- In this Article
- Is it because I skip breakfast?
- Do I eat too close to bedtime?
- Is it because I’m under too much stress?
- Is it because of my gender?
- Do I burn calories more slowly than other people?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Is it my genes?
- Is my thyroid acting up?
- Is it due to a problem with my overall health?
- Finding a Healthy Weight
- Tips for Success
- Losing Weight
- mic Listen to the podcast:
- Weight Loss on Keto: Everyone is Different
- Setting Yourself Up For Weight Loss Success
- Average Weight Loss on the Ketogenic Diet
- Common Keto Weight Loss Pitfalls
- Don’t Discount Other Signs of Progress
- Take Home Message
Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
You try hard, but that scale won’t budge. It’s only human nature to wonder if those pounds will ever come off. But don’t raise the white flag and chuck your diet just yet. See if one of these sneaky things is secretly messing with your weight loss hopes.
Is it because I skip breakfast?
It could be. When you take a pass on that first meal of the day, it can work against you. You’re likely to get hungrier later, so you may overdo it at lunch.
Try to eat within an hour of waking up. A high-fiber, protein-packed breakfast can help you feel full, longer. Try cottage cheese with fruit, eggs with whole-wheat toast, or Greek yogurt with a banana.
Do I eat too close to bedtime?
A late-night meal can spell trouble for your weight loss plan. It may raise your body temperature, blood sugar, and insulin, which makes it harder for you to burn fat. Try to eat dinner at least 3 hours before you go to sleep.
Be careful about snacking after supper. You take in more calories than you realize when you nibble while you watch TV or use the computer. You may also be tempted to eat unhealthy foods like ice cream or potato chips.
Is it because I’m under too much stress?
It’s possible. It can make you reach for high-calorie, high-fat foods. Your body also tends to store more fat when you’re stressed out.
Is it because of my gender?
It could make a difference in how you lose weight. A recent study suggests it’s easier for men to drop pounds quickly. But women tend to have more success with long-term efforts.
Where you lose weight can also differ. Guys lose belly fat first, but that area can be tougher for the ladies.
Do I burn calories more slowly than other people?
Possibly. How fast you burn them is based on your metabolism — chemical reactions that maintain your body.
If you have a slow metabolism, your genes may be to blame. Or you may not have enough lean muscle mass. People with lean, muscular bodies burn more calories than people with a higher percentage of body fat.
Other things that can affect how you burn calories:
Getting older. Your metabolism slows down about 2%-8% every decade. That may be from decreased muscle mass.
Eating too little. It sounds strange, but the truth is, if you skip meals or follow a very low-calorie diet, it can backfire by making you burn calories more slowly.
Want to ratchet up your metabolism? Lift weights to boost your lean muscle mass. And avoid diets that have extremely low-calorie counts.
Am I getting enough sleep?
When you don’t get your ZZZs, it can make it harder to lose weight. Your metabolism may slow and you won’t burn calories as fast as you’d like.
You may also have less energy when you don’t get enough sleep. That makes it harder to exercise.
When you’re tired, you’re more likely to make poor diet choices, like choosing sweets over fruit. In a recent study, people who didn’t get enough sleep ate about 300 more calories per day than those who got more rest.
Is it my genes?
Maybe. Some bodies are simply better at burning fat than others. It’s something you inherit from your parents or grandparents.
You don’t have any control over the genes that were passed to you, so you may need to work a little harder to burn calories and lose weight.
Is my thyroid acting up?
If it’s underactive, you may have a condition called hypothyroidism. It can lead to weight gain from a buildup of salt and water in your body.
An overactive thyroid is called hyperthyroidism. Many people with it lose weight, but others pick up extra pounds because it can make you feel hungrier.
How your thyroid affects your metabolism, energy, and weight is complicated. Other hormones, proteins, and chemicals may also play a role. Check with your doctor if you think it’s a problem.
Is it due to a problem with my overall health?
Medical conditions make it tougher to slim down. Some things that could be causing your weight problems are:
Some medicines can also deal a blow to your efforts to drop some pounds. For instance, you might have trouble losing weight if you take drugs for:
If you have one of these conditions and weight is a problem for you, talk to your doctor. He may be able to change your medications.
