Ketosis can be helpful for weight loss, and it can help you burn fat and feel less hungry. However, sometimes weight loss in ketosis isn’t as easy as you might think. You can seem to do everything right and still not lose weight or, in some cases, even gain weight. If you are gaining weight on keto, you may feel frustrated and discouraged. In this article, we will explore the reasons why you gain weight on keto.
Is It Possible to Gain Weight On Keto?
Yes, it is possible to gain weight on keto. If a person does not follow the keto diet correctly, they may gain weight. This can happen for two reasons: eating too much salt and carbohydrates and drinking less water. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent weight gain on a keto diet.
While some people gain weight on a keto diet, it is more likely to happen if you don’t follow a strict diet. This can happen if you eat too many refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. In this case, a ketogenic diet is not the ideal diet for you.
Reasons Why Keto Diet Makes You Gain Weight
If you’ve gained weight on keto, you may be feeling quite frustrated. Shouldn’t you be losing weight on keto treatment? Here are some reasons you might make that can lead to weight gain:
1. Not Being in Ketosis
Sometimes, you may feel like you have drastically reduced your carbohydrate intake. However, you may still be eating too many carbohydrates, preventing your body from burning fat. It’s important to stay on top of your carbs so you can make sure you’ll reach ketosis.
2. Not Counting Calories
Not counting calories while on keto can cause you to gain weight. If you consume too many or too few calories, the keto diet won’t work. This is because the ketogenic diet focuses on what you eat and helps your body regulate insulin levels. When you consume too many calories, it stops the ketogenic effect. This is a biochemical process through which your body produces ketone bodies from fatty acids.
3. Eating too much Fat
Some people may interpret the keto diet as a fat free-for-all, but this is not the way to lose weight.
Anytime you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight. Eating too much of any food can cause a person to gain weight, and fat is no exception.
Fat is the most calorie-dense of the three macronutrients. Both protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, while fat has nine calories per gram. This doesn’t mean that fat is bad for you, but it does mean that eating a lot of fat will increase your daily caloric intake.
4. Eating too much Protein
One of the common mistakes of dieters who follow a ketogenic diet is eating too much protein. In excess, your body converts protein into glycogen. This is not what you want to achieve. This process is called gluconeogenesis, and it is counterproductive to your weight loss goals. Eating too much protein can also increase the amount of food you eat.
5. Consuming too many Calories
Creating a calorie deficit is crucial when trying to lose weight.
This can be achieved by reducing the number of calories you consume or by increasing physical activity to burn more calories.
If you switch to a keto diet and don’t watch your calorie intake, you’re less likely to lose weight.
Because many keto-friendly foods, including avocados, olive oil, whole-fat dairy products and nuts, are high in calories, it’s important not to overdo it.
Most people feel more satisfied after eating ketogenic meals and snacks because of the filling effects of fat and protein.
However, it is entirely possible to consume too many calories on a ketogenic diet by eating too large a portion size or snacking on high-calorie foods throughout the day.
Watching portion sizes, increasing physical activity, and snacking in moderation between meals can help create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight.
6. Snacking Too Much
Snacking on healthy foods can help prevent hunger between meals. However, too much snacking can cause you to consume too many calories and cause weight gain. Instead, keep snacking to a minimum and make sure you keep track of everything.
7. Having too many Cheat Days
If you want to have the occasional carbohydrate-filled cheat day, the keto diet is probably not for you.
Many people who follow a keto diet still have cheat meals or cheat days, and honestly, this diet is clearly not the way to go.
Just one day of eating too many carbs can take your body out of ketosis, the metabolic state where you burn fat instead of glycogen for energy. Maintaining a state of ketosis is the cornerstone of the keto diet, and it’s not easy to get there – which is why going without food for just one day threatens any weight loss you might experience on the diet.
8. Not Eating Nutritious Foods
Apples and bananas may be high in carbohydrates, but they’re still better than the processed stuff.
Studies have shown that eating less processed foods can help with weight loss without changing the macro base (calories, carbohydrate count, fat content, protein, etc.).
This is where things get tricky for some people. Instead of eating natural foods, they choose a fully processed — albeit low-carb — diet (think: protein bars, protein cookies, protein shakes, etc.). Although they are eating low-carb “foods,” this diet is made up entirely of unnatural foods.
Protein bars are great — in moderation. But always try to choose a more natural option. Like eggs! or avocado salad. If your low-carb diet approach consists of only processed, low-carb foods, you may experience some weight gain challenges.
9. Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol intake can harm keto weight loss results in a number of ways. In fact, the extra carbohydrates you get from alcoholic beverages are more worrisome than the effects of alcohol itself.
For example, even zero-carb alcoholic beverages can affect your body in the following ways:
- Adds an extra 7 calories per gram of alcohol to your diet
- Decreases overall sleep quality (when consumed within 4 hours of bedtime)
- Impairs blood sugar regulation
- Causes fluctuations in ketone production
Because of this, regular alcohol consumption can make any major diet changes more difficult and hurt your weight loss efforts.
