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Are You In Ketosis but Gaining Weight? The #1 Culprit

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Everyone expects dramatic weight loss results when on the keto diet because of what’s been touted by those successful in it. But what if you’re in ketosis but gaining weight? Or maybe you’ve hit the dreaded keto plateau and can’t seem to budge the number on the scale.

What gives?

I’ve been there, and I can tell you exactly what’s going on. Everybody’s body is different, but if you’re in ketosis but gaining weight, it’s usually for one reason.

One Reason Why You’re in Ketosis But Gaining Weight

You’re eating more calories than you’re burning.

Keto isn’t a magic pill. You’ll still have to watch your calories. Because it’s such a delicious diet—I mean, eat all the bacon, cheese, and fat!? We get caught up in fat bombs and fancy recipes and quickly go over our calorie requirements for the day.

Here’s another truth bomb for you:

Give up the fat bombs.

Fat bombs are causing your weight gain or stall. So many of us think that we have to meet our daily intake of fat macros while on the keto diet, but the truth is that your body has more than enough fat stores to burn through.

There’s no need to feed it more fat. Eat fat to feel full, but allow your body to burn through the fat stores that you have. Don’t overeat or load up on fat bombs to meet some magical macro figure that a keto calculator spits out for you.

Stay below 50g of carbs and eat moderate protein, but there’s no need to eat more fat than you need to feel full. If you’re below your fat macros for the day, great! That means your body will have a chance to use up some of the fat you’re carrying around.

Did you know that your body uses up the fat you eat first before it starts to use up the fat you have stored as energy? That means that if you’re eating enough fat every day to fuel your body, you will never burn through the fat you’re carrying around.

Hello, keto plateau.

Let’s break this all down.

What is ketosis, really?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body is depleted of glucose and switches to using fat as an energy source. You can enter this metabolic state by consuming less than 50g of carbohydrates per day or by intermittent fasting.

By eating so few carbs, your body will turn to fat for energy since it can no longer use glucose, which it gets from carbs and sugar.

Using fat as an energy source has many health benefits, and we’re now learning and is a viable option for your body. There’s no need to consume carbs in the high amounts we’re used to.

Being in ketosis also allows you to consume a much higher amount of fat than you’re used to because you’re now using fat as an energy source to get through your day.

Of course, the quality of the fat is important, and maintaining a caloric deficit is still important if weight loss is your goal.

If you’re having trouble meal planning for the keto diet, check out my new eBook, The 28-Day Keto Meal Plan

This way of eating is just a little easier for many people because, thanks to being able to eat more fat, the food tastes better and keeps us fuller for longer.

This means it’s easier to maintain long-term than a low-fat diet may be.

This one lesson was hard for me to learn because I have a heavy sweet tooth. Though my cravings were reset on keto, and I didn’t miss cake and chocolates at all, the moment I started making fat bombs, I couldn’t get enough.

Sweets are addicting in any form, so it’s best to avoid them and plan your indulgences.

Heavy whipping cream in my morning coffee was delicious but totally unnecessary. I made the switch to MCT oil powder in my coffee, which is still deliciously creamy and has so many more benefits for a much better calorie trade-off.

The Usual Culprit When You’re In Ketosis but Gaining Weight

Like I said before, calories matter.

Most of us, when starting our keto diet, stumble upon the magical macro ratio:

70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs.

So we download fitness apps to track everything we eat and struggle to eat enough fat to maintain the above ratio. We even resort to loading up on bulletproof coffee every morning and a fat bomb after supper to meet our fat macro goals.

This is totally unnecessary if your goal for being on the keto diet is weight loss.

You must allow your body to use some of the fat stores it has, and the only way it will get to do that is if you remain in a calorie deficit and stop eating so much fat.

I know the point of the keto diet is low carb, high fat. But always remember that the low-carb portion of that equation is the most important factor.

It is imperative that you stay under 50g of carbs. But there’s no reason to eat more fat than it will take to make you feel full.

If this sounds disappointing and you feel as if you’ll once again be eating low-fat foods, that’s absolutely not what I mean. Eat your eggs and bacon, steak and spinach, and salmon and broccoli.

