For years, the ketogenic diet has been one of, if not the most well-known weight loss regimen around the world. You see it everywhere — anecdotes from people who’ve effectively transformed their physiques as well as scientific evidence of its effectiveness.
If you’re here, you’ve probably lost weight from keto, too. But, somehow, you’ve plateaued and now you find yourself asking:
“Why am I not losing weight on the keto diet anymore?”
Well, there are quite a few reasons.
Maybe you’re just eating too much. It’s not all about low carb and high fat, you know? Or, maybe you’re not even in ketosis. Have you inspected what type of food you’re eating? How’s your overall health doing? Are you working out? Maybe it’s just not the right type of diet for you.
These, as well as a few other reasons, could stop the ketogenic diet from working altogether. We’ll talk about all these today, so read on down so we can help you keep losing weight! Let’s start with this:
How to know if the keto diet is right for you
Perhaps most importantly, you need to fully realize that being on keto means going on an extremely carb-restricted diet with moderate amounts of protein and boat loads of fat — this can be problematic for a lot of people.
For one, the restrictive nature of this diet won’t be good for you if you have a history of eating disorders. The extreme carb restriction can also lead to insufficient fiber intake which can be bad if you have digestive issues. Plus, you likely will be increasing your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, if you eat the wrong types of fat — and that’s never a good thing.
The problems that come from the restrictions of keto don’t stop at health though. It might extend to your social life.
For example, you might be compromising your relationships with your friends and family if you’re missing out on too many gatherings because you’re trying to stay in ketosis. Or, maybe the food stresses you out whenever you’re actually at a get-together. If this is the case, keto might not be your best chance to lose weight. Relationships are a big part of what makes us human, after all.
Apart from your social status and what the medical experts say, you’ve got to listen to what your body’s trying to tell you, too. If you’ve been in ketosis for quite some time now and you still don’t feel happy or comfortable, maybe try a different type of diet.
Having said that, let’s say you believe the ketogenic diet is right for you but your weight loss is still at a stall.
Are you still in ketosis?
Again, pay attention to the punishing carb restriction. One gram too many is enough to snap you out of ketosis and, consequently, the powerful fat burning prowess of the ketogenic diet.
On that note, learning how to monitor if you’re in ketosis is key to continuous weight loss. There’s 3 ways to do this at home:
- Using your urine
- Using your breath, and
- Using your blood
With urine testing, you will need keto sticks (e.g. keto strips, ketone strips). They’re fast ways of tracking approximately how much acetoacetate (a type of ketone used to measure ketosis) you have in your body.
You simply pee on the stick or dip the stick in some urine, wait less than a minute, and find out your results. It’s like the ketogenic diet’s equivalent of a pregnancy test.
Blood ketone testing is said to be more accurate than urine testing but it can also be relatively more expensive. Also, the fact that it requires blood means it’s more invasive. I personally have never tried these because I’m way too scared to prick myself.
And, since blood ketone testers also test for glucose, I think it’s only right that you also ask this question:
“What should my blood sugar be in ketosis?”
Well, there’s 2 sides to this: you either get lower glucose levels or you get ‘em slightly higher.
Of course, because you’re not eating nearly as much carbs and sugar, your blood glucose and insulin levels should naturally go down. That much is easy to explain.
However, in some people, especially those who’ve been in ketosis for quite a long time, their cells have been adapted to using fat (ketones) for fuel, so even the most miniscule carb intake can elevate blood sugar levels.
There’s also this thing called the dawn phenomenon and adaptive glucose sparing which basically means having elevated blood sugar levels early in the morning. In most cases, this isn’t anything to worry about but if you’re worried, getting your doctor’s advice is always going to be the best option.
NOTE: For both urine and blood testing, a result of at least 0.5 mmol/l indicates that you’re in ketosis but aiming for a higher number might be better. So, aim for any value between 1.5-3 mmol/l if you want to stay in ketosis.
Lastly, using your breath to measure ketosis requires devices (i.e. breathalyzers like Ketonix) that measure acetones — a by-product of ketones that’s a telltale sign of being in ketosis.
While blood testers are generally considered more accurate, breathalyzers are significantly more convenient. They’re also more expensive but you don’t need to keep buying strips and/or lancets so it evens up over time. That is, of course, if you plan to stay on a ketogenic diet for a long time.
Whatever method and device you choose though, the fact that you get to know how deep you’re in ketosis will make the ketogenic diet more effective.
How much food are you eating?
Here’s the thing:
I’ve had people come to me and ask the same question you’re asking now — “why am I not losing weight on the keto diet anymore?” — and a lot of times, I find out they were fed the wrong information.
Research suggests that being on a ketogenic diet does not boost your metabolism despite being incredibly effective for weight loss.
This means that even if you’re burning fat for energy and eating significantly less carbs than other people, you still won’t lose weight if you’re eating way too much. It doesn’t help that fat, at 9 calories per gram, packs more calories than both carbs and protein at just 4 calories per gram each.
So, pace yourself. Eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on time and at the right portions. Maybe eat low calorie, low carb snacks in between those large meals to keep your hunger at bay.
