With keto ‘before-and-after’ photos and success stories flooding social media, the temptation to hop on the high-fat bandwagon—and reap the benefits—has never been more real.
Equally real, though, is the frustration of going keto and not seeing those highly-sought-after results.
If you’re on the keto train but not seeing the results you want, one (or more) of the following roadblocks may be to blame.
1. You’re Dehydrated
All too often, we misinterpret dehydration for cravings or hunger and end up eating more than we really need. And considering the affect a keto diet has on hydration, it’s an easy trap for high-fat eaters to fall into.
You see, the keto diet depletes glycogen, a form of sugar we store in our muscles and liver. And since every molecule of glycogen we store also stores several molecules of water, as we shed glycogen, we shed water, too, says Suzanne Dixon, R.D.
In this sense, we end up ‘dry’ on keto, meaning our body tissues hold less water overall. This alone makes keto eaters generally feel thirstier.
Since the water in our body also stores electrolytes, going keto can mess with our levels of these important minerals. This, in turn, further affects our hydration—along with our overall health and performance.
Whether you’re mistaking thirst for hunger and overeating or just feel generally ‘blah’ on keto, chances are you need more good ol’ H2O. To ensure optimal hydration, Dixon recommends drinking enough water to keep your urine pale yellow.
To give hydration and electrolyte balance an extra boost, add a serving of an electrolyte powder to your water daily. (We like True Athlete’s natural Balanced Hydration powder in Lemon Lime or Fruit Punch.)
2. You’re Eating Too Much
Difficult as it may be to overeat satiating fat—especially once your body has adjusted to a keto diet—it is possible. And considering fat packs nine calories per gram (twice as much as protein and carbs), those extra calories add up quick.
As with any other diet style, it’s crucial that you tune into—and listen to—your body’s hunger cues when following keto. Excess calories are still excess calories, even if they’re sugar-free.
3. You’re Overdoing The Keto Treats
Tempting as keto-friendly brownies and fudgy fat bombs may be, the fact that they’re technically keto doesn’t mean they should be daily staples.
“Don’t allow treats to replace meals you’ve prepared using whole foods,” says Julie Stefanski, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. “It’s important to prioritize as many low-carb vegetables as possible to support your overall health.”
Since low-carb veggies also tend to be low-calorie, they’ll add bulk to your meals and nourish you without racking up the calories. Stefanski recommends loading up on vegetables like broccoli, celery, and Brussels sprouts—and thinking of keto treats as just that: treats.
Not only does this approach set you up for greater fat loss success, but for better health and well-being in the long run.
4. You’re Eating The Wrong Types Of Fats
Though there’s certainly a place for high-quality butter and bacon in a healthy keto diet, going overboard on certain types of fats can impact how you feel on the high-fat diet.
“Butter and bacon are high in certain saturated fats and some meats are often processed,” says Dixon. Over time, over-consumption of these foods has been linked to increased risk of weight gain and disease.
In fact, the World Health Organization has processed meats as ‘group one’ carcinogens, meaning scientific evidence confirms their danger to human health.
Plus, filling your plate with fats like butter and bacon means you’re likely not getting your fill of healthy, plant-based fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil. These fatty foods, many of which contain unsaturated fats, are rich in a variety of nutrients and have been shown to support health long-term.
5. You’re Eating Too Much Protein
When you deprive your body of glucose (from carbs and sugar) on a keto diet, you force it to search for fuel elsewhere—ideally from fat.
However, if you eat too much protein while severely restricting carbs, your body can turn to that protein for fuel.
In a process called gluconeogenesis, the body converts protein’s amino acids into glucose, effectively shifting you back to burning sugar—and kicking you out of ketosis.
“That’s why protein must be strictly limited in order to achieve a fully effective ketogenic diet,” Dixon says. However, most people focus just on slashing carbs and increasing fat, without paying much attention to protein.
Often, these people dip in and out of ‘light’ ketosis, meaning they start to produce modest amounts of ketones, but don’t shift into a truly ketogenic state. Without entering ‘deep’ ketosis, you may miss out on the full potential of keto’s benefits, including increased satiety, fewer cravings, and weight loss.
To keep your protein intake keto-friendly, limit the macro to 15 percent of your daily calories, says Dixon. (On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s 300 calories, or 75 grams of protein per day.) Split your intake up evenly throughout the day.
6. You’re Not Working Out
If you’re on a keto diet to support your overall health and well-being, there’s no getting around it: You’ve got to move your body.
Though you likely won’t have much energy for exercise as your body adapts to using fat for energy the first few weeks on keto, you should be able to get back in the game once you’ve adapted, says Dixon.
Once that initial ‘keto flu’ transition phase passes, prioritize moderate exercise—like cycling, jogging, yoga, or light weightlifting—regularly. (Just keep in mind that since keto depletes carb stores, HIIT workouts and heavy lifting might feel a little meh.)
Not only is staying active crucial to your mental, emotional, and physical wellness, but it’ll also help ensure you see any weight-loss results you’re hoping to get out of keto.
Pin this handy infographic for quick reference: