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5 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight on Keto (Plus, What to Do About It)

Not losing weight on keto - Keto Function

So, you threw out all of the carbs in your house.

You wrote your keto diet shopping list and stocked up on foods high in healthy fats and keto-friendly supplements like MCT oil and exogenous ketones.

You made it through the dreaded keto flu… All in anticipation of shedding that extra fat you’ve been wanting to lose. But nothing happens. Or worse, maybe you’re in ketosis but gaining weight.

While the many benefits of keto include weight loss, there are a number of reasons you may not be enjoying this positive side effect of the low-carb diet. Let’s jump right in and troubleshoot your ketogenic diet to optimize weight loss.

Why You’re Not Losing Weight on Keto & What to Do

Whether you’re a male or female not losing weight on keto, these tips may be just the extra boost you need to start dropping pounds like you had originally hoped.

1. You Need More Sleep

Before you dismiss this and say it's impossible or unrelated. Please read on. I can't stress enough how important sleep is and you'll see why. Your metabolism is not just a matter of what you eat. It is also influenced by complex factors that affect every area of your health.

For example, improving your sleep schedule can actually help you lose weight.

Our bodies run on a sort of internal clock often referred to as a circadian rhythm. [1] Our circadian rhythm is a delicate balance and controls when we feel tired, hungry, and energized. The levels of sleep we get also impact our hormone levels. [6]

When we do not get enough sleep, whether because of stress, busy schedules, or too much recreational fun, it throws off our circadian rhythm. One of the downfalls of this could be that our energy levels drop significantly in response to a lack of sleep, hindering our weight loss progress.

Another possibility is that we experience increased food cravings while tired, as our bodies are looking for alternative sources to provide the much-needed energy. If you are still adapting to a keto diet, you might already be struggling with cravings and adjusting to a low-carb lifestyle. Cravings caused by sleep deprivation will only make your situation more difficult.

What to do: The best way to avoid this mess is to start taking your sleep more seriously. To maximize your nightly rest, make the necessary changes to your schedule to accommodate a recommended seven to nine hours (for adults). For better sleep, decrease caffeine intake, reduce screen time, and avoid mentally-stimulating work or activities for an hour before bedtime.

2. You’re Stressed Out

Stress can have a serious toll on both our physical and psychological well-being. It can also have devastating consequences for our weight loss goals.

Stress may affect our sleep schedules and circadian rhythm, making an existing sleep issue worsen. It can also leave us feeling tired and too busy to work out or prepare healthy food. Finally, a core side effect of stress can include unhappiness and a loss of motivation, paired with strong cravings for comforting (and often carb-heavy) foods.

Most of us can attest that “stress eating” is a very real issue and can be all the more dangerous when starchy snacks threaten to take us out of ketosis and make us even more susceptible to cravings.

The psychological elements to stress are important, but there are also physical processes affected by it as well. When we experience stress, our bodies respond by producing a hormone called cortisol. In turn, cortisol can increase fat storage and turn weight loss into a huge challenge.

What to do: Fortunately, there are many ways we can address and lower stress levels. By exercising regularly, sleeping sufficiently, and fueling our body properly, we can lower our stress levels, as well as experience a sense of balance within our lives.

Other stress-busting activities include spending time with loved ones, tackling our chores and responsibilities head-on rather than procrastinating, limiting our time spent on social media, and meditating.

3. You Have an Unresolved Health Condition

Sometimes, our stalled weight loss progression is an unfortunate sign that something is not right. For example, thyroid problems can cause weight gain or stalled weight loss, even if your diet and exercise routine are up to par. [2] Stalled weight gain may also be a reaction to certain medications you’re taking or other health conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), depression, and more. [3, 4]

What to do: If you believe you may be experiencing an underlying health condition that is affecting your weight, the best course of action is to address these concerns with your doctor as quickly as possible.

4. You’re Not Moving Enough

Does keto flu have you skipping the gym? Working out is a great way to not only burn extra calories each day, but overtime, you’ll also gain muscle, which helps improve your metabolism. [5]

Sometimes in dieting, we even undereat, which can be extremely detrimental to our metabolism (and our health), so if you think you’ve been skimping on calories, up your intake while monitoring your keto macros and head back to the gym to get your metabolism back where it needs to be for optimal weight loss.

What to do: Pack your bag and head back to the gym! The exact type of exercise you do is less important than choosing a workout plan you will enjoy and stick to. Try to get both the calorie-burning benefits of cardio and muscle-building benefits of resistance, bodyweight, and weight training. Variety also helps make sure you don’t get tired and bored of your exercise routine.

5. You’re Eating too Many Calories

When we drop carbs from our diet, it is easy to convince ourselves that is a single solution that will be entirely effective. Instead, the reality is that we can still consume too many calories from keto-friendly foods. In fact, many snacks that are favored by keto dieters are dense in fat and calories.

What to do: Instead of snacking on nuts, cheese, or other high-calorie foods, consider less calorie-dense treats like Brussel sprouts and broccoli.

Intermittent fasting is also a great way to naturally lower your calorie intake. Many people lower their intake simply by limiting the amount of time they spend eating in a day.

There are many different types of intermittent fasting, and not every method will be best for your body or your lifestyle. One popular option is to choose an eight-hour window in which you can eat regularly (noon to eight at night is a common choice), with 16 consecutive hours of fasting in between.

Another option that is gaining traction is referred to occasionally as eat-stop-eat and involves choosing two non-consecutive days to fast for a full 24 hours, with five days of eating normally in between.

Conclusion

While it’s possible the keto diet just isn’t right for you, don’t become immediately discouraged by a lack of weight loss results. If you’re asking yourself, “Why am I not losing weight on keto?,” evaluate your sleep, stress, exercise, calorie intake and overall health. When in doubt, consult with a dietitian, nutritionist, or healthcare practitioner for guidance on your keto weight loss journey.

Resources

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388543/
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911848/
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622756/
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656591/
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661116/
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767932/

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