My X Gym members, friends and family call me the “keto guy” and someone comes to me with a question almost every day about the ketogenic diet. I’ve been on it since 2013 and my beautiful Beverly has been on it since 2016. I researched it extensively before starting and I’m still researching as new studies come out all the time, so people see me as a resource when they have questions.
People also reach out to Bev for recipe questions and requests because she has established herself as the guru when it comes to turning unhealthy sugar-filled desserts into healthy keto desserts. She’s seriously got a gift. Check out our recipe site at hardbodcafe.com and see for yourself. It’s ridiculous.
The reason we have stayed on keto for so long is because it’s the best fat burning lifestyle we have found. I stay between 7-9% bodyfat and Bev stays between 15-19%. Neither of us feels like we are trying to stay lean because we eat all the delicious food we want and never feel even the slightest bit of “hangry.”
Another reason we like keto is because of its amazing convenience. With the hunger issue off the table, we never feel like we “have” to eat, so when we are working hard and on a roll, we can just keep going without having to be interrupted with eating something.
We also like keto because it makes intermittent fasting easy to do, which is another health strategy (and a whole nother post in itself), but the main reason we stay keto is that it’s so friggin delicious!
OK, enough about us. Let’s get to the point of this post – to present the 14 reasons I have found for keto not working for some people, based on what I’ve learned through the research and through the experiences of the hundreds of people I have counseled on keto.
I must also say up front that the keto lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to give it a try, this post should help your experience and success.
If you have tried the keto lifestyle, but have not experienced fat loss, or have hit a stubborn plateau, it’s most likely due to one or more of the following reasons:
1.) You’re not eating clean fats. The ketogenic diet isn’t Atkins. It is about eating high fat and low carb, but it’s also about eating clean, organic, non-toxic food. Too many people think keto is simply about eating 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs. Those are keto ratios, but if the fat is coming from vegetable fats, processed fats, and trans fats, it won’t work. Those fats are toxic and make your fat cells toxic, which make them almost impossible to burn off.
The solution: Stick with the clean fats and stay away from vegetable fats and man-made fats.
2.) You’re eating too much protein. Again, this is not the Atkins diet. It’s not the “bacon and cheese” diet either, like so many people seem to think it is. 20% protein by calories is the max for keto and that’s not much. If you are a competitive athlete, you might need more, but most people need even less than 20%. Excess protein can turn into sugar, slowing your fat burning progress.
The solution: Limit your protein to 50 grams per day on non-strength training days and 70-80 grams on training days (for most people weighing between 150-250 pounds).
3.) You’re not 100% committed. People are proud of themselves when they do 80% keto, but those people usually get fatter. The 90% committed people usually stay the same and don’t lose any fat. It’s only 100% fully committed people who really see the fast and permanent results.
The solution: Wait until you can fully commit. If you find yourself cheating or going off it occasionally, stop trying keto and do some other diet like paleo, primal or Mediterranean that is more forgiving and lenient.
4.) Your fat cells are too toxic. If you have just come off the typical standard American diet, you have some detoxing to do. Your fat cells are full of toxins and it takes a while to get that crap out. The keto diet is a great detox strategy, but you may experience an initial fat loss plateau while your body figures out how to get rid of those toxic fat cells.
The solution: Be patient. If you feel crappy for a while and/or have stinky breath or B.O., that’s a good sign that you are detoxing and fat loss will be around the corner. Once you are on the other side, you will feel more amazing than you ever dreamed because right now, in that toxic body, you are incredibly miserable but you don’t know it because you’ve gotten used to it. Prepare to be amazed! It might take a month or two to see results, but wow, will it be worth it!
5.) Your setpoint is too strong. You might have a long history of being overweight, or your genes have turned off the fat burning fire due to long-term bad habits. There is hope though. You can break through that set point and establish a new one. You can also reset your genes to flip that fat burning switch back on and even pass it down to your kids (i.e. the new science of epigenetics).
The solution: Same as above – be patient. Even if you don’t get fat loss results at first, you are still doing the right thing for your health, so refocus on that. Concentrating on your health and getting off the whole fat loss hangup will distract you long enough to stay on track and then be pleasantly surprised at the fringe benefit down the road of getting leaner as you get healthier.
6.) You’re not getting enough fiber. Too many people go overboard on fatty meat and cheese and forget about their veggies. Since keto is also grain-free, keto people have to eat extra greens to get the fiber they need for proper metabolism and intestinal function. Fiber also helps balance out your gut flora, which has a HUGE impact on how efficiently you burn fat for fuel.
The solution: Feed your flora with nutrients and fiber from tons of green veggies (and fermented vegetables), moderate amounts of seeds and some nuts (and cashews aren’t nuts, btw).
