The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a low-carb way to eat food that many people have committed to improve their health and lose weight. In fact, on a low carb diet, typically carbs stay under 5% of your daily macros whereas your fat intake reigns. The keto diet has shown to help improve blood sugar control, may improve health conditions such as Parkinson's disease, and may also improve heart health. In the Body Reboot book, we discuss additional ways the keto diet may help improve one’s health, including how to properly lose weight. However, to take advantage of the ketogenic diet, it must be implemented the right way. If you’re struggling with losing weight, don’t be discouraged. There’s likely a reason the weight isn’t coming off, and some of the below reasons should help guide you so you can start losing weight.
Consuming too Many Carbs
When you first go on the keto diet, it may be challenging to cut down on carbs, but be patient with yourself. It’s going to take your body a while to adjust to only eating around or less than 20 grams of carbs a day. After you’re in ketosis (which means your body is burning ketones instead of glucose), however, keeping your carbs at a minimum will be the key to your success. If you find you’re eating too many carbs, Healthline mentions that it may be harder to lose weight. Also, a book summarized on NCBI also discusses how many carbs, proteins, and fats you should be consuming while on the keto diet.
One of the main reasons people don’t lose weight on the ketogenic diet is that they’re consuming too many carbs.
To reach the state of ketosis — a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose — carbohydrate intake must be drastically reduced.
In fact, only around 5% of your total calories should come from carbs. (NCBI: Ketogenic book)
This is in stark contrast to the standard dietary recommendation that 45–65% of calories come from carbs.
It’s normal to have a bit of difficulty cutting out carbs when first adjusting to the ketogenic diet.
However, to reach and maintain ketosis, carbs must be decreased to the recommended range.
To help reach your intake goals, consider tracking your macronutrients through an app like MyFitnessPal.
This can help you learn how many servings of carbs you’re allowed to have in a day depending on your calorie needs.
Eating Too Much Protein
Similar to eating too many carbs, you can also eat too many proteins. Don’t forget that the ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein diet. If you find you have too much protein, it’s time to amp up your fat intake.
It’s a common misconception that the keto diet is a high-protein diet – it’s a moderate-protein diet where 20-25 percent of your calories come from protein. While it’s helpful to have a portion of protein at each meal to satiate you, you don’t want to overdo it. Too much protein can actually kick you out of ketosis, says Davoodi, through a process called gluconeogenesis, where your body converts extra protein into sugar. Your body will reach for the glucose first and no longer burn fat for fuel.
Pro Tip: Carefully calculate your protein needs, advises Davoodi. The goal is to eat enough to maintain muscle, though not kick you out of ketosis. Read more here on how to calculate your ideal protein intake.
We get that it’s hard to let go of the sweets on keto, and if you use artificial sweeteners that are keto friendly, it should be fine. However, diet drinks and other sweet treats may stall your weight loss efforts. If you do eat keto friendly sweets, try to limit them. Ditch the Carbs blog says the idea is to eliminate sugar from your diet because only then will your weight start to come off and hopefully stay off.
I believe diet drinks have a place in weight loss, but certainly not long term. I see them at the start to get over my sugar cravings and to fill up when I was hungry but they should be of short term use. I use sweeteners in my baking and desserts, but I don’t make desserts and sweet treats a huge part of my life anymore. The whole point is to get off the sugar and the sweet treats. Sweeteners can affect appetite and make you think that if a recipe contains them instead of regular sugar, then it’s OK to eat more. If your weight loss has stopped, stop the diet drinks the sweet treats and reassess.
You’re Not Being Patient Enough
It’s normal to want the weight to come off fast, but unfortunately, Ditch the Carbs argues that everybody responds differently to a ketogenic diet and it may take some people more time to lose weight than others. If you’re getting stressed out about not losing weight even though you’re sticking to a strict LCHF (low carb high fat) diet, don’t worry because in time you should lose weight.
This has to be the hardest lesson to learn. I was really strict with LCHF, and for the first couple of months, I lost hardly anything. This is hard when every time I went on weight watchers, the kilos drop off. But that weight loss was never sustainable. I am still losing weight now, probably half a kilo every month. This will probably stop soon as your body finds its own natural weight, and my carb intake needs to be realistic that I can continue. Keep reminding yourself that your way of eating now is so more nutritious than when you ate carbs and processed foods. The weight WILL go, you WILL gain control of your appetite, and you WILL succeed. There are so many benefits (in addition to weight loss) that LCHF brings. Just read this article on why sugar is so bad for us and this one regarding insulin resistance.
Consuming too Many Nuts and Dairy
Low Carb Spark discusses another reason you may not be losing weight on keto, which may be due to you eating too many nuts and dairy. Even though both are nutritious, it’s best to limit your intake of both because they’re calorie dense and may slow your weight loss.
Nuts are packed with a lot of healthy fats and nutrients, for sure.
Nuts taste great, are crunchy, and you may eat a large amount of them without even notice.
The best example it’s me because I can empty a bag of almonds or hazelnuts in no time. And there are more calories and carbs that I would allow myself getting in one day.
Let’s not forget to mention how much I love Nut Butters which are easier to overeat too, and they are very calorie dense. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, we’re all been there.
Make sure you portion your nuts & cheeses wisely. If you are like me and have no self-control when it comes to nuts, eliminate them from your diet or eat them only on special occasions like when you are in a hurry, or there’s nothing else to eat.
Sensitivity to Leptin
In case you’re not familiar with leptin sensitivity, leptin is a hunger hormone that tells your body when you’re full. The Bulletproof blog explains it more in detail and how having a sensitivity may derail your weight loss goals. There is a way to reset your leptin levels, however.
If you just started keto and the weight isn’t melting off, you might blame leptin sensitivity. Leptin is a hunger hormone that sends a signal to your brain that you’re sated when there is sufficient fat in your diet. It’s responsible for regulating how much you consume, how much you expend, and even how much fat you carry.
Under normal functioning, leptin enters the bloodstream via your circulatory system and then binds to protein in the blood. When it reaches your brain capillaries, it travels across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), binding to leptin receptors on the hypothalamus portion of your brain. Leptin then clues your brain into the fact that you’re full.
If you have leptin resistance, the messages don’t transmit properly across the blood-brain barrier. Leptin resistance is triggered by irregular sleep, stress, overeating, and calorie restriction. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reset your leptin sensitivity.
Beginner’s Tip: A low-inflammation keto diet that includes healthy fats and protein resets your leptin levels. Aim to eliminate all sugar from your diet as well as remove refined and processed foods. For most people, it takes approximately 6-8 weeks to restore leptin sensitivity, after which, the scale will start to budge. Read here for more hacks to reset your leptin sensitivity and master your metabolism.
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