Abstaining from alcohol completely is usually the healthiest option, but you can still get the results you want by moderating your alcohol intake. In other words, when you drink, keep your alcoholic beverage consumption below two servings per day for men and one serving per day for women. Of course, make sure these drinks are keto-friendly!
10. Undiagnosed Medical Issue
The ketogenic diet is an effective tool for weight loss.
However, if you are still having difficulty losing weight after doing all the right things, it is a good idea to rule out any medical issues that may be preventing weight loss success.
Hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s syndrome, depression, and hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) are medical problems that can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
These conditions can be ruled out by your doctor through a series of tests.
If you have one of the conditions listed above, don’t feel desperate.
With proper management, including medication if necessary and lifestyle and diet modifications, you can achieve and maintain healthy weight loss.
11. Decrease in Your Daily Activity Levels
A fascinating finding in the weight loss literature is that many of us subconsciously reduce the amount of activity we do during the day when we are dieting.
This is thought to be your body’s natural energy conservation mechanism, which is triggered whenever food is limited. As a result, we end up burning less energy throughout the day, making us more likely to overeat and gain fat.
To counteract this, we must make a conscious effort to exercise more throughout the day. However, this doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to go to the gym every day.
In fact, going for a morning or evening walk, gardening, hiking and/or using a treadmill desk is enough to greatly increase your activity level.
Once this becomes part of your keto lifestyle, consider adding resistance training, yoga, fitness classes, or cardio to your weekly routine a few times a week.
12. Chronic Stress and Poor Sleep Quality
Lack of sleep has been shown to increase appetite and cravings, making it more difficult to resist and limit our intake of unhealthy foods. Being under chronic stress can have a similar effect.
In addition, chronic stress and sleep deprivation can cause our cortisol levels to climb, increasing the likelihood of fat storage in our midsection.
You can reduce stress and improve sleep quality at the same time by adding meditation and/or journaling to your bedtime routine. While doing so, make sure you also limit your exposure to bright lights and electronic devices.
Another easy way to improve sleep quality, lower stress levels and get better weight loss results is to increase your daily activity level.
13. Unrealistic Weight Loss Expectations
It’s normal to expect fast results when following a new diet plan, but it’s important to remember that weight loss can vary from person to person.
While a ketogenic diet can promote weight loss, if followed correctly, your weight loss may not be rapid – and that’s okay.
Small, consistent changes are the key to losing and maintaining weight in a healthy way.
While it can be tempting to pursue lofty weight loss goals, most experts recommend that losing 1-3 pounds per week or about 0.5-1 kg (depending on weight) is best.
Not to mention, if you adopt new workouts that involve lifting weights, you may gain muscle while losing fat.
While this may result in slower weight loss, increasing muscle mass and decreasing fat mass is good for your health in many ways. It can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve bone health.
Don’t just rely on the scale; take weekly measurements of your arms, thighs and midsection to track your progress.
14. Taking Certain Medications
Certain medications, especially antidepressants, may cause you to gain weight. If you think the medication you are taking is interfering with your ability to lose weight, discuss it with your doctor.
If you gain weight on a keto diet, don’t get frustrated. Be sure you record everything you eat and check with your doctor if your weight loss efforts are still unsuccessful.
15. Your Eating Schedule Needs Tweaking
Decide when you’re going to eat and stick to the plan!
Set reminders in your phone for meal and snack times. Try not to snack often or in the evening. This can be difficult because those of us with diabetes need to maintain certain blood sugar levels. But the goal is to plan ahead so that you avoid unnecessary calories and carbohydrates.
For example. I know that I always feel hungry around 3:00 pm. To avoid the vending machine options (think: cold, plastic-wrapped burgers and sugary granola bars), I bring yogurt and carrots.
16. You’re Gaining Muscle
One common reason people who start keto treatment notice sudden weight gain is that they are gaining muscle. Along with a new diet, many people decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes weight lifting or resistance training (boot camp, CrossFit, etc.).
While the scale may add up, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Gaining quality muscle will not only lead to better health and longevity for you, but it will also bring you closer to achieving the desired look you’re after.
Many people starting to work out for the first time are also more susceptible to “newbie growth”. When using a resistance training program for the first time, it’s easier to grow muscle than those who have been training for more than a few years. You even have more opportunity for body restructuring, gaining muscle while losing fat.
Muscle is also more metabolically active than fat. Adding muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the number of calories you burn at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and the more you can eat while losing fat.
A keto diet can cause you to gain weight, especially if you are eating a high-carb diet. High-fat diets can be difficult to stick to, especially in the beginning. However, if done properly, they can lead to weight loss and improved health. The best way to ensure that a keto diet works for you is to follow the guidelines and avoid cheat days. A ketogenic diet forces the body to burn stored fat for energy. By eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, your body will burn fat and help you lose weight.