Not Losing Weight on Keto? Here are 10 Reasons Why

Steph Lodge is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant.

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You’re frustrated.

Despite seeing success story after success story, you’re not losing weight on keto. You were expecting an immediate “whoosh” but after an initial couple of pounds lost, your scale hasn’t budged. 

The ketogenic diet can be tough to master if you don’t know the right steps to take to get into ketosis. And once you’re in ketosis, how do you set yourself up for successful, continuous weight loss

Here are the top 10 reasons you might not be losing weight on the ketogenic diet.

#1: You’re Not Actually in Ketosis

Have you been following the ketogenic diet for a while but have no idea if you’re in ketosis? This is where testing your ketone levels comes in.

You’ll only truly know whether you’re in a ketogenic state when you test your ketone levels.

So how do you test your ketones? There are three ways to get measures:

  1. Urine testing
  2. Breath testing
  3. Blood testing (the most accurate)

Urine Testing

A urine strip indicates the concentration of ketones in your urine by changing color. While this type of testing is the most affordable, it does not always yield the most accurate results.

Urine tests only measure the flushed out ketones that your body didn’t use for energy. When your body becomes more adapted to ketosis, it will be using more ketones for energy — meaning you may not have any signs of ketones in your urine at all once you are fat-adapted.

Breath Testing

Breath testing is considered a little more reliable than urine testing, but still not the most accurate.

The ketones that show up on your breath are acetone, not beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Breath testing can be done by blowing into a Ketonix breath analyzer, which gives you a reading based on the level of acetone it detects.

Blood Testing

Blood testing is the most accurate way to measure your levels of BHB. All it takes is pricking your finger with a blood meter. I recommend the Precision Xtra meter

This is considered the most accurate way because there’s nothing that can dilute the results and you see the exact amount of blood ketones in mMol/L.

If you’re not losing weight on the ketogenic diet, the first checkpoint is whether you’re even in ketosis. If you have that covered, there are a few other reasons you may not be losing weight.

#2: You’re Not Eating Satiating Meals

One of the keys for weight loss is eating at a calorie deficit, but it’s also important to pay attention to the quality of the calories you do eat to make sure you’re satisfied — not hangry.

Eating at a calorie deficit doesn’t mean you have to be hungry all the time — in fact, being hungry will only make you miserable, less likely to stick to your diet, and more likely to give in to cravings.

You can eat a calorie deficit and feel satisfied by eating the right kind of foods.

Satiating healthy fats (especially saturated and monounsaturated fats) are the cornerstones of the ketogenic diet. If you want a high-quality keto diet, you’ll need abundant sources of high-quality fats. MCT oil is particularly helpful because it’s more satiating than coconut oil and boosts ketone production, so you can enter fat-burning mode faster. 

One study found that MCT oil can make feel you fuller than coconut oil over the three hours after breakfast.[*]

Not Losing Weight on Keto

High-quality proteins are also important. Fatty cuts of meat (like steak) as well as wild-caught salmon are excellent at keeping you satisfied.

Perfect Keto founder Dr. Anthony Gustin (@dranthonygustin) is a big fan of grass fed beef. Follow him for more keto recommendations!

🥩🥩🥩🥩🥩🥩

A post shared by Anthony Gustin DC, MS (@dranthonygustin) on

You don’t need to shy away from protein — it won’t kick you out of ketosis like you may have heard. The belief that excess protein triggers gluconeogenesis (glucose production from non-carb sources) and therefore lowers your ketone levels is just a myth.

The truth is gluconeogenesis (GNG) is crucial for maintaining ketosis because it fuels those cells that can’t use ketones (like red blood cells) and keeps your blood sugar in a healthy range. Without it, ketosis would not be possible.

Eating more protein than you’re used to won’t increase the rate of GNG enough to put you out of keto because GNG is an extremely stable process. Studies show that even when there are more raw materials for GNG (including protein), the gluconeogenesis rate stays about the same[*].

Excess protein won’t increase gluconeogenesis the same way chocolate cake increases your glucose levels.

#3: You’re Missing Hidden Carbohydrates

Vegetables, dairy, and nuts are on the keto-approved food list, but they can still have a higher carbohydrate count than you think.

Both dairy and nuts should be eaten with caution. One common mistake people make on keto is over-eating dairy and nuts to feel satisfied, but too much of these foods can increase both your carb intake and calorie count without you realizing it. 

Other possible hidden carbs can be found in some cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, fennel, and turnips. You also want to limit your intake of fruit due to its high sugar content[*][*].

#4: You’re Eating Too Much Fat

Another major mistake people make when starting a keto diet is thinking they can eat an endless amount of fat.

This can create a surplus of calories that prevents weight loss[*]. For instance, one pound of body fat contains roughly 3500 calories. This would lead us to the conclusion that cutting 500 calories a day for a week would result in roughly one pound of weight loss.

This is where going overboard with fats could get tricky.

Fats contain more than twice the amount of calories as carbs or proteins, so it’s crucial you count how many grams of fat you’re actually eating and remain mindful of your intake.

This is another way the Perfect Keto Macro Calculator comes in handy. It takes into account your age, height, weight, body fat, activity levels, and overall goals to measure your exact keto macros.

Overall calorie intake depends on your individual goals and needs. If you’re not eating the correct amount of calories, weight loss can be impossible no matter how much you decrease your carb intake. 

#5: You’re Not Eating Enough Calories

This is usually not the case if you’re struggling with losing weight on the ketogenic diet, but along with being unaware of eating too many calories, not getting enough calories can be an issue for optimal weight loss.

When you don’t eat enough, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy in response to inadequate energy levels or excessive exercise[*].

Make sure you’ve created a calorie deficit that your fat stores can still cover, otherwise your body will begin to use lean mass to get the energy it needs.

If you create a deficit that’s too large, your metabolic rate will drop significantly in order to protect organs and normal bodily functions.

Again, you can use the keto calculator to figure out your individual calorie needs.

#6: You’re Getting Too Much Exercise

You know the saying ‘too much of something can be a bad thing’?

That applies to exercise too. Exercise is crucial for improving overall health, however, there is a healthy limit for everyone.

The main type of exercise abused by those trying to lose weight is chronic cardio. Repetitive aerobic training increases your appetite because your body feels deprived and wants those calories back.

And in a battle between your willpower and your biology, your biology will always win. You’ll end up overeating to compensate for the excess calories burned.

While all effective exercise creates some type of acute inflammation, chronic exercise can create systemic, internal inflammation as well as oxidative stress[*].

#7: You’re Experiencing Stress

Stress is a significant factor when troubleshooting weight loss. When you’re stressed out, your body produces cortisol.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a signal hormone known as the stress hormone. It’s one of the top hormones we release when we’re under pressure or in a fight-or-flight situation. Cortisol has the ability to channel glucose to the muscles during the body’s response to stress[*].

It plays a major role in keeping us alert, awake, motivated, and it’s necessary for our survival.

It’s also responsible for storing fat around your stomach area, making weight loss a challenge. The real problem kicks in when cortisol production becomes chronic due to constant stress, so the fat around your stomach starts to increase.

#8: You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Often an underestimated factor, not sleeping enough can stall or prevent weight loss.

Lack of sleep can throw off your circadian rhythms and increase the risk of metabolic problems. All of your organs follow a certain timing (known as your internal body clock), and disrupting it can put you at a severe disadvantage. Maximum fat loss can only be achieved with adequate sleep.

Sleep is also essential for balancing hormones — especially hunger hormones. Ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full) are both affected by lack of sleep. Your ghrelin goes up and your levels of leptin go down when you don’t get enough sleep[*], which is bad news for weight loss.

#9: You Have Food Sensitivities

Even if you are following your macros and tracking your calories, food sensitivities can still throw off your weight loss.