But do you need the cheese sauce with the broccoli? Do you need extra butter on the steak? Do you need bread with your eggs and bacon?

The truth is that eggs and sausages alone are totally satisfying. The bread was just extra. Keto isn’t a magical pill, and it’s not an excuse to overdo it.

So Why Are Fat Bombs So Popular, and Who Needs Them?

After a while on keto, you WILL lose the weight and start to enter a stage where you’re in maintenance mode.

At this point, it will become important to maintain your macro ratio so that you don’t continue to lose weight and so you have enough fat to use as fuel for your day.

Also, if you work out a lot or are otherwise very active, you may want the extra fat to help you push through your workouts. Of course, if gaining weight on keto is your goal, then you will be able to eat all the fat bombs and mug cakes.

Remember, keto has other benefits than weight loss so some people eat this way for health and really aren’t trying to lose weight in ketosis.

Fat bombs are great as a little treat, but there’s no need to eat them every day to meet your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, fat bombs are actually counterproductive for you and might be the one reason you’re not losing weight while on keto.

How to Break a Keto Plateau

So what to do when you’ve realized you’re weight loss has stalled on keto, and you’re in ketosis but not losing weight, or you’ve even begun to gain weight?

A fast.

Intermittent fasting, fat fasting, a beef and butter fast or an egg fast have all been touted to help reset your body and break through a stall.

I have tried an egg fast before, and it seriously works to help reset your body and your tastebuds. Look up how to do this on Youtube. The underlying principle here is that if you’re in a keto plateau, your body has gotten accustomed to your daily eating and movement habits and needs a shakeup.

Increase your physical activity, change your fitness routine, and change your diet to get your body going again.

I swear by intermittent fasting. It has a number of benefits, but the one I cling to is that because I’m skipping an entire meal for the day, I’m allowed to indulge just a little more at mealtime and still not consume too many calories.

Intermittent fasting makes it really hard to overeat.

And when you’re intermittent fasting and in ketosis at the same time, then fasting becomes super easy because fat-adapted people don’t get crazily hungry like we used to do when we relied on carbs for fuel.

Because your body is using up your fat stores when you’re in ketosis, it’s getting what it needs even when you’re fasting. So you’ll feel slightly hungry, sure, but you won’t be that crazy person who needs a Snicker.

Tips for Starting Intermittent Fasting

As I said, intermittent fasting and keto go hand in hand. Eating high fat makes it easier to skip meals because when you’re fat-adapted, your body is now using fat for fuel instead of carbs, and you have plenty of fat to feed it. Therefore hunger pangs won’t be as severe.

To start intermittent fasting, decide which type best suits your lifestyle and determine your eating window. I started with 16:8 and chose an eating window of noon to 8 p.m. That means I skipped breakfast and had my first meal at noon each day of the week. You want to make sure you know when you will eat, what you’ll eat, and how much.

Don’t go extreme on the first day. A 24-hour fast for your first time is just brutal.

The benefits of fasting really kick in at 16 hours, so you want to try to go with at least that one for your first few days. After that, you can squeeze your eating window to 6 hours, fasting for 18. Then do my favorite type of fast, the 20:4. This means I’m really only eating one meal at 4 p.m. and then a light snack at around 7 p.m. if necessary.

Always listen to your body. The intermittent fasting method you are using might not work well for you, so if you notice any ill side effects, go back to your normal way of eating.

It is also important to maintain your electrolytes even when you’re fasting and to drink adequate water to stay hydrated. Adding pink salt to your water or taking your keto supplements will help you to stave off ill feelings.

Fasting is undoubtedly the best way to break a plateau, reset your body, get back into ketosis, and start burning some of your fat stores again.

If you’re in ketosis and gaining weight, or you’ve hit a plateau, give intermittent fasting a try.

On and Off Keto | + posts

Iva discovered the keto diet back in 2020 and has experimented with it, off and on. She recently took over this site and shares experiences, her knowledge and some yummy recipes. She also runs a women only website Women Blazing Trails.

