7 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results on Keto
By: Julie Hand
October 23, 2019
- Even though you’re cutting back on carbs, you’re not seeing any fat-burning results on keto. Here are a few possible reasons why.
- You might not actually be in ketosis. (This happens more often than you might think.) Learn how to tell if you’re actually in ketosis and how to boost ketone production.
- Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT oil is the most ketogenic MCT oil for fat-burning, brain-powering fuel. Find out what makes it an essential fat-burning part of the keto diet below.
Despite your best efforts, you’re not getting the results you wanted from the keto diet. Perhaps you’ve plateaued or even gained weight. Not an inch lost. Not a pound dropped. You’ve keto crashed. Now you’re confused. Now what?
You likely heard that a high-fat, low-carb keto diet can help you reach your health goals. Because it contains virtually no carbs, a ketogenic diet forces your body to burn fat instead of glucose for fuel.
Ketosis is the state your body enters when your liver effectively breaks down fats into ketones to use as energy. Without glucose, your body doesn’t have the highs and lows that lead to hunger pangs, energy crashes and cravings. Instead, your blood sugar levels stay more stable. Your body also stays at a healthy weight.
And yet, it’s not working for you. Here, we lay out the top seven reasons why you’re not seeing results on keto. This keto troubleshooting guide sheds light on potential pitfalls to the diet, as well as what you can do to address these issues to start feeling awesome.
7 reasons you’re not seeing fat-burning results on keto
1. You’re not in ketosis after all
According to wellness education specialist Nare Davoodi, RD, ketosis can be tricky to achieve when you’re first starting out.
“A lot of people think they are in ketosis after following the keto diet for a few weeks. Though what often happens is they are not calculating their intake correctly,” she explains.
In order to reach ketosis, you must keep a close eye on your macronutrient consumption—how much protein, fat and carbs you eat daily. While calorie intake won’t affect ketosis, it may impact your weight (more on that later).
The amount of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis varies from person to person. If you’re following a strict ketogenic diet, your carb intake will be lower than if you’re following a cyclical ketogenic diet. Adding intermittent fasting to your keto diet will also allow you to eat more carbs and stay in ketosis.
Though keto carb calculators offer only a rough guide, they can be useful in figuring out where to start. Strict keto diets generally recommend no more than 20 to 30 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day. Some people do best when they start around 50-150 grams of net carbs per day.
How to know if you’re in ketosis
When you’re in ketosis, your liver produces large amounts of ketones to supply energy to the brain and body. One way to determine if you’re in ketosis is to measure the presence of ketones in your bloodstream. There are several ways to test for ketones, though some are more accurate than others.
Urine strips or sticks: Ketone urine strips indicate ketone quantity on a color-grading scale. Urine tests are affordable and easy to use. However, be wary of inaccurate results. Urine tests only monitor leftover, unused ketones in your body. That’s why the strips will be darker, indicating more ketones, when you’re new to the diet. As you adapt to ketosis, your body uses more ketones, so there will be fewer ketones expelled through your urine.
Ketone breath meters: The breath test method, where you blow into a meter, measures acetone levels in the breath. Acetones are one of three types of water-soluble ketone molecules; and in this type of test, the more you have, the farther you are into ketosis.
Blood meters: Blood meters are arguably the most accurate way to assess your level of ketosis. Prick your finger, draw blood and get a reading of the ketones in your blood. The downside is that these meters and blood strips are expensive.
If you don’t want to go the testing route, these signs of ketosis may indicate that you’re on track:
- Strong metallic or fruity-smelling breath, aka “keto breath”
- More energy and increased focus
- Fewer hunger or sugar cravings
- Weight management
Pro tip: Kick-start ketosis with a teaspoon or two of MCT oil, like Brain Octane C8 MCT oil.
MCT oils are medium-chain triglyceride fats that bypass the lymphatic system entirely and are uniquely absorbed by the liver in much the same way as carbs. In the liver, they are quickly converted into ketones, so they’ll put you into ketosis much quicker.
Plus, MCT oil helps you burn fat and gives you much more energy and focus, which is especially helpful when you’re adjusting to keto.
2. You’re eating too much
To stay at a health weight on the keto diet, you still have to watch your calories. You don’t necessarily have to cut them, but you can’t go hog wild and eat three times the amount you used to. Overeat and you won’t see results on the keto diet.
Keep in mind that fat has twice the amount of calories per gram than protein or carbs do. So it’s a good idea to track what you eat in a diet app like MyFitnessPal while you’re getting started.
