You likely started the keto diet after hearing friends or celebrities rave about their weight loss results. So, if you’re not losing weight on keto—or not losing as much as you expected—you’re likely frustrated and wondering if you’re doing something wrong.
Sometimes, you might be doing a keto no-no that can stall weight loss. Other situations that can hinder keto weight loss are harder to control. But in either case, we’ll share tips on how to manage them.
12 Common Reasons for Not Losing Weight on Keto
Like any diet, keto requires knowledge and consistency to see results. Below are the most common areas dieters need to adjust when following a keto diet.
1. You’re Not Yet in Ketosis
Getting into ketosis takes time, and you can’t expect significant weight loss until you reach and maintain this state, so it’s important to be patient.
The best way to know whether you’re in ketosis is by using one of the following at-home tests:
- Urine strips
- Blood meters
- Breath meters
Physical signs of ketosis include having a metallic or fruit-like scent to your breath, improved energy, and less hunger.
People eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day can achieve ketosis in two to four days. But reaching ketosis isn’t sufficient to lose weight—you must use one of the tests above to ensure you remain in this fat-burning state.
2. Carbs Sneak Into Your Diet
Carbohydrates are the bad player in a keto diet, given that your body will opt to burn them for fuel instead of fat. Ideally, you should aim to eat no more than 5% of your calories in carbs.
It’s easy for the well-meaning keto dieter to accidentally consume too many carbs, which prevents them from getting into ketosis or kicks them out of it altogether. Examples of keto-approved foods that wrack up the carbohydrates if you eat too many of them include:
- Green beans
- Keto-friendly processed foods
So, count carbs carefully when eating these items and stick with lower-carb choices like cucumbers, avocado, and high-fat proteins.
3. Eating High-Protein Foods
You’re on the keto diet, not the Atkins diet. So, a common mistake people not losing weight on keto make is thinking they can eat liberal amounts of protein.
To remain in ketosis, no more than 20% of your daily calories should come from protein. If you’re keeping count from our recommendation of a 5% daily carb intake, that means 75% of your diet should be from fat.
This is because a process called gluconeogenesis turns protein into glucose.
According to a study on the weight loss impact of the keto diet, a decrease in protein consumption didn’t have a significant negative impact on lean body muscle.
4. Consuming the Wrong Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are often the best friend of keto dieters with sweet tooths. But many sugar alcohols still have some carbs and spike blood sugar levels.
Examples of sugar alcohols to stay away from include:
We recommend sticking with stevia or erythritol if you have a sweet craving. Stevia has no carbohydrates. Although erythritol has some carbs, studies indicate that it may lower the body’s blood sugar levels.
5. Food Intolerances or Allergies
If you’re eating one or more foods on the keto diet that you have allergies or an intolerance to, you can kiss your hopes of weight loss goodbye. Allergies and intolerances are notorious for creating inflammation, causing you to retain water.
Symptoms of food allergies include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tingling in your mouth
Food intolerances are often more challenging to identify, as they can include bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
We encourage you to speak with your doctor if you display any of these symptoms. They can perform tests to help narrow down suspect foods.
6. Too Much Stress
There’s no shortage of studies showing that stress can trigger disease and pathological problems. So it perhaps is no surprise that stress can also prevent you from losing weight on the keto diet.
Historically, stress is a means for our body to go into fight-or-flight mode, protecting us from situations that would kill us. It forces the body to shut off or slow down all non-essential functions, including digestion.
Back in the day, stress served us well and kept our species alive. But modern-day stress is prevalent and unrelenting.
The stress hormone cortisol increases blood glucose levels, using glucose for energy. Therefore, your stalled keto weight loss could result from too much stress.
7. Lack of Excercise
Eating excessive calories on the keto diet is easy, given that fat has around nine calories per gram compared to the four calories in protein and carbohydrates.
Although many people can get away with losing weight on the keto diet without exercising, exercise is an excellent tool to help dieters undo excess calorie consumption.
One of the benefits of being in ketosis is increased energy. Therefore, even if you’ve never been a fan of exercise, you might surprise yourself with how much longer you can work out at the gym by following a keto diet.
8. Excessive Calorie Deficit
Your body works off biology, independent of your mind’s desires. Therefore, if you’re following too low of a low-calorie diet while doing keto, your body will slow your metabolism to conserve energy.
As a result, it’ll try to hold onto your fat, believing you’re going into starvation mode.
The good news is that keto foods are naturally high in calories. Some excellent keto-friendly options for increasing your calorie intake include:
- Grass-fed meat
- MCT oil
Calories in versus calories out is a vital rule of any diet. So, if you’re not losing weight on keto, it could be because you’re eating too much.
As mentioned earlier, fat has over double the number of calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates. So, we encourage you to use a calorie tracker to ensure you’re eating within the recommended calorie range for your body weight.
Keep in mind that as you lose weight, the number of calories you’ll need to consume will decrease. That’s because the body burns fewer calories to sustain itself at a lower weight.
10. Sleep Deprivation
According to the Sleep Foundation, adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. So, if you’re getting less than this, or if you lay awake in bed for much of the seven to nine hours, sleep deprivation could be the reason you’re not losing weight on the keto diet.
A lack of sleep can cause many issues for keto dieters, including:
- Disrupts digestion
- Less energy for exercise
- Potential for overeating
Why the overeating, you wonder? Less sleep means you’ll have more time to ponder whether to make a trip to the fridge.
11. Illness or Medication
Certain illnesses and medications prevent people from having the massive weight loss they expected on the keto diet.
If you’re taking medicine, read the label to see if weight gain is a side effect. Below are some illnesses that can make it challenging to lose weight:
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
If you suspect that the reason you’re having trouble losing weight on the keto diet is due to medical reasons, we encourage you to speak with your doctor.
12. Leptin Isn’t on Your Side
Leptin is a hormone that plays the vital role of telling your brain that it’s full. However, several situations can thwart Leptin’s job, including eating sugary foods, a lack of sleep, and, ironically, overeating.
Foods high in lectin can help regulate leptin. Examples of these foods include:
People with leptin resistance often struggle with thyroid issues. As a result, the metabolism often slows, resulting in a double-whammy weight loss challenge while following the keto diet.
Accelerating Keto Weight Loss
Hopefully, you now have a grasp of what could be preventing you from losing weight as a keto dieter. The good news is that there are tools and strategies you can use to kickstart (or re-kickstart) your weight loss.
Some excellent ways to accelerate your weight loss on keto include:
- Use MCT oil liberally
- Drinking Bulletproof coffee
- Try different ketosis styles
- Follow an intermittent fasting routine
We also recommend assessing the types of fats you’re consuming because not all fats are equal. For example, if you’re getting fats from vegetable oils and trans fats, these could be causing inflammation.
The keto diet can be an excellent tool for helping people lose a significant amount of weight. However, many factors could be lurking in the background, thwarting your efforts.
We recommend using a food tracker to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of calories, double-checking packages for hidden carbohydrates, and reducing stress through meditation or exercise.
If you’re not losing weight on keto after following the tips above, it’s best to speak with a doctor. There could be an undiagnosed allergy or illness at play that’s preventing you from living your life at a lower weight.