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12 Comments

  1. Amy Shick says:

    This article honestly blew my mind, and was read at the exact right time! I have an instagram for keto @charlestonketogirl and have been complaining about not losing any weight and struggling. Well a follower commented that she shifted her mindset about “getting your fat in” and that you don’t need to do that. And I heard and understood her, but then reading this article really brought it home for me! Like, why am I eating beef burgers when I enjoy turkey just as much and it’s just as filling? “Because you should be eating fat” Why am I eating full fat sour cream, when honestly, I liked the low fat, just as much, “gotta get that fat in” There’s so many instances, extra butter, because you “can”, cheese sauce, because why not! THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing this. I just got off a beef and butter fast for 4 days, and had success the last 2 because I stopped adding the butter to the beef, because that follower suggested it. She said, why are you adding butter to already fatty meat? Is it helping you? If yes, then do it. But are you just adding it because the fast told you too. And I was! Thank you again!

    1. I’m so happy this helped Amy and glad to hear things are moving along for you now!

  2. This sounds wonderful as I have also reached a keto plateau and even gained back a couple of pounds which is so horrifying. Cutting back a bit on the fat and not going so gung ho on it sounds reasonable and makes sense so your body can use up its already existing fat stores. BUT! I have also read elsewhere that if your fat intake drops, and your protein intake inevitably goes up because of that, extra protein becomes glucose and can also then take you out of ketosis?? Very frustrating. I don’t know what to believe.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. I wish she’d have answered this, for me, as well. And which macro calculator do you believe. Every other one gives a different result.

      1. There are indeed conflicting thoughts on this, especially when you listen to those on a carnivore diet so what you’ve got to do is see how your own body responds. Too much protein for me when I’m not consuming loads of fat does have the same effect, I stall. The best type of keto FOR ME is moderate protein and only enough fat to keep me satiated. Lots of veggies as sides. When I maintain this along with a tight 6 hour eating window, the weight melts right off! That’s the plan in my IF and Keto meal plan, 2 meals and a snack if you need it but I rarely ever need the snack if I follow the plan. https://onandoffketo.com/shop/if-and-keto-28-day-meal-plan/

  3. What is a good fat ratio?

  4. David Lustrup says:

    if your gaining weight on keto and IF you have Hypothyroid plain and simple…go to your doctor

  5. Brian Cox says:

    This site is a godsend. After losing lots of weight with intermittent fasting on a 20hr fast – 4hr feed schedule, I got bored with my diet. I was still in moderate Ketosis, but gaining weight!! Like you experienced, I started making keto chocolate mug cakes and I dove into putting cheese and butter on everything! I thought I was supposed to be eating extra fat to stay in ketosis. Your comment that your body will burn dietary fat before fat stores, and eating too many calories will still make you gain weight was the aha moment I needed to find! Thanks so much for your help.

  6. venice sampson-martin says:

    I am 67. gaining weight , I had both knees replaced, its hard to even walk because of the stiffness. I started trying Keto and Intermittent fasting . The scale is going up instead of down, what am I doing wrong. Please any suggestion I will take.

    1. you want to start tracking your macros and making sure you’re not eating too much fat, giving your body the chance to use the fat you already have. of course I am not qualified to give expert advice, consult a keto-friendly MD

  7. Wow! Just Wow! This is so my problem. I’ve been stalled since November and disappointed in Dec due to weight gain. When I expressed this to my care giver he said ” more fat” . So of course I went to fat bombs and enjoyed every minute of it not realizing it was self sabotage, even with fasting. I was also doing fat fast to stay in ketosis.
    This new information will hopefully get me to losing the final 15 lbs to reach my goal weight. The 20-4 fast definitely worked. I hope it will again.
    I have a few fat bombs ill need to freeze.
    Thanks

  8. I’m glad I came upon this article. I’ve been living a ketogenic lifestyle for over 2 years with great success-not just the weight loss, but the best is the energy. Lately I’ve been gaining weight and couldn’t figure out why, despite staying in my macros and making no changes to my IF plan.

    At the beginning of summer I fooled around with my macros and have been pushing hard to stay in that “true” keto macro, so I’ve been consuming more fat. As you said, that isn’t necessary, which got me thinking – before I messed around with my macros, everything was going well. Your article has made me realize that old adage is right-if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Lol! Lastly- no more fat bombs for me-I can’t be trusted!!
    Great article-thank you for sharing your knowledge☺️

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