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Your Ultimate Guide to The Keto Diet and Weight Loss

Obesity in the U.S. is officially out of control. And low-fat diet plans and hours on the treadmill aren’t cutting it.

The Standard American Diet is giving way to medical conditions like insulin resistance, heart disease, and liver disease while body fat percentages rise.

Whether you’re struggling with one of these conditions already, or are looking for a preventative strategy, a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet may be the answer you’ve been waiting for.

Just want a diet that burns fat and gives you more energy and mental clarity? The ketogenic diet is also known for balancing blood sugar levels, which helps with fat loss and brain function.

A low-carb diet with moderate protein intake has been shown to increase fat loss, maintain muscle mass, and enhance satiety.

Other health benefits follow — like lowering inflammation, blood sugar, and triglycerides.

Let’s take a look at how lowering your carb intake and increasing healthy fats may be the key to longevity.

Keto and Weight Loss

In the United States, 38% of the adult population is considered obese. That’s more than one in three adults. And if that number seems high, when you combine obesity and overweight populations, you get 70% of the adult population.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that one in every six adolescents ages 2 to 19 are also considered obese[*].

Being overweight or obese are risk factors for several diseases and medical conditions  including[*]:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint issues
  • Gallstones
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Some types of cancer
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy problems

The list goes on…

And the cost of obesity isn’t limited to health. The financial toll of living with diseases associated with being overweight or obese is estimated at more than $210 billion a year[*],[*].

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Of course, diet, lifestyle, and genetics play a role, but where is the anecdote to this obesity epidemic?

Sure, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” diet, but the ketogenic diet is making huge waves in the nutrition and science communities for a reason.

The keto diet has been shown in several studies to not only enhance weight loss, but also decrease markers for diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease[*],[*].

The ketogenic diet:

  • Helps you lose more weight than low-fat dieting long term[*].
  • Improves cardiovascular risk factors[*],[*].
  • Lowers blood pressure[*].
  • Reduces waist circumference[*].
  • Balances blood sugar[*],[*].
  • Reduces LDL cholesterol[*].
  • Increases HDL cholesterol[*].
  • Lowers triglycerides[*].

4 Ways Keto Helps You Lose Weight

#1: Increases Fat Burning

Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body shifts from using glucose (from carbs) as its primary source of fuel to using fat. The process of getting into ketosis involves starving your body of sources of glucose, aka carbs.

Once you sufficiently deplete your body of glucose and its storage form glycogen, it begins making a new type of fuel source from your fat stores — ketones.

When you’re in ketosis, your body is either metabolizing your last meal or pulling fat out of your fat stores to be converted to ketones and subsequently burned as fuel[*].

#2: Suppresses Appetite

Keto can suppress your appetite so you’re more satisfied with smaller portions[*]. This is great news for overeaters.

Appetite suppression on keto is most likely due to the suppression of your hunger hormone, ghrelin.

When ghrelin is present, it tells your body that it’s time for food. But ghrelin works in concert with another hormone, insulin. Since you aren’t triggering much insulin release on the keto diet this hormone dance is inhibited, leaving you feeling full and satisfied[*].

Portion control is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to weight loss. Many people who are trying to cut back on the amount of food they eat for weight loss purposes either end up starving, giving up, or waiting too long to eat and eventually binge eating[*][*][*].

When following a keto diet, you experience more satisfaction with less food. This takes the mind game and the feeling of deprivation out of the equation.

#3: Decreases Cravings

You can have all the best intentions to eat right, workout, and live a healthy life — but when cravings hit, it can be game over.

Research into low-carb diets vs. low-fat diets has shown that low-carb diets significantly reduce food cravings, where low-fat diets increase them[*][*].

With keto, you can stop relying on your willpower and self-control muscle and instead rely on balanced hormones and naturally fewer cravings. When you don’t have that burning desire for ice cream, it’s much easier to turn down dessert[*].

If you find it’s tough to tame your sugar tooth, you may find a whole new peace of mind while following a keto diet.

#4: Maintains Calorie Burning

A common issue that comes with losing weight on a diet is a decrease in your daily energy expenditure. In other words, you lose weight but you also end up not burning as many calories every day.

That means, if you don’t keep your caloric intake low, you will eventually gain back the weight you lost.

For maintenance of weight loss, keeping energy expenditure high is essential.

Unlike a low-fat diet, the ketogenic diet keeps your energy expenditure the same after weight loss. In some cases, energy expenditure may even increase[*][*].

6 Reasons You Might Not Be Losing Weight On Keto

Okay, so you’ve been following the keto diet for a while now. You’ve had some good days, probably felt a touch of the keto flu here and there, but you’re still not losing weight.

What gives?

There are a few reasons that you might not be losing weight on the keto diet. But most of them are an easy fix.

#1: Hidden Carbs Are Keeping You Out of Ketosis

Even if you’re sticking to your keto approved food list, you may be taking in extra carbs without realizing it.

There’s a precise science to getting into ketosis. Unlike other diets where a cheat or two isn’t going to blow it — tipping the carb scale even slightly may keep you from the benefits that keto has to offer.

Hidden carbs are everywhere. Even some of your favorite spices may contribute to your carb count. Sauces, condiments, nuts, and dairy are some other common culprits when it comes to sneaky carbs.

The best way to stay on top of your diet and make sure you’re in ketosis is to test your ketones. There are three ways you can test ketones: urine, blood, or breath.

Ketone Testing

Urine: This is the least expensive but also the least accurate way of testing. The urine test measures the ketones that are flushed out of your body.

Once you’re in ketosis for a while, your body will use ketones more efficiently so you won’t find as many in your urine. Still, this can be an affordable and simple way to test when you’re just starting out.

Blood: Blood testing is the most accurate way to test ketones. It’s a simple prick of the finger, and your ketone monitor can tell you the amount of ketones in your blood.

Breath: Breath is more reliable than urine, but not as reliable as blood testing. The breath test can tell you how much acetone you’re releasing, but doesn’t measure the more abundant ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate.

#2: You’re Eating Too Many Calories

One common mistake you can make when following the keto diet is the assumption that you can eat as many calories as you want, as long as they’re coming from fat.

Unfortunately, the idea that calorie intake doesn’t matter is false — even on a keto diet.

When you eat food, any food, your body has to do something with it. Excess calories on a ketogenic diet will get stored as fat in your body. For this reason, keeping your calories within a range that’s ideal for you is the key to weight loss on keto. Not sure what that looks like? Try this macro and calorie calculator.

#3: You’re Not Eating Enough Calories

The keto diet is rich in satiating foods like butter, meat, and cheese. You may even feel so satisfied with breakfast that you skip lunch or dinner.

The problem is that your body is used to a certain amount of energy coming in. Even if it’s got a vast store of fat that it can dip into, there are evolutionary reasons that make your body’s metabolism sensitive to a sudden lack of energy.

When you cut off its supply of calories, your body responds by decreasing your energy expenditure. So as important as it is to make sure you’re not overeating, you also need to make sure you’re not under eating[*].

#4: Poor Quality Sleep

Getting enough (good quality) sleep is critical for weight loss.

The rest and repair time while you’re off in dreamland allows your body to clean house and prepare you for the next day.

Research has shown that insufficient sleep affects your daily energy expenditure, increases food intake, and can lead to weight gain. Sleep plays an important, and often underappreciated, role in metabolism[*].

If you’re struggling with sleep, try to start a nighttime ritual that will calm you down and get your mind and body ready to relax. A warm bath, reading a book, or meditating are all great ways to start.

#5: You’re Stressed

Stress is the ultimate weight loss inhibitor.

When you’re stressed, your body releases a number of hormones, cortisol being one of them.

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, puts your body into fight or flight, which does not support weight loss.

The chronic presence of cortisol puts weight loss on the back-burner to allow your body to deal with the impending danger.

Here‘s how it works:

  1. You experience acute stress in your life and stress hormones are released.
  2. The presence of stress hormones tells your body to stop looking for food, stop relaxing, and either fight or flee because you’re in trouble.
  3. After a little while the threat is gone, your hunger comes back, and you’re off on your merry way.
  4. However, in the case of chronic stress, which is the state of psychological stress that many people in the U.S. are in today, things look a little different.