Many people have food sensitivities they don’t even know about — the most common being dairy. Dairy includes cheese, cream, butter, yogurt and ghee[*][*].

When your body is sensitive to a particular nutrient in certain foods such as lactose or gluten, those compounds can cause imbalances in the gut — which then leads to overall inflammation.

Inflammation prevents weight loss and increases weight gain. If you think you may be sensitive to a certain food, it’s important to experiment and pay close attention to what foods make you feel better or worse.

#10: Leptin Resistance

What is leptin, anyways?

Leptin is a fat-controlling hormone that tells your brain when your body is satiated, so it can know when to stop eating[*][*]. Leptin is produced by your fat cells. It’s mainly responsible for regulating how many calories we eat, how many we burn and how much fat we carry on our bodies.

Leptin resistance is when you have plenty of leptin, but the messages aren’t being received. The major causes of leptin resistance include[*][*][*]:

  • Funky sleep patterns
  • A diet full of processed foods
  • Overeating
  • Stress

It’s not that obese individuals don’t have enough leptin — it’s that the signals leptin is sending their brains aren’t being registered properly. The signals tell them they’re not satiated and they don’t have enough energy, making them reach for more food.

Diagnosing Your Keto Problem

So, how do you figure out the root cause for not losing weight on the ketogenic diet?

The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s body is different and will react differently to a number of variables.

Figuring out which foods and habits work best with your body will take some trial and error — but it’s worth it. Run through the reasons above and take note of anything you may be missing.

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Responses (43)

  1. HELP …
    I have been following a keto diet since a week after Thanksgiving. I’ve lost a total of 20 pounds. However over the past three weeks I want to come down 2 pounds. I do check my keytones with a monitor and the fluctuate daily. Anywhere from .3 – 4.4(when I had a chocolate whipping cream dessert for dinner because I used all my protein grams at lunch.)
    Since January 3, more than half of my ketones measurements have been less than 1.5.

    I have been unsuccessful in trying to figure out why. My weight is 175 – goal weight 160. My macros are 15gr carbs, 93gr fat, 75gr protein with calorie goal of 1200.

    A question i haven’t found an answer to is: does each meal need to be a balance of the macros?
    When I go back are review my logging on Carb Manager, I have been concerned about the totals at the end of the day and not as much during each individual meal.

    Trying not to be frustrated :/

  2. Hey Jennifer, seems like 1200 calories is a bit low. Have you tried increasing your calories at all and seeing if that helps get you over the plateau? Our body’s are very smart and will adjust over time so sometimes you need to boost the calories up a little to get things going again. I would focus on having a balance of macros throughout your meal but I wouldn’t get too caught up on that. As long as you’re consistent throughout the week, you should be fine. You can also try incorporating intermittent fasting and/or some exercise to help you get over that plateau!

  3. Re: not eating enough. I am never hungry enough to eat more than 1000 calories. Believe me its not calorie restriction, I am just not hungry. Also, I have severe sciatica and can’t excercise outside of a yoga class a week. I barely get 2500 steps in a day, hopefully that will get better but seriously, there is less need for energy. All that said, I cant get that last 10 pounds off. IF/KETO with great macros and in ketosis. Any thoughts?

  4. Thank you Rachel!
    I have been doing IF since the beginning as it fits my lifestyle well.
    First meal around 12-2
    Second meal between 6-8.
    I will add walking in my day.
    I will increase my calories to 1400

  5. I am a female, 174lbs, est body fat of 37%, and when I did these calculations for macros they seemed way off. I came up with: 2236 daily cal count, 110g protein, 40g carb, 180g fat. This just can’t be right, I’ve done the math several times! Can someone confirm this is correct or is it way off?

  6. I have had the same issues but mainly because eating isn’t as much fun! Try sticking to nutrionally dense foods such as avocado and add olive oil to your meals. Even just a drizzle can up your intake 100 calories per tablespoon. Hope this helps!

