Struggling with not losing weight on the ketogenic diet? Here are six of the most common reasons people have a hard time dropping weight with keto.
The Keto Diet has been touted as one of the most effective methods for losing weight in recent years.
In fact, you probably already know someone who’s praised the benefits of keto. But what if you’ve tried it and aren’t losing weight?
Could it be something you’re doing wrong?
Let’s not waste any time and discuss the potential reasons you aren’t losing weight on Keto!
The Keto Diet – The Basics
Before we jump into the Keto deep-end, let’s explore what the diet actually is and how it works.
A ketogenic diet refers to a low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet. With a lack of glucose/carbs, your body begins producing ketones for energy.
This is what we call “ketogenesis”.
There are various factors that contribute to why being on the Keto Diet helps so many people lose weight.
First, we know that during ketogenesis, “due to low blood glucose feedback, the stimulus for insulin secretion is also low, which sharply reduces the stimulus for fat and glucose storage.”1
Translation: Our body is being told it no longer needs to hold on to fat. Ketogenesis burns fat for energy rather than carbs.
The more your body gets used to doing this, the more efficient it becomes at utilizing fat for fuel, compounding your efforts and resulting in weight loss.
And if that wasn’t enough, keto has also been shown to decrease appetite and reduce cravings2.
Combine all of these factors, and you have a recipe for weight loss.
If you do it “right,” that is.
Here are some of the more common reasons people struggle with keto, and how to respond so that you can get back on track with your weight loss goals.
Reasons You Are Struggling to Lose Weight with Keto
⭐ You’re Not Achieving Ketosis
It can be surprisingly easy to underestimate the number of carbs you’re consuming in a day.
Not only that, but what puts your buddy into ketosis may not put your body into ketosis.
Like with everything else, it depends on the individual.
While you don’t have to be militant about it, tracking macros on a diet app or even using ketone test strips can help make sure you’re on the right track.
While not a rule, a good indicator that you’re in ketosis is if you’ve experienced or are experiencing keto flu.
⭐ You’re Consuming Too Many Calories
Many people have the misunderstanding that Keto is a “magic pill” where you can just cut out carbs and eat everything else in the free world.
You’ll see videos online from some “Keto-ers” just pouring mountains of cheese and bacon on top of more cheese and meat with complete abandon.
While that sounds like a fantastic time, and let’s be honest, it absolutely is, it’s not conducive to losing weight – even in ketosis.
Definitely eat cheese and bacon if that’s your thing, but remember, you should be using fat for fuel. Make sure it fits into your goals.
If you’re taking in too many calories for your needs, you could be storing fat just as you would on a high-carb diet.
Keto doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all.
Like any diet, it won’t work effectively if you aren’t in a calorie deficit.
⭐ You’re Consuming Too Much Dairy
Did you know that dairy can potentially take you out of ketosis?
Greek yogurt, (most) unsweetened milks, heavy cream, and butter are all Keto-friendly dairy options.
However, there are plenty of flavored yogurts and milks that contain a load of carbs.
One brand of yogurt could be fine yet another be full of carbs.
It’s always best to check the package before buying it. Once you find a brand you like, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Also watch those parfait toppings, as they can also contain a good amount of sugars and carbs.
⭐ Overloading on fake sugars
Sugars and carbs are the antagonists of the keto diet.
Managing carb intake and sugars is only part of the battle, however.
Many foods that are marketed as “keto friendly” are loaded with fake sugars that generate many of the same effects of real sugar despite the lower carb count.
If you’re craving sweets, you may reach for an artificially-sweetened brownie or soda.
While they’re often marketed as “Keto-friendly”, these should be consumed in moderation.
Because if you overeat on them, they will spike your blood sugar.
One way to keep your blood ketone levels high is by supplementing with exogenous ketones. Also known as keto diet pills, they can accelerate your body getting into ketosis and also help reduce some of the symptoms of the keto flu.
Maltitol, Sorbitol, and Mannitol have all been known to spike blood glucose and should be avoided on Keto.
Agave, honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup may be “natural”, but they will also raise blood sugar.
Not to worry though – you can still have your sweets!
Stevia, Monk Fruit Extract, and Erythritol are all great in moderation and can help you kick those cravings.
⭐ Drinking Alcohol
So, you want to go have a night out with friends or drink a beer at the barbecue.
