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Recently, I received a message from one of my new friends in the 3 Week Keto Challenge that said, “I started keto two weeks ago, and I’m not losing weight. Please help! How do I lose weight on keto?”
Fortunately, a Keto Diet is the easiest way to make these adjustments.
To be clear, this article is about how to start losing weight on a Ketogenic Diet when you first start. If you have been keto for awhile and are stalled, you’ll want to read this article I wrote about breaking stalls.
Now let’s dig deep into the details about how to actually lose weight on keto.
How long to start losing weight on a Keto Diet?
Remember, weight loss is a side effect of health. A Keto diet promotes health. The weight loss will come.
But your body may have bigger priorities right now.
When you start a Keto Diet, your body has to make some pretty significant changes. Those changes happen in roughly this order:
- Burn through stored glucose in the blood and liver
- Upregulate the mechanisms that burn fat for fuel (get into Ketosis)
- Relearn to use Ketones efficiently as fuel
- Heal/Deal with the changes in inflammation from a lower carb load
- Use your new fuel source to correct health issues
- Burn body fat for fuel (lose weight)
Is It Time for You to Start Losing Weight on Keto?
During the first few weeks on a ketogenic diet, steps 1-4 usually get covered, at least in part.
While you’re making ketones now and you’re on your way, it takes at least six weeks to build all the metabolic machinery that it takes for your body to be really efficient at using ketones.
If you’ve got bigger inflammatory issues or medical conditions, it may take a few more weeks before weight loss is your body’s priority. If you feel your body is working on healing something, try not to be so focused on the scale.
If you’re feeling good and you’ve noticed a difference in how hunger feels, it may be time to make some changes that will help you on the road to weight loss.
Isn’t Ketosis Supposed to Cause Weight Loss?
Here’s a big shocker that you may not realize: Just being in ketosis is not what causes weight loss.
You can’t eat unlimited amounts of fat and still lose weight just because your body is producing ketones.
I’m also not going to sit here and tell you that the only thing that matters is that you take in less calories than you expend.
That old “calories in/calories out” model doesn’t work. It doesn’t take into account that all calories are not created equal. Some foods create an ideal situation in our bodies for burning off extra body fat. Some foods create havoc.
A keto diet gives you the ideal situation. Now use it to your advantage to eat less without feeling deprived, so that your body will burn your stored fat when you take in less calories than you burn.
Two Ways to Lose More Weight on Keto
#1 – Eat Less Fat / Calories
I know, I (or someone else) told you when you started your Keto Diet that you need to eat a lot of fat. And in the beginning of your Keto Diet, that extra fat is incredibly important.
High dietary fat becomes less important when you are fat and ketone adapted.
Think of all that dietary fat that you eat when starting a Keto Diet as ketogenic training wheels.
Once you are fat adapted, you’re ready to take off the training wheels and start burning all that stored energy (fat) on your body!
To lose weight on keto you need to reduce your calorie intake, and since a Keto Diet has a target for protein to maintain your muscle mass (very important) and carbs are already really low, then the one place you can reduce calories is in dietary fat.
While you won’t be working to “hit your fat macro” at this point in your Keto journey, that does not mean keto has become a low-fat diet.
To be clear, fat is still very important, as fat is vital to the structure of our cell walls, hormones, skin, and even muscle building, just to name a few. It also provides satiety. You’ll still most likely be eating more fat than you were before you started Keto. Include enough fat in your meals to be satisfied.
This will differ for every person. Follow your hunger. Eat until you are full – that does not mean stuffed! But there is no reason to forcibly restrict and deprive yourself. Keto works precisely because you don’t have to do that in order to lose weight!
When reducing your dietary fat, do it slowly. Back off a little every few days and see how your body responds. Not feeling hungry? Feeling energized and strong? Losing Weight? Self-assess and adjust again. There is no one right way to keto.
#2 – Eat less often (Intermittent Fasting)
As you practice following your hunger and listening to your body, you will most likely naturally fall into an Intermittent fasting practice. Intermittent fasting is just another way to say that you have an extended period of time during the day when you don’t eat.
For a lot of people, skipping breakfast works well. Since you’re already fasting overnight while you’re sleeping, your body is happily working in a fasted state and it’s easy to continue to do so. When you do get hungry, eat. You may find that you’re hungry around midday, mid-afternoon, or evening. Do what works for your body. Don’t force the intermittent fasting. Your schedule doesn’t have to be the same every day.
Start slowly with intermittent fasting.
You should first consider intermittent fasting only when you’ve reached a level of fat adaption where snacking isn’t really neccessary any more. This simple test tells you that you’re burning stored fat and no long require dietary fuel to keep going through your work day.
Gradually increasing the amount of time from your last meal yesterday to your first meal today is a good strategy. You don’t have to fast every day. Start with one day a week and see how it feels. Increase the length of your fast and how often you fast when it feels right. Follow your hunger, not the clock.
If your hands or feet start getting cold, your body is telling you that you’re fasting too much. Pull back and ease into a rhythm that works for your body.
In Closing – So how do you lose weight on a Keto Diet?
Keto works for weight loss because it provides greater satiety, freedom from cravings, and less hunger, you can easily go longer between meals.
This is the secret sauce to losing weight on a Keto diet.
It’s not the ketones themselves that cause weight loss. It’s the ability to easily and naturally go longer without eating and to be fully satiated with less food. When dietary fat is available, your body will burn it first. When no dietary fat is available, your body will turn to your fat stores and you lose weight!
Disclaimer: While I have been keto for over a decade and have guided thousands of people through starting a keto diet, I am neither a licensed nutritionist nor a medical professional. I never prescribe diets. I only share my personal experiences and those of my clients for informational purposes only. Nutrition details are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical nutritional data. You should consult your medical professional before making any major changes in the way you eat.