If you’ve been on the low carb, high fat lifestyle and you’re wondering, “why am I gaining weight on keto?”, this post is for you.
Many people assume that just because you are cutting carbohydrates out of your diet, that you’re going to lose fat.
After all, isn’t that the whole allure of the ketogenic diet?
In fact, I’ve seen it several times over where someone who follows the ketogenic diet starts to experience the mental clarity and improved energy benefits but they have reached a weight loss plateau or even started gaining weight.
If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged!
The truth is, there is a lot of misinformation out there in the ketogenic community that can hinder your weight loss efforts.
Being heavily in the ketogenic industry for several years, I’ve been able to pinpoint the exact reasons why beginners and advanced keto-ers alike are gaining weight on keto.
So if you’re wondering, “why am I gaining weight on keto?”
Look no further.
Here are the top 9 reasons why you could be gaining fat instead of losing it on keto:
Not Eating Enough Protein
One of the most common mistakes I see in beginners is a complete lack of protein intake on the ketogenic diet. This is largely due to the belief that eating too much protein can put sugar into the blood through a process called gluconeogenesis.
Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic pathway in which your body creates glucose through non-carbohydrate sources such as protein.
So if protein in large amounts can turn into sugar, shouldn’t it be avoided on the ketogenic diet?
Not at all!
In fact, eating too little protein can be more detrimental to your health than it is to consume too much protein.
Our bodies have several functions that actually need glucose to thrive. This means they cannot focus solely on ketones to live.
But this doesn’t mean you need to eat carbohydrates to refill your glucose storages. Eating protein in larger amounts will give you just enough glucose your body needs to survive and you’ll also benefit from muscle building and satiating effects that come with increased protein intake.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see when people start gaining weight on keto. Do NOT be afraid of eating large amounts of protein!
Stop Drinking Bulletproof Coffees
This may sound like a huge surprise to you, but drinking a bulletproof coffee everyday in the morning is not going to help you miraculously lose weight.
I’ve mentioned drinking a bulletproof coffee to help you get into ketosis several times in past articles but that is to help you get into ketosis.
While being in ketosis means you are burning fat for energy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re burning your own stored body fat for energy.
This is a huge difference that should be noted.
So when you drink a bulletproof coffee in the morning, all you are doing is adding extra dietary fats into your system. Sure, this is going to help your body get into a fat-burning state, but your body needs to burn off that dietary fat before it starts burning off your own body fat.
If you are wondering why you’re gaining weight on keto, there’s a good chance that the fatty, bulletproof coffee you’re drinking every morning is causing you to eat too many calories than your body is burning off.
Not Tracking Macros in the Beginning
One of the main allures for people just started out on the keto diet is that they believe you can eat any amount of food as long as you don’t eat carbohydrates.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just because you are restricting carbs from your diet, does not mean that you’ll start losing body fat. The truth is, tracking the amount of macros and calories you eat in the beginning is one of the fastest ways to start dropping fat and burning ketones for energy.
It’s important to understand how many calories your body needs to maintain the weight you’re currently at. Then, keeping track of your macros will allow you eat at just a slight calorie deficit so that your body is burning more calories than you are consuming. This is the simple equation of fat loss that so many people tend to neglect on keto.
Once you understand how much you should be eating to slightly lose weight over time, you will eventually be able to mindfully eat the correct amounts without having to track every little food and drink you ingest.
But in the beginning of your keto journey, it’s imperative that you track your macros so you know how much to eat.
Not Eating Filling Meals
Eating tons of “keto-friendly” cookies and other processed foods such as processed meats and cheese is a surefire way to overeat on the ketogenic diet.
The bulk of your diet should come from nutrient-dense meals that keep you full for several hours.
This means your meals should consist mostly of:
- Grass fed beef
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Fatty fish like salmon or sardines
- Large amounts of keto vegetables like kale and spinach
- Chicken thighs
The goal is to eat foods that contain decent amounts of both micro and macronutrients. Try to avoid eating too many nuts, dairy, processed foods, and only consume keto-friendly snacks like keto brownies or fat bombs very sparingly.
Missing Hidden Carbs
Be very careful when you buy “low-carb” and ketogenic-friendly foods from the grocery store. Just because the label says they are low carb does not always mean it is.
For example, the difference between eating one tablespoon and three tablespoons of peanut butter could be the one factor that is causing you to overeat in both calories and carbohydrates.
The best course of action is to be highly meticulous with everything you buy from your local food store. Always check the ingredient list and make sure to monitor the nutrition label per serving.
Many times the label will trick you by only showing you a fraction of the servings nutrient breakdown when it really has several servings per container.
Eating Too Much Fat
As explained previously, eating more calories than your body is burning is going to lead to weight gain. Just because you’re on the ketogenic diet does not you can eat as much fat as you want without any repercussions.
One common mistake I see people making when they first start on the keto diet is that they eat way too much fat without realizing it.
During the beginning stages of keto, your fat intake should take up around 65% to 75% of your total daily calorie intake. But the longer you stick to the diet, the less dietary fat you’ll need and increasing your protein will produce better results.
This is because the more your body gets used to burning fat for energy, it can begin to burn off your body’s own stored body fat instead of having to rely on dietary fat.
Chill with the Fat Bombs!
Fat bombs seem to be all of the rage with keto because it satisfies your sugar cravings you may have at first. But most people tend to go overboard with eating fat bombs.
Remember, your fat intake should only be increased at the beginning of this way of eating because it helps prime your body to start burning fats for energy. But once it’s used to using ketones, you need to decrease your fat intake and increase your protein intake.
A good general rule is to not make it a habit of eating fat bombs every day. Instead, use them as a treat and only consume them during your cheat days or every few days at a time.
The bulk of your calories should come from healthy, fatty animal proteins like NY strip steak.
Not Sleeping Enough
Everyone knows how important sleep is in just about every bodily function. Keto is no exception. If you aren’t sleeping enough, your body’s cortisol levels begin to increase which negatively affects your ability to start burning ketones.
Additionally, lack of sleep will increase your hunger cravings, making it more difficult to stick to this way of eating. This is why often times when you sleep less than your body needs, you start craving unhealthy food more often.
Especially when you first start the ketogenic diet, it’s important to get a full night’s rest because your body is going through a major transition phase. This means it’s undergoing more stress than usual so you need to allow time to recover.
Make it a priority to sleep 7 to 9 hours of deep, high quality sleep every night!
Many people have certain food intolerances that may cause them to gain weight. For example, two of the most common intolerances are dairy and nuts.
Since both dairy and nuts are ketogenic-friendly, it’s important to carefully monitor whether or not these foods are the culprit.
A great way to find out if these foods are causing you to gain weight is to take them out of your diet one by one each week. For one week, try cutting out all dairy and assess how you feel. Do the same for nuts.
In general, unprocessed meats are well tolerated so sticking to leafy greens and fatty cuts of meat to start off is a good baseline.
Stop Drinking So Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can hinder your body’s performance to start burning ketones for energy.
If you are going to drink alcohol, make sure to stick to the clear alcohol such as vodka and gin. Stay away from drinking beer as it contains carbohydrates.
Here is a guide on which alcohols are ketogenic friendly : Getting Drunk While On The Ketogenic Diet: Is It Safe?
Follow This Advice to Overcome Your Weight Loss Plateau
If you find yourself asking, “why am I gaining weight on keto?” following these steps is a great way to help you overcome your weight loss plateau.
Remember, just one little change in your keto lifestyle can be the difference between success and failure.
Try to incorporate at least one or two of the tips above into your keto diet and you’ll be well on your way towards achieving the lean physique you’ve been working so hard for!