7.) You’re not drinking enough water. Most people – keto or not – don’t drink enough water. When you are dehydrated, your liver isn’t working right and when that happens, it’s not optimizing its 200+ metabolism-related functions. That makes it hard to burn body fat. Plus, drinking water is one of the best ways to detox, so it will speed that process along too.
The solution: Drink more water! And get it filtered too. My favorite filter is the Zero brand filter. How much water? Take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces you should be drinking. This formula works great for people 100-250 lbs., but if you are a heavy sweater, or live in a hot climate, you might need more.
8.) Your stress levels are too high. Cortisol is a tough hormone to fight and if you have high levels of that in your body, due to high levels of stress, it’s going to be hard to burn off fat, even if you are doing everything else right.
The Solution: Stress reduction techniques, like meditation, exercise, yoga, the EFT technique, etc. And fix/change/escape the cause of your stress!
9.) You’re not getting good sleep. Numerous studies have shown that failing to get enough sleep and/or poor sleep quality wreaks havoc on your fat burning ability.
The solution: Get 7-9 hours per night of good quality, uninterrupted sleep in a quiet, pitch black room with all electronics off. And don’t look at any screens within 2 hours of bedtime. And hand write 1-3 things you’re grateful for within 30 minutes of going to sleep. Good Lord – someone stop me, please. I could go on and on about this subject, but I’ll save that for another post someday.
10.) You don’t believe it will work. I know it sounds corny, but if you believe something will work, or won’t work, your subconscious will do its darndest to make that happen.
The solution: If you don’t believe keto will work, then stop immediately and wait until you’ve researched it enough to be convinced it will work. Then start it up again. Skeptics always struggle with any diet or lifestyle plan, which brings me to the next reason…
11.) Unconscious sabotage. Whether you don’t believe it will work, or you don’t believe you are worthy of becoming lean and healthy, or you just have one of those sabotaging personalities, it’s a real thing. People aren’t afraid of success as much as they are afraid of the changes success will bring. Some people feel safer in an overweight body because it protects them from something or some people they have had struggles within the past. I’ve seen people sabotage themselves without even being aware it’s happening.
The solution: Observe yourself carefully and see if you can catch yourself in acts of sabotage. This might be “closet eating,” or thought like, “that one little piece of candy certainly won’t hurt” (which turns out to be a dozen – one at a time – by the end of the day), etc., etc. If you catch yourself with acts of sabotage, stop keto immediately and get that “ish” solved and completely behind you before getting back on the keto train.
12.) You’re too sedentary. Lazy people with sit down jobs have a hard time with any weight loss program or health program for that matter. A huge part of weight loss and getting healthy is moving your body. When you move – especially exercise – you feed your mitochondria, which are the little organelles inside your cells that are responsible for burning energy and making more of it. People who sit at work, then sit in the car on their commute home, then sit and watch TV and then lay down to go to bed have a hard time getting healthy and losing fat. The body just wasn’t designed for that.
The solution: Get a stand-up desk. Wiggle-dance while you are driving. Do crunches or yoga poses if you must watch TV (or better yet – just kill your TV like I did 10 years ago). Exercise regularly (and the more intense the better). Fidget more. Walk every chance you get. Pick the furthest parking spot from the door of the store or your work. Move, move move!
13.) You’re not eating thermogenic foods. Foods that feed your metabolism like coconut oil, hot peppers, fermented foods (i.e. Kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.), green tea, ginger, eggs, ginger, greens, etc.
Solution: Google it. There are too many to list here. Eat the low carb, high-fat options and watch your metabolism and fat burning ability shoot through the roof.
14.) You’re still scared of fat and you’re still not eating enough. The US government has brainwashed us into believing fat is bad and fat is fattening. It’s not. They were wrong. Dead wrong and millions of people have followed their advice over the last few decades, only to get fatter, less healthy and die younger.
The solution: Get over your fear and embrace the fact that fat is good. Eat all the clean fats you want – but remember the more fat you eat, the fewer carbs and protein you can eat, so keep it in balance. You can’t go overboard on fat and still keep eating those carbs and gorge on protein. That’s just overeating like most American do. Stick with 70-80% fat by calories, 10-20% protein, and 10% or less carbs.
Bonus tip: 100% keto people also need to make sure they are getting enough salt. Most don’t unless they are consciously adding it, in the form of pink Himalayan, “Real Salt” from Utah, or sea salt. This won’t help you burn more fat, but it will help you achieve the energy levels you deserve on this lifestyle and it will also mitigate the symptoms of the “keto flu” some people experience in the initial conversion stages of becoming a fat burner.
I hope this helped! If so, pass it along to someone you care about!