Dong, F. International Journal of Translation & Community Medicine, February 2014.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Metabolism Myths and Facts,” “What Is Vitamin D?”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “What it Takes to Lose Weight,” “What You Should Know Before You Start a Weight Loss Plan.”
American Psychological Association: “Stress and Eating.”
American Thyroid Association: “Thyroid and Weight.”
National Sleep Foundation: “How Does When You Eat Impact Your Weight?” “Losing Weight with Sleep Apnea.”
Obesity Action Coalition: “Putting the Science behind Exercise — Workout Smarter, Not Harder.”
University of Wisconsin Health: “Tips for a Healthy Breakfast,” “Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain.”
Vitamin D Council: “New study suggests vitamin D supplementation helps weight loss in obese and overweight people,” “Am I deficient in vitamin D?”
How Can I Lose Weight Safely?
Finding a Healthy Weight
Being healthy is really about being at a weight that is right for you. The best way to find out if you are at a healthy weight or if you need to lose or gain weight is to talk to a doctor or dietitian, who can compare your weight with healthy norms to help you set realistic goals. If it turns out that you can benefit from weight loss, then you can follow a few of the simple suggestions listed below to get started.
Weight management is about long-term success. People who lose weight quickly by crash dieting or other extreme measures usually gain back all (and often more) of the pounds they lost because they haven’t changed their habits in a healthy way that they can stick with.
Tips for Success
The best weight-management strategies are those that you can maintain for a lifetime. That’s a long time, so we’ll try to keep these suggestions as easy as possible!
Make it a family affair. Ask your mom or dad to lend help and support. The goal is to make diet or lifestyle changes that will benefit the whole family. Teens who have the support of their families tend to have better results.
Watch your drinks. It’s amazing how many calories are in the sodas, juices, and other drinks that you take in every day. Simply cutting out a can of soda or one sports drink can save you 150 calories or more each day. Drink water or other sugar-free drinks to quench your thirst and stay away from sugary juices and sodas. Choosing nonfat or low-fat milk is also a good idea.
Start small. Small changes are a lot easier to stick with than drastic ones. For example, give up regular soda or reduce the size of the portions you eat. When you have that down, you can make other changes, like introducing healthier foods and exercise into your life.
Stop eating when you’re full. Pay attention as you eat and stop when you’re comfortably full. Eating more slowly can help because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. Sometimes taking a break before going for seconds can keep you from eating another serving.
Try not to eat when you feel upset or bored — find something else to do instead (a walk around the block or a trip to the gym are good alternatives). Many people find it’s helpful to keep a diary of what they eat and when and what they are feeling. When you have to write it down, you might think twice before eating cookies. Reviewing the diary later can also help them identify the emotions they have when they overeat.
Schedule regular meals and snacks. You can better manage your hunger when you have a predictable meal schedule. Skipping meals may lead to overeating at the next meal. Adding 1 or 2 healthy snacks to your three squares can help curb hunger.
5 a day keep the pounds away. Ditch the junk food and dig out the fruits and veggies! Five servings of fruits and veggies aren’t just a good idea to help you lose weight — they’ll help you feel full and keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy. Other suggestions for eating well:
- choose whole-wheat bread and other whole grains, like brown rice and oatmeal
- eat a healthy breakfast
- keep portions under control
Avoid fad diets. It’s never a good idea to trade meals for shakes or to give up a food group in the hope that you’ll lose weight — we all need a variety of foods to get the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Avoid diet pills (even the over-the-counter or herbal variety). They can be dangerous to your health; besides, there’s no evidence that they help keep weight off over the long term.
Don’t banish certain foods. Don’t tell yourself you’ll never again eat your absolutely favorite peanut butter chocolate ice cream. Making all treats forbidden is sure to make you want them even more. The key to long-term success is making healthy choices most of the time. If you want a piece of cake at a party, go for it! But munch on the carrots rather than the chips to balance it out.
