Your co-worker raved about her weight loss success with keto, and it sparked your curiosity. This curiosity led to a quick Instagram search where you found a seemingly endless amount of #keto #beforeandafter photos and became officially intrigued. You did your research, read the books and blog posts, learning all about how a state of ketosis sheds weight by burning your fat stores as fuel. That sold you.
So, you jumped on the keto train, full steam ahead, feeling a new sense of hope that you may finally lose the weight that hadn’t budged with anything else. You followed everything to the T, really giving it your all. And now, here you are – days, weeks, months later – and your weight loss success story is still nowhere to be found. No pounds lost. No pant-size shed. Maybe you had initial success and are now stalled out. Perhaps the diet change made you gain weight. Frustration and confusion have now taken the place of hope and excitement.
What am I doing wrong?
Why is this not working?
What’s wrong with me?
Let me be the first to reassure you that nothing is wrong with you and you are not alone in this. Take it from someone who has not only had her own weight loss resistance with keto, but who has supported thousands of women on their keto transition and sees this on a daily basis.
Here’s the skinny (pun intended): A keto diet is a wonderful tool to get the body to a healthy and balanced place where it can shed excess weight. But, it is just one tool in a rather large toolbox. There are so many more facets to your health and body that you need to consider in order to lose weight safely AND keep it off forever.
With this high-fat, low-carb diet, our body begins to produce ketones, which signal the use of fat as its primary energy source. Combine that with the blood sugar balancing that comes from the reduced carbohydrate intake, one that is quite drastic for many, and this could be all that’s needed for a healthy, balanced body to drop unnecessary weight.
But for many, many women, that’s not the case. Here are my top 8 reasons why women can’t lose weight on keto.
1. YOU NEED TO WORK ON YOUR HEALTH FIRST
Notice above how I mentioned that a body needs to be healthy and balanced to lose excess weight. Trying to force permanent weight loss on a body that is not well is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t fit and will not work, no matter how long or how hard you try.
You cannot and will not lose excess fat permanently until your body feels healthy, balanced, and safe. If you are holding onto weight, no matter how perfect your diet is, it is a sign that something else in your body needs your attention.
There is a huge list of potential health issues that women regularly face, many of which go unnoticed or unrecognized. Weight gain or the inability to lose weight is a symptom of them all. If you are the person that can’t lose weight no matter what or how hard you try, it’s time to start looking deeper.
The most common health issues I see in women who struggle with weight are:
An Underactive Thyroid
Poor Blood Sugar Handling
If you aren’t losing weight, take a break from manipulating your food and start looking into these other very important branches of your health. I recommend working with a practitioner who runs functional lab tests and can give you holistic solutions for your imbalances before they manifest as disease. If you would like more information on how to get started, here are some helpful podcast episodes I have on these topics:
2. YOUR METABOLISM HAS TAKEN A HIT
Are you coming to a keto diet from a long history of dieting? Have you spent years hopping from diet-to-diet, eating fewer and fewer calories in order to see the scale move? If so, you likely need to spend some time giving your metabolism some love before you can even think about healthy, sustainable weight loss.
Your metabolism as how fast your body burns through energy and how much energy your body needs to maintain proper function. There are many factors that determine our metabolic rate; age, gender, body composition, and physical activity to name just a few.
How much energy you provide your body by way of calories also plays a big role in the rate at which your body will burn through energy. Your body’s main goal is to stay in homeostasis, even when it comes to energy expenditure. It’s going to make sure it only expends the amount of energy that it is coming in. So, regularly restricting calories below your body’s requirements means your metabolic rate will slow down to match it.
CALORIE RESTRICTION FAILS EVERY TIME
This metabolic slow down is the reason why calorie-restriction works in the short term but is always followed by subsequent weight regain or the need to lower calories even further to get the scale to move.
Instead of focusing on providing your body with less energy, focus on healing your metabolism to get it to be the revving motor it’s meant to be! The best ways to jumpstart your metabolic rate include eating enough nutrient-dense foods, increasing muscle mass, and enjoying an active lifestyle. Here are more tips for igniting your metabolic rate.
3. YOU’RE EATING FOODS YOU SHOULDN’T BE
Just because a food is considered “keto”, doesn’t mean it’s OK to be on your plate. Many people following a keto diet aren’t paying enough attention to what they’re eating and how it’s making them feel. They see a high-fat, low-carb food and go crazy for it when in reality, their body is just not loving it.
Eating foods that don’t work for you, whether it be a food you are sensitive to, a chemical-laden, processed food that your body doesn’t recognize, or just an overabundance of the same foods, will cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation often manifests itself as body fat due to water retention.
Quite often, I see this happen with a keto transition due to increases in foods like dairy, red meat, and bacon. Not that these foods are no-go’s, but they aren’t working for your body in the higher amounts you are now consuming them in.
ENTER, REAL FOOD KETO
The best way to tackle this one is to make your keto diet an all real food diet. Get rid of the processed and packaged foods. Throw away damaged fat sources like canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil. Read the labels of foods you buy to make sure there aren’t any additives on the ingredient list. If you don’t know what the ingredient is, neither will your body.
If you’re suspicious that you are sensitive to a certain food, eliminate it. Take all forms of the offending food completely out of your diet for 4 weeks, then slowly add it back in and see how you do. If you notice digestive upset, skin breakout, fatigue after eating, headache, or any other symptom that isn’t normal, it’s a sign that food is not working for your body right now.
4. THE ONLY THING THAT’S CHANGED IS YOUR DIET
It’s a common trend amongst women seeking weight loss to place the sole focus on their eating habits. I blame it on the majority of us growing up in during the diet-craze era of the 90’s and 2000s. But, in doing so, you are missing out on the much bigger, better, and brighter big picture. The one that’s actually going to get you the health and body you want.
There are four other incredibly important tools that need to be maximized in order for you to regain health and balance to your body, thus creating a safe space for your body to shed unneeded weight.
Getting the proper amount of high-quality sleep for your body is the ultimate tool for restoring and maintaining proper health and function. Restorative sleep is necessary to maintain the balance of our appetite hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. It also gives our body the time it needs to detox appropriately, rest and recover, and anti-inflame. Make sleep a priority for a month and watch how things change for you!
Oh boy, this one is a doozy. Something that most of us know we need to master, yet can’t quite seem to get a handle on it. What I’m seeing so often these days is ladies being hammered down by the kind of stress we often don’t even recognize – our mental and emotional stress.
No matter what kind of stress, finding a few stress-relieving techniques to make habit will be the only way to really start getting a handle on it. Meditation, walks in nature, self-care rituals, reading, yoga, deep breathing are some of my go-to techniques.
You have to move, you just do. Everybody knows this and yet, we can’t seem to let go of our sedentary life and get moving. Getting into a regular workout routine, preferably one that involves challenging your body enough to build new muscle is a non-negotiable to getting to a healthy, happy weight.
Regular exercise increases your metabolic rate, lowers your body fat percentage, improves your mood, gives you confidence, supports your bones and joints, improves insulin sensitivity, increases blood flow, balances hormones, and so much more.
Not something that’s often considered, let alone practiced is the role your mindset plays in the health and balance of your body. If you have constant chatter in your head that is negative, rip yourself apart every time you look in the mirror, feel frustration and disgust towards your body, you will continue to stay stuck. Negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions breed negative environments. The best way to keep you in stuck in a place you don’t want to be in is to continue the negative self-talk, the judgment, the criticism, and the hate of your own body.
Start by noticing the negative thoughts that run through your head and how often they creep in. Once you start paying attention, it becomes a lot easier to shut them down. As you notice them playing in your head, direct your attention to something else entirely to get your mind off the subject or better yet, turn that negative thought around into a positive one!
NEED MORE HELP? LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE PODCAST!
5. FOLLOWING A KETO DIET STRESSED YOUR BODY OUT
Once you were sold that the keto diet was going to be the thing that was going to help you lose those stubborn pounds, did you go all in?
Did you jump right into your new life sans carbs, downloading the macro calculating app and setting your targets to the same ones that your coworker did to lose weight?
Did you shun all the veggies that weren’t green and leafy because they had too many carbs?
Did you stop eating breakfast so you could practice intermittent fasting?
Did you read all the blogs, listen to all the podcasts, join all the Facebook groups only to get confused with all the conflicting information?
Did you start your keto diet perfectly only to fall “off the wagon,” diving into a plate full of [insert favorite “off-limits” carb here]?
If any of these sounds like your keto journey, how you’re approaching the diet is likely keeping you from your goals. As we discussed earlier, stress is a critical driver in whether your body is healthy or imbalanced. Stress contributes to high levels of inflammation, hormonal imbalances, poor sleep quality, blood sugar dysregulation, impaired detoxification, fat gain around the middle; you get the idea.
We are all swimming in stress these days. There’s no room to add any more unnecessary stressors. And, as much as you may not want to admit it, the keto diet can be stressful. The transition itself, when taking too abruptly, is a stressor. Trying to be perfect is a stressor. Fasting before your body is ready is stressful. Skipping meals is stressful. Eating too little is stressful. Being “good” and “bad,” “on” and “off the wagon,” calculating, counting, measuring, it’s all just stressful.
Approaching keto from the perspective of a healing tool for your body versus a hardcore diet will take the stress out of it and bring keto back to its proper place in a healthy lifestyle. Guiding the ladies in my class through this switch has been the most eye-opening and rewarding experience for me and a life-changing one for them.
6. YOUR BODY NEEDS TO BE WHERE IT’S AT…FOR NOW
I know you don’t want to here this, but I’m going to tell you anyway. There’s a good chance that your body just needs to stay where it’s at for now. This doesn’t mean forever necessarily, but it could be weeks, months, or years before it’s ready to take on more change. The more you fight it, force it, hate on it, and abuse it, the longer it will take.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to start focusing on your health gains. You’ll begin to notice all of the things that are going right and continue to fall into place. You can focus on how good you are doing and how empowered you feel by finally focusing on your health. This will lead to a more kind, compassionate, and patient approach towards your body. And, while you’re not even looking or caring, weight loss might just happen.
I want to hear from you! Let me know what you’re going to look into next on your health journey.