Check out our list of easy and tasty keto snacks for rapid weight loss. The list includes ready-to-eat food that you can either buy online or at the grocery store as well as recipes that you can easily make at home.
Speaking of portions…
Are you eating the right amount of carbs, fat, and protein?
Many people think being on the ketogenic diet is all about eating extremely few carbs and absurd amounts of fat. It’s not. You have to eat moderate amounts of protein, too.
The keyword there being moderate.
Too few and you risk losing more muscle than you’d like; too many and you risk snapping out of ketosis.
Losing muscle also slows down your metabolism, which means you burn less calories. Ultimately, this can make weight loss harder, if not stop it entirely.
On the other hand, research says that eating too much protein increases your blood sugar levels because the excess protein — or amino acids, to be more specific — gets converted to glucose.
For your reference, here are the macronutrient ratios of the standard ketogenic diet:
- Fat: 75%
- Protein: 20%
- Carbohydrates: 5%
You can increase your protein intake to about 35% and scale down fat to 60% but any more than that and the risk of you snapping out of ketosis gets uncomfortably higher.
Are you working out or just lazing around?
According to the concept of adaptive thermogenesis, losing about 10% of your weight — and maintaining that weight — comes with a 20-25% decrease in your energy expenditure.
Basically, this means that your body eventually adjusts to the caloric deficiency and burns less calories. This is what trainers mean when they say dieting alone slows down your metabolism, making it harder to sustain weight loss.
The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to keep losing weight with keto, or any other diet for that matter, pairing it with exercise is crucial. As a matter of fact, research has found out that successfully maintaining weight loss generally with regular physical activity.
However, if you haven’t been active for quite some time, jumping straight to intense exercise will only cause you more harm. I suggest you start with lighter workouts. Like walking, for example.
Smartwatches such as the Fitbit Charge 4 will help encourage you to walk more until you reach a certain number of steps. If you need help doing that, we’ve got a piece on how to lose weight walking 10,000 steps a day that you might want to check out.
Are you sleeping at least 7 hours a day?
Multiple studies have associated lack of sleep with poorer weight loss results, if not weight gain. One such study even says that losing sleep can make you lose as much as 55% less fat and lose around 60% more muscle.
Clearly, you don’t want that, especially not on keto where you’re supposed to be burning fat for energy.
On that note, sleep experts suggest aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal functioning. You might not notice it but even sleeping an hour less can bog down your metabolism.
Have you been constantly stressed lately?
Sleep, stress, and metabolism go hand-in-hand. Per research, poor sleep raises the levels of the stress hormone cortisol which messes up your metabolism and potentially lead to weight gain.
It’s not just inadequate sleep that hikes up your cortisol either. Basically any form of stress does that, be it emotional, physical, or even mental.
In most other diets, the association stops there. But, with keto, it runs even deeper.
The same research says that elevated cortisol levels also increases glucose and insulin which can then take you out of ketosis and all of its powerful fat burning benefits.
So, if you’re constantly stressed, take a minute and ask yourself what makes you happy and what’s stressing you out? I know it’s easier said than done but do what’s necessary to catch some positive vibes.
Before I end this, let me answer one other question about keto that’s just floating around the internet:
Why am I gaining weight first week of keto?
This is something a lot of first-time keto dieters go through. And, as far as I know, there’s really no set answer to this. However, there are a few theories.
First, maybe you’re still in a caloric surplus. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating less carbs and more fat. If you’re still eating more food than your body can burn, you’re still going to gain weight.
Second, maybe it’s about water weight. On any low-carb diet, the first thing you’re going to lose is water. But, it also fluctuates. Today, maybe you’ve lost 2 lbs of water weight and tomorrow, gain it all back and then some. This really isn’t any cause for concern.
Third, maybe it’s just your weight bouncing around. This is normal in any weight loss diet, too, and it’s a good example of why the scale can sometimes lie to you. Again, this mostly goes back to water weight. But, if you’re doing everything right, the true results should be apparent to you over time.
That being said, I do believe weighing yourself everyday is a good way to keep yourself motivated. However, comparing your weight on a weekly or monthly basis might be more reliable than daily measurements.
In a nutshell
If you’re still asking the question, “why am i not losing weight on the keto diet anymore?”, then here’s the gist of it:
The ketogenic diet is a very stern and restrictive diet and why you’re not losing weight could be because you’re not following it to a tee.
Too many carbs and you’re out of ketosis. Too much protein and, again, you’re out of ketosis. Too much fat? Then maybe you’re compromising your protein, losing too much muscle, and slowing down your own metabolism.
There are devices that measure ketones through your blood, urine, and breath. Invest in those gadgets to monitor how deep you’re in ketosis, or if you’re in ketosis at all.
Also, maybe it’s just bad habits like lack of sleep and other activities that stress you out. These things mess up your metabolism and therefore retard your weight loss.
There are social factors to this, too. If you’re just not happy about it or if it’s putting a dent on your relationships, maybe the ketogenic diet isn’t right for you in the first place.
In any case, self-evaluation is key.
If this helped, share it with someone who might be asking the same questions. Thanks! Stay motivated!