Get moving. You may find that you don’t need to cut calories as much as you need to get off your behind. Don’t get stuck thinking you have to play a team sport or take an aerobics class to get exercise. Try a variety of activities from hiking to cycling to dancing until you find ones you like.
Not a jock? Find other ways to fit activity into your day: walk to school, jog up and down the stairs a couple of times before your morning shower, turn off the tube and help your parents in the garden, or take a stroll past your crush’s house — anything that gets you moving. Your goal should be to work up to 60 minutes of exercise every day. But everyone has to begin somewhere. It’s fine to start out by simply taking a few turns around the block after school and building up your levels of fitness gradually.
Build muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat. So adding strength training to your exercise routine can help you reach your weight loss goals as well as give you a toned bod. And weights are not the only way to go: Try resistance bands, pilates, or push-ups to get strong. A good, well-balanced fitness routine includes aerobic workouts, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Forgive yourself. So you were going to have one cracker with spray cheese on it and the next thing you know the can’s pumping air and the box is empty? Drink some water, brush your teeth, and move on. Everyone who’s ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don’t look back.
Can One Lose Weight Just by Doing Pilates or Yoga?
One of the most important components of a successful workout routine is finding the right exercises to help you burn calories. You need to find the right balance between how much you enjoy an activity and its effectiveness in helping you reach your fitness goals. While you can lose weight doing slower exercises like yoga or Pilates, they may not be as time-effective as more vigorous aerobic exercises.
Losing weight is a matter of burning off more calories than your consume each day. The amount of calories your body uses depends on your age, sex, body size and activity level. The average adult female burns 1,800 calories without much exercise, and the average adult male burns 2,400. To lose a pound a week, your exercise routine needs to burn at least 500 more calories than you consume each day, as 1 pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories.
Pilates and yoga may not be ideal exercises for losing weight. Their emphasis on slow movements and holding poses means you do not get the vigorous workout you may need to burn many calories. For example, a 155-pound person may burn about 298 calories doing yoga or Pilates for an hour, whereas an hour of running burns four times that amount. The 298 calories you burn doing yoga can help you lose weight, but you need to restrict your diet more than you would if you performed more vigorous exercise.
Pilates and yoga may have indirect benefits that help you lose weight, even if they do not help you burn many calories outright. Yoga improves your mood. This may enable you to shed pounds by helping with stress-related eating compulsions. People who practice yoga regularly tend to resist weight gain better, according to A.R. Kristal and colleagues in a July 2005 article in the journal, “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.” Kristal and colleagues tracked the weights of 15,550 middle-aged adults for 10 years and found that those who practiced yoga ended up being 3 pounds lighter at the end of the study.
Consider using yoga or Pilates as a warm-up routine to get yourself ready for a more intense aerobic workout. Doing Pilates or yoga before an aerobic workout will stretch your muscles and get you ready for more intense exercise. Or you can save Pilates or yoga for after a workout to help cool down and calm your mind after doing cardio. Yoga or Pilates may also help you get the core stability and balance you need to excel at more vigorous aerobic exercises.
Can a Lottery Help You Lose Weight?
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From gym memberships to free Fitbits, companies are offering an array of incentives to encourage their employees to get healthy and lose weight. It’s an admirable goal with a financial bottom line: Workforce wellness translates into fewer absences and reduced health insurance costs for the employer. Mitesh Patel, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and a professor of health care management at Wharton, thinks there’s a better way to motivate employees than with freebies. His most recent research reveals that cash lotteries are powerful incentives for people to lose weight. The paper he coauthored on the topic is titled, “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Lottery-based Financial Incentives to Increase Physical Activity Among Overweight and Obese Adults.”
Patel, who is director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, the world’s first behavioral design team embedded within a health system, recently spoke about his team’s findings on the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
Knowledge@Wharton: Why did you pursue this particular research?
Mitesh Patel: Rates of obesity are rising. Nearly 70% of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese. We know that better diet and more exercise can help people lose weight, but the challenge is getting people to actually adhere to those strict regimens. The idea is based on something that’s already prevalent in the industry, which is more than 85% of large employers use financial incentives for health promotion. Most are targeting ways to increase physical activity. Many are starting to offer wearable devices or other types of platforms to help employees track their own physical activity and step counts. We wanted to test what’s the best way to design an incentive to motivate employees.