  7. hi Janette, if you are not hungry just don’t eat that is the ultimate goal of the keto diet to eat when you are hungry. The last 10 pounds are always the hardest to lose in any diet. Just continue what you are eating and eventually you might lose them, but if your body says no that means you are at the weight you are supposed to be.

  8. I have heard several experts say to lower your protein to 50 grams for a week and it should help. I did it and it worked.

  9. I know I have to stay hydrated and I do consume some regular water but I also drink the sugar free Powerade. I havent’ lost much weight and after reading several blogs I am starting to think that the Powerade has some hidden carbs. Am I correct? Could this be stalling my results?

  10. New Keto dieter Michele here again…. just looking at my numbers closely. Realize 5.3 oz of ribeye steak has 30 g fat! If my total fat intake is 87g per day… then meat and or eggs could account for all of my fat intake for a day, right?

  11. Hi can you help me ..I’m not getting the Marcos thing, Im in ketosis but not loosing weight..I only have 10lbs to loose, January 2nd was my start date and I lost the initial 5lbs plus 4 inches, but I put on 2lbs on I take off 2lbs it yoyo’s back and forth my Marcos were 1200 calories and 70gm fat protien 15gms and the rest carbs..here’s the stupid question is all that to total 1200 calories? how can you have 70gms of fat in 1200
    I’m so cinfused..I basically eat carb free to stay in ketosis..

  12. I guess I am just not good at math because this all seems impossible to figure out. I used my fitness pal but I am not losing. I know I have been in ketosis and appear to be fat adapted as my ketones are no longer showing. I just am not losing. I am meticulous about counting and checking everything so the only thing I can figure is that somehow my calorie count must be off.

  13. what if you can’t change the things that are stalling you or making you gain? Like lack of sleep and stress? If you are awaken several times a night and there is nothing you can do to change it temporarily.(caregiver) What can we do to lessen the impact?????

  14. Need more fat. 70g of fat is only 630 cal of fat which on a 1200 cal day is barely over 50%. Shoot for 75-80% cal from fat.. 20-15% protein and 5% carb

  15. I have been on the Keto diet for 48 days now – In the beginning I lost 15lbs in 21 days eating intermittently — I have been trying to get to at least a 20lb weight loss and I cannot for some reason
    I have been faithful to this diet which is not easy for me
    I have a weight loss goal beginning at 60lbs
    I need all of the advice I can get
    I thank you in advance

  16. WSBarker to be in Ketosis you must consume 20gms or less of carbs. I’m not an expert but everything I’ve researched says so. Also fat must be your largest consumption. Fat is what keeps you satisfied, not feeling hungry. I also suggest you switch from Splenda to Stevia. A MUCH better, natural choice. Also Bullet-Proof coffee or BPTea is amazing!! You can find recipes online but so simple. It might sound gross or even taste gross the first time you try it but it gets extra fat into your body, keeps you satisfied for a long while & seems like your having a very extravagant drink!! I LOVE it!! I also was drinking plenty of water everyday but 2 days ago starting squeezing some lemon into it with a few sprinkles of stevia. Soooo good & now I’m drinking even more. Plus it’s so good for your body.

    I have been doing Keto since 4/9 & lost 30 lbs. I still have 70 lbs to go. Some days I lose some days I go up & down a lb or 2 & it’s frustrating but VERY NATURAL for our bodies! Stay focused on the big picture!! Blessings!!

  17. I have been on keto diet for 8 weeks. I weigh , measure, & record everything. My blood ketones run between 2.3 – 2.8. I take in approximately 1200 calories divided 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs. I have lost no weight in last 3 weeks. My sleep is good and not overly stressed. I weigh 220. Why am I not losing weight?

  18. Im not losing weight on Keto. I lost a few pounds at first, but i basically ate 20g of carbs or less for over a month. I watched my calories and thought maybe i am eating too much protein qand not enough fat so i leveled that out but nothing. I do have a history of thyroid issues, which i had removed 2 years ago and i take Synthroid. Im at a loss. I have friends who have done this with much success. HELP

  19. I’m having horrible leg cramps since starting on KETO. Been taking extra magnesium and potassium but not helping 🙁 So bad that they keep up at night.

