Whether you’re new to the keto diet or a seasoned vet, I think everyone can agree: it’s hard. Sure the methodology behind it is fairly simple—no carbs—but what a lot of people don’t realize is how prevalent carbs are in our diets. Despite their healthy halo, even foods like fruit and vegetables will kick you out of ketosis if you don’t watch yourself.
If you find that you’re abiding by the rules and doing everything right by your ketogenic diet but both the scale and your belly won’t budge, you may be wondering “what’s going on?”
The fact that this article exists means you aren’t alone, and reaping the full weight loss benefits of the keto diet is difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. Let’s explore the most common reasons why you and many others aren’t losing weight.
1. Too Many Carbs
Okay, so this may be an obvious one, and of course you’ll say that you aren’t eating more than your fair share of carbs, but hear me out! Many keto-friendly foods like eggs, nuts, avocados, and meat contain small amounts of carbohydrates that can quickly add up throughout the day.
A lot of people believe themselves to be adhering to a strict keto diet, but are in fact consuming too many carbs. If you’re having trouble losing weight, start testing your ketone levels to see more clearly where you’re at. A few ways to accomplish this are through the use of urine strips, a blood meter, or a breath meter. If you’re skeptical to which method will be best for you, be sure to read our article on how to test your ketone levels and weigh the pros & cons, pricing, and more.
2. Are You Reaching Ketosis?
This is where testing your ketone levels is especially useful. Believe it or not, but many people aren’t losing weight because they aren’t even experiencing ketosis. When your body runs out of glucose (glycogen) and starts burning fat and creating ketones for energy, these ketones will circulate in your blood.
So the best way to determine whether or not you are in ketosis is by measuring your blood ketones. A blood ketone level between 0.5-3.0 mM is the standard level for ketosis.
If you decide to opt for a urine strip, keep in mind that they aren’t as accurate as a blood ketone meter since they are only measuring ketones your body was not able to use. This can be useful when first starting off on the keto diet, but when your body becomes more efficient at burning ketones for fuel, you’ll quickly find that there will be less ketones excreted through urine, and therein, less measurable by a urine strip.
3. Too Many Proteins
Some people have difficulty losing weight on their keto diets because of protein. Protein is an essential part of the keto diet because it’s the macronutrient that will keep you most sated, however, if you eat too much, it can actually work against you.
When your body ingests too much protein, the excess amounts can convert into glycogen and disrupt ketosis. This means you would have to be eating a lot more protein or taking supplements. 10 or 15 more grams isn’t enough to make a difference.
4. Too Many Fats
I know, I know, the ketogenic diet is based on the very premise of eating fats to your heart’s content, however, it is actually possible to eat too many fats, so don’t overdo it.
Since fats contain more than twice the amount of calories as proteins or carbs, consuming too many will leave your body with excess calories.
Keep your total caloric intake in mind and be cautious to not consume more fats than you need to.
5. Timing of Meals
Eating too many fats, proteins, or carbs isn’t the only thing to keep on your keto radar. Eating at the wrong times is also an important factor to consider as well.
The point of ketosis is to allow your cells to burn fat for energy, but if there is always food calories readily available, then your cells have no reason to turn to fat for fuel. This is why it’s important to go long stretches without eating.
An 8-10 hour eating window (duration in which you should be eating) is generally a good rule of thumb. So for example, if you eat meals all day from 9am to 5pm, then the remaining 16 hours of fasting will leave your body to burn fat.
Intermittent fasting and keto can also be combined to lose weight and feel a great deal better.
5. Work that Body!
Exercise, as you can imagine, is also crucial for weight loss. This may come as no surprise to you, but what a lot of keto people don’t realize is that what kind of exercise you do can make all the difference. 15 minutes of intense heavy weight lifting has very different effects than, say, an hour on the treadmill.
Fortunately, the most effective forms of exercise on the keto diet are those that are least time consuming. Ditch your hour-long cardio session; the best exercise you can do for weight loss on the ketogenic diet is high intensity interval training (HIIT).
This typically involves short bursts of intense exercise such as kettlebell swings, squats, sprints, and deadlifts. This form of exercise creates the hormonal balance necessary for weight loss.
6. Too Many Fruits and Veggies
This one always surprises people. Fruits and veggies, they’re harmless, right? Wrong! Sure they’re healthy snacks, but the fact of the matter is certain fruits and vegetables are packed with carbs, and can be the culprit holding you back.
Some fruits to steer clear of include pineapple, pears, bananas, watermelon, apples, and pomegranate. Some veggies to steer clear of include potatoes, peas, corn, yams, beans, quinoa, and legumes. These are some of the most high-carb fruits and veggies to look out for.
Caffeine is a stimulant that raises your adrenaline. It stimulates your liver to release glucose from its glycogen stores. This ultimately causes insulin to be released and fats to get stored instead of burned. If you find that weight loss has stopped, try easing up on the caffeine.
You don’t have to give it up completely, but try switching to decaf to see how you feel.
8. Closing In on Your Target Weight
Shedding those last few pounds is always the hardest. Keep in mind, losing fat will become more and more difficult as you approach your target weight. Losing weight is always easiest at the beginning of a diet.
The only thing left is to be more mindful of about your calorie intake. Stay active and start cutting back on your calories to shed those last pounds. The final stretch is always the toughest!
Alcohol is another very common culprit that can inhibit you from losing weight. While spirits like vodka, rum, and gin are generally low-carb and keto-friendly, adding a sweet chaser such as pomegranate juice or Coca Cola can cause keep you from ketosis because their sugars.
Try switching to unsweetened cocktails or even dry wines when you feel the need to have a drink. These are much lower in carbs and are just fine in moderation.
If you’re somebody to who still enjoys a social drink or two, be sure to do your research on what alcohol to drink and what to not drink.
But remember rule #1 on this list, carbs are sneaky and add up quick.
10. Never Give Up!
This is probably the hardest lesson to learn, but just remember, the weight will go, you will gain control of your appetite, and you will succeed. Be patient and remember that health is a journey, not a destination. It’s inevitable that you’ll experience failures and setbacks in any diet, but what’s important is that you stick with it regardless.
Be mindful of your carbs, start testing your ketone levels, and time your meals correctly. This along with the rest of this article’s tips will help get you back on track to keep you steady on your journey.
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 Urbain P, Bertz H. Monitoring for compliance with a ketogenic diet: what is the best time of day to test for urinary ketosis? Nutr Metab. 2016;13:77. doi: 10.1186/s12986-016-0136-4. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]