Knowledge@Wharton: Some companies offer incentives such as gym membership reimbursements for meeting health goals, but you wanted to look at a lottery method. Why?
Patel: Many programs are using lotteries or drawings to motivate people. The challenge of the mechanism that you describe is that it requires you to do a bunch of stuff up front, then it gives you a rebate that’s kind of buried along with other things. We wanted to test ways to pull that incentive out, make it more salient, more visible, and leverage the fact that people are so motivated by lotteries. In the United States, we spend $75 billion a year on lottery tickets, so people are already familiar with it, and it really drives people to change their behaviors. This is meant to [test whether] people will place a bet on their own well-being. Will they bet on themselves to be more physically active and change behaviors?
Knowledge@Wharton: How does it work?
Patel: The standard way is either a simple lottery, which is you have a 1-in-4 chance every day of getting $5, or a jackpot lottery, which is a very large amount of money available. In our study, we used $500, but there’s a 1-in-400 chance. People rarely win that.
Those two mechanisms are hard because people learn quickly that they don’t win in the jackpot, so they get discouraged quickly, and the other one is kind of the same every day. So, we added a third one as a randomized trial. People are randomly assigned to one of the three lotteries or a control arm. The third one is what we call a combined lottery or a two-tiered lottery. Essentially, you have a 1-in-5 chance of winning $5, or a 1-in-100 chance of winning $50. We tested which of these three lottery incentives would get people to be more physically active, compared to control.
“This is meant to [test whether] people will place a bet on their own well-being. Will they bet on themselves to be more physically active and change behaviors?”
Knowledge@Wharton: Was there a significant difference among them?
Patel: The combined lottery worked the best. In the control arm, people reached their 7,000-step per day goal 26% of the time. But in the combined lottery, it was 38% of the time — a 12 percentage point increase, almost a 50% relative increase.
In the other two arms I described — the simple lottery or the jackpot lottery – there was essentially no difference from control. We found in the jackpot lottery that people started really high but got demotivated very fast. By the end of the study, they were actually doing worse than the arm that got no incentive to start with.
Knowledge@Wharton: What do you think accounts for the difference with the combined lottery?
Patel: I think the combined lottery in many ways works like the standard lottery that we think of. When you buy a lottery tickets, there’s a $500 million jackpot lottery. But that’s not the only thing, right? If you match two or three numbers, you might win $20 or $100. The method there is to keep you engaged. You know that you’re going to win something. The combined lottery really leverages that. You win something small, which kind of keeps support, but then you have that large jackpot in front of you. It’s a balancing of the two different mechanisms.
Knowledge@Wharton: How can companies use this information to structure their programs for better health outcomes for their employees?
Patel: Employers are doing this for a variety of reasons. They want to reduce unnecessary costs, but they also want to make their workplace a healthy one. They want to build a culture where people are excited about being healthy, so I think promoting these types of efforts works along all of those lines.
Knowledge@Wharton High School
One of the challenges is that most employer-based financial incentives for health promotion are focused on standard economics — this idea that you can use a simple lottery. Either you win a small amount every day, or there’s a large jackpot. In truth, we see mostly that people have the large jackpots. What we found, which was interesting in this study, is those can actually be discouraging because people very quickly realize that they don’t have very good chances of winning.
I think what employers could do is take these findings, along with the other findings we found in other studies, and really take a step back and say, “The way we design these incentives really matters, so let’s put some thought into this. Let’s look at the evidence out there, including this study and others, and think about better ways to align our incentives with the goals of our employees.”
Knowledge@Wharton: When the lottery jackpot gets very high, more people jump in and buy tickets because they’re willing to take that gamble. Was that an element of the study?
Patel: In the $500 lottery, people got really excited. The challenge I think that’s key is the difference between a one-time behavior, like getting vaccinated for the flu, versus a continuous behavior, like reaching your step goal every day.