“If a patient asks to go on keto, I calculate their basic calorie needs to sustain their body and lifestyle,” says Davoodi. “It’s a myth that everyone can eat the same amount and not be affected differently. [All factors considered], it’s true that a 200-pound person and a 150-pound person should not eat the same amount.”
As you manage your weight, you won’t need as many calories to sustain you as you once did, says Davoodi. “It’s helpful to reassess your needs after every 10 to 15 pounds lost. Otherwise, it’s possible you’ll hit a plateau.”
Pro tip: While calories matter, your ratio of macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) are most important. Aim for roughly 5% of calories from carbs, 20% from protein, and 75 percent from fat. Davoodi adds that drinking plenty of water to break down fat is particularly important on a high-fat diet like keto.
3: You’re not eating enough
If you’ve cut calories excessively, your body thinks it’s in starvation mode. That’s why super low-calorie diets stop working.
Your metabolic rate drops to protect organs and normal bodily functions. Likewise, in an effort to conserve itself, your body slows down in response to insufficient energy levels or excessive exercise.
So while you may think you’re making great strides toward your health goals by eating significantly less, you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Your body needs the right amount of high-quality food in the right proportions to reach a healthy weight. And contrary to popular belief, calorie quality matters more than quantity. Focus on hitting your macronutrient goals (high fat, moderate protein and low carb) and eating nutrient-dense, whole foods—not just bacon and butter.
Pro tip: Use a food calculator to estimate how many calories your body needs to lose one pound per week and stick within that range. Hit your macro goals by eating high-quality keto fats like MCT oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and Ghee, grass-fed meats,and eggs from pasture-raised chickens.
4. You’re eating too much protein
It’s a common misconception that the keto diet is a high-protein diet. It’s a moderate-protein diet in which about 20% of your calories come from protein.
Too much protein can actually kick you out of ketosis, says Davoodi, through a process called gluconeogenesis, where your body converts extra protein into sugar (carbs!). Your body will reach for the glucose first and no longer burn fat for fuel.
On the keto diet, you want to eat moderate amounts of complete proteins, which are proteins with meaningful amounts of all nine essential amino acids. Meat, fish and eggs are all complete protein sources. Incomplete proteins from nuts, vegetables and starches are helpful, but they aren’t enough on their own.
Pro tip: Carefully calculate your protein needs, advises Davoodi. Too much and you won’t stay in ketosis; too little and you’ll lose muscle. Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to calculate your ideal protein intake
How much protein to maintain body weight
A good starting point is 0.4 grams of protein for every pound you weigh. A 120-pound woman, for example, would eat 48 grams of protein a day (120 x 0.4 = 48).
If you’re healthy and sedentary, this should be enough protein for maintenance. In fact, some studies find that 0.4-0.5 grams per pound is enough to maintain lean muscle for people who are working out.  At this level, you probably won’t gain muscle, but you won’t lose it, either. Notice that this is far less protein than many diets recommend.
How much protein to build muscle
If you work out hard or lift heavy, opt for about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Rebuilding torn up muscles takes a lot of amino acids. You want to provide your body with plenty of raw material to grow.
Again, you don’t need to overdo it. A study of people doing heavy strength training 90 minutes a day, six days a week, found that they didn’t benefit from going above 0.75 grams of protein per pound. 
On top of that, a 2011 review of research on optimal protein intake for athletes and bodybuilders settled on 0.82 grams per pound as the ideal amount for muscle-building.
How much protein to speed up recovery
When you’re injured, your body uses extra protein to rebuild damaged tissue. The amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline speed up wound recovery and support joint, bone and tissue damage.   Collagen has in all three. To get back on your feet faster, shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day total, with approximately 30 grams coming from hydrolyzed collagen.
This is a starting point. You have to take your own biology and lifestyle into account when determining your individual protein needs. With some experimentation, you’ll zero in on what works for you.
5. You’re eating too many carbs
Carbs can be tricky on keto, particularly because they are hidden in many unexpected foods like cruciferous veggies, green beans, dairy and nuts. Because these are keto-friendly foods, eat them moderately.
Another common misstep: misjudging how many carbs you’re eating overall. It can be difficult to gauge exactly how much food equals 20-50 net carbs a day, for instance, which is typical of the keto diet. You can also calculate how many carbs are in each food with the help of a food tracker app. Learn more about the best keto diet trackers here.
