There is no doubt that keto is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. However, in some cases, despite your best effort, you might find yourself not seeing results.
If you are not losing weight on keto, there could be a number of reasons why. In this article we look at some of these reasons and give you a few helpful tips to help you get back on track of your weight loss journey.
Why Am I Not Losing Weight on Keto?
There are a variety of reasons why you might not be losing weight on keto. These include:
1. Eating the wrong macros for keto
The ketogenic diet is fundamentally structured around specific macronutrient ratios: approximately 70-75% of calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates.
However, getting these ratios right isn’t always easy. You might eat too much protein or carbs without realizing it, which can stop your body from staying in ketosis, and also slow down weight loss.
Equally, an inadequacy of fat or consumption of low-quality fats, such as those from heavily processed sources, can also hinder your progress.
For this reason, it’s important to calculate your macros correctly before you start keto. Using a reliable keto calculator app can help ensure you’re getting your ratios right, which can set you up for weight loss success.
2. Not achieving ketosis
Reaching ketosis, a metabolic state where your body uses fat, instead of carbs for energy, is the main goal of the Ketogenic diet. Your body enters ketosis when you drastically reduce carb intake and increase your fat consumption.
To ensure you’re on the right track, testing for ketosis can be highly beneficial. You can test for ketosis through urine strips, breath analyzers, or blood ketone meters. Blood ketone meters are generally the most accurate, but they can be more costly and require a small blood sample with every test.
3. Eating too much carbs
On keto, carbs should only make up 5-10% of your daily calories. To demonstrate how low this is, a single banana has about 20 grams of net carbs, which is 40% of the maximum daily allowance on keto(*). Even lower carb foods easily add up. For example, a carrot has about 5 grams of net carbs and a serving of peanut butter has 5.5 grams net carbs(*, *).
In some cases, you might unknowingly consume more carbs than recommended due to hidden sugars in sauces or dressings and even in foods marketed as ‘low carb’. Therefore, it’s crucial to be vigilant about your carb intake. To keep carbs in check, consider tracking your macros using a tracking app. Furthermore, always check labels for hidden sugars to make sure they fit your macros.
4. Consuming too many calories
While the ketogenic diet has been proven to aid weight loss, it is still necessary to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight. This is because in order for you to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume so that your body resorts to your fat reserves for energy.
One of the ways you might lose sight of your calorie intake is by overindulging in high-fat foods such as mayonnaise since they are keto-friendly. Calorie tracking, while not always necessary, can be useful in helping you stay within your calorie needs. You may also benefit from calculating your calorie needs and how much you need to cut back to meet your weight loss goals.
5. Eating too much protein
Contrary to popular belief, keto isn’t a high protein diet but rather a moderate protein diet. If you consume too much protein, the excess can be converted into glucose for energy. This can delay or stop ketosis as the body will burn this newly formed glucose instead of fat for energy.
6. Constantly snacking
Snacking can be a part of a healthy ketogenic diet even with the intention of weight loss. However, if you don’t approach it with care, you might find yourself overindulging. This doesn’t only apply to non-keto snacks. Even keto-friendly sweets can hinder weight loss by delaying ketosis or increasing calorie-intake.
Some of the snacks you need to be weary of include fat bombs, keto-friendly chocolate, nuts, and seeds. If you find yourself needing to snack more often, opt for lower-calorie keto-friendly snacks such as cucumbers, celery sticks, and eggs.
7. Consuming too much alcohol
Certain types of alcohol such as hard liquor, dry wines, and light beer, are permitted because they are low in carbs. However, these can still add up in calorie count if you consume them regularly.
For instance, one glass of wine is about 120 calories and if you were to have one every day, it would add up to 840 calories per week. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should consider limiting alcohol to the weekends or abstaining completely and introducing it back slowly once you have seen some progress.
Stress is another factor that can inhibit weight loss directly and indirectly(*). Directly, stress causes the release of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which has been shown to hinder weight loss by encouraging fat storage(*).
Indirectly, stress might cause you to overeat leading to an increase in calorie intake. Continuous stress might also discourage you from exercising which might affect your weight loss efforts.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can minimize stress. First, try being more mindful of your surroundings to protect your mental health. Meditation is one of the most effective ways of practicing mindfulness but other tactics like journaling can also be helpful
Secondly, physical exercise can help minimize stress by inducing the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals like endorphins and dopamine(*).
Finally, surrounding yourself with loved ones that support your goals can help reduce stress and fast track your weight loss efforts.
9. Not getting enough sleep
A healthy adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep everyday for optimal health. However, for various reasons, you might be getting less hours of sleep which could affect your weight loss progress especially if it happens regularly.
Similar to stress, sleep can affect weight loss directly and indirectly. Directly, sleep can slow down metabolism, reducing the number of calories the body burns. Indirectly, lack of sleep can stimulate cortisol which we have seen to affect weight loss. Additionally, sleep deprivation can also promote the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone(*).
To improve your sleep pattern, follow a regular schedule by going to bed at a similar time everyday. Establishing a nightly routine can also help train your body to go to sleep faster.
Furthermore, consider setting up your environment to support a healthy sleep pattern. This includes avoiding caffeine towards bedtime, limiting screen time, and eliminating noise.
10. Not getting enough physical activity
Regular physical activity is not only essential for weight loss but also for overall health. Physical exercise increases the number of calories you burn not only during your workout sessions but also at rest. This is because it boosts muscle mass which in turn boosts your Basal metabolic Rate (BMR), the number of calories you burn at rest.
You don’t have to dedicate large chunks of your day to the gym to increase your physical activity level. Start with more physically demanding activities such as taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, and standing at your desk.
If you have the time, scheduled exercise is also very effective in aiding weight loss. Choose a physical activity you enjoy such as Yoga, Pilates, dancing, cycling, and Zumba to maximize your chances of success.
11. Underlying medical condition affecting weight loss
If you have stuck to your diet but you continue to put on weight, there might be an underlying medical condition affecting you. A common condition that causes this is hypothyroidism, which is a state in which your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroxine, the hormone that regulates metabolism.
Another condition that hinders weight loss is PCOS, a condition that affects women. PCOS triggers insulin resistance and also hinders weight loss.
Other conditions that affect weight loss directly or indirectly include Cushing’s Syndrome, metabolic syndrome, and sleep apnea.
Despite your best efforts, certain medications can hinder your weight loss progress. This includes antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers which can increase appetite causing you to eat more than usual.
Diabetes medications, including insulin, can also cause weight gain or slow down weight loss. Finally, contraceptives may also affect your weight loss progress.
If you suspect your medication is slowing down your journey, don’t stop your medication without consulting your doctor. Speak to your doctor about seeking an alternative or work with a registered dietitian to redesign your diet.
The Bottom Line
While keto is an effective strategy for weight, certain factors can stand in the way of your progress. To get back on track, you will have to address these factors by making sustainable lifestyle changes.
You should discuss any possible health concerns with a qualified healthcare professional such as a doctor or registered dietitian. Remember, losing weight for good takes time and requires patience and effort.