If it’s a one-time behavior, then a larger lottery could work because people get really motivated at the beginning. They might get their flu shot, and if they don’t win, you have a whole year before you have to run the lottery again. But in physical activity or weight loss or diet changes or taking your medicines, these are daily behaviors that require you to be engaged not only every day but for a long-term period. Those types of things require different types of incentives.
Knowledge@Wharton: A part to this process that doesn’t get talked about enough is making sure you have that involvement, that daily connection with employees to help them improve their health.
Patel: Yes, I think there’s a lot of inertia up front in getting people engaged in these programs, so that’s where a lottery or a large jackpot might really help. But then once they’re engaged, you’ve got to keep them engaged. We see a lot of people who set New Year’s resolutions. They’ll start by joining a gym or start a new diet or Weight Watchers, and then they very quickly fall off the wagon. We need to think about how we can design these [programs] so we keep people engaged.
“You’re more likely to eat better if you work, live and interact with people who eat better.”
Ultimately, we’d like to help individuals to build healthy habits, and I think that requires a couple of steps when it comes to incentives. The first is, understanding which design can help people in the short term. That’s the research that we’ve done. The next is asking, “How can we help people in the long term?” Running the incentives longer — that’s research that we’re currently working on. Once we’ve developed that, we can start saying, “How can we deploy a fixed-term lottery that, when we stop, people continue to be healthy afterwards?” I think we’re just starting to move in the direction where we can test that.
We have had some success by combining financial incentives with social incentives, because we know that social relationships and connections to our families and our friends are long-standing. So, there may be a way to marry those two types of approaches together to help sustainability.
Knowledge@Wharton: What are the social incentives?
Patel: It’s things like if you were to go to the gym by yourself, you’d probably have less success than if you went with a buddy. You hold yourself accountable to that person on days when you’re not motivated. On days when the other person is feeling down, you can be [the motivating] person. We can think about ways that we can leverage that with financial incentives. We could make the incentives contingent on competition between those two people, or we could have them work together or support each other. Then once the incentive stops, those two people are still going to the gym together. If you’ve been able to build that dynamic, you have that support system in place.
Knowledge@Wharton: I would think that would improve the overall culture in the office, especially when it comes to well-being.
Patel: Yes, that’s what we would like to see. There is evidence that you’re more likely to be physically active if the people around you are physically active. You’re more likely to eat better if you work, live and interact with people who eat better. If we can find the right people and get a certain proportion of people to change their behaviors, we’d hope in the long term that we’d see spillover effects. I think it’s part of building that healthy culture. Social influences are very powerful. When you see other people doing certain things, it encourages you to do the same.
Knowledge@Wharton: Will you try to expand this research?
Patel: The studies we’ve done so far are from the range of three to six months. We have a couple of studies in progress that are a year, a year-and-a-half long, testing different types of financial and social incentives. We want to look not just at physical activity and weight loss, but also at clinical outcomes, like changes in your blood sugar control if you’re diabetic, or your blood pressure or cholesterol if you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease. Those are areas where we’re really focusing on leveraging the work we’ve done to expand it for a more clinical scenario.
Knowledge@Wharton: You conducted this study with people working at specific companies, correct?
Patel: That’s correct. One of the benefits of doing that is you have a large population that wants to do this. The employer is aligned with that. In this study, we used overweight or obese individuals. Now that we’ve found things that work in those populations, we’re trying to focus more on people with high-risk clinical things like uncontrolled diabetes, heart attacks, high cholesterol and so on. We also want to look at people who may have lower socioeconomic status or don’t have access to the same technology that someone who has a large employer might have.
Knowledge@Wharton: What has been the reaction of the employers that you worked with?
Patel: I think the reaction has been really positive. These are typically employers who have been working for years to make their programs better. By showing them that if you just do a simple test three different ways — the same monetary amount, but just designed differently — we can have a dramatic change in outcomes. So, [the response has] really been enthusiastic. We now have a number of partners that we work with in the employer and non-employer setting who are interested in scaling these more broadly to their populations.
