Fact-checked by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.
Written by Brenda Godinez
on October 9, 2018
Weight loss is one of the most popular uses of the ketogenic diet these days.
If youre using keto to drop pounds, you are probably wondering how fast you can expect to see results.
Since everyone is different, its hard to get an exact answer, but this article will cover the average weight loss rate you can expect tips for successfully losing weight on keto, and how to avoid common weight loss mistakes
Everyones body is different, which means the weight loss rate for each person is different too.
Your individual weight loss rate can vary depending on 4 main factors:
For example, someone with a slow metabolism and a lot of fat tissue to lose who doesnt exercise enough will take longer seeing weight loss on keto compared to someone with a normal metabolism, slightly overweight, who starts exercising 4-5 times a week along with doing keto.
The key is to stay consistent and focus on eating healthy keto-friendly foods. Treat the keto diet as what it is not simply a diet, but a lifestyle and metabolic shift in your health.
With that being said, what we can tell you is how to start off on the right foot.
Before you embark on your keto weight loss journey, its important to get the basics right.
Some people think cutting carbs is enough to enter ketosis, but this isnt always the case. Its important to make sure youre actually running on ketones instead of carbs, otherwise youre not going to burn fat or lose weight and youll get discouraged.
So how do you make sure your cells are running on fat?
If you tick these boxes when starting keto, youll have the best weight loss results.
Which brings us to
As you know by now, not everyone loses weight at the same rate, but heres what you can expect based on the average results people get when using keto for weight loss:
Typically, in the first week of the keto diet people see a very quick drop in weight anywhere from a few pounds to as much as 10! Thats because at first, keto makes your body release a lot of water weight (not fat) due to your lower carb intake.
This is why that happens:
Carbs need water to stay in your body. When your body doesnt use glucose immediately, it stores it as glycogen in your muscles and glycogen binds to water. Each gram of glycogen is stored with 23 g of water. [*]
When you first switch to keto, your body will burn all the glycogen reserves first before using fat. Once it runs out of glycogen, the water that was needed to store it gets eliminated and thats why the weight on your scale changes so drastically.
While this isnt fat loss, its a sign that your body is working its way into ketosis: fat burning mode.
This rapid water loss may also lead to dehydration and constipation, so drink more water than you normally do each day to keep things moving.
After a week or two, weight loss will happen at a slower and more steady pace. This is also the period of time when youre getting fat-adapted as your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat, which means youll actually be losing fat now.
A safe, average loss from here is around 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week.
Heres what research says about weight loss on the ketogenic diet:
As you can see, weight loss varies depending on how long youre on the keto diet, how much weight youve got to lose, and your health condition. People seem to lose the most fat on the first 2-3 months of the keto diet, although weight loss is sustained for as long as people follow the diet.
Long-term: Slower Weight Loss
As you get closer to your goal weight, weight loss slows down. This is because as your weight decreases, your total daily caloric needs decrease as well. So, even if you continue on a deficit of calories to lose weight, it will now make a smaller difference.
You might have some weeks where it seems you havent lost anything, then youll weigh a week or two later and be down 3-4 pounds. The key is to stick with it and not get discouraged; just make sure youre still in ketosis and give your body time to do its thing.
One study found that after one year on the keto diet, men and women between 30-69 years who weighed between 90-100 kg lost a total of 14 kg (30.8 pounds).[*]
However, most of that weight was lost in the early stages of keto. They
This means the keto diet is effective for fast and sustained fat loss. You will see the biggest changes if you stick with it for a few months, and you wont gain the weight back.
If you feel like you are going through a weight loss plateau after sticking with the keto diet for a few months, there might be habits or foods hindering your progress. Below are common weight loss mistakes and what to do about them:
This one may seem obvious, but its pretty common that people come out of ketosis without realizing it if they stop tracking their ketone levels. So, one of the biggest reasons people dont see weight loss results on keto is theyre not actually on keto.
What to do:
Some of the foods you eat can have more carbs than you realize. These hidden carbs can put you over your daily carb limit and bust your weight loss efforts.
What to do:
Some people tolerate dairy really well and others dont, so figure out which camp youre in. Some dairy like yogurt and whey protein may elevate insulin levels and kick you out of ketosis.
What to do:
Although its harder to overeat on keto due to the filling nature of fats, its still possible to eat more calories than you need. If you dont stay at a calorie deficit, you wont see weight loss.
What to do:
Those who have yoyo dieted a lot in the past might also need to give their bodies time to recover from damage. This might just mean giving the body time to heal while focusing on healthy keto nutrition.
When going keto, its important to focus on more than just weight loss, even if you have a lot to lose. Overall health should be the goal, so give yourself credit for any and all benefits you notice from the ketogenic diet. That could be:
Although weight is a good indicator of progress and is certainly an important marker of health (to an extent), remember that its not all about the number on the scale. In fact, many on the keto diet will say they noticed differences in the mirror more than on the scale.
If youre weight lifting at the same time, you might be replacing fat loss with muscle gain. While this might not move the scale much, itll show up on your body.
The ketogenic diet is amazing for losing weight and improving your health, so stick with it and dont be afraid to make changes as needed. Track what you eat, stick within your keto macros, and test your ketone levels frequently to make sure youre staying in ketosis. Most of all, give your body time to respond to the great changes youre making for it.
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