You should always be able to have a fun time, but know that alcohol and Keto don’t mix very well.
Beer, wines, ciders, and sweet, mixed cocktails include quite a bit of sugar and carbs that can boot you out of ketosis.
Take a vodka and soda, for example, It’s very low in calories and sugar.
Spirits such as white rum, vodka, gin, tequila and whiskey have zero grams of carbohydrates per serving. There are also some lighter beers and wines that come under your daily carb ceiling.
However, once you drink it, your body is going to prioritize metabolizing that alcohol instead of fat3.
This means your liver is going to stop producing ketones from fat until all that alcohol has been processed through your body.
If your goal is losing weight on keto, cutting back or eliminating alcohol is your best course of action.
Going overboard one night isn’t the end of the world.
Getting back on track with ketosis can be done fairly quickly, so don’t beat yourself up too much and give up the diet completely because of one night of overdoing it at the bar.
⭐ Not planning out your meals
The addiction to sugar in modern society is quite real. And it’s one of the reasons a lot of us struggle with keto as it basically requires us to go cold turkey on this highly addictive substance.
One of the ways to get around those heavy-duty sugar cravings is to plan and prepare your meals.
This is essential for your first day or first week of keto.
There are also some proven keto supplements like MCT oil, exogenous ketones and vitamin D that can help you shorten the “getting into ketosis” phase.
Don’t be afraid of putting in a little leg work to stay ahead of those cravings.
Those sugar cravings–especially at first when starting with the diet–are real, and one way to mitigate them is to plan ahead to help yourself avoid the “ah, screw it” moments that will inevitably happen.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Like all diets, a little bit of planning can go a long way. Plan your meals ahead of time. Use a keto program or keto app to track and plan your meals. This will help you stay on top of your macros and ensure that you are hitting the right numbers each day in the kitchen to stay on track.
As mentioned earlier, the longer your body is in ketosis, the more efficient it becomes at burning fat.
Every time you kick yourself out of ketosis, it takes time to get back to this level of efficiency. It will be easier and you’ll see quicker results just by being consistent with planning ahead.
How do you know if keto isn’t working?
Again, everyone is different. If your clothes aren’t any looser or you aren’t losing weight, it may not be working.
How long it takes each person to get into ketosis varies, ranging from 2 to 7 days.
You may also just not be in ketosis. If you’re feeling exhausted, experiencing vitamin deficiency, or having a hard time falling asleep, it may not be working.
Alternatively, you could be dehydrated. If you aren’t taking in enough water or the right balance of electrolytes, this is quite possibly the culprit. (See also: How Much Water Should I Be Drinking on Keto?)
Moreover, if you’re dehydrated, it can make it harder for you to lose weight!
It’s always recommended to check with your regular physician if you’re experiencing these symptoms, just to be on the safe side.
If you want, have them measure your blood ketone levels while you’re there.
Can you be in ketosis and still not lose weight?
Absolutely! You can be in ketosis and be consuming more calories than your body needs in order to lose weight.
Ketosis definitely ramps up your metabolism, making it easier to lose fat. However, you don’t magically start dropping weight just by being in ketosis.
You still need to be monitoring the calories you’re consuming to ensure you’re at a calorie deficit.
If you’re eating too many grams of protein instead of fats, it could also be slowing down your weight loss.
To stay on top of weight loss, make sure to be honest about portion sizes and keep your macros in check.
The Bottom Line
If you aren’t losing weight while on Keto, don’t panic, there is usually a simple-enough reason that you are struggling with it.
At the end of the day, remember that keto is not magic and it will require some attentiveness and planning on your part.
You can make things easier by planning your meals, using an app for tracking, properly targeting macros (with a food scale, for example), and being mindful of food labels when at the grocery store.
Sticking to it can be challenging at first, but once you start seeing those positive changes in your body, all the effort will be worth it.
More Keto Guides and Resources
⭐ 5 Best Keto Pills: Supercharge Ketosis with these Supplements (Plus Buyer’s Guide and FAQ). Keto pills are a proven way to help kickstart your ketogenic diet efforts so that you can start losing weight and feeling better faster. Here’s a look at the best keto pills on the market right now.
7 Benefits of the Keto Diet (Plus Disadvantages). Wondering if the keto diet is for you? Here’s a look at the science-backed benefits as well as some disadvantages of the ketogenic diet so you can decide if it’s for you.