Knowledge@Wharton: Did you talk to some of the study participants afterwards about their reaction to this research?
Patel: Yes, we surveyed all 209 people who participated in the trial and asked them, “What were things that worked well? What were things that didn’t?” We had a really positive experience in that we had employees who told us they had been trying to become more physically active for years and just hadn’t found the motivation to do so, and our study really helped them to do that.
“I think a lot of our work has shown that simple changes in design can have a dramatic effect.”
In this study, we used smartphones to track step counts. There’s a lot of excitement about wearables, which we also study. But people really use their smartphones a lot because they carry them with them all the time. We had more than 95% of people who started the study finish the entire six-month trial. You don’t typically see that. Usually, you find about half of them stop using it within a few weeks. We were really encouraged by that.
Knowledge@Wharton: Where do you take this next?
Patel: We have a couple of studies currently. We have a clinical one with uncontrolled diabetics. We have one with a large employer — Deloitte Consulting. We have 602 of their employees from 40 states in this trial. Deloitte was interested in partnering with us to test how we could leverage social incentives. We’re working with them to figure out the best way to motivate their employees in a way that we could potentially leverage, to expand not only to their population but also to other employers. We’re doing this on a nationwide level.
If we can get employees to be more physically active, lose weight, take their medicines — it’s beneficial for both the employee and the employer. I think a lot of our work has shown that simple changes in design can have a dramatic effect.
The average large employer in the United States spends almost $700 per employee per year for health promotion, so they’re already spending a lot. The number we used in this study was about $1.40 per day, which over the course of the year is $550. That’s what they were spending back in 2014, when we started planning for the trial. Now it’s over $700. There’s already lots of money out there. The real question is, how do we use that money in the best way? They have thousands of dollars to gain just by getting someone to be more physically active, to lose weight, to get their diabetes under control, to quit smoking. The potential benefits here are tremendous.
Knowledge@Wharton: You mentioned demographics, and therein lies an interesting question. For people in low-income situations, it can be harder to fight what may have been familial patterns in overeating, drinking, whatever it might be. Is that a bigger challenge?
Patel: Each population has different challenges. People with lower socioeconomic status may not have a smartphone or other types of technologies that are engaged in [these types of programs]. Or they may have competing challenges, like you mentioned, in terms of things that are going on in their lives or other struggles and challenges.
For the employed population, we still see challenges. They’re just different. They’re working really busy schedules from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in an office, at a desk. When are they going to get the time to go to the gym?
The design of these programs is typically one-size-fits-all. You pick a social incentive or a monetary incentive, and you deploy it to thousands or millions of people. But each person is probably going to vary in the way they respond. [So,] another [aspect] we want to work on is how we can personalize [these programs] or target them to people in a better way. Some people might respond better to financial incentives. Other people might be turned off and respond better to social incentives. That’s part of the work we’re doing. It’s understanding who responds and who doesn’t, so that we can make progress on that front as well.
Knowledge@Wharton: That’s a challenge, because companies do think one-size-fits-all. They want to put out a program, and have the people adapt to that program. You’re saying we need to think of it from the other perspective — having the program adapt to them.
Patel: Exactly. I think the program itself could be adaptable, especially with the rise in technology. Are people responding? If not, we can move them to another intervention.
But there are also simple things [we can adjust]. For example, most programs give people a step goal — let’s say 10,000 steps. We know that’s really hard. It would be better if we asked people to get a baseline level, so we know who’s walking 3,000 steps from the beginning and who’s already walking 9,000. Then we say, “Choose a goal. We can tailor it to you.” By choosing a goal, you feel more motivated because you picked the goal, as opposed to us assigning it to you.
How Fast Will I Lose Weight on Keto? What to Expect Dieting on Keto
Weight loss is one of the most popular uses of the ketogenic diet these days.
If you’re using keto to drop pounds, you are probably wondering how fast you can expect to see results.
