Why You’re Not Losing Weight on the Keto Diet

The keto diet can result in impressive weight loss – but what if you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for? These sneaky keto mistakes might be holding you back and keeping the scale steady.

Photo: Zave Smith/gettyimages.com

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The keto diet, which cuts down on carb consumption and increases your fat  intake to replace your body’s primary fuel source, has been popular for years now. One reason it’s been all the rage? Adopting the keto approach can result in some seriously impressive weight loss.

Keto can help you shed extra weight as you get into ketosis and your body starts utilizing fat as fuel. And you’ve likely heard stories and seen awe-inspiring photos of significant weight loss that happened thanks to the keto diet. But simply switching to keto doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to start dropping pounds.

Like any diet, keto works differently for different people. And with different food restrictions, it can be a little tricky to follow precisely at first. So, if you’re wondering why you aren’t losing weight like you’d anticipated despite sticking with the keto diet, these common mistakes might be the cause.

Your meals include too much protein

Protein-rich foods are keto staples. But if you thought the keto diet was all about  beef, bacon, eggs and other heavy-duty proteins, you might be hindering your weight loss efforts.

Too much protein may actually help prevent you from getting into ketosis. This may happen due to a process called gluconeogenesis. When you’ve slashed your carb intake and upped your fat and protein intake, it’s easy to wind up consuming more protein than your body actually needs. As a result, the body can turn to gluconeogenesis in order to deal with the excess. And basically that process turns some amino acids into glucose – which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid on the keto diet. A small percentage of this glucose may enter your bloodstream, having some influence on your blood glucose levels.

So, if you’re regularly eating too much protein, the glucose that’s being created may play a role in preventing you from truly achieving ketosis. And that’s key to the weight loss you’re hoping to achieve.

You’ve adopted “dirty keto” habits

Like any diet, keto is totally customizable. That means you can adjust what you’re eating for your nutritional needs, your taste buds or other personal preferences. But it also means that you could choose the wrong foods – and it’s quite common for keto dieters to prioritize high-fat foods that are processed rather than clean.

That’s called “dirty keto.” If you’re simply trying to get into ketosis by any means possible, or with foods like packaged snacks and other “keto-approved” processed foods that may contain high amounts of sodium or refined oils, your “dirty keto” habits are likely holding back your weight loss. 

Binging on convenient but processed foods can eliminate the benefits of the keto diet. Instead, you’ll want to stick with the “clean keto” approach, which combines the principles of clean eating with the guidelines of keto. Opt for whole, nutrient-rich foods instead of packaged, highly processed products.

You’re consuming too many calories

It’s tempting to indulge in all of the high-fat foods you can eat on the keto diet. But going all in on fat-rich foods can come with a side effect that hinders your weight loss: high calorie consumption.

Typically, on a keto diet, calorie counting is not necessary, in part because the fat and protein menu promote satiety and prevent over-indulgence. But if you’re not losing weight, check your daily calorie intake. It may be that your portions are too large or you are eating high-fat foods too frequently. 

No matter what kind of diet you’re trying, creating a calorie deficit is always key. To do this, you need to either reduce the amount of calories you’re taking in daily or use up more calories by boosting your physical activity. Unfortunately, many keto foods – especially processed ones – are high in calories. This can lead you to think you’re making weight-friendly choices, yet see no movement on the scale.

As you choose foods and create keto-approved meals, keep calories in mind. Since keto foods are often fat- and protein-rich, they’re also generally more filling. You can try smaller serving sizes to keep calories in check. 

And don’t forget about exercise. Getting in regular sweat sessions and living a more active lifestyle can help you balance out your calorie intake. Plus, it helps your overall health and weight loss.

You’re consuming too few calories

Calorie deficits are important, but weight loss woes can also happen if you’re eating too few calories. Sometimes, in an effort to cut back on calories, you may wind up sending your body into a metabolism slowdown.

One of the most surprising things that can happen when you switch to the keto diet is a reduced appetite. Once your body starts producing ketones, your hunger levels can drop and you might find yourself with little interest in food. Unfortunately, when this happens, you’ll likely eat significantly fewer calories.

And if your body doesn’t get the calories it needs it can slow down your metabolism. Your body can decrease the amount of calories it’s burning, in an effort to conserve energy, and you’ll start hanging onto extra calories. That can hinder any attempts to lose weight too.

Even if you aren’t feeling incredibly hungry, try to keep your body fueled with healthy keto foods in small serving sizes. If you aren’t losing weight, you can keep an eye on your nutrient and calorie intake to make sure you’re getting the fuel you need to keep your body burning calories.

Too many carbs are sneaking into your meals

Drastically cutting back on carbs is the hallmark of the keto diet, and it’s what often helps spur weight loss. But even if you think you’ve eliminated most of your sources of carbohydrates, a surprising amount might still be getting into your body.

While it’s easy to spot some carbs – like pasta, bread, potatoes and corn – it isn’t so simple to find them in others. And there are quite a lot of high-carb foods that seem perfectly fine to eat. Some fruits, for example, like bananas, mangoes and dates contain quite a lot of carbohydrates.  Beans and legumes, which are considered wonderfully healthy, are also packed with carbs. One cup of cooked lentils, for example, contains about 39.8 grams of carbs.

Double-check the nutritional info and carb content of your favorite keto foods to keep an eye on just how many you’re consuming.

You’re focusing on diet alone and ignoring your lifestyle

There might be more to your lack of weight loss than your diet alone. While the mistakes mentioned above may all prevent you from achieving your weight loss goals, your overall lifestyle might also play a role.

No matter how closely you adhere to the keto guidelines and avoid the mistakes mentioned here, external lifestyle factors can also throw a wrench in your progress. If you’re living with chronic stress and can’t get a solid night of good sleep, you might be battling your own body. 

Research suggests that chronic stress combined with a lack of sleep can have a potentially negative effect on weight. Additionally, if you’re not facing chronic stress but are often stressed out, elevated cortisol levels may encourage your body to store fat.

To ensure you’re living as well as you’re eating, check in on your overall lifestyle. Are you sleeping? Are you under a lot of stress? Have you been exercising regularly? All of these factors, independently or together, might be holding you – and your keto diet – back in subtle ways.

Learn more about the keto diet and how it can affect your weight loss and your overall health:

Show Your Liver Some Love: A Clean Eating Webinar

Join Clean Eating dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald for an exclusive webinar all about liver health and wellness.