state of ketosis where your body produces ketones in the liver to use as energy instead of carbs. But since the ultimate goal for many people following keto is weight loss, how many times a day should you eat to still lose weight?
Some people swear by three square meals a day while others prefer five or six small meals. And while similar diets such as Whole30 frown upon snacking throughout the day, some have found success eating three moderate meals a day and two small snacks.
Turns out, eating on the keto diet doesn't have to be that complicated or regimented.
"When following a ketogenic lifestyle, and really any dietary pattern, the best advice is to eat when you're hungry and stop when you feel satiated," said Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD, and a member of the clinical team at Virta Health. "There are no hard and fast rules for what the best meal patterns are, and each person is different."
She added that the key is to not let yourself get too hungry in between meals, otherwise you may overeat later. Snacks are a great way to stay satisfied in between meals and an extra opportunity to get in more nutrients. Fat is a satiating macronutrient, so you shouldn't be tempted to eat much in between meals if you're following the diet correctly.
"If you find yourself hungry all of the time while following a ketogenic lifestyle, this usually indicates you're not getting enough fat," Dr. Metzgar said.
So there's no one-size-fits-all answer: in general, eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Unless you're doing keto along with intermittent fasting, in which case your body's hunger cues may take some time to adjust, the fat in your diet should keep you satiated throughout the day.