Since everyone is different, it’s hard to get an exact answer, but this article will cover the average weight loss rate you can expect, t,tips for successfully losing weight on keto, and how to avoid common weight loss mistakes
Weight Loss on Keto: Everyone is Different
Everyone’s 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:
- Your health situation . Are you overweight? Do you have thyroid problems? Do you have insulin resistance? Is your metabolism fast or slow? Your overall health determines how fast you lose weight. For instance, if you have any hormonal or metabolic issues, the process might be slower than expected. That’s okay.
- Your body composition. How much fat do you have to lose? What’s your muscle mass? What’s your BMI? For instance, if you have a lot of excess weight you’ll likely experience faster weight loss in the beginning.
- Your daily habits. Your daily habits make or break your weight loss efforts. Are you eating clean keto foods or high fat junk foods? Are you watching out for hidden carbs? Are you exercising? The energy you spend on a daily basis and the quality of your food impact how efficiently your body burns fat.
- Your individual fat adaptation period. Remember your body needs time to become fat-adapted and that time depends on your metabolism. For instance, if you’re coming off a Standard American Diet (SAD) and your adult body has never ran on ketones before, your adaptation period might take a little longer. You’ll only experience the true weight loss effects of keto when your body is actually running on ketones.
For example, someone with a slow metabolism and a lot of fat tissue to lose who doesn’t 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.
Setting Yourself Up For Weight Loss Success
Before you embark on your keto weight loss journey, it’s important to get the basics right.
Some people think cutting carbs is enough to enter ketosis, but this isn’t always the case. It’s important to make sure you’re actually running on ketones instead of carbs, otherwise you’re not going to burn fat or lose weight and you’ll get discouraged.
So how do you make sure your cells are running on fat?
- Figure out your keto macros. Use the keto calculator (located at the end of this post!) to get your personal keto macros. Having a nutritional target based on your body composition will make it a lot easier to enter and remain in ketosis (and lose weight!)
- Give your body time to get inketosis. This usually takes anywhere between 2-7 days . Before then, you won’t be truly losing weight on keto.
- Test your ketones.Testing your ketone levels is simply the best way to track if you’re in ketosis or not, at least in the beginning.The most accurate tool is a blood ketone meter . If your levels remain above 0.5 mol/L, then you’re in nutritional ketosis.
- Eat a clean ketogenic diet. The quality of your food matters, not just your macros. Sure, you can stay in ketosis by eating processed cheese singles and ham slices, but that’s not going to nourish you. Focus on quality keto foods like avocado oil, fresh leafy greens, and grass-fed beef instead.
- Move more. You’ll lose pounds faster if you increase your daily physical activity. Keep in mind you don’t have to go to the gym 6 times a week or jog every morning, just move more in your everyday life. For instance, take a short 2-minute break from sitting in your chair every hour, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to make errands if you can, get a standing desk, or take phone calls standing up and pacing around. These small calorie-burning movements add up at the end of the day.
If you tick these boxes when starting keto, you’ll have the best weight loss results.
Which brings us to…
Average Weight Loss on the Ketogenic Diet
As you know by now, not everyone loses weight at the same rate, but here’s what you can expect based on the average results people get when using keto for weight loss:
First Week: Fast Water Weight Loss (2-10 pounds)
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! That’s 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 doesn’t use glucose immediately, it stores it as glycogen in your muscles and glycogen binds to water. Each gram of glycogen is stored with 2–3 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 that’s why the weight on your scale changes so drastically.
While this isn’t fat loss, it’s 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.
Short and Medium-Term: Steadier Weight Loss (1-2 pounds per week)
After a week or two, weight loss will happen at a slower and more steady pace. This is also the period of time when you’re getting fat-adapted as your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat, which means you’ll actually be losing fat now.
A safe, average loss from here is around 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week.
Here’s what research says about weight loss on the ketogenic diet:
- One study found obese patients lost 13.6 kg (30 pounds) after 2 months in the keto diet and over 88% of patients lost more than 10% of their initial weight by the end of the study, while lean mass was practically unaffected.[ * ] That’s 3.5 pounds per week.