To keep your carbs in check:
- Fill up first up on low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, cucumbers, asparagus, avocado and zucchini. These should fill your entire plate at every meal.
- Be mindful of higher-carb veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.
- Reserve keto-friendly fruit, like berries, for the occasional dessert.
- Focus on high-fat proteins. Pair an egg, grass-fed burger or wild-caught salmon with a green leafy salad and avocado for an easy and filling meal.
Also, take special note of sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and isomalt. Sugar alcohols are derived from plant products (fruits and berries), though their carbs are uniquely altered through chemical processing.
While sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than table sugar, people often overeat them because they are labeled as “sugar-free” or “no sugar added” foods. This is problematic because they can still spike blood glucose levels due to their carb content. You still need to account for them in your diet plan.  Your best bet is to go with erythritol because it doesn’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes. Learn more about alternative sweeteners.
Pro tip: Until you can identify on your own how many carbs are in each food, use an app like MyFitnessPal. You’ll be able to see how many carbs each food contains, and keep track of your daily macros.
6. You’re intolerant or allergic to something you’re eating
Roughly 15 million Americans have food allergies. The most common food allergies are to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish.
While food allergies are serious business, food intolerances can plague you, too. While not life-threatening, food intolerances cause imbalances in the gut leading to inflammation, which may affect the number you see on the scale.
Pro tip: Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re allergic or intolerant to a particular food. A nutritionist can test your blood and recommend next steps, such as an elimination diet, in which you eliminate all suspect foods and then slowly reintroduce them to see how you react.
7. You have leptin resistance
You have a “stop eating!” hormone that plays an instrumental role in your hunger and weight management, and it’s called leptin. It puts the brakes on hunger by sending a signal to the brain when your body’s energy needs have been met. 
Leptin resistance can also affect your thyroid, which secretes hormones that influence metabolism, growth and development. The amount of leptin available to your brain has a major influence on how many thyroid hormones are released into the body. Leptin resistance can throw a wrench in your thyroid function, leading to a slower metabolism. 
How to boost your keto results
Make these simple tweaks so you can get the most benefits out of your keto diet.
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a requirement on the keto diet, but it’s a powerful way to help your body create those valuable ketones.
With intermittent fasting, you eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period, typically 6 to 8 hours, and fast for the remaining 16 to 18 hours. Fasting drains your body of its glucose reserves, so you switch over to burning fat for energy—aka ketosis.
In a 2014 study, adult mice who ate all their food within a 9- to 12-hour period put on less weight and had less fat mass than mice that ate whenever they wanted.
Drink Bulletproof Coffee
When you drink Bulletproof Coffee in place of breakfast, you remain in ketosis without the distracting hunger pangs. Instead of milk or sugar, each cup contains grass-fed butter and Brain Octane C8 MCT oil. These smart fats may keep you full for hours, and C8 MCT oil raises ketones four times more effectively than coconut oil. That means you can power through your morning—without feeling hangry. Get the official Bulletproof Coffee recipe here.
Practice cyclical ketosis (aka carb cycling)
On the standard keto diet, you’re eating very few carbs (less than 50 grams of total carbs a day), all the time. But restricting carbs for a long period can create issues like fatigue, thyroid problems, insomnia and dry eyes.  Your body needs some carbs to perform at its best.
Some people find that cyclical ketosis is a more sustainable approach to keto because you eat more carbs on one day of the week (called a carb refeed day). The other six days are identical to the standard keto diet. By upping your carb intake periodically, you can help satisfy carb cravings, support your sleep and stay at a healthy weight. Be sure you’re eating clean sources of carbs, like squash, sweet potatoes, berries and carrots.
You can learn more about the benefits of carb cycling and how to do it here.
Add MCT oil to your coffee and food
Using a high-quality MCT oil like Brain Octane MCT oil throughout the day (in your coffee, or drizzled over your salad and vegetables) raises ketone levels. A blood ketone level of 0.5 is enough to suppress appetite. Learn more about how MCT oil and keto work together to boost your results.
Check the quality of your fats
Keto is a high-fat diet, but you want to make sure you’re eating good-quality fats.
There are different types of fat in food, and some are more anti-inflammatory and stable than others. In general, you want to eat foods that contain saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and a bit of polyunsaturated fat—think grass-fed beef and lamb, wild-caught fatty fish, grass-fed butter or ghee, avocados, MCT oil and eggs from pasture-raised chickens.
Hit your weight management goals
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