  20. SHEILA GALVAN

    Leg cramps can be due to dehydration. Managing your water and electrolyte (salt) intake, should help. More water is good for you anyway.

  21. I am very confused about how to make this work for me. I will lose 1lb and then gain 2 lbs in a day. I have been tracking my macros and have been very close to perfect. But last few days I just keep gaining . I really don’t want to live my life eating spoonfuls of oil— I like the premise of Keto but trying to find what is working and what isn’t — is just not easy. They say trial and error but I spent 2 months taking off 13 lbs and to see in a few days almost half coming back is overwhelming to me. I keep plodding along! Also how can you do IF and get all that fat in 4 hours? Also how is that different than not eating enough and causing a gain??

  22. I have been on the Keto Diet for one week and I only lost 4 Lbs.
    I’m eating very little carbs & only eating until I’m full.
    But I’m not loosing allot of weight at all so far.
    Is sharp Chedder cheese ok to have two slices mixed in eggs.
    I’m eating sausage or bacon & eggs every morning, I’m eating steak or sausage & broccoli & salad at night. I might have a cheese stick snack or hard boiled egg for a snack ( I’m drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day) I have not checked my keystones but I feel I’m not doing this diet correctly. I’m looking for some help.
    Maybe a more exact list of the foods I should be eating would help.
    I asking for some help

  23. I have been on this diet for 2 weeks and have been following very carefully. I have lost weight for sure but I was shocked the scale has not moved at all. Is that normal?
    I thought for sure I would see a weight loss and nope . I am confused. My husband was puzzled as well. What am I doing wrong or right ????

  24. Does eating greek yoghurt in excess quantity, or eating peanuts, or cheese, or heavy cream, does this has to deal with not loosing weight, even though you are ketosis

  25. Another thing that’s very easy to overlook is dehydration. I see at least one response where someone says they are drinking 8 glasses of water a day.

    That’s simply not enough. Keto absolutely needs water to work. A lot of water. Because there’s dehydration involved (which is why keeping your electrolytes up is so important), your body will start holding onto water. The only way to have it let go of that excess water is to ‘reassure’ it that you’ve got a steady supply of water coming in.

    Be sure to find your target water intake using a calculator. (Google ‘water intake calculator keto’)

    So if you’re stalling, this is what I’d do:

    – Check to see your water intake. Make sure you’re getting plenty for your height/weight.

    – Look at your macros. Have you updated them in the last month? You want to make sure they reflect your recent body and not the one you started with. Are you meeting your protein goals for the day? Are you making sure you don’t exceed your fat limit?

    – Check your portion sizes. We have the tendency to guesstimate portions, so extra carbs and fat can creep up if you’re not being cautious. Investing in a food scale is wonderful for this.

    – If you’re still stalled, start looking at foods you may eat a lot of: like that greek yoghurt or peanuts that NISHA is asking about. Depending on the brand, there may be a lot more carbs in there than you think. If it still fits within your macros, then it may be possible that your body doesn’t ‘play’ well with that food. Remove it from your food plan for a couple of weeks and see if that helps.

    If it does help, never fear! You can slowly add small quantities back in to see how much you can take until it stalls you. Chances are, you’ll be able to have something, even if it isn’t as much as you had before.

  26. I’ve been doing keto for a little o er a month. I’ve really not lost anything. I fluctuate up or down 5lbs. I’ve adjusted where others suggested. I’ve increased my water intake. I’ve increased my activity level. I’ve fasted and intermittently fasted. Still the scale will not move. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a medicine I’m on. It’s called megace or megesterol. It essentially has thrown my body into menopause. But from my research it causes weight gain. Just wondering if anyone has any insight on whether this is effecting ketosis. I have the pee strips and I’m almost always barely in ketosis even with taking supplements like perfect keto. Just really frustrated any advice is welcome. Thank you

  27. I don’t know what to think…I have been on keto for a year and a half. I lost 30 pounds in my first 6 months. Then it all stopped. My weight stayed the same for 6 months. Then, slowly, I started gaining back and now I am up 15 pounds. This must stop and I don’t know what to do. I have tried everything I know to change the direction and it is not working. I am barely in ketosis and can’t seem to get that fired back up no matter what I do. The only way I can measure ketones is if I take ketones. I can’t seem to get there from my diet only, and my diet is keto for sure. I don’t cheat but I am getting very discouraged. Any suggestions would be so valued and appreciated. Thank you!

  28. been on keto-“type”diet about 6wks, still not mathematically figuring out my prescribed macros. Overwhelmed. cant seem to understand how to find macros,how to use a calculator,what to load on my phone? im 62yr old grama, 5ft almost 3”, started at 181.8 now 176.4, so many on fb keto groups are loosing lots and very fast. i have low activity. bpc makes me feel queasy,nausiated especially on empty stomach. if I add a scoop of protein powder to it might that help my low bp symptoms of lightheaded, weak feelings? I want to get to 135 lbs, size 8-10pants.

  29. Help! I am on the Keto diet… the first two weeks I lost weight, but the following 2 weeks, I have gained weight. I am tracking my macros, and eating about 1,657 calories per day. Most of the days, I am a little lower from that goal. I walked about 50 minutes per day.. so really I don’t have a clue what it is happening to me. Pls, can someone guide me? thanks

  30. Carol, Are you certain you are in Ketosis? The weight loss could be the low carbs and also water loss. I would check with test strips to see where you are on the scale of ketosis. You may want to look at what you are eating to see if there are any hidden carbs.

  31. Well, reading all these comments at least I feel better. I am starting to think that this diet is great for those who have lots to ,lose, and not so great for those who have twenty or less to lose. My girlfriend who wants to lose like 40 lbs has dropped 18 lbs in three weeks, I haven lost a thing despite doing this for a month. But I am not severely overweight either. When I count my macros I basically need to eat less then 1200 calories a day, no different than a standard diet. Except now I can’t eat half the veggies I like or any carbs , since fat and protein are so calorie dense, I’m needing to eat way less food than if I didn’t worry about carbs….had i just done a regular diet by now I would be down at least 5 lbs. I’m all for cutting processed foods and refined flour and sugar, but just like everything, there is no magic secret. I’m gonna give this maybe two more weeks and I’m out. 😒

  32. I have been on the diet for 3 weeks , have watched every bite I put in my mouth.after 3days I lost 4lbs,was feeling good all cravings were gone and I was thinking this is so easy.on day 5 I was up 3lbs. It was up and down the entire three weeks.im down 11lbs as of today.was hoping for more but will keep at it for as long as it takes to loose 15 more lbs. I think I followed the plan as close as I could,I guess every body is different.dont give up.😊

  33. I have been doing Keto for 4 weeks and I have not lost anything. I’m giving up on Keto. If I was on any other diet eating what I’m eating I would have lost something. I’m not hungry so I eat very little meat. I basically eat a lot of green salad and cauliflower. I walk for 45 minutes 6 days a week. The only dairy I eat is a little cheese. Keto doesn’t work for me.

  34. Hi JoAnne, getting into ketosis may take anywhere from 48 hours to one week and the length in time will vary depending upon your activity level, lifestyle, body type and carbohydrate intake. If your body has been burning sugar for fuel your entire life, it will need time to adapt to burning ketones for fuel.

  35. Just getting started…but trying to wrap my head around the macro calculator right off the bat. Its telling me to have 44grams of fat and 146g of protein, but to only eat 1080 calories a day. How is that possible?? Waiting to goto the store and get started with this diet but I can’t figure out what I can eat within those guidelines. Please help.

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