- A study found that obese patients weighing 101 kg dropped 10 kg (22 pounds) after 8 weeks. They lost an extra 2 kg (4.4 pounds) by week 16 and 3 more kilograms (6.6 pounds) by week 24. In total, they lost 15 kg (33 pounds) in 5.5 months.[ * ] That’s 1.3 pounds per week.
- One study on volunteers with obesity and type 2 diabetes who weighed 108 kg dropped 11.1 kg (24.5 pounds) in 24 weeks.[ * ] That’s 1 pound per week.
- One study found 120 overweight hyperlipidemic patients lost 9.4 kg (20.7 pounds) of fat mass in 24 weeks. [ * ] That’s 0.8 pounds per week.
- One meta analysis that took data from 13 studies found patients consistently lost more weight on the ketogenic than on a low fat diet .[ * ]
As you can see, weight loss varies depending on how long you’re on the keto diet, how much weight you’ve 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 haven’t lost anything, then you’ll 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 you’re 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…
- Lost 7 kg (15 pounds) after 4 weeks.
- Lost another 5 kg (11 pounds) between weeks 4 and 12.
- Didn’t experience major changes changes from 12 weeks to 12 months (barely 1-2 kg).
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 won’t gain the weight back.
Common Keto Weight Loss Pitfalls
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:
Mistake #1: Not Being In Ketosis
This one may seem obvious, but it’s 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 don’t see weight loss results on keto is they’re not actually on keto.
Don’t stop trackingyour ketones when you’re trying to lose weight. An excellent way to keep your ketone levels up is taking exogenous ketones. Just put a scoop in your favorite drink to get back into ketosis — it’s easy and delicious. If you want more keto food inspo, follow Perfect Keto founder Dr. Anthony Gustin (@dranthonygustin). This is how he mixed his iced green tea with Peach & Cream exogenous ketones:
A post shared by Anthony Gustin DC, MS (@dranthonygustin) on Dec 15, 2017 at 3:23pm PST
Mistake #2: Not Looking Out For Hidden Carbs
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.
- Eliminate processed foods. These often contains a lot of sneaky carbs, even those branded as “healthy”. Stick to whole foods instead.
- Cut out artificial sweeteners. These can raise insulin levels and affect ketosis. Plus, they contain a lot of junk you’re just better off avoiding. If you must use a sweetener, stick with stevia or these top keto sweeteners.
- This article can help you look for any hidden carbs in your diet.
Mistake #3: Not Checking How Your Body Reacts To Dairy
Some people tolerate dairy really well and others don’t, so figure out which camp you’re in. Some dairy — like yogurt and whey protein — may elevate insulin levels and kick you out of ketosis.
- Measure your ketone levels before and after consuming dairy to see how your body reacts.
- Stick to high-quality dairy (none of the processed stuff). Check out this guide to buying healthy dairy.
Mistake #4: Eating Too Many Calories
Although it’s harder to overeat on keto due to the filling nature of fats, it’s still possible to eat more calories than you need. If you don’t stay at a calorie deficit, you won’t see weight loss.
- Track your calories if you don’t see meaningful weight loss after several weeks. Make sure you stay on a calorie deficit according to the keto calculator.
- Eat fewer nuts. Although some nuts are keto-friendly, they’re also pretty high in calories and some contain more carbs than others. Coincidentally, they’re also easy to over eat, so measure your intake when snacking on nuts. Learn more about which nuts are best here.
- Try intermittent fasting . Only eating within a certain period of time, which is the basis of intermittent fasting, can help speed up weight loss and reduce overeating at night. By fasting, you’ll find it a lot easier to stay on a calorie deficit.
- Don’t go overboard. Also make sure you aren’t under eating too much. While a deficit is necessary, too little food can actually cause metabolic damage and do more harm than good.
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 .
Don’t Discount Other Signs of Progress
When going keto, it’s 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 it’s 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 you’re weight lifting at the same time, you might be replacing fat loss with muscle gain. While this might not move the scale much, it’ll show up on your body.
Take Home Message
The ketogenic diet is amazing for losing weight and improving your health, so stick with it and don’t 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 you’re staying in ketosis. Most of all, give your body time to respond to the great changes you’re making for it.