Here we go:

  1. You experience acute stress in your life and stress hormones are released.
  2. The presence of stress hormones tells your body to stop looking for food, stop relaxing, and either fight or flee because you’re in trouble.
  3. But the trouble doesn’t go away. You continue to experience stress, and your stress hormones continue to stay high.
  4. In an unexpected twist of fate — your hunger levels start to come back, but they come back with a vengeance. You’re ravenous and you aren’t quite sure why — but you keep eating.
  5. Over time this stress response can lead to obesity and altered metabolism that even the most perfect keto diet can’t save you from[*][*].

#6: Leptin Resistance

Leptin is known as the satiety hormone. After you eat a meal your leptin level rises and tells your brain “I’m satisfied, I don’t need any more food.”

When it comes to weight loss, leptin is your best friend. It regulates your caloric intake and keeps track of how much fat you have stored[*].

Unfortunately, some people can develop leptin resistance, which means that your body is releasing leptin in response to food — but your brain isn’t getting the message[*]. You’re physically satisfied, but you still feel like you need more food.

The best way to combat leptin resistance is through lifestyle changes. Getting on your circadian rhythm, sleeping enough, and eating well will all contribute to a better leptin response[*],[*].

“Keto” Foods You Should Avoid To Drop More Weight

Some foods that are technically keto can stand in the way of your weight loss goals. If you want to get serious about weight loss, try cutting down on or avoiding the following all together:

  • Dairy
  • Keto desserts
  • Canola, soybean and corn oil
  • “Keto” or low-carb packaged foods
  • Processed meats (that contain added sugar)
  • Sugar alcohols

In addition to staying away from the above, make sure you’re filling in the gaps with lots of non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.

Keto Supplements to Help Boost Weight Loss

Supplements won’t make you lose weight, but they can definitely help in conjunction with a healthy keto diet and movement.

Some keto-friendly weight loss supplements are:

  • Exogenous Ketones: Exogenous ketones can help you get into ketosis faster, and help you re-enter ketosis after a carb-heavy meal.
  • Krill Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease your risk of obesity on top of a host of other health benefits like cell growth, fertility, brain function, and muscle recovery[*].
  • Collagen: Among its many benefits, collagen can assist with muscle recovery after training. If you’re incorporating exercise into your weight loss plan, collagen supplementation is a no brainer.
  • MCT Oil Powder: MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are a quick source of energy for your cells. They help with fat burning and assist in weight loss[*].
  • Caffeine: Caffeine increases focus and concentration, and can also speed up your metabolism[*].
  • Greens Powder With MCTs: Full of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables with the addition of MCTs. Taking a microgreens blend is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrition your body needs for optimal metabolism.

For more info on supplements for weight loss check out this article: Best Keto Supplements To Take For Weight Loss.

Fasting and Keto Weight Loss

If you’re struggling to get past a weight loss plateau, then intermittent fasting may be just the thing to kick you back into gear.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a great way to speed up your entry into ketosis, and get you over the weight loss hump. When you’re limiting food intake, it gives your body more time to work on your fat stores because it’s not busy metabolizing dietary sources of fuel.

This not only helps you switch over to fat burning faster, but it also increases the amount of fat you’re using from storage[*].

IF can also help you retain more lean muscle mass than calorie restriction alone. This means the bulk of weight loss is coming from your fat stores, and not from your muscles[*].

How to Measure Weight Loss on Keto

When you measure weight loss, it’s important to understand that muscle weighs more than fat.

This means that if you hop on the scale and don’t see any change, or god forbid you see an increase in the number, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not losing fat.

The best way to measure fat loss is to pay attention to how your clothes fit. If you’re the type of person who likes to track numbers, try measuring yourself two to four times a month with a tape measure. Losing inches is a much better indicator of fat loss than pounds.

Going by how you feel is another great way to assess how successful you’ve been on the keto diet. Some things to pay attention to are:

  • Energy levels
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Hormones
  • Concentration

The Takeaway: Keto And Weight Loss

The keto diet is known for helping people shed weight fast and sustainably.

There are many different ways you can follow a keto diet, but for maximum results, you want to make sure that you’re real, whole vegetables and meat — not processed food.

Following the guidelines above will keep you on the straight and narrow so you can fully enjoy the benefits of keto and avoid the potential downfalls.

For more inspiration, check out this keto weight loss meal plan.


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