Has Your Keto Weight Loss Stalled?
7 Reasons Why You've Hit a Plateau

7 Reasons Your Weight Gain on Keto Has Stalled

People decide to adopt the keto diet for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is that they want a reliable way to lose weight and keep it off.

However, people sometimes reach a point where their keto weight loss stalls or they may even experience weight gain on the lifestyle.

It doesn't happen to everyone mind you, but it does happen. And it can be frustrating.

Fortunately, it doesn't need to be a permanent state of affairs.

If you can determine the cause of the problem, you can almost always take corrective measures and get things back on track.

Can You Be in Ketosis and Still Not Lose Weight?

Yes, you can be in ketosis and still not lose weight.

If you’ve measured your ketone levels and confirmed that some secret carb snacks haven’t kicked you out, then one of the most common reasons is that your body has become highly adapted and efficient at processing your dietary fat.

Reducing your fat intake can kickstart the fat burning process again, but before you do that, just go through the following list to make sure you’ve ruled out everything else.

woman on weighing scale

What Happens When Weight Loss Stalls on Keto?

The following are the seven most common reasons people experience weight gain on keto.

  • 1
    You’re not in ketosis - Unfortunately, it doesn’t take all that much to bump someone out of ketosis. Common reasons people suddenly find themselves on the outside looking into ketosis include overeating protein (this can cause an insulin response and resort to the body storing fat) and not eating enough fat (up to 70% of your calories should come from fat). It also includes drinking too much beer (they don't call it a "beer belly" for nothing), and being cute with carbs (allowing yourself to cheat "just a little" because you love this or that carb-heavy dish so much). [1]
  • 2
    ​You’re not accounting for hidden carbs - Just as counterproductive as cheating “just a little” is missing hidden carbohydrates. Did you know there are carbs in toothpaste? There are. You may have been advised to eat nuts on keto. But did you know that some nuts like cashews and pistachios are pretty high in carbs? They are. Overeating fruit or dairy is also a standard way to experience keto diet weight gain [2]. Both food groups can increase your calorie intake without you even realizing it. As can some cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and turnip. [3]
  • 3
    You’re eating excessive amounts of fat - We mentioned above that not eating enough fat may bump you out of ketosis and cause you to gain weight on the lifestyle. But the opposite is also true. Eating too much fat can overwhelm your system and cause weight loss efforts to stall. With the diet, you're looking to achieve a balance between fats and carbs, and not just ingesting as much fat as you can get your hands on. Fat typically contains twice the calories of carbs, so it's crucial that you monitor exactly how many grams of fat you’re consuming on a daily basis.
  • 4
    You’re not getting enough sleep - Not getting enough sleep can sometimes cause people on the keto diet to gain weight. If you're not sleeping enough, your circadian rhythms are disrupted, and this can lead to problems with your metabolic system. Metabolic issues then interfere with weight loss efforts, and you find yourself stuck at a specific weight. You can even put weight that you've lost back on. Always make sure to get adequate amounts of sleep, no matter what your lifestyle is.
  • 5
    You’re not getting enough calories - Just as you have to be aware of eating too many fats or drinking too much alcohol you also need to be wary of not eating enough calories. Eating an inadequate number of calories will cause your metabolism to slow down. As a result, your weight loss will also be slower, or it might even stop. The trick is to balance your caloric intake properly so that you are consuming the right proportions of fat and carbs, and not merely depriving yourself of calories altogether.
  • 6
    You’re under too much stress - It's not unusual for people in high-stress jobs to be overweight. Some of that has to do with them overeating as a response to the stress, but some of it has to do with a hormone called cortisol. Humans release cortisol during times of stress, and this hormone not only helps keep us alert but also causes the body to store fat around the midsection. If you're wondering why you're not experiencing weight loss on keto, it may have to do with your stress levels.
female under stress
  • 7
    You’re sensitive to certain foods - Many people are sensitive to dairy foods without even realizing it. The effects can be subtle and typically manifest themselves in inflammation that interferes with weight loss and can increase fat accumulation and stall your weight loss. When you're on the lifestyle, it's crucial that you monitor your reaction to different types of food. Because if eating cottage cheese, for example, makes you feel bloated or otherwise sluggish you may have a dairy sensitivity that is undermining your weight loss efforts.

FAQs - Answers to Stalled Weight Loss on Keto

Can you gain weight on keto?
As we have outlined above, it is entirely possible that you may find yourself gaining weight on the diet if certain conditions are in play.

Eating too much fat, not getting enough sleep, being sensitive to certain foods and being under constant stress are all factors that can cause weight gain on the keto lifestyle.

Why would I experience sudden weight gain on keto?
Most of the time, weight gain on keto is slow and almost imperceptible but sometimes it's sudden.

This may be because you have experienced an immediate stressful situation or you've consumed an unusually high carb meal that rudely ejected you from ketosis.

Will weight loss stop after keto?
Weight gain after stopping keto is reasonably common but not inevitable.

If you decide to stop adhering to the keto diet, it is likely you will gain back some of the weight you lost unless you are mindful of what you eat and make a point to exercise regularly. 

Is it normal to fluctuate weight on keto?
It is perfectly normal for your body weight to fluctuate on keto.

In the early stages, you can notice a sudden drop as glycogen and stored water will be flushed out of your system, but this shouldn’t be confused with fat loss. Your exercise plan, daily life routines and experiments with your meal plan will also have a direct effect.

As long as the trend is downwards, you’ll be in good shape.

How do you break a weight loss stall on a ketogenic diet?
You can break a weight loss stall on a ketogenic diet by reducing fat intake or going on periods of fasting.

As free energy reserves become depleted, the body will resort to burning off stored fat to increase ketones in the blood.

Some high-intensity workouts twice a day can also do the trick if you don’t fancy the idea of removing even more food.


Summary

man monitoring his weight

Stalled and fluctuating weight loss are the most common things that send keto dieters into a panic with the belief that the diet doesn’t work.

"What have you done wrong?" They ask themselves. "Everything was going so well, and you haven’t changed a thing!"

In most cases the answer is straightforward, and some simple adjustments will put you back on track. By following the above guide, you can use a process of elimination to rule out some common reasons. 

In my own experience, a close look at the amount of fat I was eating plus some hidden carbs I wasn’t counting ended up being the problem. But some quick adjustments put me right back on track.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.